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“A child cannot understand what he cannot decode, but what he decodes is meaningless unless he can understand it.”

– Dr Louisa Moats

Subject Lead: Miss Hopps


At St Joseph’s, we have designed a broad and balanced curriculum. As our pupils’ progress, we intend for our children to develop a love of reading as they weave together the complexities of this skill but do so with the support of trained staff and their parents and carers with a sense of enjoyment and curiosity.

Our reading curriculum aims to ensure that children:

  • become fluent confident readers, reading texts from many genres
  • are challenged as they take the steps to gain deep skills in word recognition and language comprehension
  • develop curiosity and creativity as they are tempted to find out more as their reading, fluency and prosody skills grow.
  • develop a sense of community where children share their love of books and respect
  • a supportivehonest and friendly environment where children are prepared to take risks and secure a deep understanding and self belief in their reading skills.
  • can understand a variety of texts by applying their reading word and comprehension skills
  • have a resilience and responsibility at whatever age to develop and mastered life long learning skills that can be applied to a 21st century Britain.
  • stay motivated and committed believing they can do it!

Cultural Capital

The reading curriculum at St Joseph’s will offer children the opportunities to draw upon skills, behaviours and knowledge. To be able to do this, all pupils are:

  • Taught practical lessons that allow them to question, articulate and explore the work of a breadth of various authors, illustrators and publishers
  • Given opportunities to perform and recite poetry and rhyme to an audience
  • Given opportunities to develop an understanding of the world through a range of high-quality non-fiction texts in all subjects
  • Able to participate in reading competitions
  • Through local visits and visitor experience, given opportunities to become increasingly aware of the opportunities available in the wider world through the study of reading. For example, children will have the opportunity to speak and work with local authors and illustrators, visit libraries and theatres (to watch live performances of classics)


At St Joseph’s children have a discreet whole class guided reading lesson every day.  In order to aid children develop the complex skills of reading, where they develop their understanding, fluency and language, we have identified key performance indicators for each year group.  These have been selected as we believe they are the fundamental building blocks needed in developing the skills of reading.  In using this  broad and balanced progressive curriculum children build upon prior knowledge and develop new concepts. However, this is not the only opportunity children have to develop such vital skills, each day there is an opportunity to take part in early morning reading and breakfast reading club where we have trained adults who work individually to support children with their reading skills, A ‘Beanstalk’ volunteer who is trained in reading supports children once a week, each year the whole school activity takes part in World Book Day and twice yearly we have a visit from the local author Adam Bushnell who always inspires the children and staff. All children visit the local town library and bring a book back to school to read and share. The children have access at school and home to oxford owl e-books and Fiction Express. They can also enjoy reading outside as we have a reading cottage and a reading and writing den.

All of our teaching and support staff have been trained in the phonics programme Read, Write, Inc. Our teaching of early reading, writing and spelling within the school is, therefore, based on the Read, Write Inc programme. This begins when children join in Nursery and Reception and continues until a child is a confident and competent with these early skills. At St Joseph’s we believe that a strong and consistent approach to the teaching of phonics is vital for our children to begin to access the rest of the curriculum.

Children who are part of the Read, Write, Inc programme complete a daily discrete lesson where they are with children of the same phonic ability, this ensures they are being taught what they need to develop further phonological awareness but also that all children are challenged appropriately in each session. In addition, phonics skills also taught in a discrete session for Year 1 children, and teachers take opportunities to incorporate phonics teaching into all areas of the curriculum and incidental moments of the school day. Amongst the staff who lead the Read, Write Inc sessions and the English lead there are regular discussions which enables us to implement interventions beyond a Read, Write, Inc session, if required. The Read, Write, Inc Lead assesses all children every seven weeks. Spellings in Key Stage 1 follows a progressive sequence and builds upon what the children already know and introduces them to the irregular spelling patterns within the English language. The Key Stage 2 programme builds upon what they have already learnt in Key Stage 1. Children on the Read, Write, Inc programme learn ‘red words’ which links to the common exception words they need to sight read. Again Key Stage 2 build upon this knowledge.

We believe in sharing and enjoying books with children right from an early age, so in Nursery and Reception, even before a sound has been introduced, the child take home a picture books which they can share with their parent/carer. As the children begin to blend and segment, they take home a Read, Write, Inc Book Bag Book which matches exactly to the sounds that has been focused upon in the sessions that week. We discuss with the parent/carer how they can support their child with the book and encourage them to get the children to re-read the books as this supports the development of fluency. These books are intended to be read independently by the child and should be fully decodable based on their previous phonics learning. Also, the children take home a colour banded book which is closely matched to their phonic ability, which means they will be able to read most words but with those they find more challenging their adult/carer is there to support. We also encourage children to read widely at home and children are rewarded not just for reading books issued at school, but also texts that have been chosen and selected by the child. We encourage children to read at least 4 times in a week at home. To encourage the children to read a range of genres and develop fluency we ask them each half term to complete a reading treasure hunt. Each time they complete a task they receive a gold coin sticker, when they have completed all the tasks, they can choose a book from our own treasure chest.

