Here at St. Mary’s we believe that learning to read and enjoying books are of the highest importance.
We realise that it is a key life skill and that in order to access the curriculum fully, children need the ability to read.
Decodable books in Early Years and Key Stage 1
We have updated our school library so that now all books sent home for children on the Essential Letters and Sounds phonics scheme are decodable and are linked to the sounds taught in their phonics lessons.
That means that the majority of the words can be ‘sounded out’ by the child. These words will be alongside ‘harder to read and spell’ words, for example ‘the’, ‘was’, ‘there’ which cannot be decoded.
Teaching Phonics at St Mary’s
We have brought in Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) as our new phonics scheme.
The aim is to teach all children to read quickly and to enjoy books.
How we teach it
All children following the scheme are taught in whole class groups. They learn a new sound every day for four days, then have a review lesson at the end of the week.
There are whole weeks devoted to revision so the sounds are not forgotten, and on a Friday, the children read their new book in class before taking it home. The child has that book for a week.
Why teach phonics this way?
The children are all taught the same sounds but we know that children are not all the same. Some may fly ahead and some may find reading a struggle. Children who need it are given extra support within the lesson and again after the lesson in a 1:1 setting if further support is needed. Children who are good readers can also take home a book of their choice and at their own reading level. All children are able to choose an additional book of their choice.
The lessons are fast-paced and engaging. There are chances for reading and writing in every lesson because we know the strong links between both.
What can I as a parent do to help?
There are videos which show you the pronunciation of sounds and an introduction to the scheme. Please see below.
Top tips to help at home
Some useful web sites
We ask you to hear your child read their ELS book four times during the week. We want the children to become increasingly confident and read the book with more fluency, and your support with this is so appreciated.
Reading in Key Stage 2
Once the children reach a level of fluency in KS1 or are in KS2, we move to Accelerated reader.
This is a scheme we brought to St. Mary’s in September 2020 as a way of encouraging children to read more often and with greater fluency and recognition of vocabulary.
For more information, please go to
Accelerated Reader is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice.
- Your child picks a book at his/her own level and reads it at their own pace.
- When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer. (Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read.)
- Accelerated Reader gives children, teachers, and parents feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.
- Children using Accelerated Reader choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them.
- Teachers help your child choose books at an appropriate readability level that are challenging without being frustrating, ensuring that your child can pass the quiz and experience success.
Some of the children’s comments:
‘It makes me want to get better at everything to do with
reading and to achieve more’.
‘It’s fun trying to get 100%’
‘I like the peace and quiet!’