Reading at St. Joseph’s


Through our English curriculum, we strive to teach the children how important their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills will be in the real world. By providing an enriched and engaging English curriculum, we develop confident and enthusiastic learners who are equipped with the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society both now and in their future. Reading is at the heart of all our English lessons. By reading widely and often and through choosing quality texts, we want children to develop a lifelong love of reading and allow children to recognise the pleasure they can get from their reading, as well as an understanding that reading allows them to discover new knowledge, revisit prior knowledge and understand more about what they learn, fuelling their imagination for ideas to use in their own work.



The systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. Phonics is taught daily to all children in Foundation Stage and Key Stage One.  Staff systematically teach learners the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them. Phonics are displayed in classrooms and this further enhances the rich literacy environment for early readers. Intervention is planned for those children who are working below expected levels and children who do not meet the threshold in Y1 in the phonics screening check receive extra daily phonics. We use a whole class approach to phonics and have used the Floppy’s Phonics scheme since September 2020 for delivery in Early Years and Year One. Floppy’s Phonics is visual, audial and progressive and has an array of reading books available which closely match the phase of phonics that children are currently working within. Children in Year 2 recap phase 5 phonics in the autumn term in order to secure their understanding.

Reading Scheme:

School uses a variety of different reading schemes to provide a wide variety of appropriate quality texts for children to read, covering all genres. The schemes incorporated into our reading provision include: Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cat and Bug Club. All books are levelled (initially by phonic stage) in order to ensure progression and challenge for all children.

Reading across school:

Reading forms the core of our English curriculum. In order to expose children to a variety of genres, books are purposefully selected by teachers in order to promote a love of reading, engagement and high quality writing from each child. Where possible, books are chosen with cross-curricular links to give learning more purpose and to make it more memorable. Our chosen books are then used within a learning journey, exposing our pupils to inference, high-level vocabulary, a range of punctuation and grammatical concepts and characterisation. In Foundation Stage, the curriculum is planned around novels and continuous provision is enhanced using the chosen books.

From Year 1, children take part in whole class reading sessions. Since September 2020, these sessions are planned by teachers using ‘Vipers’ for comprehension. This is embedded throughout school. This approach teaches the skills of Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval, Sequencing (KS1) and Summarising (KS2).

Progression throughout school


We follow the Floppy’s Phonics scheme to teach synthetic phonics in Early Years and Key Stage 1.  When children enter Reception, they quickly learn the letters (codes) that represent the first set of sounds. Children learn to blend these sounds to read simple words and as soon as they are confident, children apply their blending skills to read books independently. We use Oxford Reading Tree for our core reading scheme throughout school. These include decodable books for our early readers so that when they read them, both at home and at school, they are immediately successful; develop fluency and enjoyment of reading. Children are taught to recognise ‘Tricky Words’ as part of their phonics programme. Children are taught to read these words by sight to improve their fluency when reading.

Year 1

As children move through Reception and Year 1, they are taught letters and groups of letters to represent all 44 sounds. Children’s developing phonic knowledge is assessed regularly and children who are falling behind are given 1:1 intervention in order to help them keep up with their peers. Phonics groups are reviewed regularly to make sure that children are receiving a phonics programme that is appropriate for their needs.

Children are given lots of opportunities to apply their early reading and writing skills in activities in provision areas, through access to high quality books and in the language rich environment they learn in. Children have daily story time sessions where we use repeated texts to explore and learn new vocabulary and learn key phrases from the focus text. This enables children to access these texts which are at a level beyond their independent reading and promotes confidence and a love of story. Children develop reading comprehension through “VIPERS” questioning (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explain, Retrieve, Sequence).

Year 2

By the time children reach Year 2, they are confident at using the skills taught in Reception and Year 1 to support them with reading and decoding new texts. The teachers in Year 2 ensure that children who are lower attaining and need more time to catch up are identified. These pupils attend specific phonics interventions to close any gaps in learning as quickly as possible. Teachers also teach comprehension skills, through “VIPERS” question stems. This often sparks excitement and helps children develop their love of reading.  Children have access to a range of books matching the topic they are taught in foundation subjects to encourage intellectual curiosity. Pupils books are monitored; teachers ensure books sent home not only match pupil’s interests, but are also matched to ability.

