Milton St John's Church of England Primary School

Milton St John's Church of England Primary School

  1. Curriculum
  2. Phonics/Reading



“The more you read, the more things you will know, 

The more you learn, the more places you’ll go”

(Dr Seuss.)



Central to learning is creating a life-long love of reading and at Milton St John’s C of E Primary School it is our belief that every child should be able to read for pleasure and to a high standard. We firmly believe that reading feeds children’s imagination and opens up a treasure house of wonder and joy for curious young minds. We also believe that every child should be given the tools to develop into an enthusiastic and confident reader both at home and at school. Reading improves language and vocabulary, inspires imagination and gives everyone the opportunity to develop and foster new interests.


A child's reading skills are important to their success in school as they will allow them to access the breadth of the curriculum and improve their communication and language skills. Additionally, reading can be an enjoyable and imaginative time for children, which can open doors to all kinds of new worlds for them. Through reading, children have the opportunity to develop culturally, socially and emotionally as well as reaping the benefits academically.  At Milton St John’s a ‘Love of Language’ is developed and fostered for the enjoyment, challenge and understanding of text. This love of language is developed through poetry, a variety of fictional genres, non-fiction, test questions and even through research.


It is our vision that readers at Milton will:

  • Confidently decode and read unfamiliar texts- practice makes perfect!
  • Develop fluency and expression in their reading of a variety of different text types including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
  • Choose to read for pleasure and have fun reading.
  • Develop imagination using what they have read.
  • Have a wide and varied vocabulary as a result of what they have read.
  • Independently retrieve information from texts to improve understanding, as well as giving opinions on what they have read.
  • Infer the meaning in texts and understand the purpose of different texts.


Our curriculum drivers underpin all we do and are an essential part of our learning. The drivers help our children to ‘RISE’ up and play a vital role in their community; locally, nationally and globally. They are listed below:


  • Respect for the opinions and beliefs of others
  • Independence & Resilience
  • Spirituality
  • Engagement & Curiosity


We do not believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach, so our teachers are highly trained in responding to the needs of individuals. They plan carefully tailored reading tasks to suit our pupils, using the agreed scheme throughout school and beginning with Essential Letters and Sounds in EYFS.  Reading is the key to learning and comes into every aspect of the National Curriculum.  We encourage the pupils to read as much as possible both at home and at school, ensuring that we give them the tools that they need in order to make progress, whilst taking into account their ability levels and the support they may need.




At Milton St John’s we believe that all pupils should have the opportunity to be fluent, confident readers who are able to successfully comprehend and understand a wide range of texts. We want pupils to develop a love of reading, a good knowledge of a range of authors, and be able to understand more about the world in which they live through the knowledge they gain from texts. By the end of their time at primary school, all children should be able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education. We do not put ceilings on what pupils can achieve in reading and we do not hold pre-conceptions about any pupils’ ability to make progress. We understand the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop both word reading and comprehension skills, and so we want to encourage a home-school partnership which enables parents and carers to understand how to enhance the skills being taught in school through good quality texts.



At Milton St John’s we have a structured approach to the teaching of reading. We use a wide range of reading materials and teaching methods to help children learn to read in a way which meets their needs and challenges them appropriately. Throughout school, we have a rich collection of books in order to encourage children’s desire to become readers. Our free reader library has a wide selection of books for children to choose from to encourage and foster a love of reading. Books chosen are monitored by class teachers to ensure that children are reading a variety of genres and text types.

Across our Early Years Foundation Stage and Year 1, we teach phonics by following the Essential Letters and Sounds Program and help children to learn whole words in order to develop a wide on-sight vocabulary. Our aim is to teach children to not only read a text fluently, but to improve their comprehension skills as this will help children to understand and reflect upon what they have read. In Year 2, the children, if they are ready and if they have passed the Year 1 Phonics Screening Test, move away from phonics and begin to look at spelling rules and patterns. This is then continued throughout Key Stage 2.

