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St Nicolas'

Church of England Combined School

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How we teach reading

How we teach reading at St Nicolas


At St Nicolas’ we believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high-quality education. At St Nicolas’ we believe that reading is the foundation of all learning and enables children to access all areas of the curriculum. We aim to promote a life-long love of reading which develops their cultural, social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual awareness so they can participate fully, thrive and be ready to face the challenges of life.


Reading for pleasure

All classes are read to by an adult for at least 10 minutes every day. The teacher models reading with expression and time is given for children to discuss events in the book. These books are chosen by staff and can be identified on our whole school reading spine, which reflects a wide range of authors and genres and is reviewed annually. Teachers can identify where children should be by using our reading progression map.

Our library houses a range of books, both fiction and non-fiction across a wide range of genres. Children are timetabled once a week to visit the library. The choice of books available is regularly kept up-to-date with current texts from new authors, old favourites and recommendations from children and staff. Book fairs and birthday donations (from the list on our website) help to add to our library stock.

Children in year 5 can apply to be librarians. Our librarians support our daily running of the library and support children in book recommendations through the book review display in the library and the newsletter.

Every class has a reading area. These are kept simple with the aim being that children can easily select a book. Within each class there is a range of authors, poetry, fiction and non-fiction.


Taking books home

All children take a ‘reading for pleasure’ book home either from the library or the classroom. Adults support children in selecting a book, but the choice is down to the child (their choice). These books are to be shared at home with an adult.

Children on a book band will also take home a levelled book (our choice) from Oxford Reading Tree. Children stay on levelled books until they reach level 13. When on RWI phonics, the child will also take home a RWI book that is matched to their level from their most recent phonics assessment.

All children are expected to read at least 5 times a week at home and record this in their planner.


Teaching reading

In EYFS and KS1, children have a daily phonics lesson. When children come off RWI phonics in year 2, they move to whole class reading, the teaching of which is outlined below, and writing.

In KS2, children have a planned half hour whole class reading lesson four times a week. An age appropriate text is chosen by the teacher for the class to work on for the week. The focus for the sessions is on developing different reading skills: vocabulary, retrieval, inference, prediction and summarising. These lessons give children opportunities to discuss a range of texts and to practise their comprehension skills.

High quality texts are also used within English lessons throughout the school to support the development of both children’s reading and writing skills.

The reading progression map identifies what each year group needs to cover in reading.



At St Nicolas’ we use RWI. All children assessed each half term and placed into groups by stage not age.

The groups lessons last for an hour. Within that hour, children are taught new sounds as well as revisiting sounds previously taught. Children are taught to ‘Fred talk’ the words first, gradually building up to ‘Fred talk in your head’ and then saying the word at speed. Comprehension and writing activities are also taught in this lesson.

At St Nicolas' we firmly believe that every child will learn to read. Any children who are struggling in phonics will receive 1:1 fast track tutoring in order for them to succeed. If children have not mastered phonics by the end of year 2, they also receive phonics intervention in year 3 through our RWI fast track tutoring. These children are assessed each half term.

The English Lead ensures that staff responsible for delivering the programme are fully trained and kept up-to-date with any revisions to the programme as well as any new developments in phonics teaching.


Assessing children’s reading

Assessment is used to inform planning, to identify and address misconceptions, and to identify children who might need additional support with their reading.


Children’s phonic knowledge is assessed as soon as they start school. They are then assessed regularly throughout the first term while set one sounds are taught. Children are also assessed through observations during free play, discussion, 1:1 reading and after the first term - half termly RWI assessments



Children are assessed through discussions, independent tasks, 1:1 reading and half termly RWI assessments. NFER tests are introduced towards the end of year 1


Children are assessed through discussions, independent tasks, 1:1 reading and NFER tests.

Assessing children on the levelled books:

Children read regularly with the adults in the class. Fluency and questioning is used to determine if a child needs to go up a level.


Reading Interventions

Reading interventions are used to provide additional support to those children who are not reading at age-related expectations. Reading interventions at St Nicolas’ include:

  • 1:1 reading
  • RWI recovery tutoring
  • Precision teaching
  • Cracking comprehension
  • Inference training
  • Paired reading
  • Reciprocal reading