How we Teach Reading


Learning to read is the most important thing your child will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.


We want your child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.



At St Joseph’s Infants we use a programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’ .

Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource, published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007.  It is used widely in primary schools across the UK as the basis of phonics teaching.

It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills to children aged 5-7.  The aim of the programme is to have children reading fluently by the time they reach the age of 7.


Phonics is taught to equip your child with the skills to segment (break down) words which will enable your child to spell with more accuracy and blend sounds when reading.  Phonics is taught in phases from Reception class through to the end of Key Stage 1 in our school.

Children in Reception continuously work on their phase 1 skills of listening before being introduced to phonemes and early graphemes in phase 2. As the children continue to progress they will learn to segment and blend CVC words for reading before applying their phonological knowledge to spelling new words. Throughout phase 3 and 4, children will be taught how to read and spell high frequency and tricky words which will then be used in simple sentence work. As the children enter phase 5 and 6 in KS1, they will encounter phonemes with more than one grapheme in their reading and will need to select the appropriate grapheme based on their knowledge of spelling rules and patterns

Please click here to view the official ‘Letters and Sounds’ Document

High Frequency words


High frequency words are quite simply those words which occur most frequently in written material, for example, “and”, “the”, “as” and “it”. They are often words that have little meaning on their own, but they do contribute a great deal to the meaning of a sentence.


Some of the high frequency words can be sounded out using basic phonic rules, e.g. “it” is an easy word to read using phonics. However, many of the high frequency words are not phonically regular and are therefore hard to read in the early stages. These words are called tricky words, sight words or camera words. In addition to being difficult to sound out, most of the high frequency words have a rather abstract meaning which is hard to explain to a child.


At St. Joseph’s Infants HFW are taught during phonics sessions, guided reading sessions and literacy lessons however we encourage parents to support their child by regular practise of the reading and spelling these words.


Please click here to view free resources for Letters and Sounds (Including lists of key words for each phase)



Home Readers


Reading development is seen as a partnership between home and school and children are encouraged to choose books to take home to read to their parents.

Time is allocated for the class teacher or other support staff to regularly listen to your child read their home reading book alongside their guided reading book and to make comments in their home reading diary so that communication between home and school is transparent.

Each week your child will be given books from the reading scheme.


The children experience a wide variety of reading material at appropriate levels of complexity and interest so that they become competent, enthusiastic and fluent readers.


The main reading scheme continues to be Oxford Reading Tree but children are not limited to these and as they progress will be reading a variety of books.

We use a range of reading schemes to cater for the differing needs and preferences of our children, these include: Oxford Reading Tree, Project X and Collins Big Cat. We supplement these with other schemes: Supersonics, Storyworlds, All Aboard, Rhyme Worlds, Ginn (360 and Little Books).


The Oxford Reading Tree scheme was developed in conjunction with literacy experts Debbie Hepplewhite, who was the creator of the synthetic phonics programme used in schools. Oxford Reading Tree has synthetic phonics at its heart, so teachers can deliver systematic phonics teaching with all the children’s favourite characters. It is perfect for supporting individual reading as well as group and whole-class work. It is divided into stages which are colour coded and book-banded for ease-of-use.

This scheme begins in the Foundation Stage and progressively become more difficult. Key Stage 1 books are written with a mix of high-frequency and decodable words to develop a range of reading strategies.

Biff, Chip and Kipper stories have taught millions of children to read and remain tried and tested, loved and trusted in over 80% of UK primary schools. Aside from the much-loved characters these delightful stories have fun, familiar settings which children can really relate to and are packed full of humour enjoyed by teachers, parents and children alike.


We ask that you listen to your child read every night and that you sign their reading record to make the class teacher aware the book has been read, we welcome your comments too.

Each term at parent drop in sessions, your child’s teacher will share a reading target for your child.


Home reading books are intended for your child to improve their reading and understanding of the texts and to encourage independence. These texts should complement your child’s reading and allow them to read and comprehend texts easily. We have found that children who are confident with reading a specific text enjoy returning to that text and from doing this will build on skills like expression, self-correction and a higher level of comprehension.


We also strongly advise that your child accesses story books that you have at home or have borrowed from the library in addition to the home reading books.



Encouraging and developing reading – Guided Reading


At St. Joseph’s Infants we are committed to developing the skills needed for reading through teacher led guided reading sessions. These sessions are aimed at supporting and challenging the children in their ability to read and comprehend a range of texts. Guided reading sessions consist of a small group of children reading a text with their class teacher. The teacher’s role is to support the children in developing their fluency, pace and understanding of fiction and non-fiction texts. Whilst one group reads with the teacher other groups within the class will be working through a carousel of activities aimed at enhancing their Literacy skills. Through these sessions each child’s reading is assessed giving the class teacher a clear picture of the child’s ability and understanding and enabling them to challenge and support effectively.





Every child will be given access to our school library. The children enjoy having the freedom to choose texts that interest them. Each child chooses 1 book and can return it for another the following week. Children can keep a book for longer if they so wish.




Topic Books


As each year group covers a range of exciting topics throughout the year, we also encourage children to bring in any books that link with their current topic so that these can be shared with their peers.



Early Bird Readers


We have recently introduced our Early Bird Readers which takes place every Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 8.30am. At the moment these sessions are offered to Year 2 children. This is an opportunity for children and parents / carers to come into school to explore different genres and build their love of reading through sharing experiences of different stories and characters with family members. We hope to extend this very popular event to the Year 1 class in the future.

Reading Strategies

Reading Glossary

Encouraging Reluctant Readers

Tips on reading with your child


Book Lists


 Year 1

Year 2