From Reception to Year 6, Guided Reading takes place daily. In Reception and Year 1, this is conducted in small ability groups and will involve lots of verbal comprehension questions from the class teacher, as well as the use of segmenting and blending to read unknown words. In Years 2-6, there is a combination of whole class and small group guided reading. The way in which Guided Reading is taught depends wholly on the ability of the pupils and their needs. It is regularly reviewed and changed throughout the school year. The teachers use a combination of Reading Explorers, Literacy Shed, Classroom Secrets and Rigby Star texts for Guided Reading purposes. All children will also be completing a variety of comprehension tasks based on what they have read, some independent and some guided. The types of questions children will explore are relevant to one of the key comprehension skills: discussing and exploring vocabulary; making predictions; discussing the author’s choice of language and the effect it has on a reader; summarising themes and ideas; retrieving information from the text and making inferences using clues from the text. All of our reading is taught using DERIC as a guide to ensure that all areas of reading are accessed by the children. Reading interventions are put into place for any children who need support. This takes place in the form of daily readers and occurs from Reception to Year 6 whenever it is required. In addition to this, SEND pupils who need support in their reading ability and progress, will receive extra support in the afternoons and/or through the use of online intervention programmes Nessy and Lexia.

We acknowledge and value the important role played by the family in supporting children’s reading development by reading to them and listening to them read. Books are taken home on a daily basis along with a reading record so that children can be heard reading and a comment (even a brief one) can be made on at least a weekly basis. We use the Oxford Reading Tree scheme throughout the school and after being deemed capable of achieving stage 14 the pupils will become a free reader in school where they are able to choose their reading book from our free reader library.  Children in Reception and Year 1 will also be set a decodable online book each week which is matched up to the phonics sound they are currently learning.

Also, reading opportunities and developing reading skills can be seen all throughout our school curriculum being taught, from English lessons taught using high-quality texts, to topics such as History where the children will research and read texts based upon that time e.g. Oliver Twist as part of learning about the Victorians.


The impact of how reading is taught at Milton St John’s C of E Primary School is that all of our pupils make as much progress as they possibly can and grow up to have a love of books. They are able to read for pleasure and for any other purpose, as well as being confident in using their reading skills when tackling any unknown text. Our pupils will be prepared with the reading skills they will require in secondary education and beyond.

The impact of the way we teach reading is that:

  • Pupils will enjoy reading across a range of genres.
  • Pupils of all abilities will be able to succeed in all reading lessons.
  • Pupils will use a range of strategies for decoding words, not solely relying on phonics.

Pupils will confidently be able to show understanding of what they have read using (DERIC) skills to support their reading.

  • Pupils will have a good knowledge of a range of authors.
  • Pupils will be ready to read in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education.
  • The % of pupils working at ARE within each year group will be at least in line with national averages.
  • The % of pupils working at Greater Depth within each year group 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) as all pupils will have been provided with the tools that they need in order to make as much progress as they possibly can during their journey through our school.


Seven Elements of Reading:

  1. We are determined that every child will learn to read. Each child will be exposed to a wide variety of books and we work hard to instil a love of reading within them. Our aim is to support weaker readers to make sufficient and increased progress with the aim to meet ARE.


  1. We provide opportunities to listen to a range of different texts. Texts are carefully selected by teachers across the school to develop vocabulary, comprehension and a love of reading. Children are exposed to challenging texts through all areas of the curriculum including foundation subjects and through Whole Class Reading (KS2) and Guided Reading in groups (KS1).


  1. Phonics is taught on a daily basis in EYFS and Year 1. At the start of Reception, children are baselined and put into appropriate groups. Phonics is taught in whole class following the Essential Letters and Sounds Scheme and assessment occurs on a half termly basis. Assessments are then used to put required interventions in place and to make adjustments to the groups. Children are given two reading books each week, one is a decodable book which is linked to the phonics either being taught that week or previously taught and it is set using Oxford Owl online.


  1. We have a whole school progression map which shows the different books used across the school and we use a range of different book types in order to expose children to lots of different texts. We also have an overview of ‘story time’ books which are read across the school where the teacher will model reading with expression and intonation and lots of book talk takes place.


  1. Reading is taught right from the beginning of Reception and all the way across the school. DERIC (Decode, Explain, Retrieve, Interpret, Choice) is used as the system which we follow to teach reading. This can be seen in Guided Reading, Whole Class reading, 1:1 interventions and in different subjects across the curriculum.


  1. There is regular and ongoing assessment of reading and phonics which is then used to impact teaching. The bottom 20% (at least) of each class have daily reading interventions to support them in their progress on a one-to-one basis. Children who are SEND or who have been recognised as needing a little extra support will complete Nessy or Lexia interventions to aid them in their progress.


  1. School has developed sufficient expertise in teaching phonics and reading. All staff members across the school have completed CPD in phonics basics and members of staff who regularly reach phonics have completed training on our new phonics scheme of Essential Letters and Sounds. All staff members have received training from English lead on the teaching of DERIC as a way to structure the teaching of reading.


