Reading and Phonics

INTENT – to what do we aspire for our children?

National Curriculum

English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
Source: National Curriculum (updated Jan 2021)

What drives our reading curriculum at St Werburgh’s Primary School?

Together towards excellence

At St Werburgh’s we recognise that reading is central to children’s future success. It is important that children become fluent, engaged readers with good comprehension from early in their education journey. Children will be immersed in quality fiction and non-fiction books that are representative of the school community. Reading for pleasure has been widely shown to improve children’s future academic outcomes and their ongoing well being, so we foster a love of books and reading throughout the school. In Reception and Key Stage 1 children will learn to read and as they move through KS2 they will read to learn. We believe that knowledge powers reading comprehension and so our curriculum rigorously develops their schema. Our belief is that children should be supported to ‘Keep up rather than Catch up’  meaning that early intervention is key.


  • develops empathy and an understanding of different perspectives



  • sparks imagination
  • gives children the opportunity in life to find the answers to their questions
  • develops understanding of different cultures and places around the world



  • children develop the understanding that learning to read requires practice and perseverance

Aims of our reading curriculum

It is our intention to ensure that by the end of their primary education all children will achieve the following:

  • Read widely and confidently across fiction, non-fiction and poetry
  • Develop knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live
  • Establish an appreciation and love of reading, reading both for pleasure and information
  • Gain knowledge of a diverse range of authors and literature and appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • Read fluently, with confidence, prosody and understanding in any subject
  • Acquire a wide range of vocabulary and solid understanding of grammar and punctuation conventions, applying confidently, accurately and for effect
  • Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas


We teach reading in the following ways:

  • Unlocking Letters and Sounds (ULS)
  • CUSP reading curriculum
  • Timetabled ‘reading for pleasure’ time


These were carefully chosen because:

  • Underpinned by evidence, research, cognitive science and is ambitious
  • Modules are deliberately sequenced for robust progression
  • Within CUSP there is an emphasis on oracy and vocabulary acquisition and retention. A rich diet of language and vocabulary is deliberately planned for.
  • Within ULS, whole class phonics teaching, group reading and early interventions are included
  • Specific reading strategies are discreetly taught and practised so that they become transferable.
  • Learning, vocabulary and content is cumulative; content is learned, retrieved and built upon.


In Reception we are committed to developing the children’s Oracy skills through regular story telling, direct teaching of Oracy through planned sessions, giving children opportunities to talk to an audience and practice questioning skills – responding to and asking them.  All of these skills and opportunities build a strong foundation for the children becoming confident and fluent readers.  We work closely with families to encourage the importance of talk by modelling language and exposing their child to a range of vocabulary.  We also encourage using imagination for storytelling, reading a range of genres of books to their child, and supporting their child to regularly read their school reading book at home.  In Reception we promote the love of reading through inviting parents to be our ‘mystery reader’ where they read their self selected story to the class. 

St Werburgh’s Reading Progression

We follow the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression from Reception to Year 2. From Reception, we use ULS group reading planning alongside the explicit phonics teaching.

Unlocking letters and sounds progression.pdf

Year 1 – Year 6

All classes use the CUSP curriculum for reading. The Literature Spine is designed to progress in content and complexity. It is mapped with various themes in mind i.e. heritage text, strong female role models. The text choices are all of high quality and are representative of our community and our inclusive ethos. Alongside the core texts, extracts are used to develop background knowledge around the text. Once children have progressed from Phase 5 in ULS, they receive bespoke reading sessions with a focus on their need i.e. prosody, explicit vocab instruction or background knowledge

Reading strategies are explicitly taught within the context of the core text and the extracts. The strategies build upon one another and can be seen here.

Here – the National curriculum tracker when it is done from CUSP


We recognise the vital role that oracy plays in the lives and life chances of our children, therefore we plan explicit opportunities to develop their oracy skills as well as opportunities to learn through oracy across the curriculum.

We promote oracy through reading by teaching Tier 2 & 3 vocabulary which in turn allows the children to explain, discuss, debate and share their ideas when thinking about their reading.

IMPLEMENTATION – how will we deliver the curriculum?

Delivery of the Curriculum at St Werburgh’s

ULS will be taught in the following way:

This is taught daily for 30 minutes.

Revise: previously learnt graphemes, blending and common exception words

Teach: new grapheme/phoneme and common exception word

Apply: Blending to read, segmenting to write single words and captions or sentences

Revise: newly learned phonemes, graphemes and common exception words


Reading, other than phonics, will be taught in EYFS by:

There are daily story times where the whole process of reading is modelled by the teacher to the children. Stories, rhymes, songs are a daily, integral part of the curriculum.

Reading is in every area of the continuous provision and children have access to the book corner throughout the day.

Group reading is introduced when children are able to blend consonant – vowel – consonant words fluently. This is done in small groups using ULS texts and planning which are closely matched to their phonetic knowledge.


Children in Reception are taught using EYFS CUSP Structured storytimes. This consists of daily lessons based around a high quality text as detailed in the EYFS literature spine. Each lesson uses the same structure of vocabulary teaching, fluency/oracy/drama, Reading the text and Thinking harder.

