Reading, Phonics and Handwriting at St James


The ability to read is an essential need of every child and is highly valued at St James. We strive to create life-long readers with an enthusiasm to share reading by creating and delivering a print-rich environment. Reading skills are taught through literacy and guided reading sessions and are reinforced throughout the whole curriculum.  

In Nursery, Reception and Year 1, children are immersed in a world of storytelling through role play and the classroom environment. In Year 1, children have guided reading sessions four times a week delivered to small groups and focuses on phonics, fluency and reading for understanding. Year 2 adopt this approach initially with a move to whole class delivery of reading in the Spring term onwards. Key Stage 2 deliver whole class reading sessions four times a week. During this time, various text types are explored and children are taught a range of reading skills such as predicting, summarising and inferring.

Throughout the school we value Reading for Pleasure, and children have opportunities to enjoy reading and listening to books every day. All children have the opportunity to borrow level-specific reading books, and visit the school library once a week where there are a range of fiction and non-fiction books as well as newspapers and comics.

All children are encouraged to share books at home as this is a crucial part of their child’s reading journey. Children are expected to read at home at least three times a week and recorded in the child’s ‘Reading Record’ log book. We invite parents to various workshops and reading sessions throughout the school year.



Phonics is taught daily in Nursery, Reception, Key Stage 1 and as an intervention in Key Stage 2. The school adopts the Jolly Phonics scheme which is a multisensory approach to teaching the letter sounds, enabling children to become fluent readers. Regular revision of sounds and spelling patterns takes place throughout all year groups.

Year 1 children sit the phonics screening check in the Summer Term. This is a light touch assessment to confirm whether individual children have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. Children are presented with 40 decodable words to read. There is a mixture of real and nonsense words. 

Kinetic Letters

At St James we follow the Kinetic Letters scheme for teaching handwriting. Kinetic letters is a scheme that allows children to learn letter formation through movement. We learn letters by moving to make our bodies look like letters, saying the language as we make the letters and finally writing the letter using the language. Children are taught exercises to strengthen core muscles to help with their writing.

The children become familiar with the characters of Bounce and Skip, ‘brave’ monkey and ‘scared’ monkey, to help them recognise where to start to form each letter. In Reception the children read the stories of the adventures of Skip and Bounce and begin to learn the different letter families. Children begin to join letters from Year 2 upwards.


Kinetic Letters is taught alongside phonics to establish the close link between reading and writing.