Approach to Reading

Teaching Reading


At St Michael’s, we believe our core purpose of teaching is to teach all children to read and that a systematic approach to the teaching of reading gives children the best start.

We believe children need to be active participants, blending and segmenting words for themselves. We use letters and sounds as the core scheme to teach phonics. The scheme provides opportunities for active learning and the children learn rhymes and actions. This means that all aspects of visual, aural, oral and kinesthetic learning are integrated within a lesson. We believe that this is particularly beneficial for slow learners as it uses all the learning styles to embed the phonics. We aim to develop children’s abilities to listen and concentrate during the whole class phonics lesson and expect them to learn through collaborating in group interaction. We also believe that transfer of learning is important and therefore encourage children to practice and apply decoding skills in other areas of the curriculum.

We aim to identify children who are slow to learn as early as possible, through assessment and tracking. We run catch up programmes to fill in the gaps in code knowledge and develop phonological skills.

At every stage of the children’s Primary Education, they are offered a language rich environment, where talk is encouraged during play and where good quality books are shared and discussed.


In our nursery the children follow Phase One of Letters and Sounds. Through speaking and listening activities, children will develop their language structures and increase their vocabulary. In developing their phonological awareness, children will improve their abilities to distinguish between sounds and to speak clearly and audibly with confidence and control. They become familiar with rhyme, rhythm and alliteration.


In Reception the children are taught Phase Two in the Autumn Term. They have short sessions to practice blending and segmenting and reading and spelling are taught as reversible processes, at sound, word and sentence levels. When words are tricky then the ‘tricky’ bit is identified and the children use their phonic knowledge to decode the rest. These words are not taught by look and say. The children consolidate their skills by following the phonics lessons with reading enjoyable decidable texts and composing sentences for writing using the sounds they have just learned.

For beginners who learn more slowly, we start a catch up programme in January or earlier.

Phase Three is taught for approximately 12 weeks.

Phase Four is taught for approximately 4 – 6 weeks.

Early in the Autumn term parents are invited to attend a synthetic phonics workshop which is aimed at giving the parents an overview of how their child is being taught to read and spell, and their role in that process.

Parents will receive an outline of phonemes being taught to their child that week. They will be given a list of examples, which can be cut out to play games with. In addition, they will be given a Dandelion Phonic Book to share with their child. This ensures that the phonics being taught at school is being reinforced at home.

We also use a reading scheme which is colour banded and progressive to support independent reading.

Key Stage 1 (KS1)

Year 1

The children have a daily English lesson. Teachers’ planning is derived from Year One national expectations. The lesson begins with a letters and sounds phonics session every day. Blending is taught for reading and segmenting for spelling and writing. Reading and spelling are taught as reversible processes, at sound, word and sentence levels. The letters and sounds phonics programme offers multi-sensory strategies and direct modeling from the teacher. When words are tricky, then the ‘tricky’ bit is identified and the children use their phonic knowledge to decode the rest. These words are not taught by look and say. The children consolidate their skills by following the phonics lessons with reading enjoyable decodable texts and composing sentences for writing using the sounds they have just learned. The books offer an exciting basis for reading, discussion and writing.

For children who learn more slowly provision is made for them to work in a small group reinforcing earlier phases of the phonics programme with a trained Teaching Assistant.

The children take the phonics screening test in June. This will indicate whether the children are secure at the phonemes and can apply blending and segmenting using an appropriate range of grapheme-phoneme correspondences. The results of the screening check are passed on to parents as a pass or fail. Parents are then informed that support will be provided in Year 2 for those needing further phonics teaching. They are then re assessed in Year 2. Those who achieve age related expectations will be able to begin Phase 6 in Year 2.

Year 2

The majority of children, who have completed phase 5, begin the Support for spelling programme. Phase 6 investigates spelling, past tense, suffixes- common endings e.g. ed/ing /ful /er, ly then spelling longer words.


Children who need further support, with phonics, as identified in the Year 1 screening check, will continue with support into Year 2. Assessment of their progress will be monitored through the RML assessment sheets and monitored regularly by Year 2 staff.

Guided Reading

Guided reading begins in Year One and continues through to KS2. The class are split into small reading groups based on the National Colour Book bands. School have sets of a scheme called ‘Bug Club’ The children work together completing reading and comprehension activities monitored by a teacher or trained TA. The children sit an assessment of that book band before they are allowed to move on. This ensures the children not only can decode the words but they understand the text they are reading before they move on.

Transition to Key Stage 2 (KS2)

KS2 have a shared expectation that every child will be a reader. They build on good practice in KS1, and provide a language rich environment, where talk is encouraged in lessons and where good quality books are shared and discussed. The staff place high priority on developing the children’s oral language: speaking, listening, and enhancing their vocabulary. All planning is based on the 2014 revised National Curriculum. Information on Year group expectations can be found on this website.

Guided Reading

Staff group the children according to NFER Reading tests which take place late September / Early October and May. The tests enable staff to prioritise certain children to hear read on a more regular basis. School is also supported by Intergen and parent volunteers who listen to the children on a weekly basis.

Staff also use Bug Club guided reading books with small groups of children. The use of bug club materials continues into KS2 with 4/5 sessions of guided reading per week, including a combination of quality time with a teacher/trained TA, tasks to explore the text further and writing opportunities.
Throughout KS2, each year group broadens and extends the range of reading. Children progress from simple texts to a wider range of books. Children change books during registration or after lunch. In addition to the main library, Year 5 and 6 also have their own library. Staff monitor the types of books children are reading and work hard to encourage appropriate choice. They extend the high achievers to read more complex fiction from a variety of authors.


To support the work, they do in school, it is expected that children will read regularly at home. This may be done with a family member, or independently, depending on the child’s age and /or ability. In line with our homework policy, staff may ask additional tasks to be completed over the course of a half term. The children are set reading log homework by staff. This sets reading challenges and questions, and develops an engaged response with a particular book. The tasks are age appropriate. Those children, who need extra direction and support in comprehension and reading, will be set comprehension tasks (either discrete passages or AF guided tasks) by the teacher as a reading log alternative. This will encourage appropriate engagement with texts, and reinforce learning at home.

Progress and Assessment

Reading progress is also monitored between the two NFER tests, the guided reading activities and during lessons where the children are heard to read. This ensures staff are fully informed about a child’s reading profile and can modify their teaching accordingly.

Included on the website are the lists of key performance indicators which are the types of things expected of a pupil at the end of each year. We intend this to be a guideline to parents about the expectations a child should be meeting in a given year group.