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At St Thomas Primary School the whole school community knows how important reading is to raise standards across the whole curriculum. As a result, we make it our top priority to support ALL pupils in becoming confident, engaged and successful readers – achieving the highest possible standards.


At St Thomas Primary school, we recognise that reading is one of the most important skills that children will ever acquire. Reading is integral to the teaching of every subject and gives children a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.  As a result, we strive to embed a culture of reading into the core of what we do here at St Thomas. The aims of the reading curriculum in our school are to develop pupils who:

  • Take great pleasure when listening to adults read and when choosing and reading books for themselves. 

  • Are happy, healthy and curious learners who read confidently and fluently and seek to acquire knowledge independently.

  • Can read prosodically with accuracy, automaticity, and speed, freeing up the working memory to understand and comprehend the text.

  • Build a wealth of vocabulary (rich language acquisition) that gives them the word power they need to become successful speakers and writers as well as confident readers.

  • Develop a lifelong enjoyment of reading taking genuine pleasure from what they read, becoming enthusiastic, independent and reflective readers.

  • Have the reading skills they need to access all areas of the curriculum.

  • Active prior knowledge, building on the skills, knowledge and understanding acquired previously.

  • Automatically, break down words and phrases, reading around the unknown/confusing text, gaining a clearer understanding.

  • Make responses to what they read, retrieving key information from the text as well as making accurate inferences and justifications.

  • Can summaries the main points in the text, considering the who, what, when, where and why.

  • Are exposed to reading a variety of high-quality literature that is interwoven into our curriculum throughout the day e.g. various genres, popular authors, texts linked to projects taught etc.

Reading is a vital skill that will support children’s learning across the whole curriculum. As a school, we ensure that our children are taught to read with fluency, accuracy, automaticity, prosody and understanding through a variety of discreet and cross-curricular learning opportunities. Reading is taught daily, right through school from Reception to Year 6.




Reading in EYFS:

Reading at St Thomas is prioritised early, to ensure that pupils can access the full curriculum. The curriculum in the Foundation Stage offers many opportunities to develop the skills required for reading. Speaking and listening are two of the first skills to be focused upon; these are developed through listening to stories, shared reading, role-play, opportunities for talk through continuous provision and Phase 1-5 of the Essential Letters and Sounds phonics scheme. Within both Foundation Stage settings there are dedicated reading areas both indoors and outdoors that promote the love of reading. Within the provision, there are key opportunities to rehearse and retell stories using roleplay and small world play. Parents support reading in the classroom by volunteering as a mystery reader to engage pupils. Within the EYFS unit every child reads to an adult at least once a week in school.


Within Reception, reading is taught through both literacy-focused activities based on books and through specific teaching of the Essential Letters and sounds Phonics Programme. Topics are well planned and based around high quality texts making links with the wider curriculum. Throughout the continuous provision, books linked to the topic theme and provision areas are displayed and the children are encouraged to use the books alongside their play and learning. Our focus in on broadening vocabulary, knowledge and application. In reception every child has a 1:1 reading session individually with an adult. During these sessions children are heard reading a chosen book linked to the phonics taught.

Year 1:

In Year 1, children begin the year being taught phase 5 phonics following the Essential Letters and Sounds Programme building on what was taught in Reception. They then move onto alternative sounds within phase 5. These phase 5 sounds are taught to compliment the previously taught sounds. The ELS phonics programme is followed throughout the year. Extra interventions take place, supporting those pupils requiring extra phase 2/3 support. The children read with their teacher or the support assistant 1:1 every week to allow for quality reading (pupils who have been identified as ‘Disadvantaged’ and/or one of the ‘Lowest 20%’ read more often).

The books read by the children in the EYFS and Year 1, link to the sounds taught through the ELS programme. These same decodable books, with sounds learnt from the week, are sent home every Friday (linked to their phonics ability) and parents are encouraged to read the book 4 times within the week (re-read) so the children develop fluency and accuracy as well as increasing their speed in decoding and their recalling of sounds.

Reading in Year 2 and KS2:

As the children progress through school, we aim to build on the reading experiences already acquired. The aim is to develop independence, word level knowledge, fluency and sound comprehension.

