Curriculum Intent for Reading

At Holy Cross, we know Reading is a vital life skill that supports good spelling, writing and gives our children the best outcomes by the end of KS2, in secondary education and as adults. We ensure that each member of staff is skilled at teaching reading and has the subject knowledge to teach reading with confidence and enthusiasm.

Children at Holy Cross are encouraged and supported to:

  • develop a life-long love for reading
  • read for pleasure and for purpose
  • recognise the importance of being a good reader
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often (including independently, in groups, whole class)
  • apply their skills to a range of complex texts and stories, enabling pupils to discover new knowledge and vocabulary


At Holy Cross, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. Once children are secure in their phonics and move through the school, we further build on their range of decoding strategies so that they build up good pace and fluency when reading. Children are taught how to confidently tackle any unfamiliar words and what it is that makes them tricky. Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same format, routines, and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.

Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read:

Any child who needs additional practice has daily keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning. We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 who are not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the keep-up resources – at pace. If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week and include three reading sessions to apply their new learning.

Parents, for support with phonics, to know how we teach phonics and to learn more about phonics books, please click here.

Little Wandle Phonics Progression Document 2022-2023

Programme Overview Reception And Year 1

Phonics lessons at Holy Cross

Children complete a word-reading check at the end of Year 1 to ensure they are being taught to read successfully with phonics as the route to decoding.

Children read 40 words – 20 real words and 20 pseudo words. It takes between two and five minutes.

If they do not manage to read 32 of the words, they are given extra support, and repeat the check at the end of Year 2.

The ‘pass’ mark of 32 is subject to change by the government and schools will be notified some time in June of this figure.

Early Reading

Children in EYFS and KS1 have three guided read sessions each week. In the three sessions they will focus on decoding, prosody, and comprehension.

Children in EYFS, KS1 and some children in KS2, will then have an E-Collins reading book to share at home with parents through the E-Collins website or app. All books assigned to pupils are based on their current phonetic ability. Children should be able to decode and read these words with 90% fluency. They are reviewing and revisiting their learning and showing off their skills at home. The children’s reading abilities are regularly assessed individually and in guided groups so they can move through the book levels at their own pace. Children are also encouraged to read books of their own choice including library books and to listen to stories so they can develop a passion for reading.

Reading for pleasure 

At Holy Cross, we prioritise reading for pleasure. Here are some of the things that we do:

  • Children from Yr 2 – Yr 6 take termly Star Reader Test which supports them to choose a book that is challenging
  • Library visits
  • Book bus visits
  • Author visits
  • Monthly surprise book boxes
  • Aim high days for more able children
  • A brand new space-themed library
  • Good quality books are purchased frequently
  • Book displays around school
  • World Book Day celebrated
  • World Poetry Day celebrated
  • Daily story time
  • Summer Reading Challenge
  • EYFS mystery readers
  • Peer recommendations for high quality books

Whole Class Reading

Year 2 (after Christmas) – Year 6 have whole class reading sessions three times a week. These lessons are all based around a book for approximately 6 weeks using the Literacy Tree scheme. Children develop the following comprehension skills throughout the units:


Click on the links below to find out more.

English Long Term Plan

Whole Class Reading Lessons At Holy Cross

VIPERS Posters