Parental/carer involvement is so important when children are developing the skills of reading and at St Joseph’s we view this as a partnership. A Read, Write, Inc meeting is held each September for the parents to learn about the programme and see activities in action. Also, a meeting in held for Year 1 parents so we can share information about the Phonics Screening Check but also to offer advice on how they can support their child. The EYFS/KS1 child’s reading diary includes  information on sounds that will be learn, common exception words, suggested books for their child to read and suggestions of comments they can write so we share the process of developing skills with each other. As a child moves through the Read, Write, Inc programme and school colour banded programme we have information we send home to support the parents/carers      and child on their next step of their reading journey. The KS2 reading diary has a suggestion of comments they can write so we share the process of developing skills with each otherOver the course of the year each class has a reading café where their parent/carer and the child can come to school to spend time together sharing and enjoying books. Parents of children in Y2 and Y6 are also invited to a national testing meeting, to find out about the tests but also how they can support their child with their reading skills. We see the success as a child developing reading skills as a joint approach of home and school


Criterion Scale Reading Age in years    

Colour Book Bands



3.0-4.0     lilac


4.0-5.0 red red pink



5.0 green green red
End of Year R 5.5 purple purple yellow


5.5-6.0 pink orange pink orange light blue


5.5-6.0 yellow yellow green
End of Year 1 6.0-6.5 yellow blue yellow blue orange


6.0-6.5 blue blue turquoise


6.5-7.0 blue blue purple


6.5-7.0 grey grey gold
End of Year 2 7.0 grey grey white


7.0     lime


7.0-8.0     brown
End of Y3 (Oxford13) 8.0-9.0     grey
End of Y4 (Oxford15) 9.0-10.0     dark blue
End of Y5 (Oxford17) 10.0-11.0     dark red
End of Y6 (Oxford20)       dark red +
  11.0+     black


Across each year group a number of high-quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts are used in our, Words and us together time. These are specifically chosen, to give the opportunity for the children to hear a text read fluently with prosody by the class teacher and the opportunity to respond as a class, enjoy and also makes links into other areas of the curriculum.

Reading across the curriculum is planned for and texts are carefully selected to deepen understanding around key concepts and knowledge. Alongside this, texts are also selected based on their literary theme. This has been meticulously planned across the school to ensure children get a breadth and depth of books ranging from fiction and non-fiction genres, such as historical narrative, mystery fantasy and adventure. Texts are always selected for their quality and significance and significant authors such as children’s laureates and poet laureates.

Alongside this, a wide variety of texts are used such as novels, picture books, wordless texts, narrative poems, playscripts and non-fiction.

The image below demonstrates how reading is a complex skill with the concepts of word recognition and language comprehension interwoven. Below this diagram it is explained how we, at St Joseph’s develop these skills and weave them together. Shefelbine’s (2007) model of Academic Literacy Framework is very similar however, he, as we do, suggests that as the skills of decoding/encoding and comprehension develop so does motivation of success, pleasure, relevance and purpose grow.

Pre word recognition Word recognition Language comprehension
Developing aural skills Phonological


Syllables, phonemes etc


alphabetic principle spelling-sound correspondence

Sight recognition

of familiar words

Literacy knowledge

print concept, genre etc

Verbal reasoning

inference, metaphor etc

Language structures







links etc

Background knowledge




Step1 Step2 Step3 Step4 Step5 Step6 Step7 Step8 Step9 Step 10
Have some favourite nursery rhymes, songs and poems


Repeat words or phrases from familiar stories


Fill in missing words and phrases in a rhyme or story



Show awareness of rhyme and alliteration


Begin to be aware of how stories are structured


Listen to stories with increasing attention and recall


Show interest in illustrations, print in books and the environment


Recognises familiar words and signs


Looks at books independently, holding them the right way up and turns pages carefully


Knows information can be relayed in print, in English is read from left to right
















Continues a rhyming string


Hears and says initial sounds in words


Can segment and blend simple words


Begins to read words and simple sentences


Uses vocabulary that is influenced by their experience of books


Enjoys an increasing range of books



Continue to apply phonic knowledge and skills as the route to decode words until automatic decoding has become embedded and reading is fluent.


Read accurately by blending the sound in words that contain the graphemes taught so far, especially recognising alternative sounds for graphemes


Read most words quickly and accurately without overt sounding an blending when they have been frequently encountered


Read aloud accurately books that are consistent with their developing phonic knowledge


Re-read these books to build up their fluency and confidence in word reading



Reading common exception words


Read further exception words noting the unusual correspondence between spelling and sound, and where these occur in the word


Apply their growing knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes

Discussing the sequence of events in books and how items if information are related


Becoming increasing familiar with  and retelling a wider range of books


Reading books that are structured in different ways and reading for a range of purposes



Making inferences  on the basis of what has been said and done


Predict what might happen on the basis of what is being said and done


Explain and discuss their understanding  of books, poems and other materials, both those that they listen to  and those that they read for themselves


Drawing inferences such as inferring character’s feelings, thoughts and motives from their  actions, and justifying  inferences with evidence


