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Reading at Collaton St Mary

We believe that reading is central to our pupils’ understanding of the school curriculum and is of vital importance in life. We have three main aims for reading at Collaton. 

We work to ensure that: 

1. all pupils learn to read by the time they leave our school 

2. pupils learn from their reading, because we put reading at the heart of all learning

3. our school environment and culture develop pupils’ love of reading. 

From the very first day a child starts school with us in EYFS until the last day in Year 6, reading is a priority. Children start their reading journey with daily Read Write Inc phonics lessons, which then, once the children can demonstrate the required fluency, transform into guided reading lessons. All classes have daily reading lessons, which are focused on a mix of texts linked to current learning enquiries or high quality texts taken from our class reading spines. We want to ensure that, through their reading, our pupils become successful learners, knowledgeable participants and confident individuals – three of the key outcomes of our ACE curriculum. We also want pupils to gain a love for and appreciation of reading which will stay with them for life. We feel our role here at Collaton St Mary, is to give our children the opportunity to engage in a range of rich texts that entice children to delve deeper. We give all children access to newly published texts as well as the classics and use a cross-curricular approach to ensure reading is relevant and current for the children. Our main aim is that no pupil should leave our school being unable to read.


Phonics and Early Reading 

Daily phonics teaching in Reception and Year 1 underpins early reading; it continues into Year 2 for all children that need it.

​The Government strongly supports the use of systematic synthetic phonics for teaching early reading and spelling. Synthetic phonics teaches children to convert a letter or small group of letters into sounds that they can then blend together (synthesise) into a word to read it.

​We use the Read Write Inc (RWI) synthetic phonics programme to get children off to a flying start.

Pure Sounds

It is vital when your child is learning to read that they are taught to use the pure sounds (‘m’ not ‘muh’, ‘s’ not ‘suh’ etc.) This will enable each child to use the sounds accurately to blend and create words. In Reception, each child will be given a flashcard for each sound that they learn in school, these flashcards are theirs to keep. As and when the children learn the sound, they will bring the flashcard home to add to their phonics pack. Please support your child within their early stages of reading by practising each of the sounds they have learnt at home daily. This will consolidate their learning and enable the sounds to transfer into their long-term memory.

We understand that phonics is a scary and new thing for lots of parents! Class teachers and our school reading lead will give plenty of support to enable you to enhance your child’s reading journey at home. Below is a video which models each of the sounds, your child will learn in school.

Blending and Segmenting

All words are made up of individual sounds. These sounds are then blended together to form words. E.g. in ‘mat’ we have the sounds ‘m’, ‘a’, ‘t’, ship ‘sh’, ‘i’, ‘p’. A grapheme is another name for the letters we use to write the sound. Using phonics, children learn to read by saying each sound and blending them to read the word. Children learn to spell by segmenting a word into sounds and writing the matching graphemes.

Please help your child learn to read words by sounding out and blending (‘Fred talk’). For example, d-i-g = dig, ch-a-t = chat.

For more information, please watch the video below which explains the process and importance of blending for children who are learning to read.


Read Write Inc Phonics Lessons

In the same way that children learn to swim or play the violin, all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 work in progress groups to master each level of phonics and reading. Each child is assessed by our school reading lead every half-term to track the progress they are making within school. The children are then re-grouped every 6 weeks to ensure they are reading closely matched books and are focusing on the sounds that they need to know, in order to improve their fluency and push their reading forward. Each child’s reading journey is different, which is why Read Write Inc is used within Year 3 and Year 4, if they have not yet met the KS1 reading expectations.


Within a RWI daily lesson we will teach the children to read and write sounds, practise reading and spelling words that contain these sounds and improve fluency by reading storybooks which contain the sounds and words they can read. They read each storybook three times at school and bring the same books home to read with you at home. On each reading, children’s fluency increases, which enables them to focus on what the story is about.


