St Michael Catholic Primary School & Nursery

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Reading & Phonics


At Saint Michael’s, we aim for our pupils to have a love for reading. We recognise that reading allows pupils to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Reading is a gateway to learning and enables pupils to understand the world around them. Reading enables pupils to both acquire new knowledge and build on what they already know. If we do not teach our pupils to read confidently, we are effectively disenfranchising them from society. Our aim is for our pupils to be able to read fluently and comprehend what they are reading, building a rich vocabulary and a cultural capital that will transfer into their learning and their lives.


Reading Lessons

Reading is taught each week. Our curriculum is designed to meet the National Curriculum Programme of Study. Reading focuses on the following strands: Prediction, Clarifying, Questioning, Summarising, Visualising and Noting Text Structure. The Reading Progression Map sets out the knowledge, skills and understanding, vocabulary and cultural capital that will be taught in each year group.

The Reading Curriculum Map sets out the texts that will be taught across the school. Each half-term focusses on a particular genre. The curriculum is designed so that there is a familiar regularity to the curriculum for the children as they progress through their school life but each time they revisit a genre, their knowledge, skills and understanding deepen further.

Through the reciprocal reading approach advocated by Dr Wayne Tennent and the Take One Book teaching resources, pupils use high-quality texts to discuss and complete learning tasks that demonstrate their knowledge and skills in word reading, vocabulary development and comprehension.

Our pupils will also be given opportunities to read in other curriculum subjects e.g. RE, history, geography, design & technology etc. There is a designated library which is well stocked with an array of fantastic books that promote a love of reading. Library books have been carefully chosen to support our curriculum, offer a wide range of cultural influences and cover a range of genres.

Teachers use the Take One book resources to plan sequences of learning based on a text. The framework for each learning sequence follows the same structure.

Pupils will be given feedback for each session so that they can make sustained progress over their school life. 

At the end of each term, pupils will sit a PIRA assessment test, which allows teachers to assess the pupils’ independent comprehension abilities. These assessments will help teachers form an overall ‘point in time’ assessment at the end of each term to inform future planning.

PM Benchmarking is also used to assess the reading age of pupils when needed.

Class Reading

We want our pupils to listen to a range of high-quality texts being read to them each day. The Curriculum Map shows the poetry, non-fiction and fiction whole class texts that will be read by the teacher to the children each year. These texts have been carefully chosen to provide a range of high-quality material that we believe every child should experience. There is a selection of modern and classic texts from a range of genres, written by a range of authors and poets on a variety of topics and from a variety of cultures. Class texts are deliberately pitched at a more challenging level than the pupils would be able to read independently to provide challenge and expose advanced vocabulary, plots, characters and concepts. We want our pupils to appreciate the best literature that has been written and develop a rich vocabulary as they grow up. Teachers are free to choose additional texts to read to their class beyond the texts set out in the Curriculum Map.

Children need to be heard read regularly at school. Teachers will hear each child read at least once every fortnight so that they can assess whether they are making progress with word reading, expression, intonation and comprehension. Children that need more support with reading will be heard read more often by supporting adults at school.

Children are given the opportunity to change their reading book each week.

Reading Books

In Reception class, each child is issued with a reading book from our reading scheme within the first few weeks of term. These books support the phonics being taught in the classroom. Our reading scheme uses a range of publications organised into coloured ‘book bands’, which link with our phonics programme and run from Reception to Year 6 or until pupils are ready to choose their own reading books appropriately as a ‘Free Reader’. This is usually when children reach the lime bookband.

As a ‘Free Reader’, children are encouraged to bring in books from home, choose from the school library or from the class ‘Treasure Chest’ of books selected just for their year group.


Phonics is a huge part of learning to read and is emphasised in the early teaching of reading and reinforced throughout each subsequent year of school so that our pupils can confidently decode words. We use the Letters and Sounds programme of study to structure our phonics curriculum, which is reinforced with Jolly Phonics strategies in the Early Years and regularly assessed with the Phonics Tracker programme. Phonics is taught each day in Reception, 4 times a week in Year 1 and weekly in Year 2. Those that do not achieve the expected standard in the Year 1 Phonics check are given additional support to do so in Year 2.

Reading at Home

We recognise that parents are the primary educators of their children. We ask parents to develop a ‘Reading for Pleasure’ culture at home from the earliest age. Once issued with a reading book from school, we ask that parents read with their child each day and record this in a Reading Record. Once children join Year 3, they use a Reading Journal to record their reading journey in a creative way, responding to comprehension questions chosen at school and being tasked to complete fun activities such as ‘read in an unusual place’ or ‘read to your pet’.

Phonics Home Learning is set every week in Reception class and from Years 1 to 6, a Reading Comprehension task is set every fortnight.

Reading Gladiators

We choose a group or More Able readers in Year 5 and 6 to become Reading Gladiators. As well as meeting to read carefully selected books each week, they also promote reading and share their enthusiasm with others. They have a variety of responsibilities including: reading with younger pupils, helping run the library, helping to choose new books to invest in, helping to organise readathons and World Book Day.

Spoken Language

This underpins the development of reading and writing. Teachers will ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. Pupils’ should be able to explain their understanding of texts, summarise what they have understood and articulate their thoughts clearly. They must make their thinking clear before they write; discussions and debates will aid this further.



Pupils value reading and love reading all types of genres. This has a positive impact on reading books and accessing the whole curriculum. They are able to discuss reading maturely and develop a wide range of vocabulary to help them express themselves. They are able to retrieve information, compare texts, infer meaning and reflect on their own experiences, thereby broadening their knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

Pupils are able to recite and perform some important poetry and plays and have an excellent understanding of important poetry, non-fiction and fiction texts that develop their cultural capital.

Reading will promote British Values by contributing to the culture of the nation. 

Reading will help pupils develop a Growth Mindset by encouraging the children to take risks, become resourceful, innovative and imaginative.

Pupils and teachers understand that reciprocal reading is an important part of the whole school curriculum and should be embedded throughout all subjects. 

For more information on our Reading Curriculum, please click the link below


It is recognised that children who read for pleasure improve their life chances, not just in education, but in mental wellbeing and social relationships. 

Researchers at the Open University, working with 27 schools developed a Reading for Pleasure pedagogy. This teaching approach is being used by educators across the UK to engage thousands of primary school children in reading for pleasure.

A key part of the strategy is to create enjoyable ‘social reading environments’ in schools, where children and their teachers read together, both aloud and independently, discuss what they are reading and share recommendations.

To support this approach, OU researchers recommended teachers should develop a broader, deeper and more up-to-date understanding of children’s literature so they can enrich children’s reading choices.

To put the approach into practice in schools, OU researchers have helped create Teachers Reading Groups – currently 105 groups across the UK and four internationally. Our Reading Leader, Mrs Morgan, had the pleasure of being part of the South West London Teachers’ Reading Group and completed a project inspired by our staff book club, looking at how we – as staff – can inspire and motivate our children and the importance of reading choices.