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'With Jesus, we learn as a joyful family and flourish to be the best that we can be'


Subject Leader - Miss Mercer

Early Reading and Phonics - Miss Fann


At St. Mary’s and St. Benedict’s Primary School we aim to develop pupils’ abilities within an integrated programme of Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing.  We strive for children to be literate and confident with a love of reading and writing to enable them to flourish as life-long learners. 


We aim for every child to be able to: read easily, fluently and with good understanding; develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information; acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language; appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage; write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences; use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas; are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.


We follow the Statutory requirements for the teaching and learning of English which are laid out in specific detail in the National Curriculum 2014.


The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for


English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate. 


    Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.

    Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read.

    Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.


    At St. Mary’s and St. Benedict’s, we recognise the importance of phonics to decode.  Daily phonics teaching is prioritised throughout EYFS and Key Stage 1 and underpins both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Decoding skills are taught daily from EYFS. 


    Phonics sessions follow the teaching scheme 'Red Rose Phonics' and include fun and enjoyable activities which lead to rapid acquisition of skills. Regular application of phonics skills on a daily basis further strengthen our children’s reading ability. 


    Phonics is taught progressively through 5 phases.  It is expected that children will reach Phase 5 in Year 1.  However, we understand that children all learn at their own level, therefore we stream our phonics groups across Key Stage 1 to ensure all children can access the Phonics Curriculum at their own level. We tailor our phonics teaching to meet the individual needs of children. We regularly monitor our children’s progress and so if children are not on track to meet the phonics expectations, interventions and additional support are put in place. 




    It is recommended that when teaching letter formation, a phrase is used in order to embed the directionality.  All adults who teach letter formation are encouraged to use the same approach as children learn effectively through repetition.

    This chart provides an overview of the formation phrases linked to the Red Rose Letters and Sounds Planning Programme that we use in school:


    In KS2 we have adopted a No-Nonsense Spelling Scheme to build upon the phonics skills obtained in EYFS and Key Stage 1. In Year 2, No Nonsense Spelling is taught alongside 'Red Rose Phonics' to teach phonics, to aid transition to Year 3. When children reach Year 3, we identify those children that may need extra support with Phonics and Spelling, and provide targeted intervention groups tailored to their needs.


    Phonics Screening Check

    At the end of Year 1, all children are required to undergo the statutory Phonics Screening Check, which takes place in the Summer Term. Children are presented with ‘pseudo words’ (nonsense words) and real words and are assessed on their ability to decode words using the sounds they have learnt in Phases 2-5. The test contains 40 words and children are required to read 32 of those words correctly in order to achieve the required standard. If your child does not meet the required standard in Year 1, they will be retested the following year in the Summer term of Year 2.


    Sample materials from the Phonics Screening Check.


    If you have any questions about phonics or the Phonics Screening Check, please speak to your child's teacher. 


    At St. Mary’s and St. Benedict’s, we hold a Parent Phonics Meeting, both in Reception and in Year one. This is an opportunity to learn more about Phonics and ask questions to the class teacher. We also send home Phonics packs to help you support your child’s phonics at home.

    During our parent meetings, we will talk about the importance of articulating sounds and using the ‘pure sound’ when decoding words.


    Here is a useful video showing the correct pronunciation of phonemes.



    We appreciate the vitality of pupils reading fluently when entering secondary school and promote a love of reading which underpins our curriculum, in addition to daily guided reading across school.  We hold high expectations towards reading at home which is reflected in our homework policy.

    Reading milestones are celebrated across school with reading achievement displays, and children receive a free book when they have achieved 150 reads.  There is also a weekly reader celebrated from each class in celebration assembly and a Year 6 end of year award for reading progress. Our classroom environments encourage a love for language, displaying a working wall that encourages the children to reflect on what has been taught alongside boy-friendly reading areas and class libraries, where we share books taken from our school central library. We subscribe to the Lancashire Library Service, exchanging books each year and ordering project loan boxes to support learning and reading. At St. Mary's and St. Benedict's we recognise the importance of enjoying reading, and timetable 'reading for pleasure' time, as well as listening to a class-shared novel.


    At St. Mary’s and St. Benedict’s we teach daily Guided Reading in the form of a workshop. Comprehension skills are developed in daily Guided Reading sessions as well as in the unit Reading phase. Children are given plenty of opportunities to respond to and reflect on the meaning of texts independently, in groups and in discussion with peers and adults. Children are questioned on a range of texts and asked a range of question types which focus on different domains including language and inference. Children are given opportunities for written responses depending on the age and ability of the children.

    We use a Colour banding approach to organise our books in KS2. This is arranged progressively, as children move through the book bands when they progress with their phonics and reading. In EYFS and KS1, books are organised to match the phonic phases. The table below shows the order of the colour banding system.  Not all children will move through the book bands at the same rate, but the table shows our expectations for each year group.  