Key Stage One

Children are taught reading 3 times a week for 30 minute sessions. The structure of the week is consistent so that children have a chance to revisit and deepen their conceptual understanding and become fluent in reading strategies. The structure is below:

There are daily story times where the whole process of reading is modelled by the teacher to the children. Group reading is taught weekly as an opportunity to meet the specific needs of the children, this is also a dedicated time for independent reading for pleasure. This is done in small groups using ULS texts which are closely matched to their phonetic knowledge.


Key Stage Two

Children are taught reading 5 times a week for 30 minute sessions. The structure of the week is consistent so that children have a chance to revisit and deepen their conceptual understanding and become fluent in reading strategies. The structure is below:

They are still read aloud to by their teacher at least 3 times a week.  Group reading is taught weekly as an opportunity to meet the specific needs of the children, this is also a dedicated time for independent reading for pleasure.


Intervention – Keep up not Catch up

Children who are not yet meeting age related expectations will be offered personalised intervention or focused support in class to support them to keep up. Interventions for word reading and phonics will follow the Unlocking Letters and Sounds phonics programme. Support with comprehension will be delivered through speech and language interventions, Pixl therapies or pre-teaching focused on children’s individual needs. Children working below age related expectations will read one to one with a school adult at least once a week in addition to group reading sessions.


Reading across the curriculum

Reading is woven into and across the curriculum. We believe that children should read as much as possible across the curriculum and we develop them to read as geographers, historians and scientists.

Book corners are available in all classrooms and are stocked with a range of fiction and non-fiction books. In KS2 these are the books that children will take home. Teachers are responsible for guiding children to choose their independent reading books. Author of the term books and books related to the foundation subjects will also be available for children.

Lesson Design

Every lesson in KS1 and KS2 will follow the sequence below:

Each lesson follows the model above.

  • CONNECT to prior knowledge
  • EXPLAIN new learning
  • give and EXAMPLE of new learning
  • Children ATTEMPT new learning with scaffolding
  • APPLY new learning independently
  • Children are CHALLENGED to integrate learning with prior knowledge


Children use task strips which are designed in order to  have a range of question types to promote conceptual fluency. It also promotes deep thinking and reasoning.

Parental engagement is important and has a significant impact on children’s progress. In Reception phonics and reading workshops will be offered; parent workshops for children in Year 1, Year 2 and in KS2 will be offered and workshops will be available in person and also as a video for parents to access on the school website.

Parents and carers are expected to read with their children at home at least 3 times per week. Teachers will monitor this during group reading sessions and follow up with parents on the door, via text messages and at parents evenings.

Book bags are provided to all children when they start in Reception. They should be brought to school every day and contain the child’s Reading Record and their reading books.

The Book Tree Bus is based on Willow Site and has a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts. Children can visit the bus fortnightly with their class and take books home to read and share.In Autumn 2023, a library is being set up on SIlver Birch site to allow Reception and KS1 children the opportunity to take library books home once a fortnight. 

SEND and scaffolding

We recognise some children need provision ‘additional to’ quality first teaching in order to reach their potential as readers.  This includes:

  • Carefully considered scaffolding
  • Pre and post-teaching
  • Pre-planned management of cognitive load
  • Explicit instruction and modelling
  • Alternative ways of recording
  • Additional targeted adult support

Curriculum enrichment at St Werburgh’s

  • Library Bus
  • World Book Day
  • Displays
  • Assemblies
  • Author visits
  • Book fair
  • Informal book talk
  • Social reading environments in classrooms


IMPACT – how do we know our curriculum is effective?

High quality outcomes:

Children’s reading skills books and children’s book studies will

  • capture increasing understanding of knowledge and skills
  • demonstrate a clear sequence of learning
  • show scaffolding and challenge where appropriate


Child’s voice

In lessons and book studies children can:

  • recall titles and authors of books they have read and studied
  • talk knowledgeably and confidently about what they have read or what has been read to them
  • talk about the books they have enjoyed giving reasons
  • explain how they choose the books they read
  • talk about how they have developed their vocabulary/ understanding of words
  • talk about the purpose of learning to read fluently
  • talk about the reading strategies they have been taught
  • support their answers with evidence from what they have read
  • talk about their progress in reading


Lesson monitoring

Lessons will be regularly monitored to ensure consistency and 100% engagement across the school


Assessment: A range of both formative and summative assessments are used to measure progress and identify areas for support.


Formative assessment

  • Quality First Teaching
  • In the moment assessment, addressing misconceptions straight away
  • Children’s work in books
  • Child book studies
  • Pixl question level analysis
  • Teacher judgement when reading with children



Summative assessment

Non- statutory

  • Pixl Reading assessments from Years 2 – 5
  • Whole class phonics assessments in Reception and Year 1
  • One page phonics assessments for children still requiring phonics support in Years 2 – 6.



  • Early Learning Goals (Comprehension and Word Reading)
  • Year 1 phonics screening
  • End of KS2 SATs reading papers