Welcome to the St Mary's family!

English - Reading


The teaching of Reading, Writing, and Spoken Language at St Mary’s Charminster, is based on the guidance set out in the new 2014 National Curriculum.   


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We teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Foundation and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.

We also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.

We value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.


Daily phonics lessons in Foundation and Year 1

Children in Foundation and Year 1 have daily phonics lessons.  We teach phonics for 20-30 minutes a day.  Each Friday we review the week’s learning to help children become fluent readers.

Children in Foundation are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.  

Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.

Daily Keep-up lessons

Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.

Daily Catch-Up lessons

Any child in Year 2, 3 or 4 who is not fully fluent at reading are assessed using the Little Wandle assessments to identify gaps that need to be taught.  Keep up resources are used during regular teaching.

Teaching reading

In Foundation and Year 1 we teach children to read through reading practice sessions two times a week. These are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children.  We use books that are matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle assessments.  Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

  • decoding

  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression

  • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text. 


As we are fairly new to Little Wandle, the current Year 2s are being taught to read in the same way as year 1 (through reading practice sessions two times a week using books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge). As children in year 2 gradually move off the scheme, small group sessions will move to whole class guided reading, in line with KS2. 


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In KS2 whole class reading is taught so that all children are immersed in the same high-quality literature and the discussions that these texts promote.  These sessions take place 3-4 times a week and use VIPERS as a way of supporting children with their reading comprehension skills. All children will be working on VIPERS during class reading, whether it is reading as a class, in a small group, or one-to-one with an adult. 

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If we ensure that children are competent in all of these reading skills, we are covering all of the National Curriculum requirements and enabling them to be strong, confident readers. This acronym is just a great way of helping children and parents to remember what these vital skills are.


Home Reading

In Foundation and Year 1, the decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.  A reading for pleasure book (Sharing book) also goes home for parents to share and read to children. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.

Children in Years 2 – 4 take home books from our banded reading scheme.  Books are colour banded, by sticker and contains both fiction and non-fiction. The books are from a variety of publishers and give children breadth and interest in different authors and illustrators.

Ensuring Reading for Pleasure

Reading is a huge part of our everyday at St Mary's Charminster and we work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy. High quality texts are used for all subject areas and ‘Storytime’ occurs daily in every class. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at St Mary’s and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.  Each classroom has a well-developed reading area where children can select a book and read quietly on a comfy seat. These books are monitored to gage the children’s interests and reading habits.

Classes also spend time in the school library where they are encouraged to take a library book home alongside individual reading books. In KS2 there are various reading challenges and other exciting activities for the whole school, such as World Book Day, paired reading and Library Lotto which are all designed to keep children reading and enjoying books regularly either as whole class, small groups or individual.

The school takes part in the Reading Partnership Scheme and actively encourages pupils to take part in the local library's Summer and Winter Reading challenges whereby Summer 2021 and Summer 22 both saw St Mary's as one of the highest participating schools in Dorset. 





Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.  Assessment for Learning is used daily within class to identify children needing Keep up support.  Summative assessment is used every six weeks to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed.  The assessment tracker is scrutinised to narrow the gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.  

Statutory and Non-Statutory Assessment

  • Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.

  • Children in Year 2 sit the Statutory Assessment Tests (SATS) for Reading.

  • Children in Years 2-4 sit the GL Reading Assessment to obtain reading ages.