St Mary's C of E Primary School

Faith in Everyone to Shine Brightly

College Road, Purton, Wiltshire, SN5 4AR

01793 770239


English Leads: Helen Fudge & Dianne Palmer

Link Governor: Julia Knowles

Image result for star   ‘Faith in Everyone to Shine Brightly’ Image result for star

Why Reading Matters

Reading is one of the most important skills a child will ever learn and here at St. Mary’s reading is woven throughout every element of the curriculum. We encourage all children to read regularly both in school and at home. Please ensure that when you read with your child you add this to their Go-Read account.  Any comments you make provide the teachers with valuable information about your child and their reading habits and vice versa. 

‘Children do not just ‘become’ readers, however, and reading engagement is not
possible if children struggle with the basic mechanics of reading. Fluency and enjoyment
are the result of careful teaching and frequent practice.’

(The Reading Framework, DfE July 2021)

At St. Mary’s, we believe that both good, quality first teaching and strong links with home will enable children to become successful readers and therefore have better chances later in life.


Reading Vipers & Vibrant Vocabulary Newsletters

The St Mary’s newsletters for parents and carers of little vocabulary adventurers and reading bookworms!

There’s a power in words.
There’s a power in being able to explain and describe
and articulate what you know and feel
and believe about the world,
and about yourself.

(Tracy Chapman, musician and song-writer)

Our Reading Vipers and Vibrant Vocabulary newsletters will support you on this quest to help give your children the best chance in life through having the very best vocabulary and reading skills at their disposal! Youc an see all the latest issues on our Newsletters Page here.




The Importance of reading 

When children begin school in Reception, the first books they take home will be ‘wordless’ books. To become a fluent and skilled reader, children need to be able to talk and be well practised in being spoken to. With a wordless book, a child can use the vocabulary bank that they have built up to talk about the pictures and in time, make up their own story line to accompany the illustrations.


Reading for pleasure

Reading for pleasure is vital in developing a life-long love of reading. This involves children becoming engaged with reading. At St. Mary’s, every child has 2 reading books. 1 book is pitched at an appropriate level for them to be able to fluently read 95% independently. The other is often derived from our 50 Best Books list from Books for Topics or from our well-stocked library.  

Each academic year the children have a list of 50 quality books for them to read or have read to them. These include a variety of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. A link to each year groups 50 best books can be found here. This is being updated by Books for Topics regularly. Every classroom has the current booklist on display in their classrooms and the children have the opportunity to recommend books to their friends and write reviews for books they have read. 



Language Comprehension

Language comprehension refers to the way in which we make sense of words, sentences and the wider language we hear or read. At St. Mary’s, we have specific vocabulary ninja sessions each week where the children are specifically taught new words and have the opportunity to explore the morphology of the words. This enables them to understand more of what they are reading and to extend their written vocabulary.

It is also developed by talking to and with children. At St. Mary’s, the youngest children in the school have timetables opportunities to develop these skills through ‘Show and Tell’ sessions and through the use of Helicopter Stories. All children are encouraged to join in and to ask thoughtful questions of their peers.  These conversation points are developed further throughout the school and every year group has a planned debate each term to really focus on these language comprehension skills. Children are often paired up to ensure that every child has opportunities throughout the day to speak and be listened to; involved in a two-way, back and forth conversation.

Language comprehension is taught more discreetly through Whole Class Reading. During whole class reading we use VIPERS to ensure every area of reading is covered. Each week we focus on a different skill from the VIPERS list and we use Literacy Shed Plus to resource this area of learning.


Decoding refers to reading unfamiliar words by sounding out and then blending and then reading familiar words accurately and silently at a glance. We develop this through our phonics teaching using Floppy’s Phonics. As soon as the children have enough sounds to begin blending to read words they are given the opportunity to begin reading a book with phonetically decodable words in.



Phonics is taught daily at St. Mary’s in EYFS and KS1. We will soon be moving to Little Wandle (a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme) to replace our current scheme, Floppy's Phonics.

The children take home a phonetically decodable book that they are able to read 95% of fluently. The first time they read the book they will be decoding it, the second time they read it should be to help develop that fluency and the third time is to read for comprehension to check that they have understood what they have read. Word reading and language comprehension require different types of teaching. We teach word reading through our phonics lessons and individual reading time with the children each week. In EYFS, Y1 and Y2, group reading sessions take place to discreetly teach the skills of reading expressively and fluently as this is essential for comprehension.


Story times

These are our favourite part of the day. With many of our children arriving and leaving school on the bus before the end of the school day, each teacher timetables in a special time within the school day to just read to the children. This reinforces the reading for pleasure aspect and gives all children a chance each day to be read to and to let their imagination fun free. These are crucial times for enhancing children’s enjoyment of literature, increasing their vocabulary and continuing to develop their language comprehension.


As part of our parent open afternoon in October 2021 we issued all parents with a 'helping your child to read' booklet. To view this booklet please click here.

Now that some restrictions are being eased we are beginning to invite families into school to promote reading. On 23rd November 2021 we had some EYFS and Year 1 children attend a Reading Café with their parents or grandparents. The children enjoyed sharing a picture book with their family and we all joined in with 'We're going on a bear hunt'. 


Governor Voice

}As the Governor responsible for monitoring the development and improvement of English, which includes reading and writing, I have visited all KS1 classrooms this year to see phonics teaching and whole class reading sessions in practise. I have also met with the subject lead in person and via zoom to discuss the subject improvement plans for both Reading and Writing, carried out a joint book look, reviewed targets and discussed strategies for improving the editing of work. I particularly enjoyed observing the enthusiasm and energy of both staff and pupils for the subject. . ~ Julia Knowles, English Link Governor