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 is taught daily through dedicated Reading sessions alongside writing, guided reading and storytelling sessions and are reinforced throughout the whole curriculum and complements our work on Talk for Writing. A range of reading techniques are used to reinforce the reading domains with a skills focus using VIPERS. We use the National Curriculum objectives and skills based progression maps to inform our planning and to ensure a coherently planned and sequenced journey towards fluency in reading.


Throughout the school we value Reading for Pleasure, and children have opportunities to enjoy reading and listening to books every day and to build their stamina in independent reading. We aim for all children to read widely and often across a range of authors and genres so that they develop a love of reading for life. All children have the opportunity to borrow phonic 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 to encourage their involvement with reading at home.


Phonics is taught daily in Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1 and as an intervention in Key Stage 2. Phonics is delivered to Nursery and Reception from the very first day. The whole school shows fidelity to the Sounds Discovery scheme with sounds introduced using a multisensory approach, 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.

World Book Week 2021

What a fantastic week we had celebrating World Book day 2021! Children explored books by the author Sarah Oliver including live lessons and personalised virtual chats with her to ask any questions and about possibly becoming authors themselves. We had a fantastic opportunity to ask her many interesting questions such as: What made you become an author? How were you inspired to be an author? What is your favourite book? Which books inspired you as a reader? What research techniques do you use help you to write non-fiction books? Do you take brain breaks? Sarah shared many of her books with us and even read us one of her favourite poems. The children are excited to find some of Sarah’s books in our library.


‘Believe you can do it and you will!’ Sarah Oliver.

On World Book Day, children in Reception and Nursery listened to Sarah’s books ‘The Best World Book Week Ever’ and ‘Pollyanne’. They also enjoyed exploring the school grounds for various book characters and they used their imaginations to make puppets of them too!

Children in years 1 and 2 explored the art of writing a picture book and managed to draw some of their own (fantastic)! Years 3 and 4 delved into the world of how Sarah Oliver became an author, explored the story of ‘Pollyanne’ and successfully attempted to write their own amazing animal stories as well! We were very impressed!

Our older children, in years 5 and 6, were inspired by how Sarah became a journalist, who mastered the skill of writing biographies, so much so that they wrote their own! Wow, what a week!


We read our class books every day in school and we used part of world book week to design our own lanterns depicting the children’s favourite book from the year so far.

These are hung from the school office all the way to the Library (one of our favourite spaces in school) so that all of the children can see which books we read in each class. We wonder if you can guess which year group they belong to and which story title they depict.

Did you enter our 'Masked Reader Competition'? We loved sharing different exerts from some of our favourite books and disguising what we sounded like to try to trick you! Many of you guessed the correct names of the books... well done!