St Mary’s is a reading school! We recognise the power, benefits and joy of reading and we work hard to promote reading throughout the school.


The love of text begins very early, even small babies love the sound of an adult reading to them, and that joy should go right through our lives. It is our duty and pleasure to support all our children to be confident and competent readers so that they can forever engage with books.

Teaching Reading

All pupils in KS1 have a daily, differentiated phonics lesson. It is through this that they are taught the skills and sounds necessary for reading and writing. We follow a systematic approach to the teaching of phonics and we follow the format and progression of Letters and Sounds through the platform of Monster Phonics.

Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. There are no big leaps in learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just ‘recognise’ them.

Reception start with Phase One which will have begun in their nursery or pre-school setting. This phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics. During this phase especially, we plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. We teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and read good books to, and with, the children. This helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books. The children learn to identify rhyme and alliteration.

Our daily phonics sessions in Class 1 are fun and involve lots of speaking, listening, singing and games. Monster Phonics supports this and offers the children colour coding and friendly characters to help them to learn and retain the different sounds. The emphasis is on children’s active participation. They learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent work and play.

We use a combination of reading schemes to help the children progress. For Reception pupils and developing readers we present them with books that use only the sounds they have already met. As their reading progresses and as they learn more sounds we can then start to introduce other books.

School uses Monster Phonics reading books for our early readers but the children move to other books taken from the Oxford Reading Tree or carefully graded books from different publishers.

Each class has a variety of reading books which are used for Guided Reading Sessions. These happen daily in every class. In a Guided Reading Session children read from a text suitable for their ability and develop their inference and comprehension skills. These sessions take place as independent tasks or with an adult.