Reading & Phonics

At St James, we believe that reading is an important and vital life skill and we strive for all children to enjoy and value it. We recognise that enjoyment in reading arises from deriving meaning from text. It is our aim to help children develop a real pleasure for reading. 

Guided Reading

Guided reading takes place daily during our Reading Workshop lessons. Children are grouped according to ability; each group has at least one guided session per week with the teacher or a teaching assistant.   Children are given the chance to develop their decoding and comprehension skills within this activity. During Reading Workshop, if a group are not with the teacher undertaking guided reading, then they will be completing a purposeful reading activity based on their class novel or guided reading text. 

Home/School Reading Books

Each child takes home a school reading book every day with a reading record. The children share their books with an appropriate adult in school at least once a week. The adult asks questions relevent to the interest of the child and encourages predictions. The children are encouraged to decode unknown words using appropriate strategies. We currently use books from the Phonics Bugs or Project X reading schemes. Some children will also bring home what we call a 'free reader' which is a book that is appropriate for their reading ability, but doesn't belong to one of our reading schemes. 

We encourage children to read their home/school book for 10 minutes at home every evening and for parents to sign and comment in the reading record so that school know the child has read at home, and more importantly, how well they have done. Reading regularly at home has a positive impact on how well your child performs at school. Achieving well in this vital life skill unlocks the wider curriculum for children. 

Reading Across the Curriculum

At St James, we make sure that children have plenty of other opportunities throughout the day and week to develop their love for reading and their reading skills. Some of the ways we do this are:

  • 'DEAR' time in each class (Drop Everything And Read);
  • Log ins for 'Reading Eggs' website;
  • Class novels;
  • Access to texts and an author focus in class Reading Areas;
  • Access to a Reading Lounge for older children and Cosy Corners for our younger childen;
  • An English curriculum based on the teaching of quality texts;
  • Expectation that the basic skill of reading will be used in wider curriculum subjects.


We begin the process of learning to read in the Early Years Foundation Stage and KS1, where we believe that the systematic teaching of phonics is the fastest and most effective way of enabling young children to start reading. Phonics is planned using the 'Read, Write, Inc.' scheme by Ruth Miskin. Click here to go to the Read, Write, Inc (RWI) official website. 

Children in the EYFS and KS1 have Read, Write, Inc. lessons on a daily basis; taught either by a teacher or teaching assistant, who are all fully trained in RWI. The resources used to teach the children ensure that the sessions are fast paced, fun and challenging. Children are grouped for ability and are assessed on a regular basis to make sure that they are taught the phonemes needed to help them succeed. Children who have developed their phonics skills to a competent level will move away from the RWI scheme and will be given the chance to work on their grammar skills. Children who find phonics difficult as they move into KS2 will continue to take part in RWI sessions or 'Freshstart' for the oldest children. 

Children in Year 1 take part in a national Phonics Screening Check that usually takes place in the month of June. If your child is in Year 1 then we will hold a parents' meeting about this to give you up to date information about what the check involves. Children will either meet or not meet an expected standard. For children who do not meet the expected standard, they will retake the check in Year 2.