Our Lady of Lourds

St Norbert's
Catholic Voluntary Academy

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How we teach your children to read and write

Every child deserves success right from the start. We know that the sooner children learn to read, the greater their success at school. This is why we put reading at the heart of what we do.

We follow Letters and Sounds, using phonics play, jolly phonics stories and songs and no nonsense phonics in year one and two to teach our children to read and write.

During this time, we group children by their reading progress for 30 minutes a day, four times a week. During the session we introduce, revisit, teach, practise, apply and then assess.  re-assess children every half-term so we can place them in the group where they’ll make the most progress. We provide extra daily one-to-one sessions for children who need a bit of a boost to keep up.

How do we make phonics easy for children to learn?

Phonics depends upon children learning to read and write sounds effortlessly, so we make it simple and fun.

The phonic knowledge is split into two parts.

First we teach them one way to read and write the 40+ sounds in English. We use stories and songs to help all children, especially slower-starters, to read the sounds easily.

Children learn to read words by oral blending  This involves hearing phonemes and being able to merge them together to make a word. They write them first by oral segmenting and then segmenting. This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of grapheme/phoneme correspondence to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order.

Then we teach children the different spellings of the same sounds, for example, they learn that the sound ‘ay’ is written ay, a-e and ai; the sound ‘ee’ is written ee, e and ea. We use pictures and actions to help them remember each sound.

How do we ensure children can read every book?

The first thing we do is to give children books we know they can read – without any guessing. (We read lots of other stories to them, but do not expect them to read these yet.)

Before they read a book, they look at key vocabulary that will appear in the book, look at the title, listen to the blurb to get them excited about the story and have a look inside the book too.

Through guided reading sessions, over four days, children read the story several times: first to focus on reading the words carefully; the second to help them read the story fluently; and on the third, we talk about the story together for example, how characters might be feeling and why and show our understanding.

How do we make writing simple for children to learn?

We teach handwriting, spelling and composition separately, gradually bringing each skill together step-by-step.

We teach children to form letters with the correct pencil grip using curly caterpillar letters. They practise handwriting every day so they learn to write quickly and easily.

Once children can write simple words, we teach them to ‘hold’ a sentence in their heads and then write it with correct spelling and punctuation using the gammar for writing toolkit.

Very soon children are able to write down their own ideas. We try out different sentences together, drawing on new vocabulary and phrases from the storybook we have read. They practise saying their sentences out loud first so they don’t forget their ideas while they’re writing. They also learn to punctuate their writing by using the grammar for writing toolkit.

Story and poetry time

Storytime is the highlight of every day. We have a bank of stories that children get to know really well, and others we read just for fun. Children learn to retell the story, learn the refrains by heart and act out the stories in the role-play area. Children learn poetry too. Talk for writing helps children to learn some stories off by heart.

How can you help at home?

We appreciate you’re busy but here are two things that will make the biggest difference to your child’s progress. Every night:

1) Read a bedtime story to your child. You can swap a book in our swop cupboard or enjoy our class story sack or visit the library to borrow a book. Read these stories to your child – don’t ask them to read the story themselves as this is beyond their current reading stage.

2) Listen to your child read the storybook we send home.

Your child will bring home a Reading book. Read the book to them first. Spot key words in the book. Read it several times. Praise your child for how well they read it – celebrate what a great reader they are.. Re-reading stories develops their fluency on every reading. There’s more good advice on how to listen to your child read onwww.ruthmiskin.com/parents.

Background, Research and Early Reading Rationale

Bold Beginnings (The Reception curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding primary schools) November 2017 Ofsted

A good early education is the foundation for later success. For too many children, however, their Reception year is a missed opportunity that can leave them exposed to all the painful and unnecessary consequences of falling behind their peers.

Reading was at the heart of the curriculum in the most successful classes. Listening to stories, poems and rhymes fed children’s imagination, enhanced their vocabulary and developed their comprehension. Systematic phonics played a critical role in teaching children the alphabetic code and, since this knowledge is also essential for spelling, good phonics teaching supported children’s early writing.

Successful schools made sure that they gave reading, writing and mathematics in their Reception classes sufficient direct teaching time every day, with frequent opportunities for children to practise and consolidate their growing knowledge. The headteachers made sure that their curriculum was fit for purpose, so that children were equipped to meet the challenges of Year 1 and beyond.

