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St Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School

“Live wisely, Think deeply, Love generously”

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Reading at St Mary Immaculate




At St Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School, we uphold the belief that reading is not only the gateway to learning but also a fundamental aspect of a child's holistic development. We are committed to providing our students with a comprehensive reading curriculum that instils essential literacy skills and fosters a deep appreciation for the written word and its power to enrich lives.


Our reading curriculum is grounded in the understanding that reading is more than just decoding words—it is a dynamic process of making meaning and engaging with the world around us. We believe that through reading, our pupils can transcend their immediate surroundings, explore diverse cultures, and develop the vocabulary necessary for effective self-expression.


Central to our approach is the recognition that comprehension lies at the heart of reading. Therefore, our curriculum places a strong emphasis on equipping pupils with the comprehension strategies needed to navigate complex texts with confidence and understanding. We believe that by teaching students how to actively engage with words, sentences, and language on a deeper level, we empower them to become thoughtful, discerning readers who can critically evaluate and interpret texts.


In the early stages of reading development, building strong foundational skills is paramount. Therefore, our curriculum places a particular emphasis on phonics to ensure that pupils develop strong decoding skills and fluency. By providing systematic, synthetic phonics lessons, we give our pupils the tools they need to unlock the written word and become independent readers.


Furthermore, we recognise that teachers play a crucial role in inspiring and engaging students in reading. Therefore, our curriculum encourages teachers to create rich and immersive reading experiences that ignite pupils' curiosity and love for literature.


Through interactive read-alouds, whole class reading sessions, and independent reading activities, teachers inspire pupils to explore a wide range of texts and genres, fostering a lifelong love for reading.


Our reading curriculum is underpinned by the pillars of our school's curriculum: live wisely, think deeply, love generously. We believe that through reading pupils acquire knowledge and also develop the moral and spiritual values that are central to our Catholic identity. By integrating these values into our teaching of reading, we aim to cultivate compassionate, empathetic individuals who are equipped to make a positive difference in the world.


In conclusion, our reading curriculum at St Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School is more than just a set of lessons—it is a transformative journey that provides pupils with the foundational literacy skills, comprehension strategies, and love for reading needed to thrive academically, personally, and spiritually.




At St Mary Immaculate we follow Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. In Reception and Year 1 we teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. Each week, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.


Children in Reception and Year 1 are assessed and books are carefully chosen to ensure they are fully decodable by the child. This means children will only encounter the sounds and tricky words that they are secure on. The stories reflect the world in which we live and promote diversity. Children are heard read 3 times a week by an adult in school through a guided reading session linked to our phonics learning. Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

    • decoding

    • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression

    • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text


In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.


Once pupils have had their three reading sessions in school this book then goes home for the pupil to read at home with a grown-up.


Children in Reception and KS1 also have a ‘sharing book’ that they choose from the library. This goes home to be shared with grown-ups at home and for them to read to their child.


In KS2, we continue to teach reading in this way, using Little Wandle catch up programme 7+, for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books. We aim to hear our lowest 20% of readers in all classes at least three times a week.


Once children have moved away from reading Little Wandle’s phonetically decodable texts, they move onto Accelerated Reader and are able to choose their own books from the class or school library. In Year 2 this is led by the class teacher to ensure a seamless transition between heavily structured, phonetically driven reading, to a wider choice of books.


Accelerated Reader is a program that helps our pupils improve their reading skills and ensures they are reading a wide range of books they are able to understand and enjoy.

Pupils choose books within their ability range, to read independently and/or with an adult at home or in school. 


Teaching Reading

In Years 2 – 6, children are encouraged to read daily in a range of different contexts. Reading occurs in many ways throughout the school, and good practice sees children being exposed to books in a variety of ways.


To support the teaching of reading comprehension, Years 2 - 6 use an acronym to support the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the national reading curriculum. They are the key strategies which children use in order to improve their comprehension of texts.


VIPERS stands for: Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval, Sequence or Summarise.


Whole Class Reading is taught each week. During this, the teacher’s role is to make it clear what good readers do and encourage children to be actively involved in reading in the moment. During whole class reading the children can access a text which may be challenging to them individually.


We use Literacy Shed Plus and VIPERS to support the teaching of reading skills, using short comprehension texts and teaching slides which focus on certain areas of their comprehension development.


Through our teaching of reading we are modelling to children how to:

• Read aloud fluently and with expression;

• Read for meaning;

• Develop the skills required for the critical reading of texts;

• Be encouraged to read a wide range of fiction, poetry and non-fiction materials.


Each day the teacher reads a class book aloud to the children. These high-quality books are chosen carefully by the teacher to help ensure enjoyment, encourage reading for pleasure and a love of books.


Children are also given opportunities and encouraged each day to read quietly and independently.


Individual records of reading progress are maintained for each child in the form of Reading Record Books, Reading Journals, Accelerated Reader quiz and star test results and test results.




Our reading curriculum fosters a profound understanding that reading is the cornerstone of all learning, exceeding assessment outcomes. Through our teaching and guidance, children embark on enriching journeys into the diverse and magical worlds that literature unveils. By nurturing their individual interests in books, we instil a deep love for literature spanning various genres, cultures, and styles.


As Year 6 students transition into secondary school, our aspiration is for them to emerge as fluent, confident, and enthusiastic readers. Equipped with the ability to engage with a wide range of texts for both pleasure and learning, they can skilfully apply their reading skills across all areas of the curriculum.


Furthermore, we aim for our pupils to reflect on their reading experiences, fostering empathy for characters and drawing connections to their own personal development. Through this, they cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.


The impact of our reading program is evident in the well-rounded, intellectually curious individuals our pupils become as they progress to the next stage of their academic journey. Armed with the lasting belief that reading is the key to unlocking knowledge and understanding, they embark on their secondary education with confidence and eagerness.