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St Mary's C of E

School Bideford

Reading at St Mary's

How we teach reading at St Mary's C of E Primary School

Children are taught to read at St Mary’s through the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics. The phonics programme we follow as a school is ‘Letters and Sounds’. 

During Foundation stage the children are taught Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4 from letters and sounds and are regularly assessed to ensure that they have a sound understanding of these phases. Where children are not secure in a phase they will then work with an intervention group to ensure that they are working at age related expectation. Children also take part in guided reading sessions which enable them to develop their comprehension skills as well as consolidating their ability to segment and blend in sentences. Children also take part in regular 1:1 reading sessions. 

During Year 1 children revisit Phase 4 and then move swiftly on to Phase 5. Children who are not yet secure at Phase 2 or 3 continue to work on Phase 5 Letters and Sounds with the children in class and any gaps in understanding they have are addressed through additional intervention groups such as CYPPS and TRUGS. The children are regularly assessed to ensure they are making good progress in the understanding of grapheme phoneme correspondences. Children in Year 1 are also tested to ensure that they are able to segment and blend in order to prepare them for the KS1 Phonics screening.


Children in Year 1 read weekly with their teacher and adult as part of a guided reading session which helps them to develop their reading comprehension and inference skills. During these sessions the children discuss what they are reading as well as reading for sense and meaning. Children also regularly read 1:1 with an adult and a large number take part in ‘Reading Eggs’. 

The books that the children have access to whilst they are still working towards ‘Free reader’ status are aligned with our phonics programme and enable the children to use their phonics learning in context. 

During Year 2 children continue to read with their teacher during guided reading and on their own. Children who did not pass the phonics screening in Year 1 continue to have support with their phonic knowledge through intervention groups and as part of ‘Reading Recovery’. During this year children start to make written responses to their reading in order to enable them to succeed in SATS examinations. 

In all year groups children are encouraged to read for pleasure and have access to quality books through our use of Devon Schools Library Service and through our own library book stocks. Reading is given a high profile at St Mary's C of E Primary School and the children recognise the importance of being efficient readers. 

Each class also listens to and discusses a class novel which enables children to access texts that they may not otherwise choose or be able to read independently. This further encourages children to read for pleasure and helps to develop their skills of inference and deduction through discussion.