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Reading Strategies

How is Reading taught at St Mary’s?


We teach word reading through daily twenty minute phonics sessions in both Reception and Key Stage One. By the end of Year 1, it is our expectation that all children will have been taught the skills needed to enable them to read widely and with fluency and that they will use their blending and segmenting skills to help them tackle unfamiliar words. These skills are assessed in June of Year 1 by the National Phonics Screening Check. You can see our results of this on our Performance Data Page.


Phonics sessions are informed by regular assessments and planned systematically using the national guidance called ‘Letters and Sounds’. Sessions follow a rigorous four part structure of: revisit, teach, practise and apply. 'Letters and Sounds' is supplemented with actions and songs that are used to support and enhance our teaching. Teaching Assistants are trained to deliver small group phonics and phonic interventions alongside the class teacher. Interventions are identified on a daily basis so that all children are able to 'keep up' with the phonics taught in their class.


At the end of each week, in Reception and Year 1, children will take home a phonetically plausible book based on the sounds that have been taught that week. These are changed on a weekly basis to match the current phonic teaching. 


Guided Reading – Reception and Keystage One

Guided Reading is taught daily from Reception and throughout Keystage One. As part of this, children will have the opportunity to read as part of group with an adult at least once per week. In other sessions, children undertake reading activities independently. Children are grouped according to their reading ability and the text is carefully chosen to match their colour band and objective. These sessions are led by a teacher or teaching assistant and are used to develop the children’s comprehension and understanding of texts in the follow areas:


1a Draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts
1b Identify / explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction texts, such as characters, events, titles and information
1c Identify and explain the sequence of events in texts
1d Make inferences from the text
1e Predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far


At St Mary’s we use a range of reading schemes, including Big Cat Collins and Oxford Reading Tree. The document entitled 'Age Related Texts' below sets out our expectations for the level of texts that children should be reading in given year groups. Reading characters are introduced to the children in Reception and reading sessions are taught against these characters throughout school. These characters aim to support children in understanding and applying comprehension skills. The characters are - spotter; clue finder; chatterer; selector. Whole class reading comprehension is taught in Year 1 and Year 2 once a week and will teach based on one of these characters. Reception have whole class story time three times a week which focuses on comprehension skills. 


Reading Comprehension – Keystage Two

In Keystage Two, Reading Comprehension is taught to the whole class daily. A class text is used and explored through both whole class and focus group teaching. The reading characters are used as the main driver of these sessions. Children are expected to analyse texts closely in order to be able to:

2a Give / explain the meaning of words in context
2b Retrieve and record information / identify key details from fiction and non-fiction
2c Summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph
2d Make inferences from the text / explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text
2e Predict what might happen from details stated and implied
2f Identify / explain how information / narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole
2g Identify / explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases
2h Make comparisons within the text


Novel Study

Novel Study is a holistic text-led approach to teaching reading and writing skills through the main English Curriculum. It is both challenging and encouraging for all children as it is based on providing 1st hand experiences and deep exploration of texts and the themes within them.


Novel Study aims to: foster an enjoyment of reading and literature; develop children’s communication in all forms, including oracy and language; heighten imagination – the ability to think, reflect and grow morally, socially and cognitively; build deep analysis skills and create a safe place for children to express their inner most thoughts.