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St Sebastian's CofE Primary School

Together in Faith, We Aspire to Achieve Excellence

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Reading and Phonics

How We Teach Reading at St. Sebastian’s

At St. Sebastian’s we believe that reading opens up a whole new world of understanding, feeling and imagination.  If a child reads for pleasure and builds a solid foundation in reading, they are far likelier to succeed in all other areas of learning.  At St Sebastian’s, we expose all children to a wide range of texts in all areas of the curriculum.  This includes Literacy sessions, Whole Class Reading sessions and a daily class novel.  Throughout school, we believe that 1:1 reading is important and every child in school will be heard at least once a week by an adult in class.  We work hard to ensure that every child reaches their potential in reading as early as possible to open them up to new experiences and learning opportunities.

For a selection of books that are recommended for primary aged children, go to this site: .

In Reception children learn to:

  • ‘Read’ the sounds in words and practice writing these sounds.
  • Use phonics knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately.
  • Follow the Letters and Sounds programme.
  • Practise reading and spelling ‘tricky words’ (words that cannot be sounded out are learnt by sight.), such as: ‘once’, ‘have’, ‘said’ and ‘where’.
  • Show simple understanding when talking to others about what they have read.
  • Practise reading books that match the phonics phases they are learning by blending and reading ‘tricky’ words.
  • Read the 45 high frequency words (HFW).
  • Jolly Phonics:

Key Stage One and beyond:

Children continue following the Letters and Sounds programme using Phonics Play into KS1. They continue with discreet Phonics teaching until they have completed Phase 6 and have response interventions to work on any gaps highlighted by thorough assessment each half term.

Throughout school, children work their way through a coloured book scheme, linked to PM Benchmarking.  The books are linked closely to children’s phonics level and each band has a selection of high quality fiction and non-fiction texts.  These are taken from a variety of places such as the Oxford Reading Tree, Engage Literacy and Big Cat. Every child in school will be on a book band, ending with ‘black band’ which is exclusively for Year 6.  In KS1 and KS2, children focus on the reading of high frequency words during reading and spelling lessons.

Whole Class Reading

We deliver daily whole class reading sessions from Year 1 onwards. These comprise of a mixture of Reciprocal Reading sessions and lessons focusing of the different reading skills. Reciprocal Reading is a structured approach to teaching different strategies for reading: predicting, clarifying questioning and summarising. The lessons are matched to the class’ reading ability and focus around a class text, which is often linked to the children’s learning in other areas of the curriculum. In KS1, these lessons focus heavily on decoding, fluency and basic comprehension skills. Towards the end of Year 2 and beyond, more discreet reading skills are focused on.

Tracking and Progress

Class teachers assess children’s reading skills regularly so that we can ensure they are making good progress in both decoding words and understanding the text.  All children are assessed twice a year using the PM Benchmarking materials which ensure that every child is on the correct book band for their decoding and comprehension levels.  In EYFS and KS1, half termly Phonics assessments take places as well as high frequency word assessments. Throughout school, children undertake the Progress in Reading Assessment (PIRA) reading assessment at three assessment points during the year.  

Reading for Pleasure

At St Sebastian’s, we believe that reading for pleasure is an integral part of the reading experience and we work hard to promote this throughout school.  This includes ensuring we have an inviting library with a wide range of books available to the children.  Each classroom also has a welcoming reading area with high quality texts from a range of genres including magazines, graphic novels and non-fiction.  Each class has a reading trail which rewards those children who read regularly at home or in school.

Parental Support

As part of the home/school agreement, our pupils are expected to read regularly at home with parental support.  In KS1, every child will bring home two books a week to share with their parents or carers.  We encourage parents/carers to read each book to their child, before the child goes onto read it at least twice to help build fluency.  More advice on this and suggested questions, can be found in the ‘St Sebastian’s Guide to Individual Reading’.  In KS2, when children have moved onto novels, regular reading at home to a parent is still strongly encouraged, as is discussion and questioning around what is being read.  Parents are asked to fill out their child’s reading record each time they read at home.