St Mary's Catholic Primary School

Reading & Writing Skills

At St Mary’s Catholic primary school, we actively encourage and support our children in becoming avid readers; believing that reading opens the door to many adventures and is the key to life-long learning.

We offer rich and varied reading experiences, most recently we have signed up to the Lancashire year of reading – ‘We are reading’. As part of our commitment to the year of reading will be undertaking a range of reading events in order to promote a love of reading for our pupils and the wider school community. These events will include: shared reading days where our families are invited in to school to share stories, we will be taking our love of reading out into the community; reading in care homes for the elderly and enjoying a number of ‘themed’ reading events throughout the year. We have our own well-resourced school library and our class rooms are environments were reading is central to all aspects of teaching and learning.

Early Readers

The primary strategy for teaching our children to read is through the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics programme. This is a six-phase teaching programme where children in the Early Years and Key-Stage one are streamed according to their learning needs. Teaching is then tailored to ensure maximum progress for all of our children. Phonics teaching is also supported with a ‘look and say’ approach to building word recognition and enables our children to become independent in their reading.


At St Mary’s we primarily use the Oxford Reading Tree Scheme and supplement this with other schemes in order to offer a broad selection of books to our children. Children begin taking books home to read when they start school in Reception class.

As children progress throughout the school they gradually move away from the scheme and eventually choose their own reading books to take home. We always offer a guided hand ensuring children are choosing a broad and rich reading diet, including fiction and non-fiction texts and stories and novels from a wide variety of authors.

Check out the e-Book library from Monster Phonics and Oxford Owl for even more books to read with your child! Simply click the logo.


Guided Reading

Children participate in daily ‘Guided time’ where they take part in a weekly guided reading session which is then followed up with a guided reading follow-up task the next day. In the infants we primarily use the Collins ‘Big Cat’ phonics books to support guided reading; though these are supplemented with real books. In Key stage two the Collins ‘Sky Racer’ books are used alongside a guided reading scheme published by Scholastic. Although schemes are used for guided reading they are by no means prescriptive and teachers are encouraged to use a variety of texts which include newspapers, magazines and online texts.

Home Reading

At St Mary’s we always work in partnership with our parents and carers. The role that they play in developing our young people as life-long readers is of paramount importance.
We encourage our parents and carers to read with their child on a daily basis; for the duration of their time with us. In the Early Years we value their contribution greatly, as the children learn and develop the mechanics of reading. However, as children move up through our school we acknowledge the impact and benefit that reading at home has for our children. It enables our children to develop a rich and varied vocabulary and in mastering the higher order reading skills of inference and deduction.

Handwriting and Spelling

At St Mary’s we teach spelling as part of our literacy lessons with spelling and grammar starters in every session. We provide our pupils with active learning experiences and opportunities to make learning discoveries for themselves. We use the ‘No Nonsense’ spelling programme in Years Two through to Six to support spelling development. A spelling activity session also forms part of our daily guided time alongside a handwriting practice session.

Our pupils are taught in a cursive style of handwriting upon entry to our school in Reception.