Reading is the key to opening eyes, hearts and minds. Here at St Luke’s we aim to do just that, helping children to develop a love of reading above all else, but also helping them to gain a variety of tools to use in order to help them find knowledge and understanding in what they read.

Such tools are many and varied. Some tools are ‘hidden’ and are not immediately recognised but alongside the teaching of early reading skills they come together to make a child a ‘reader’. Allowing them to become aware of a world beyond their experience, broaden their general knowledge, stimulate their critical thinking and develop empathy for others.
The journey towards becoming a reader can be tricky for some and thus employing all or a variety of the following tools can help a child to navigate themselves to becoming a ‘reader’.


A love of reading begins in an environment that encourages a rich oral language development. Exposing children to a wide and varied vocabulary is intrinsic within such an environment and as such has been a focus for staff development throughout our whole school and across all subjects. Thus allowing our children to experience a huge wealth of vocabulary.

Listening to stories:

Listening to stories allow children to further explore words and worlds. When they hear stories the world of books to opens up to them. The rich vocabulary they hear can help them to build on their existing vocabulary and extend their understanding. In turn children then start to use the vocabulary they have heard in their own conversations and eventually in their writing. They also absorb the conventions and structures of storytelling which helps them become writers.

Reading for meaning:

Learning to read includes being able to comprehend what is happening within a text, being able to discuss what is happening, sequence events and express views. As children become more experienced readers they begin to infer meaning and make predictions about what might happen.

Reading a variety of genres eg fiction, non-fiction, poetry etc allows children to broaden their experiences and begin to delve deeper into the world that reading allows them to experience.

Systematic teaching of phonics and its application:

The use of phonics and its application is a tool to use in developing reading, but it is important that it is used alongside all the other tools.
At St Luke’s, our teaching of phonics is based around the Governments ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007.

Letters and Sounds provides a clear progressive approach to teaching phonics, which is divided into six phases. Children are taught the 44 phonemes that make up all the sounds needed for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made by just one letter and those that are made by two or more. As the children move through the phases they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound, eg ‘ee’ can be represented as ‘ee’, ‘ea’, ‘e-e’, ‘e’ …

Children are taught to decode in order to read words and encode to spell words They work in the phase which is the most appropriate to their stage of learning. In general however, with some overlap, we aim for Reception children to work within Phases 1, 2, 3 and 4, Year 1 children to be working at Phases 4 and 5 and Year 2 children on Phase 6 with consolidation of Phase 5. Phase 6 moves onto working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters.

At St Luke’s Phonics is taught for a 15-20 minute session on a daily basis in the Early Years and Key Stage One. Sessions include a range of activities that allow the children to revise their knowledge, learn new sounds and apply and practice their skills.

We use a mixture of whole class and small group teaching to deliver phonics dependent on the learning needs within each cohort of children. Phonics is planned by the teaching staff and delivered by teachers and sometimes teaching assistants. Teaching assistants talk with the teacher daily so that all planning meets the needs of the children in that group. All staff teaching phonics receive training and the English co-ordinators monitor the teaching of phonics in each year group and the progress of children throughout the year.

For children to become confident applying their phonics to read and spell words, they need to be able to confidently distinguish the sounds in words when hearing them. When children start on the phonics programme there is much emphasis on developing listening skills in order that they are able to confidently blend and segment orally. When children recognise some of the letter sounds and are able to blend and segment they are given a reading book to share at home. Experience has taught us that by doing this, children make more progress more quickly as they have the skills to start to decode words more confidently. As a consequence, they get more enjoyment from reading and gain confidence that they are readers.

We match the reading books to the children’s phonic skills as well as ensuring that they are exposed to ‘tricky words’ (words that cannot be read using phonic skills). When reading with children we ensure that they are not only able to apply their phonic knowledge but that they understand the vocabulary and are able to talk about the story with understanding. They are encouraged to talk about the pictures, answer and ask questions, make predictions.

Children in Year 1 complete the government Phonic Screen activity in June of each year. Assessments are carried out by a qualified teacher and we ensure that the children are relaxed and comfortable doing this and ensure that they will not know that they are completing a formal assessment. Phonics continues to be taught throughout year 2 with targeted support for any children who do not achieve the Year 1 phonics screening.

In Key Stage 2, intervention programs are introduced for children who still need support with phonics.

The ‘reading diet’ at school:

As our children progress through school and become readers they have a wide range of reading experiences at their disposal.

Reading books:

Our reading books are organised into coloured book bands according to their level of reading challenge. As the children move through Key stage 2 they progress through the colour bands best suited to their ability and most importantly best suited to their understanding.
Children are assessed regularly and move onto the next book band when their fluency and understanding show that they are ready. Our reading scheme integrates several different published schemes in order to expose children to the widest range of book structures, genres, cultures and characters.
Children are introduced to the reading scheme in the reception class when they recognise some letter sounds and are able to blend and segment orally. We have found that this enables them to make progress more quickly and enjoy the process of learning to read. We match reading books to the children’s phonic skills.

Guided reading:

Each class teacher organises guided reading to best suit their cohort of children and need. Guided reading enables a small group of children to work closely with an adult on a text, developing those reading for meaning skills.
As part of guided reading an approach utilised by some teachers is reciprocal reading. This approach focuses on segments of text in order to fully comprehend the Who? What? When? How? And Why? Of what is going on. It is a dialogue between a small group of children and their adult exploring a text in a rich way.

Reading Plus:

This is a computer based programme which is used from year 3 to year 6. It presents the children with texts that are suited to their ability and questions them on the texts they have read. It then leads the child forward in their reading by: increasing their reading efficiency, stamina and speed, motivating them and developing their reading comprehension. This is done three times a week in class for 30 minutes per session and at all times the class teacher can access each child’s data to ensure that progress is being made. Reading Plus can also be accessed from home.

Reading across the curriculum:

Throughout their time at school our children have numerous opportunities to read across the curriculum. Reading is at the very heart of our curriculum design.
Our ‘Questionnarium’ and ‘Bookwormery’ allow the children to access a wide variety of books at all times. In fact, the children are actively encouraged to use these areas at lunchtimes, with supervision. If they have a question that needs answering they go and research it in the questionnarium. If they just want to immerse themselves in a book for some quiet time they go to the Bookwormery.
Reading is always at their fingertips, providing the opportunities to open their eyes, hearts and minds.