Great Colmore Street, Birmingham, B15 2AY
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Reading and Phonics


Reading at St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School

     St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School is determined that every child will learn to read, regardless of background, needs or abilities. We want our children to be fluent, confident readers. They will be exposed to a wealth of stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction texts to develop their vocabulary, language comprehension and engender a genuine love of reading and a keen interest in a range of texts. We work to inspire them to become life-long readers who enjoy books and have a desire to read for pleasure.

     In order for children to have the will to read, and be able to read to learn, they need to have secure skills in reading so that they can read with fluency and comprehension. Reading is at the hear of our whole curriculum, underpinning every subject area. We want every child to read widely, and to gain rich knowledge across the curriculum. By offering a wide range of texts, we aim to broaden their minds and experiences to allow them to empathise with the wold in which they live and support the development of their cultural capital. Reading is such an important life skill that it is imperative we enable them to become independent readers who can easily process information, fully engage in all learning and be well prepared for the next stage of their education. 

Early Reading at St Catherine of Siena Catholic Primary School

     At St Catherine of Siena, we teach early reading through the systematic, synthetic phonics scheme Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. From the very beginning of Reception, children have a daily phonics lessons which follows the progression for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds; this continues into Year One to ensure all children become fluent readers.

     We teach phonics for thirty minutes each day. In Reception, we build from ten-minute lessons, which additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lessons as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.

     Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week Two of the Autumn Term following an effective phonics baseline. We then follow the progressions for the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress (please click here for the progression).

     Four new phonemes and corresponding graphemes (GPCs) are taught each week and they are then used in the final lesson of the week to review the week’s learning. Children will also learn to read ‘tricky’ words during these sessions.

     In the Autumn and Spring term, Reception learn Phase 2 and Phase 3 GPCs and will then spend the Summer term learning Phase 4.

     Year 1 begin the Autumn term with three weeks of revision of Phases 2, 3 and 4 before learning Phase 5, which will be completed by the end of the year. Year 2 children will begin the year by revisiting Phase 5 and other previously taught phases to ensure all children are completely confident with applying these GPCs in both their reading and also their writing.

     Half-termly assessments take place throughout Reception and Year 1 to help inform future teaching and help identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge; these pupils are then supported and receive additional phonic practice. Daily assessment of learning also takes place within the classroom so staff can quickly identify any children who are in danger of falling behind and provide the appropriate daily ‘Keep Up’ intervention.

     For support with the pronunciation of the phonemes taught, please refer to the videos (from Little Wandle website) below:



Reading Practise Sessions

     Children in our Reception, Year 1 and 2 classes, read fully decodable books with an adult 3 times per week during our ‘Reading Practice’ sessions. These books are then sent home for children to build their reading fluency and showcase their developing skills and phonetic knowledge to their parents/carers. These 3 reading practice sessions each have a different focus: decoding, prosody and comprehension. Our reading books in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 have recently been invested in to ensure high-quality, fully decodable books are being accessed by all of our pupils.

Supporting your child with reading

     Although your children will be taught to read in school, you can also have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing to practice at home. Children at St Catherine of Siena will bring home two different types of reading book:

Reading practice book

     This book has been carefully matched to your child’s current reading level. If your child is reading it with little help, please do not worry that it is too each- your child needs to develop fluency and confidence in reading.

     Listen to them read the book. Remember to give them lots of praise and celebrate their success! If they encounter a read that they cannot read, encourage them to decode (sound it out) and blend the sounds. After they have finished, talk about the book together.

Reading for Pleasure book (Library Book)

     In order for your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book that they have chosen for you to enjoy together.

     Please remember that you should not expect your child to read this alone; read it to or with them! Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for characters and explore the facts in a non-fiction book. In addition, after reading the book, you can pick out some words and help your child expand their vocabulary by discussing alternatives for these words. The main thing, however, is that you have fun!

     From Year 2 onwards, children will bring home a reading for pleasure book that they can read independently but can also still share with parents/carers too!