English – Reading, Writing and Phonics

Reading is all about acquiring meaning; for enjoyment, information and understanding. It is not a performance, it is not a test, but at St Mary’s we understand that success in reading is fundamental to success in school. Creating a love of reading in children is potentially one of the most powerful ways of improving academic standards in school. We strive to improve pupils chances in school, and beyond in the wider world by enabling them to become truly independent readers.

The hearing of reading is NOT the teaching of reading and we ensure that, through a range of approaches, children are being taught fundamental reading skills.

Our approaches include:

Daily phonics, shared reading, guided reading, opportunities for independent reading, focused reading activities (as a whole class, in small groups or independently), opportunities for reading across the curriculum, the sharing of class novels and stories.

Our teaching of reading is focused on 2 skills:

  • Phonics & word recognition – the ability to blend letter sounds (phonemes) together to read words and the ability to recognise words presented in and out of context.
  • Understanding – The ability to understand the meaning of the words and sentences in a text and the ability to understand the ideas, information and themes in a text

In this section you will find links to frequently asked questions and information on ways in which you can help your child at home.


Reading – FAQ’s
Reading the books your child brings home
Reading the books your child brings home – Emerging Readers
Reading the books your child brings home – Older Children
Talk for Writing’ at St Mary’s


Our approaches to writing at St Mary’s include:

  • ‘Mark making’
  • ‘Sounds Write’
  • ‘Talk for Writing’
  • Phonics and spelling
  • Emergent writing
  • Shared Writing
  • Guided Writing/Independent Writing
  • Extended writing
  • Handwriting
  • Creative writing activities

Teachers also seek to take advantage of opportunities to make cross-curricular links. They plan for pupils to practise and apply the skills, knowledge and understanding acquired through literacy lessons to other areas of the curriculum.

Talk for Writing at St Mary’s

The majority of our teaching of writing is based on the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach. We believe strongly (and have seen!) that this approach makes a huge difference to the quality of children’s writing. It gives them opportunity to imitate and internalise the language of stories, before moving on to being supported in crafting their writing. We use text or story maps and actions to help us recall the story or non-fiction text, open each unit in a creative engaging way, focus strongly on developing vocabulary, before bringing the learning together to produce a final written outcome.

In each year group ‘page’ you will find links to National Curriculum expectations for writing.



Words are made up of small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and spell words.

At St Mary’s we follow ‘Letters and Sounds’ throughout The Foundation stage and Key Stage 1. This is supplemented with resources from other schemes such as ‘Jolly Phonics’ (you have probably heard your child singing ‘Ants on the apple, a…a…a…’!)

Phonics is taught every day, for 20 minutes, with follow-up tasks throughout the day and other opportunities for practise and consolidation, for example, through focused, adult-led activities in the classroom and opportunities in the outside areas.

In this section you will find links to a phonics glossary of terms, an overview of the order in which the sounds and skills are taught and a parents’ guided to the year 1 phonics screening check.


Phonics Glossary
Phonics Phases