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St Mary's C of E

School Bideford

Reading at St Mary's

Reading at St Mary’s


We have high expectations for reading at St. Mary’s Primary School and our teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both word reading and comprehension. Our aim for children is to leave KS1 as confident decoders who can speedily recognise familiar printed words. As children move through the school, there is a growing focus on developing children’s comprehension skills and linguistic knowledge. By the end of a child’s primary education with us, we strive for all pupils to be able to read fluently and have developed a love of reading.


A reader from St. Mary’s Primary School will:

  • Enjoy getting lost in a world of books, both through books they read independently and through books that are read to them
  • Accurately and speedily read GPCs and segment and blend these in words
  • Re-read books to build up fluency and confidence in word reading
  • Have a well-developed vocabulary from reading quality, age-appropriate texts
  • Become independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers who read widely and fluently
  • Read and understand a wide range of fiction, poetry, plays, non-fiction and reference books
  • Ask and answer questions to improve their understanding
  • Leave the school as someone who reads fluently and effortlessly


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 and early reading programme we follow as a school is ‘Little Wandle- Letters and Sounds’. 

During Foundation stage the children are taught Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4 from the Little Wandle programme 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 in a catch-up group to ensure that they are working at age related expectation. Children also take part in guided reading sessions three times a week in order to build fluency, reciprocity and comprehension skills, this in turn supports in consolidating children’s ability to segment and blend in sentences. Children also take part in regular 1:1 reading sessions. 

During Year 1 children review phase 3 and 4 and then move swiftly on to Phase 5. Children who are not yet on these earlier phases continue to work on Phase 5 Little Wandle with the children in class and any gaps in understanding they have are addressed through additional intervention and catch up groups. All 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 three times a week with their teacher and adult as part of a guided reading session, reading books closely linked to the phonics programme, which help them to develop their fluency, 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. Towards the end of year 1, fluent readers begin to take part in whole class reading sessions linked to vocabulary, reading for fluency and meaning and comprehension, texts chosen for these sessions are not necessarily phonetically decodable.

For children in Year 2 and beyond, guided reading takes place four times a week, following a ‘four part’ format- vocabulary, just read, close read, comprehension. Each term children read from a challenging fiction book as well as poetry and non-fiction. Comprehension questions link to our skills progression document and are based on, prediction, inference, clarifying, summarising, questioning as well as identifying language for effect and themes and conventions.

Reading for Pleasure

At St Mary’s we create a reading culture where children are exposed to a range of high-quality texts in a variety of contexts.

We have recently purchased many new books for our class libraries, these include graphic novels, modern and classic literature, poetry, non-fiction and a number of books celebrating cultural diversity. Each class has the opportunity to read from any of the books in class, with favourites being recommended to others.

To further encourage children to enjoy reading we have created ‘shelfies’ of our favourite books, taken part in reading cafes and have generated our own ‘reading identities’ which has further helped to promote a love of reading.

Each class has a read aloud book every term, sometimes this is chosen by the children. Over the course of the year children experience a wide range of text types and genres.

We also enjoy taking part in the Bideford Library Summer Reading Challenge, as well as having the opportunity to participate in World Book Day and the Appledore Book Festival.