Reading Scheme

Milton St John's CE Primary School uses the Oxford Reading Tree as its main reading scheme. Children in Reception and Year 1 (and where deemed appropriate Year 2 and beyond) are given a Login for the Oxford Owl Website where they can access the variety of books in the e-library and a decodable phonics book is set by the class teacher on a weekly basis. Alongside this, the children are also given a book from our Oxford Reading Tree scheme to share with their carer at home. We encourage children and their carers to try to read four times per week to develop fluency and understanding.  Children in Years 2-6 will then continue to progress through the reading scheme with their development being closely monitored by the class teachers and staff members. Once ready the children will be able to move off the ORT scheme and then access our free reader library where there is a wide variety of genres available and they continue to develop their reading skills, as well as reading for pleasure. This is also closely monitored by staff members to ensure that children are accessing a variety of books and continuing to read regularly.

Parents can visit The Oxford Owl which is a FREE website built to support you with your child’s learning. Just sign up and create log in details to access it for free!

Through this website you’ll find age-specific reading and maths tips and activities, FREE eBooks, and lots of fun ideas to really bring your child’s learning to life.

You will also find support and advice on a range of questions you may have – including helping your child with their phonics, motivating boys to read and  how to help your child with spelling and grammar.

Click here to visit the site:



What is phonics?

Phonics runs alongside other methods of teaching reading to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a life-long love of reading.

In phonics children are taught three main things:

GPC (grapheme/phoneme correspondences) - GPC is the ability to recognise all the phonemes in the English language and know the different ways of writing them.

Blending - Children are taught to blend sounds together by merging the individual sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This is a vital skill.

Segmenting - Segmenting is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This is a vital spelling skill.


 Why is phonics so tricky?

The English language is very complicated! It has around 44 phonemes, however there are around 120 graphemes/ways of writing down those 44 phonemes. In addition, as there are just 26 letters in the alphabet, some phonemes are made up from two or more letters. Learning to read is like cracking a code, so teaching phonics is a way of teaching children to crack the code.

It is important that we teach phonics regularly, clearly and systematically, learning to orally segment and blend first, then progressing onto grapheme recognition and beyond.



At Milton St John’s C of E Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Through phonics, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. The teaching of phonics is of high priority.



At Milton, we use the ‘Essential Letters & Sounds’ (ELS) scheme for our teaching of phonics. This is a systematic, synthetic phonics scheme which has been validated by the Department for Education. ELS ensures our phonics teaching and learning is progressive from Nursery up to Year 2. Children in our Nursery work on Phase 1 phonemic awareness, which concentrates on developing speaking, listening and sound discrimination skills and lays the foundations for the GPC (grapheme/phoneme correspondence) phonics work which starts in Phase 2. Any children who are ready begin Phase 2 phonics to ensure that they make progress. As children move into Reception they continue to build on their listening skills and are supported as they progress through the phonics phases. Phonics in Reception and Year 1 is taught in whole class groups, where children are supported using the ‘keep up not catch up’ approach. They have discrete, daily systematic phonics sessions where they revise previous learning, are taught new graphemes/phonemes, practise together and apply what they have learnt. Any children who need extra support to keep up take part in short interventions which target the gaps in their skills. Adults model the correct way for the sounds to be pronounced and the children copy. Phonics learning and applying is also embedded across the curriculum where possible. Through ELS, the children are taught the 44 phonemes that make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made by just one letter and those that are made by two or more. Children work through the different phases and as they grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound.



Through the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1.  Children can then focus on developing their fluency and comprehension skills throughout the school, as well as a love of reading. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1. We also aim for the children to gain in confidence in their own ability, and be resilient enough to meet the challenges they face as they progress through school.


To support our phonics teaching we subscribe to the Oxford Owl e-library, which allows us to match phonics reading books to the children’s stage of learning. Each child is allocated a phonics book which they can access at home and which gives them the opportunity to practise the letters and sounds they are learning in their phonics session that particular week.

The Oxford Owl website also has lots of helpful information and advice for parents on how phonics and early reading is taught, including how you can help your child at home, how to say the sounds and how to blend the sounds. The link is provided below:

During the first part of the Autumn term the EYFS staff run a Phonics Workshop which aims to give parents the knowledge, skills and confidence to support their child effectively at home. The latest workshop slides are available below,  

Click here to view the slides shown in our Parent Phonics workshop.


Click here to view our Reading Progression Map.