Literacy at St Matthew’s

Our Literacy curriculum aims to promote high standards in language and literacy, both spoken and written so that children develop a love of reading and writing. The literacy skills developed provide access to the broad curriculum and form an essential foundation to learning.



Through our broad curriculum and use of literature, children are immersed in a language-rich environment that aims to develop a wide vocabulary and grammar for speaking and listening as well as reading and writing. They are taught to explain their thoughts and ideas to others, to listen when others are speaking and to ask questions. They are given every-day opportunities to communicate with and present to others, including discussion with a talk-partner, group or whole class, as well as taking part in school assemblies and learning to speak with confidence to larger audiences.



At St Matthew’s, we aim to promote a love of reading and to enable all pupils to develop good reading skills alongside a stamina and passion for reading. We teach systematic, synthetic phonics to enable pupils to master decoding and alongside this we immerse them in a word and quality text-rich environment that promotes a love of books and of reading. Pupils read daily within the class and across the curriculum, so that they are supported to develop speed and fluency, encouraging further reading and a wide vocabulary. Teaching of reading is explicit, systematic and sequential phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension and is taught in individual, group, whole class and guided reading sessions.

We focus on using a balanced and engaging approach to help pupils to develop their reading and love of books and pupils are encouraged to read a good quantity of suitably stretching texts, learning to choose and read books independently. We use a book-based approach to teaching English, immersing pupils in the literacy world as they encounter a wide range of significant authors and a variety of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.


  • Our core phonics programme is Letters and Sounds (DfE, 2006) – a systematic (clear progression) synthetic (blend sounds to read words) phonics (SSP) programme with phases 1 – 5.
  • Phase 1 (tuning into sounds and the sounds of English language) is previously taught in Nursery and is built on in Reception and KS1.
  • Phases 2 – 4 are taught to all children in Reception.
  • Phase 4 is used for revision at the beginning of Year 1 and Phase 5 is taught in Year 1.
  • Phase 5 is revised and consolidated in Year 2 alongside the spelling requirements of the National Curriculum (NC) and phase 6 of Letters and Sounds.


Decodable books are used alongside the explicit teaching of phonics


  • Main schemes are Songbirds, Dandelion Books and Songbirds Phonics for Letters and Sounds. These align with our core phonics programme, Letters and Sounds, and are specifically for children to apply phonic skills – what they have been taught.
  • Children take home decodable books from our collection of individual titles.
  • On the back of each book and inside the front cover is guidance on which phonemes children will practise in the book. Adults go through the example phonemes and words with children before children read the book.

Book Banded books

Book Bands is a system used nationally for organising books into a gradient of difficulty, according to the text characteristics and learning opportunities.

Successful reading involves approximately 90%+ word reading accuracy, comprehension and fluency (below 90% accuracy results in slow reading and lost meaning).

Unseen books, e.g. for home reading, are around 95% accurate (no more than one word reading difficulty in every 20 words across the text) to support reading for meaning.

Teaching pitch aims to be 90 – 94% accuracy, so that some teaching points will arise.

Book Band colours range from Pink Band, the easiest, to Grey Band, followed by free reading.

We use Benchmarking to help ensure that pupils are reading at a good instructional level to develop their reading skills and confidence.



Literature-led approach

We promote a love of books and literature through our book-based literacy, with a variety of significant authors, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Children learn to be critical readers through engaging texts and enjoy developing their own writing skills. High quality books provide an engaging starting point through discussion, reading comprehension is embedded through prediction and inference. Grammar is highlighted in the books read together and is explicitly taught in purposeful contexts alongside explicit teaching of vocabulary and spelling skills. We encourage children to be inspired writers through the experience of powerful concepts, helping them to develop their own literary language and skills as they write daily a mixture of factual and creative writing.

Children learn to write for a range of purposes, developing dictionary and thesaurus skills and to revise and evaluate their work.




Handwriting is taught explicitly and progressively at St Matthew’s, aiming for children to have developed a cursive script by the end of Key Stage One. We use letter shape groups to teach children to form basic letters correctly and once they can do this consistently, we teach them how to join letters together to develop cursive writing.