Using Read Write Inc Books at Home

Each child, once they are onto ‘Red’ reading books, will be bringing home two stories to read at home. The first is a ‘storybook’ , this is the same book as the one they are reading in school and the second is a ‘book bag book’, this book is closely matched to their reading ability and uses similar words which are familiar to your child.

When reading the storybook, please encourage your child to read through the speed sounds page first, then the ‘green words’ and ‘red words’ page. Then check your child understands the meaning of the words on the vocabulary check page before they start reading the book.

Your child will be focusing on the same storybook in school, which means that their fluency and expression should improve each time that they read it. They should also understand what the book is about. At the back of the book are ‘Find it/prove it’ questions for you to ask your child to develop their reading comprehension.


For more information on listening to your child read at home, please watch the video below.

Red Words

Some words are ‘tricky’ because they contain letters that don’t match the sounds the child has been taught. We call these common exception words ‘red words’ or ‘tricky words’. These words occur in stories regularly (said, what, where) but they have unusual letter combinations (‘ai’ in the words ‘said’ makes the sound ‘e’). In the early RWI storybooks, these words are printed in red text to support the children to recognise them. Remind your child not to use Fred Talk to read Red Words but instead to stop and think if they know the word. Tell them the word if needed.

Reading for Pleasure

Why do we want children to read? What are the benefits of reading for pleasure?

  • It can have a positive impact on children’s emotional well-being and social behaviour.

  • Reading can unlock children’s imagination and open doors to new worlds.

  • Children who enjoy reading and read regularly have a much wider breadth of vocabulary.

  • There is some evidence to show that reading for pleasure is a more important determinant of children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status.

  • Children who say they enjoy reading for pleasure are more likely to score well on reading assessments compared to children who said they enjoyed reading less.

  • It can have a positive impact on text comprehension and grammar.

What works in improving independent reading?

  • An important factor in developing reading for pleasure is providing choice: choice and interest are highly related.

  • Parents and the home environment are essential to the early teaching of reading and fostering a love of reading; children are more likely to continue to be readers in homes where books and reading are valued.

  • Reading for pleasure is strongly influenced by relationships between teachers and children, and children and families.

Reading to your Child

From day one in Reception the children are given ‘library time’ throughout the week. This is to experience what it is like to be in a library and explore a diverse range of books. In Reception and Year 1, the children will bring home a weekly ‘Family Book’. This is a text, which the children have picked to bring home within their library time. It is important that the children are not expected to read their family book, as it is a text which is not matched to their reading ability instead, it is a book to be read to your child by a family member at home.

Please watch the video below for further information on the importance of reading stories to children.  

10 Things to Think About When Reading to Your Child

  1. Make reading to your child feel like a treat

  2. Make it a special, quite time away from others

  3. Show curiosity in what you are going to read

  4. Read the whole story the first time without stopping too much

  5. Chat about the story after

  6. Link stories to your own and your child’s experiences and link these experiences to stories

  7. Read favourite stories over and over again

  8. Read with enthusiasm

  9. Don’t stop reading to your child once they can read for themselves

  10. Read with enjoyment


Accelerated Reader 

We use the Accelerated Reader programme from Year 2 up to develop children's reading skills and support their home learning.

Accelerated Reader (AR) is a software tool used by a large number of schools to foster reading growth. It encourages children to read widely and independently while allowing staff to monitor their progress and support them where necessary.


The programme works out children’s reading level (or STAR reading level) at the start (by means of a STAR test, done in English lessons). Children then read books within this level. All the books in the library that are registered with AR have a coloured star label on the spine to help children to recognise books within their ‘zone’. They take a quiz on the AR website after reading each book to assess how well they understood it. Their STAR level is tested every other term to see how they have progressed.

As well as being about promoting reading and academic achievement, AR also contributes to the enjoyment of reading and a real culture of reading at Collaton.

Our vision is character education driven by values with an embedded mission of Achieving Excellence through cultivating character, sharing talents and pursuing innovation.

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