Reading & Phonics


At St Paul's Primary School, early reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach to reading. Pupils are systematically taught the phonemes (sounds), how to blend the sounds all through the word for reading, and how to segment the sounds in order to write words. They are taught to use their phonic skills and knowledge as their first approach to reading, but are also taught high frequency words which do not completely follow the phonic rules.

The school follows the Read Write Inc published programme which supports us in providing a multi-sensory approach to learning phonics. In 2013 the school took full advantage of the Government's phonics matched funding scheme and invested in £4000 of new phonic resources (this was then matched with a further £4000 by the Government).


At St Paul's Primary School, all our early reading books are colour banded. Your child will be given a colour band to choose their home reading book from which will help to ensure that the book they select is at about the right reading level for them. Every colour band includes books from a range of reading schemes so that they will experience a range of stories, text types and illustrations. The majority of books within the early book bands can be decoded using phonics skills and knowledge – look out for the ‘Sounds Easy Reader’ stickers on the front of books and encourage your child to use their phonics skills to read. The range of published schemes are used including Rigby Star Phonics, Big Cat Phonics, Fun with Phonics, Floppy Phonics and Phonics Bug.

As children become more fluent readers they then move to Accelerated Reader, which is also a colour banded scheme. This scheme is based on a regular Star Reading Test (soon to be renamed Star Enterprise) which assesses each child's reading ability.  From this they can then judge which books are most suited to them.  Each child receives a target which they can monitor based on the number of successful tests they take on each book read. Once they have reached their target they can then go to Mr David for a prize-book in his office.  For more information about Accelerated Reader please click here for a copy of the AR Parent's book.

Speaking and Listening

Being a skilled speaker takes practice as does being an active listener.   Both are required if our children are going to make the most of their time in primary education and both are haw-marks of children who have a positive attitude towards learning (we call it 'behaviour for learning').   At St Paul's we offer a range of opportunities for our learners to have experience at speaking publically in order to build confidence.  For example each term phase groups (usually pairs of years) take turns to present full-length performances which show-case the children's acting, dance and singing ability.  This is then supported by the various pupil groups around the school that have included:

  • Rights Respecting School Council
  • Eco-Warriors
  • School Campaign Network Team

These groups provide opportunities for the children to have a say in how the school is run and opportunities to influence decisions.

The school is committed to nurturing confident young people and part of this is having the confidence to speak publically.  This can only be done if there are opportunities to practice this and to have these efforts judged to help a child improve.  As a result we have turned to the English Speaking Board (ESB) to help provide a curriculum of 'speaking' to support this ambition.  The ESB is, in many ways, not too different to music exams where children take a different level grade each year from Year 3 to Year 5.  There are four elements of each exam:

  • Poetry recital
  • Reading an extract from a chosen book
  • A presentation
  • Questions about the presentation

We have been running the ESB since 2012 and for many of our children they site it as the most important aspect of their school life.  Certainly many parents have said it has made a significant difference to their child's confidence and ability to speak in public.  We believe that children who can speak confidently are more likely to be stronger writers and researchers. For more information about the ESB please click here.