At St Thomas Primary School, we follow a 7-stage format, a consistent approach/teaching sequence from Year 2 all the way up to Year 6. The 7-stage format is a rigorous approach to the teaching of reading that develops learner’s confidence and enjoyment in reading, allowing pupils to build on knowledge as they move through the school. For 30 minutes, four days a week, children work to develop their reading fluency, word level knowledge and comprehension, via a number of engaging and enjoyable activities. Texts chosen for this process are age appropriate, yet challenging in order to deepen pupil knowledge and understanding and to stimulate in-depth discussion. High-quality talk and discussion in a language-rich environment is promoted and encouraged throughout the teaching sequence. Partner and group talk is encouraged, where pupils are expected to speak in complete sentences, taking turns where appropriate.  The amount of time spent at each stage is data driven. The format is familiar to staff and pupils alike, who are now accustomed to the terminology and types of activities delivered out at each stage.

The 7-stage teaching sequence (disciplinary knowledge):

1. Activate Prior Knowledge: In this stage, children are asked to make predictions about the book based on what they already know through word association and themes. Pupils may use the front cover, blurb, images or vocabulary that might appear in the book to help form predictions.


2. Reading and Fluency: This stage provides pupils with the time to develop their reading fluency and prosody. Teachers model with confidence and pupils have the opportunity to read out aloud. Often there is a reading focus based on what the majority of pupils need to work on. Pupils are encouraged to read and re-read texts, to build up the fluency of the familiar text e.g. paragraph, page, chapter. This help pupils to build on their understanding.

3. Initial Thoughts and Observations: In this stage, children are given background information and context they need to be able to access the book. They may read to or listen to a paragraph/chapter of the book and are given the opportunity to raise questions allowing for discussions and debate. Pupils have the opportunity to wonder and think aloud e.g. ‘I wonder…’, ‘I can see…’, ‘I feel…’

4. Breakdown and Repair: Pupils are taught a range of strategies to breakdown unknown words and phrases in order to gain a clearer understanding of the text they are reading. This process is modelled explicitly where needed (metacognition). Pupils are encouraged to consider what they don’t yet know, what confuses them and words they are not sure of.


5. Delve at a Deeper Depth: This aims to explore the book further and to delve into themes, characters and language present within a book. This stage deepens the thinking and encourages pupils to interrogate the text. It is covered in many different ways such as conscience alley, debates, freeze frames, character interviews, visualisation, in order to ensure that children are fully engaged and really understand their book.


6. Comprehension Questions: This stage often has a reading domain focus based around data analysis. Teachers identify gaps in learning and cover the domains which require extra teaching and focus. During this stage pupils are encouraged to think aloud to gain a better understanding of the questions asked, they are encouraged to find evidence and construct both meaningful oral and written responses. There is a focus on the input, rather than the output.


 7. Summary: This stage can be done at any point through the whole process. Pupils are encouraged to demonstrate a clear understanding of an extract, page, chapter and/or the whole text if needed.


Training has ensured that ALL staff are clearly aware of the 7-stage teaching sequence and are highly competent in its planning and delivery, offering quality first teaching on a daily basis. Data from termly testing (NFER), is stringently analysed and teacher assessments are used to identify areas that require greater input, revision and consolidation. Assessment identifies precise gaps in pupils learning.

In addition to the 7-stage teaching sequence, once a week, pupils are given the opportunity to read a book of their choice (guided) during their reading lesson time (ERIC – Everyone Reading In Class). This may be a book from the class or school library or one they have chosen to bring in from home. Reading for pleasure matters to us. We believe that increasing pupil reading miles will make a LOT of difference.

Reading for Pleasure:

Story Time

At St Thomas Primary, pupils have the opportunity to listen to their teacher read for 20 minutes, 4 times a week, during story time. This session is prioritised and provides pupils with the opportunity to listen to and engage with a text without interruption. Teachers read with confidence and enjoyment, modelling the correct use of prosody and reading speed, bringing characters to life and exposing children to a wide range of literature such as stories, poetry, rhymes and non-fiction.

Book Club

Once a week, pupils are also provided with a 20-minute session where teachers introduce new book titles and share recommended interesting reads. During this time, pupils are also encouraged to share and recommend their favourite books.


At St Thomas Primary School we strive to promote a positive reading culture where books and the love of literature is both celebrated and valued. Through the teaching of phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing comprehension skills as they move through the school. Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. Across all year groups, we use formative teacher assessments and pupil self-assessment, during reading lessons, to inform next steps as well as data received from termly testing. Data from termly testing (NFER), is stringently analysed and teacher assessments are used to identify areas that require greater input, revision and consolidation. This information then informs reading planning allowing progression to occur. We firmly believe that reading is the key (centre) to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We promote reading for pleasure where children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors. We intend the impact of our Reading curriculum will ensure our pupils are academically prepared for life beyond primary school.



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