** w/b 3rd October ** Monday - Year 2 Trip to Windsor Castle, Y6 Hockey (selected children) ** Wednesay - Ethos Council Harvest Celebration at St Albans Abbey **
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St Mary's Church of England Primary School Aspiring, nurturing, flourishing; you and me living life to the full

Early Reading and Phonics

Phonics and Reading Scheme


We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021.


We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.


Please see an example of our Phase 2 ‘Actions, Images and Letter Formation’ document below


In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check. In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps. For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression:


Please see below for the 'Unlocking Letters and Sounds overview progression document.


To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact.


Early Reading Scheme


At St Mary's we promote a 'phonics first' approach and in both our guided reading sessions at school and in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading. In these crucial early stages of reading we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars Phonics, which are supplemented with books from a range of publishers. All our books have been carefully matched to ensure they follow the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression.


Once children progress beyond decodable texts, they move onto our book scheme so that they can continue to progress in their decoding, fluency and comprehension skills to become avid, expert readers.


How can I support my child? 


At St. Mary’s Primary School, we value reading as a key life skill and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is imperative for future success. By the time children leave St. Mary’s, we aim for them to be competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. Children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors and to review their books objectively. This enhances a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles.

How can I support my child?

Reading Passports


As a school, we view reading for pleasure as crucial to developing a life-long love for reading and learning, as it underpins essential learning behaviours. As a result, we want to ensure all children at St. Mary's have access to a breadth of high-quality and enjoyable texts, which are updated throughout the school. With this in mind, we have developed 'Reading Passports' for Key Stage 2. Each year group in Key Stage 2 has a 'Passport' of books which have been chosen to sit within age-related expectations, linked to the curriculum and in areas of interest for the children.