How do we teach reading at St Alban's?

At St Albans C of E Primary School we believe in the importance of developing children’s word-reading skills and comprehension together with the need to stimulate a love of books and reading. We recognise how closely these two elements are intertwined and that each relies on the other if children are to become life-long readers.

We also believe that every child can learn to read and every child can develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read, vocabulary and understanding given the right environment and teaching and learning opportunities.

Our Reading Curriculum

The teaching of phonics begins with our youngest pupils and continues throughout school until the children are secure in their understanding and application of the techniques. We use the Read, Write, Inc. Phonic program in EYFS and Year 1 and Read, Write, Inc. Spelling in Year 2 and Key Stage 2. A variety of approaches are taken to ensure that lessons remain engaging and challenging at all levels and every opportunity is taken to reinforce knowledge and understanding across all areas of the curriculum. Lessons are little but often and use pictures, puppets and rhymes in order to make them interesting and entertaining as well as educational.

Books often form the basis of classroom projects too and children have the chance to study a book in detail and use it as a stimulus for other kinds of written or creative work.

Good-quality texts provide opportunities for children to meet objectives drawn from across the National Curriculum for English and a combination of whole class teaching and smaller guided reading opportunities help to introduce and reinforce skills successfully.

Our teaching of comprehension includes teaching literal, inference and evaluation skills with progression being provided through the increasing challenge of texts being used and from the complexity of the questions a teacher asks or the tasks set, and the quality of the answers they’re willing to accept. To support the teaching of comprehension skills we use Cracking Comprehension and Headstart materials. 

Family involvement is an important part of our reading culture. Results of international reading studies have shown that children who are supported in their reading at home are more likely to enjoy reading and tend to achieve more highly at school. We want our children to read at home through choice and for this to happen we ensure that we engage with families to extend the culture of reading that the school has developed. Strategies include:

–  Inviting parents into school to read with their children.

–  Training parents, grandparents and adult volunteers from the local community to come in to school and listen to children read.

–  Offering reading advice during open days and parent evenings.

–  Parents and teachers communicating regularly in home/school reading diaries.

–  Ensuring that our environment celebrates reading in all its forms.

Reading for Pleasure

Research shows that reading for pleasure has a positive impact on children’s attainment in reading assessments. Children who read for pleasure have enhanced levels of text comprehension, an increased knowledge of grammar and show improvement in their writing. They also have more positive attitudes towards reading than peers.

“Pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose, both fiction and non-fiction, and be encouraged to read for pleasure. Schools should do everything to promote wider reading… [Pupils] should be reading widely and frequently, outside as well as in school, for pleasure and information.”

2014 National Curriculum

At St Albans we provide plenty of opportunities for children to read for pleasure and enjoy a variety of texts. We build in time for all children to read independently, share books and hear stories and rhymes being read to them. Books are displayed attractively around school and in classrooms reading areas promote different authors and their work. We hold book fairs and reading related competitions for pupils of all ages and organise regular visits to the local library and visits from authors and poets.

At St Albans we believe that anything we can do to help children to become life-long readers is time and effort well spent.


As Mark Twain said, ‘The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read’

Link  to National Curriculum:

Fred Talk (Blending) 

An Introduction to Read Write Inc Phonics