Year 3

In Year 3, pupils are exposed to more genres and ranges of text styles. They are then encouraged to read books that link to the genre. Similar text styles are also used in comprehension sessions to encourage the children to gain a better understanding of the features. We encourage a resilient approach to reading and inspire children to never give up. Again, teachers also teach comprehension skills through “VIPERS” question stems. Adults within the classroom ensure books are matched specifically to meet the needs of each individual pupil within the class. Cracking Comprehension is used in addition to VIPERS for those children who need intervention. We use the interactive programme ‘Reading Plus’ from Y3 onwards to develop reading stamina and comprehension.

Year 4

In Year 4, the reading journey continues as children meet a variety of text styles. The texts that children meet add more challenge to their abilities to comprehend and infer. Children are still very much encouraged and supported in their individual reading; some children are, by now, able readers and reading far above their chronological age at this point. These children have access to age-appropriate texts that engage and motivate them with literary challenge but accessible themes and interest levels. Teachers continue to use “VIPERS” question stems and these continue to cover the range of skills that children need to fully develop their reading, including further embedding and vocabulary is a continued focus.

Year 5

Year 5 takes a similar structure. Children are exposed to a range of texts and are taught explicit reading skills in “VIPERS” sessions. Now in upper Key Stage 2, it is evident that children are given more freedom to explore texts of their own choice and have successfully built up their “VIPERS” skills to develop higher level thinking. The children discover new meanings of words and can use these in a range of different contexts. Children have access to dictionaries, the support of their peers and adults within the class to support them with accessing texts.

Year 6

In Year 6, children hone and refine their skills, using all the knowledge acquired during their time in school. They continue to develop their vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation and summarising skills to read and understand longer and complex texts, understanding technical and more obscure vocabulary. Children are still read to regularly and are actively encouraged to read a range of texts independently, taking more responsibility for their own reading. Children are also encouraged to attend Booster Sessions after school to support them with accessing the end of Key Stage SATS. However, we ensure this is not the focus of reading throughout their Year 6 experience – teachers continue to build on pupil’s love of reading.

Early reading policy

Reading for Pleasure:

At St. Joseph’s, we strive to foster a love of reading both in school and at home. To ensure that all children have access to a range of books, all classrooms have a reading area where children can choose books that interest them and they are regularly given opportunities to read these books within the school day. Children also have access to the library which they are given the chance to visit fortnightly to choose a book to read for pleasure. Children also are able to listen to the class teacher reading a shared class book. This provides a quality model for reading and time for children to enjoy being read to.


Classroom Reading Areas

The Reading Barn (before and after)

Our love of reading is further celebrated online. For World Book Day 2021, we created The Story Corner, a collection of our favourite children’s stories read aloud and recorded by staff members from across school.

We have also created The Virtual Library, a selection of stories which children can access from anywhere.

Wider experiences:

Reading is not only celebrated during lessons at St. Joseph’s. Throughout the school year, the importance of reading is enhanced through World Book Day, author visits, parent reading workshops and Leeds Book Awards for our reading ambassadors. We also aim to regularly utilise the local library through visits to borrow books throughout the year.

All of these opportunities assist in enriching and complimenting the children’s learning.


Children will have a love of reading.

  • Pupils enjoy reading regularly for information and for pleasure.
  • Pupils discuss books with excitement and interest.
  • Pupils have a good understanding of a range of genres.
  • All pupils learn to read, regardless of their background, needs or abilities and make progress.
  • The percentage of pupils working at ARE by the end of each Key Stage will be at least in line with national averages.
  • There will be no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of pupils (e.g. disadvantaged vs non-disadvantaged).
  • Children will use their Reading skills as a key tool in helping them to learn, and as a result, know more, remember more and understand more.
  • Pupils will have a wide vocabulary that they use within their writing.
  • Children are confident in taking risks within their reading, challenging themselves to try something different.
  • Children are equipped with the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society both now and in their future.

*We are reviewing these opportunities in light of the current Covid situation.