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'Do unto others as you would have them do to you'. (Mt 7.12)

St Matthew's Primary

Friendship • Discovery • Prayer

Phonics and reading

English at St Matthew’s

Friendship, Discovery, Prayer


 Reading Intent

At St Matthew’s we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading opens up a new world for children; allowing them to access their learning and deepen their knowledge of the world.  At St Matthew’s our three main aims in reading are:

  • Every child makes speedy progress in phonics and reading
  • Children develop their understanding and use of spoken language
  • Children develop a love of reading

Early reading is a key priority at St Matthew’s.  We use a systematic synthetic phonics programme that is based on Ruth Miskin’s ‘Read Write Inc.’  to help children decode alongside a language and text rich environment. We believe that exposure to stories is integral to developing childrens’ use of spoken language and to develop their love of reading. High quality literature is interwoven into our curriculum through the use of core texts to expose our children to various genres, famous authors and to enhance the variety of exciting topics that we teach.



Phonics and Early Reading (EYFS and KS1) Implementation

At St Matthew’s we believe that for our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured programme. Phonics and exposure to stories has a high priority throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1. Through phonics, children learn to segment and blend sounds to read words; they are then encouraged to transfer the skills they learn in phonics sessions into their independent reading and writing.


Daily lessons

Children are taught to:

Decode letter/sounds correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills

Read red words (words that cannot be phonetically decoded) on sight

Understand what they read

Read aloud with fluency and expression


Reading at home

We ensure that children read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics  so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence in their reading. Children also take home a selection of high quality texts to promote a life-long love of reading.



Children’s phonic knowledge and progress is assessed and monitored through RWI assessment sheets each half-term. Gaps are addressed quickly and effectively for all pupils through the use of group sessions and 1:1 tutoring sessions. By following a clear progression, children are provided with a structured, clear route to meet the expected standard in word reading and spelling.


Comprehension, Inference and Vocabulary

Alongside phonic lessons, teachers  read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to children to develop their comprehension, inference and vocabulary. In Early Years, our ‘spotlight stories’ and storytime is a key learning tool to embed vocabulary and stimulate discussions about books by allowing children to talk about characters and stories that they have read. Through our continuous provision, children are given opportunities to then apply their literacy learning with a focus on vocabulary through imaginative play, retelling of stories using puppets and independent writing. In KS1 reciprocal reading is used to teach children how to predict, question character’s actions and motives, clarify vocabulary and summarise a class core text. Reciprocal reading emphasises teamwork and supports independent comprehension skills.  



KS2 Reading Implementation


In KS2 reading skills are separated into word reading, comprehension, inference and vocabulary. High quality, engaging and vocabulary rich texts are used to steer each reading lesson.


Daily lessons focussing on word reading, comprehension, inference and vocabulary

In KS2 a whole class reading approach is used to build upon the skills taught in KS1 and further develop the children’s understanding of comprehension, inference and vocabulary. Each activity is linked to a set of key skills that are specific to their year group. While the children are completing the activity, teachers and TAs have a ‘consultation’ with each child by asking to hear them read and ask them questions about their activity.


Reading at home

Children who are still learning to decode will take home a decodable text that matches their phonic knowledge linked to our RWI Scheme. Once children are ready to move on from decodable texts they are able to choose their own book to read to an adult. These books can be chosen from class book corners or KS libraries. Children record these books in their Reading Record to communicate with their teachers what they are reading at home.



Alongside ‘consultations’ during whole class reading sessions, PIRA assessments are used termly to assess a child’s reading age and progress in comprehension, inference and identifying and application of vocabulary.



Reading Impact

Attainment in reading is measured using statutory assessments such as the end of EYFS, Key Stage 1 and 2 and following the outcomes in the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check. Additionally, we track our own reading attainment through the use of RWI half termly and screening assessments, PIRA reading papers and consultations during whole class reading sessions.


Our data from our year one phonics screening check shows that a high percentage of our pupils pass their assessment, equipping them well for Year 2.


Our KS1 and KS2 published Reading SATs results show that children are well equipped in their beyond learning to read skills, with a high percentage working at or above the national standard. Our latest set of results showed:



End of KS1 Reading Data


End of KS2 Reading Data

% of children reaching Expected Standard

% of children at Greater Depth

% of children reaching Expected Standard

% of children at Greater Depth

92 % School

 79% Merton

 75% National

46% School

29% Merton

25% National

92% School

78% Merton

73% National

52 % School

 31% Merton

27% National


*Please note: 2019 was the last set of published data


At St Matthew’s we believe that reading is the key to unlock all learning and so the impact of our reading goes beyond the statutory assessments. We endeavour to ensure our pupils ​​ possess reading skills as well as a love of literature which will help them enjoy and access any aspects of learning they encounter in the future.

Please click here to see the Reading progression map.