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St Columba’s is a Catholic school with Christ’s teachings of love, peace and justice at the heart of all we do

Teaching of Reading at St. Columba's


Our pupils learn to read and write effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme. The programme is for:

• Pupils in Year R to Year 2 who are learning to read and write

• Any pupils in Years 2, 3 and 4 who need to catch up rapidly

• Struggling readers in Years 5 and 6 follow Read Write Inc. Fresh Start.


In Read Write Inc. Phonics pupils:

• Decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills

• Read common exception words on sight

• Understand what they read

• Read aloud with fluency and expression

• Write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar

• Spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words


Pupils are taught to work effectively with a partner to explain and consolidate what they are learning. This provides the teacher with opportunities to assess learning and to pick up on difficulties, such as pupils’ poor articulation, or problems with blending or alphabetic code knowledge. We group pupils homogeneously, according to their progress in reading. In Reception, the pupils rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily.


Pupils have frequent practice in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – common exception words. We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.


Embedding the alphabetic code early on means that pupils quickly learn to write simple words and sentences. Children are encouraged to sound out words aloud to help develop their confidence. Our aim is for pupils to complete the phonics programme as quickly as possible. The sooner they complete it, the sooner they will be able to choose books to read at their own interest and comprehension level set by the Accelerated Reader programme.

Whole Class Reading


Modelled and shared reading enables the children to become active readers. The children are encouraged to share their responses; they give their feelings, opinions and ideas and refer to the text to support them. These are then extended and developed through class discussion as the children build on each other’s thinking and talking. A series of questions are prepared specifically for the text using the Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2 reading domains and question stems. This ensures balance, rigour and high expectations in the comprehension skills that the children are learning and applying.

Accelerated Reader


We use Accelerated Reader from Year 2 and throughout KS2. This programme allows all children to select a book to read from a wide range of ‘real’ books. It also allows us to ensure that the children are understanding the books that they are reading, building fluency and stamina and making progress throughout the year.


In September and at the beginning of each half term, the children complete a Star Test. The result of the Star Test sets each child’s individual target in terms of the amount that they are reading for the half term. It also sets each child’s individual ZDP range. Children choose books in their ZDP range  to ensure that their book choice is always of the appropriate difficulty.