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The Teaching of Reading and Phonics

Our vision:

At St Helen’s we believe that reading changes lives. As a school, we strive to ensure that all children become successful and fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1. We believe this is achievable through a combination of strong, high quality, discrete phonics teaching combined with a literature-rich approach that promotes a ‘reading for pleasure’ culture. We aim for all of the children at St Helen’s to leave school at the end of Key Stage 2 with a genuine passion for reading and to have obtained all of the skills they need to tackle any book of their choosing.

At St Helen’s Primary, we intend:

  • for every child to be a reader
  • for early readers to have the skills to decode words, so they can read fluently as quickly as possible.
  • for children to understand what they have read
  • for children to respond with curiosity about what they and others have read
  • for children to become enthusiastic and motivated to read for pleasure
  • to develop children’s confidence in reading a wide variety of genres and text types
  • to develop children’s knowledge of a wide range of authors and illustrators


The teaching of reading and phonics is a key part of the curriculum at St Helen's. We follow the Little Wandle Scheme for phonics in Reception and Year 1. Children in Year 2 upwards follow Little Wandle's Rapid Catch Up Scheme, if required.

Children in Reception and Year 1 have 5 phonics lesson per week. In addition, the children read the same book three times in a week. The first time we work on decoding (sounding out) the words, the second time we work on prosody which is reading with expression – making the book sound more interesting – and the third time we look at comprehension. We read the books three times at school because we want to develop the fluency. The more they see words the more they begin to read them automatically without having to sound them out. Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 have three books to bring home - their reading book, a family sharing book and a book from the school library.

As children progress through the school, reading becomes whole class reading focusing on comprehension and understanding, whilst continuing to develop fluency. 

If you require any further information regarding the teaching of phonics, please contact the Reading Lead - Claire.thompson@sthelens.herts.sch.uk

The Reading for pleasure documents offer ideas for children regarding which genre of reading they like:

Our library and librarian:

We are fortunate enough to have a wonderful, fully stocked library and our librarian Mrs Ishbel Bartlett is a published author. If you are ever struggling to find a book or would like a recommendation please take advantage of Mrs Ishbel Bartlett's fantastic literacy knowledge.

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