    Home Reading books

    We understand the importance of early reading, so our home reading books are in line with the phonics taught in school to allow children to apply their phonics to reading at home.


    In our Reception class, our children work within the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework, so our home reading books are closely matched to their Phonics Phase. The schemes we use are ‘Phonics Bug’ specifically designed for Phases 2 – 5. In Key Stage 1 we can also access the Phonics Bug Scheme, alongside ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ which children use throughout the school.  These books have been rearranged so that they are in line with the Red Rose Phonics coverage for each phase.



    We strive to instil a love of writing in our children, so we aim to develop writing for pleasure. We introduce writing skills aimed at writing to entertain, persuade, inform and discuss. Teachers follow the teaching sequence from reading to writing as part of the phases of the Lancashire Planning Units. Writing includes modelled teacher writing, the teacher as the expert writer, actively composing a piece of writing in front of the children, and explicitly demonstrating the thought processes involved in planning, drafting and editing.  There are also planned incidental writes during the reading phase to help children build up a stamina for writing. These skills are transferred and encouraged across subject areas. Children learn the effects of different vocabulary and are encouraged to use a wide range of vocabulary in their own writing.


    We use the English curriculum, alongside the Lancashire Planning Units to shape our teaching of English. Each year group works towards achieving the English Curriculum Objectives and the Key Skills for each year group are considered ‘non-negotiable’. These Key Skills are the progression steps required for our children to become fully literate and have a secure understanding of the English language. We plan varied and interesting lessons to ensure the skills are mastered and children are secure in these areas.



    SEND Pupils

    For further information on how we cater for the needs of SEND pupils, please visit our SEND page and refer to our SEND policy.



    At St Mary’s and St. Benedict’s we love to provide opportunities for children to experience a range of activities relating to English and Drama.


    Book Fair and World Book Day

    Every year we have a visit from the Library bus and hold Book Fairs to encourage a love of books and wider reading.  Children and parents love visiting the book fair and we usually hold these around World Book Day celebrations in March. We hold English related events, such as a book swap, where children bring in their pre-loved books to swap with other children.

    We are fortunate to have visits from the Lancashire Library Team who share books with our children and we also regularly enjoy visits from local Authors. We celebrate other reading events from the reading calendar from LCC.

    English Related Events 2022-2023

    Roald Dahl Day

    In September we celebrated Roald Dahl across school.  We enjoyed looking at different books and completed Roald Dahl related activities!

    Book Bus Exchange Visit 14th October 2022

    We have had our Book Bus Exchange visit on Friday 14th October. Children have enjoyed exchanging 286 books which they can read in their class reading areas.

    National Poetry Day

    National Poetry Day 2022


    Years 5 and 6 celebrated National Poetry Day by writing some brilliant poems based on this year's theme - the environment. We looked at famous poems about nature and used our amazing school grounds to help us find inspiration to write some of our own fantastic poems! 

    Black History Month

    October - Black History Month


    Woodcock class are currently learning about biographies in English. We have been learning about the importance of Black History Month as part of this and we have been learning about many incredible black men and women who changed the world. During our research lessons, we used the school IPADs to research many different influential figures in the journey to equality. 

    We are using "Hidden Figures" by Margot Lee Shetterly as our class book and writing about Dorothy Vaughan in writing week. Dorothy was the first black, female engineer to ever be employed at NASA - without her we would never have made it to the moon! 

    As part of Black History Month, the children in Rigby class learnt about Harriet Tubman and her role in the Underground Railway where she helped enslaved people to freedom. The children created a class poem and their own poems inspired by Harriet Tubman's work. They also looked how patterns in quilts also known as 'freedom quilts' were used by the Underground Railroad as a code for slaves trying to escape to freedom. The children created their own patterns to represent freedom.

    As part of Black History Month, Marsden Class learnt about Rosa Parks and then completed a range of activities. They chose from an acrostic poem, a poster, a fact file and a timeline. They shared their work with each other and celebrated the change that Rosa Parks helped to create. 

    In Mary class, we learnt about Rosa Parks and studied her as part of our 'Biographies' unit in English. We discussed terms like 'segregation' 'justice' and 'equality' and delved into how significant her actions were in changing the world we live in today. 


    We used drama, hot seating, poetry and artwork to explore Rosa Park's life in detail. 

    The staff and children really enjoyed dressing as their favourite book character, or making a prop that their character uses.  Activities included children working with children in another class to design their own fantastic characters and working in pairs interviewing each other in role.  Thank you to all our parents for your help in making this such a memorable day!


    Fun Phonics and English Games

    Your child can access fun and engaging Phonics games by clicking on the pictures below: