St John Bosco Catholic Primary School

Reading and Phonics


Here at St. John Bosco, we love to read!

The teaching and learning of English are fundamental to ensure every pupils’ success as a life-long learner and well-rounded citizen. Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening skills are explicitly taught at every phase of a pupils’ education and it is paramount that children make a positive start at St John Bosco. Developing reading, writing, speaking and listening skills discreetly in English lesson, as well as embedding these within all curriculum subjects is essential. We recognise this and provide opportunities through our curriculum, incorporating carefully chosen texts, through which to teach reading and inspire writing outcomes, that help our children cultivate a love of English language and literature. Our reading spine ensures that reading is progressive and develops a complexity across the curriculum. It promotes a love of reading and learning through story and information texts.

Our aim is to ensure that by the end of their primary education at St John Bosco, all of our pupils are able to read fluently and with confidence, in any subject. That each child sees themselves as a reader who enjoys reading for choice, reading for pleasure, interest and challenge.

We ensure that:

  • Reading is central to the curriculum.
  • All adults are teachers of reading.
  • Reading is prioritised to ensure the very best start for all our pupils. A robust, systematic synthetic phonics programme is in place, alongside early language development and the central development of stories, songs and rhymes.
  • Pupils read a broad range of excellent literature, including archaic language to expose readers to more complex texts and vocabulary.
  • We promote a vocabulary rich culture.
  • We have a systematic approach to supporting comprehension development.

Reading is central to the curriculum: At St John Bosco we regard the teaching of reading at the centre of everything that we do. Reading forms a pivotal part of our curriculum.

All adults are teachers of reading: We believe that every adult in school is a teacher of reading. We provide regular training for staff to constantly develop best practice in reading.

Reading is prioritised: – Phonics: Our aim is to offer the strongest phonics teaching, which is taught consistently in EYFS and KS1 through Read Write Inc and ensures that pupils’ make the strongest start so that their confidence in reading can be built upon year after year. Pupils will always be ready for the next stage of their progressive reading journey through explicit teaching and timely interventions.

We begin teaching reading with a focus on systematic phonics, using Ruth Miskin’s exciting Read Write Inc (RWI) programme. The foundations are laid in Nursery where the emphasis is on developing careful and accurate listening and having fun with sounds, words and sentences. The programme continues in Reception and into Key Stage One. Like all phonics schemes, RWI teaches children the sounds in English, the letters that represent them, and how to form the letters when writing. RWI includes reading books written using only the letters they have learnt at each level (and a small number of separately taught tricky words). Children on RWI will quickly feel confident and successful, and usually only stay on the programme for two years.

All children on RWI are assessed every half term in order to effectively track progress and the children are then grouped accordingly. Our groups are small and all of our Reading Teachers are highly experienced and have a great passion for reading which they share with all children. Our phonics screening check results are strong each year and continue to stay above the national average.

Parents are very involved in their child’s reading journey and occasionally join their children for phonic sessions so that they are better able to help their children at home. Children take home a variety of books to enjoy with their families and also have the opportunity to read and complete e-books and quizzes on Oxford Owl – our online reading portal.

Here you can find lots of free resources to support your child’s learning: Oxford Owl: Read Write Inc Phonics

Pupils read a broad range of excellent literature – text selector: We follow the 5 Plagues of Reading approach from Doug Lemov which plots the progression and complexity of reading across the curriculum. It involves five types of text that children should have access to in order to successfully navigate reading with confidence:

  • Archaic language – to expose readers to more complex texts and vocabulary, with texts written between 50-100 years whose vocabulary, syntax and context for culture are more complex than modern stories.
  • Non-linear time sequence – stories where time flows back and forth in a complex manner and does not flow in one direction.
  • Narratively complex – the narrator can sometimes be unreliable; at times there may be more than one narrator.
  • Symbolic texts – some texts use metaphor and images whilst others convey an allegorical manner. Where the plot and symbols used are more complicated, eg, interwoven plots.
  • Resistant texts – where texts are deliberately difficult to comprehend. The reader has to assemble meaning around nuances, hints, uncertainties and clues.

English lessons: In English lessons, pupils are exposed to a range of high-quality texts from 5 Plagues of Reading. Each half term one book is chosen to explore in depth. 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 language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. Literature therefore plays a vital role throughout our English curriculum and English lessons are taught using high quality children’s literature as a springboard for writing. When a learner approaches a reading or writing task, they must draw on multiple skills simultaneously, having a knowledge of how to adapt them for purpose and effect. Thus, English lessons utilise the ‘Teach through a Text’ pedagogical approach, where pupils become immersed in, and take ownership of, a text and where multiple authentic writing opportunities are woven throughout the exploration of each book. Grammar, sentence level and vocabulary development is taught, developed and applied in the context of this high-quality literature throughout each unit. This enables pupils to build upon and return to skills to convert inflexible knowledge into more flexible knowledge by applying them repeatedly in different contexts accordingly, thus enabling progress over time. The ‘Teach through a Text’ pedagogical approach places the book at the heart of English lessons, and the text remains the constant context throughout each unit of work. The whole book (from beginning to end) informs the audience and purpose of each piece of writing

Promoting a rich vocabulary culture – Daily Whole Class Read – Magic 15 – Alongside the use of high-quality texts in English lesson, every pupil is read to daily by adults for at least 15 minutes. Our Magic 15 lessons allow children to hear stories being read and modelled by adults. At St John Bosco we believe it is an essential time to the day for all pupils to have a daily whole class read which is modelled by teachers. It is a vital time for teachers to model their enthusiasm for reading and reading a range of high-quality texts across a range of resources.

Teresa Cremin states, “Being a teacher that reads and has a love of and good knowledge of books is one of the single most important things that you can do as a primary teacher.”

Reading aloud and reading a whole class text has many benefits:

  • Pupils can experience new words and enriching vocabulary – some words that pupils may never be exposed to in their daily conversations.
  • Understand the rhythm of language.
  • Pupils can understand texts beyond their own reading ability.
  • Encourages and enhances imagination and observation skills.
  • Improves critical and creative thinking skills.
  • Allows a pupil to experience knowledge and understanding of the world.
  • Model fluency and expressive reading.
  • Plants a desire to read and associate reading with pleasure

(University of Nottingham)

Reading for Pleasure

We promote and develop a habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information. Reading for pleasure is something that we are passionate about and a key focus for all classes. Within each classroom there is a dedicated reading area with access to a wide range of books, often designed by the class librarians. All year groups have a wide range of carefully chosen fiction, non-fiction and poetry books that children can choose from to read at their leisure.

To further promote reading for pleasure, we have a number of initiatives to support our focus:

Reading Books

Children in all year groups take home reading books weekly to enjoy reading at home with members of their family. Many of these books are Oxford Reading Tree books. Children are assessed half-termly to ensure they are on the correct reading band.  During the Early Years and Key Stage One, children also take an RWI phonics ‘book bag book’ home which match the books they are reading within their RWI groups.

In Key Stage 2, children are given the opportunity to change their own reading books on a regular basis using a selection of reading spine books.

School Library

We are very proud of our school library. We have a fantastic resource offering a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books, newspapers and magazines for pupils of all ages. Our library was created to promote a love of reading and to allow pupils the opportunity to read for pleasure. The library operates on the lines of a ‘normal library’ using library cards and the books must be issued and returned through the library system.

Year 6 Librarians

Enjoying the books in our library

Reading Clubs – EYFS and KS1

Funded on behalf of the National English Hub, Children in EYFS (Nursery and Reception) and KS1 (Year 1 and Year 2) have the opportunity to take home a special reading book bag at least once each half term. The idea is to promote the love of reading between school and home. Each week, five children from each class choose a book and take home a Reading Cubs Book Bag. The bag contains a reading book which may be read and shared by parents or adults at a time when children can listen to a story quietly and calmly. Our aim is for every child to gain a love for reading and just enjoy listening to a great story. Occasionally, children may choose the same book as often children love to hear their favourite story being read over and over again. Within the reading bags, we have included questions and prompts to support parents as they read to their child. In class, children will have further opportunities to look at a wider selection of reading for pleasure books which they can share with their classmates.

KS2 Reading

Reading continues to be a priority in KS2 with daily activities to enhance the reading curriculum. There is a focus on pupils becoming lifelong readers through daily reading for pleasure, fluency and comprehension activities and modelled reading lessons. Specific reading skills are explicitly taught and practised through a range of activities:

  • Reading Rangers
  • Reading Plus
  • Daily Reading – Magic 15

Reading Rangers

Reading Rangers is our bespoke reading programme which addresses the key domains of the reading curriculum. These are the key areas that pupils need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts.

Pupils choose a book and as a group explore and analyse the complexities of a text. Reading Rangers allows pupils to use their specific reading of skills to confidently explore and gain an in-depth understanding of a text. Talk and discussion play a central role in deepening their understanding and comprehension. They can predict, question, clarify and summarise while referring to evidence from the text to justify their answers.

Reading Plus

Reading Plus is an online reading programme that allows pupil to access a range of engaging texts to explore and enjoy. It teaches silent reading fluency, comprehension and vocabulary with software that meets each pupil’s individual reading level. Pupils can also access this online programme at home and it is expected that they complete a further thirty minutes of reading at home.

Reading Environment

Each class has a dedicated reading area and there is an additional outdoor classroom which is set up with a selection of reading books so that pupils can relax during playtimes and take some time out to read a great book. Book corners are seen as mini-libraries; places where children have time to browse a range of texts, revisit the books that the teacher has read to them and borrow books to read at home.

The books themselves are the most important aspect, and well-chosen books capture children’s imaginations. The selecting, displaying and promoting of the books in the book corner is prioritised. The focus is on what will make the biggest difference to children’s reading habits, including:

  • Not displaying too many books at once; the more choice that is presented, the less children are likely to engage.
  • Refreshing the display.
  • Making the books attractive and easy for children to find.
  • Having books the children have listened to recently displayed at their eye level on outward-facing shelves.
  • At the start of the school year, including around 20 of the children’s favourites from the previous year. These can occupy lower shelves or boxes.
  • Storing books that have been previously read to the class in extra boxes for children to read and retell again, at school and at home. Children could be involved in returning books to the school library or other area, so that they can see that their book corner is being refreshed and replenished.
  • Removing books that are dull and dog-eared, unless it is particularly well loved.
  • Storing ‘decodable’ books matched to the school’s phonic programme separately so that teachers can select from them, both for children’s reading in class and to take home.

Once children have completed the RWI programme successfully, children select age-appropriate, inviting texts to read, which are organised by reading age, rather than moving through schemed book-banded books that are often not very engaging or motivating.

Reading Pods

There are a number of reading pods outside on the grassed areas where children can take time out of their day to just sit and relax with a book of their choice.

Reading Shed

EYFS and KS1 have access to a reading shed, where you will often find children sitting and relaxing with a good book. Older children will read to younger children and model the example of reading for pleasure.

Free Reading Books from Sooper Books