Predicting what might happen from details stated and implied


Provide reasoned justifications for their views

Listening to, discussing and expressing views about a wide range of contemporary and classic poetry, stories ad non-fiction at a level beyond that at which they can read independently


Increasing their familiarity with a wide range of books, including fairy stories, myths and legends, modern fiction, fiction from our literary  heritage, and books from other cultures and traditions



Discussing word meanings, linking new meanings to those already known


Discussing and clarifying the meaning of words, lining new meanings to known vocabulary


Discussing words and phrases that  capture their interest and imagination


Identifying how language , structure and presentation  contribute to meaning

Drawing on what they already know or on background information  provided by the teacher


Discussing their understanding and explaining the meaning of words in context

Step 1 and 2 – pre-word recognition – Developing Aural Skills

Before children begin their journey of phonological awareness and how this links to the graphemes phoneme correspondence it is vital that they develop their aural skills, therefore this is what we concentrate on initially

    • General sound discrimination – environmental sounds
    • General sound discrimination – instrumental sounds
    • General sound discrimination – body percussion

The overall aim is for children to experience opportunities to listen carefully and talk about what they can hear, see and do. Alongside this the children experience

      • Rhyme and rhythm
      • Alliteration
      • Voice sounds
      • Aural blending

Activities are integrated across the sessions by the early years practitioners developing these vital skills.

(Letters and Sounds,  2007)

 Steps 3, 4 and 5 – Word RecognitionPhonological awareness, Decoding, Sight words

At St Joseph’s this is where the children star their Read, Write Inc journey.

      • Phonological awareness is developed via Speed Sounds
      • The children learn to blend and segment as they learn a variety of phonemes
      • Once they are secure at blending and segmenting this enables them to decode at Red Ditty level, at the same time the children are beginning to learn sight words
      • Their development of phonological awareness, decoding and recognising sight words progresses as they move through the whole of the Read Write Inc scheme.

Steps 6, 7, 8, 9  and 10 – Language Comprehension

Literacy knowledge, verbal reasoning, language structures

As part of Read Write Inc the children develop

      • Literacy knowledge where they develop an understanding of the sequence of the text, the genre this develops further running alongside Read Write Inc and beyond this scheme, as they experience texts that are structured in various ways
      • Verbal reasoning skills are developed initially via Read Write Inc but are also developed parallel to this in guided reading sessions and beyond this scheme as they children are able to infer, deduct and predict as they share and are introduced to various texts, throughout their time at St Joseph’s
      • Language structures skills are developed within Read Write Inc but also developed parallel to this in guided reading sessions, the sharing of ‘text and us together’ sessions and beyond this scheme throughout their time at St Joseph’s


It is important to us at St Joseph’s for children to develop a range of vocabulary and as *Beck, McKeown, Kucan (2013) suggest there is a tier system we can use to support the children.

      • Tier one words – every day words that the children will use in conversations, for example book, cat, lovely, street
      • Tier two words – these are words that occur across the curriculum and can sometimes be found more often in writing than speech, for example hilarious, emerge, priority
      • Tier three words – link to specific content area of a curriculum, for example atom, molecule, continent

*Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., Kucan, L. (2013) 2nd Edition, Bringing Words to Life: Robust Vocabulary Instruction. Guildford Press. NewYork/London

 Background knowledge

Children have different life experiences; therefore we ensure that we give them sufficient background knowledge to access the text is key. It is easier for children to process information if they can link it to background knowledge. Therefore we:

      • talk around the subject, sharing experiences and inviting children to share theirs
      • reading an alternative ‘linked text’ prior to introducing of the focus text
      • linking the focus text to our wider curriculum so that children have a shared prior knowledge e.g. by selecting a text linked to our history topic;

Phase Three – Reading for Fluency

Once children have a good understanding of the text, we need to teach them how to read it fluently. The Education Endowment Foundation, KS2 literacy guidance identifies two approaches well-supported by evidence: modelled reading and repeated reading.

Often prior to expecting children to read a text fluently, staff will model the reading to them, then use different strategies for them to practise reading the text themselves (partner reading, echo/ghost reading, ‘jump in’ reading) before giving them the opportunity to read fluently and independently themselves. Depending on the age group and the text being used, this may all happen within one lesson, or across a series of lessons.

*Perfetti (1999) considered word decoding as a key barrier to comprehension and we can take the idea of the ‘reading bottleneck’ and relate this to Cognitive Load Theory and the development of fluency in reading:

The general pattern to reading tends to be that those children who read fluently become better readers simply as the  result of being able to read fluently (we can imagine that because cognitive load is minimised, they are able to process what they are reading, retain vocabulary, link ideas etc… and the process is an ongoing cycle of improvement).

Our focus as teachers therefore, is to scaffold our child to the point of fluency, and supporting children in managing those ten steps may well be the key to this. Of course, the art of a good teacher is ensuring we do not over-scaffold, but getting the balance just right – something which we can achieve through fine-tuning lesson design and teaching with the ten steps in mind.

*Perfetti, C. A. (1999) Cognitive research and the misconceptions of reading education. In J. Oakhill & R. Beard (Eds.), Reading development and the teaching of reading: A psychological perspective (p.42-58). Blackwell Science