Reading at Stockwell Primary School  

Stockwell Primary School greatly understands the need for all pupils to develop their skills as effective communicators in all subjects. Moreover, we recognise the importance of communication in shaping every aspect of a pupil’s current and future lives. Providing a high-quality education in English is a vital way of ensuring our pupils are able to articulate themselves both in school and later in public life. Creating a life-long love for the subject of English helps to support pupils’ work across the curriculum, as well as enlighten their interactions with the world around them. It also acts as a gateway to increase their own cultural capital and enables pupils to access all possibilities life has to offer. Our teaching of English also places significance on the collective experience of other people embodied through the language they employ, and pupils learn about empathy, understanding, self-expression, and through this combination, about themselves and who they are.

The teaching and learning of English at Stockwell Primary School comprises the development of comprehensive reading, writing, speaking and listening skills and, importantly, the exploration and application of high-level vocabulary.

“If they can read it, and understand it, they can say it. If they can say it with confidence, it provides them a key to success for their future beyond school.” Alex Quigley

 It remains a vital subject to embed our pupils’ understanding of literature and the lived experience of others across the globe, past and present and across a range of genres. It rests at the very core of our pupil’s ability to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and enables them to think critically and enthusiastically about the world around them. The study of English also embeds our pupils’ understanding and appreciation of the intricacies of language: its breath, patterns, structure and origins. Empowered with this knowledge, pupils at Stockwell Primary School are able to make informed choices about how they communicate themselves in different contexts.

The teaching of English at Stockwell Primary School involves an ever-evolving, reflective and vibrant curriculum which challenges and engages our pupils. We acknowledge the paramount importance of adapting and extending our bespoke curriculum to match all pupils’ needs. Where possible, English will be linked to class topics to ensure knowledge and understanding of the world is applied across a range of contexts and embedded in the long-term memory through interleaving opportunities for application.

Early Reading Skills

The teaching of systematic synthetic phonics daily is an integral part of early reading at our school. From 9.10am to 9.30am children in EYFS and KS1 have Phonics lessons. Phonics is taught using the letters and sounds resources, and delivered by stage not age. The phonics scheme used at Stockwell is called Letters and Sounds written by The Primary National Strategy Team. Children should be encouraged to regularly review taught sounds and apply them in their reading (and writing). The support children in practicing their skills, children are provided with a decodable book and a book of choice (if this is not the same) to take home.

Essential Letters and Sounds

Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.

Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently.

Throughout the day, children will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff, with a partner during paired reading and as a class.

Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.

We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.

Children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support each child’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.

We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs ‘sh’ (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs ‘igh’ (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs ‘eigh’ (four letters spelling one sound).

We teach children to:

  • Decode (read) by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently
  • Encode (write) by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.

The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.

ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used where needed. These interventions are short, specific and effective.

Watch this video for help with pronouncing the Phase 2 phonemes:

Watch this video for help with pronouncing the Phase 3 phonemes:

Watch this video for help with pronouncing the Phase 5 phonemes:

Phase 5

Reading Colour Bands


The importance of reading, and reading for pleasure, cannot be overstated. Our pupil’s capacity to learn, and enjoy learning, is inexorably connected to their skills in reading. At Stockwell, we actively encourage children to read broadly for pleasure, while immersing them in word-rich classrooms which focus on vocabulary development. Pupils are encouraged throughout their Stockwell career to become enthusiastic, independent and reflective readers, as they are introduced to an increasingly wide variety of well-chosen literary materials. Pupils develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading and to utilise what they have read to inspire their own thinking and writing.

Development of Reading

The skills necessary to become effective readers are discretely taught daily through Guided Reading lessons.

During Guided Reading lessons, each week a text is chosen (which can also be linked to the children’s termly topic) and the following sequence of reading skills are addressed:

  • Text meaning/word finders
  • Retrieval
  • Inference
  • Layout/text features
  • Opinion

Importantly, children should also be reading as much and as widely as possible at home both independently and with an adult.

Teachers will also plan opportunities for reading skills to be addressed in all lessons. The termly timetable also includes access to extensive resources in our library.

We have established comprehensive online platforms to aid pupils in accessing a rich range of materials.

At Stockwell, all teachers will also read aloud to their class with a specifically chosen text for 15 minutes at the end of the day. This enables children to hear modelled reading from an adult and to gain exposure to a wider range of language and content. The choice of texts has been carefully considered to include a wide range of genres and text types.

  • Archaic
  • Non-linear sequences
  • Narratively Complex
  • Symbolic Text
  • Resistant Text