The Rose Report 2006 Independent review of the teaching of early reading. (Although an old document, this is still very relevant to today.)

It is important for schools to offer a coherent reading programme in which ‘quality first teaching’ as defined by the Primary National Strategy and intervention work are closely linked. While interventions for children with reading difficulties will always be necessary, the need for them is likely to be much reduced by ‘quality first teaching’. This is because such teaching identifies incipient reading difficulties, and this enables appropriate support to be provided quickly, thus minimising the risk of children falling behind. It follows that investments in ‘quality first teaching’ not only brings greatest benefit to children but is also likely to yield the greatest value for money.

The Early Years Statutory Framework 2014

Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems and other written materials) to ignite their interest.

Specific areas Reading: children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.

Key Stage 1 The National Curriculum 2014

Teachers should develop pupils’ reading and writing in all subjects to support their acquisition of knowledge. Pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose (both fiction and non-fiction) and be encouraged to read for pleasure. Schools should do everything to promote wider reading. They should provide library facilities and set ambitious expectations for reading at home.

A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.

It is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in word reading and comprehension; different kinds of teaching are needed for each. Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics should be emphasised in the early teaching of reading to beginners (i.e. unskilled readers) when they start school.

Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.

During year 1, teachers should build on work from the Early Years Foundation Stage, making sure that pupils can sound and blend unfamiliar printed words quickly and accurately using the phonic knowledge and skills that they have already learnt. Teachers should also ensure that pupils continue to learn new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and revise and consolidate those learnt earlier. The understanding that the letter(s) on the page represent the sounds in spoken words should underpin pupils’ reading and spelling of all words. This includes common words containing unusual GPCs. The term ‘common exception words’ is used throughout the programmes of study for such words.

Alongside this knowledge of GPCs, pupils need to develop the skill of blending the sounds into words for reading and establish the habit of applying this skill whenever they encounter new words. This will be supported by practice in reading books consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and skill and their knowledge of common exception words. At the same time, they will need to hear, share and discuss a wide range of high-quality books to develop a love of reading and broaden their vocabulary.’

By the beginning of year 2, pupils should be able to read all common graphemes. They should be able to read unfamiliar words containing these graphemes, accurately and without undue hesitation, by sounding them out in books that are matched closely to each pupil’s level of word reading knowledge. They should also be able to read many common words containing GPCs taught so far [for example, shout, hand, stop, or dream], without needing to blend the sounds out loud first. Pupils’ reading of common exception words [for example, you, could, many, or people], should be secure. Pupils will increase their fluency by being able to read these words easily and automatically. Finally, pupils should be able to retell some familiar stories that have been read to and discussed with them or that they have acted out during year 1.

During year 2, teachers should continue to focus on establishing pupils’ accurate and speedy word reading skills. They should also make sure that pupils listen to and discuss a wide range of stories, poems, plays and information books; this should include whole books. The sooner that pupils can read well and do so frequently, the sooner they will be able to increase their vocabulary, comprehension and their knowledge across the wider curriculum.

The Big Picture at St Norbert's...

How successful are we at teaching reading?


Reading - Early Years 2017 2018 2019

End of EYFS

% of pupils reaching early learning goal in reading

66.7% (National average 77%)

Gap -10.3%

Below national

85.7% (National average 78%)

Gap +7.7%

Above national

75.9% (National average 71.8%)

Gap +4.1%

Above national

Phonics 2017 2018 2019

% of pupils reaching phonics expectations at the end of Year 1

83% (National average 81%)

Gap +2%

Above national

82.1% (National average 82%)

Gap +0.1%

Broadly inline

86.2% (National average 81.9%)

Gap +5.7%

Above national

 % of pupil reaching phonics expectations at the end of Year 2 for whole cohort

 100% (National average 92%)

Gap +8%

Above national

 50% (National average 92%)

Gap -42%

Below national

 57.1% (National average 55.9%)

Gap +1.2%

Above national


Reading End of Key Stage 1 2017 2018 2019
Reading assessment outcome

80.7% (National average 76%)

Gap +3.7%

Above national

80% (National average 75%)

Gap +5%

Above national

70% (National average 74.9%)

Gap -4.9%

Below average