St Mary's CE Foundation


Reasons to read out loud to your child...

After two consecutive years of interrupted education due to the pandemic, research shows that our nation’s children have gaps in their learning. At St Mary’s, we are doing our very best to help the children overcome this. One easy way you can help your child is to read to them regularly. Here are some important reasons why…


Children understand at a higher level than they can read. 

Learners can typically comprehend text that is far above   their independent reading level.


Build vocabulary.

The more words you use, the more words a child knows and can use. New words encountered in context are easier to define and understand.


Improved achievement.

Numerous studies show a direct correlation between reading to a child and  academic success. Students who are read to have a higher aptitude for learning and more positive attitude about school.


Develop a love of reading.

Research shows that motivation, interest, and engagement are enhanced when reading aloud. This can improve  children's attitudes about books and foster a love of reading.


Help them be better writers.

Children who listen to books being read over many years are more likely to develop competence in written and verbal communication skills.


Help us talk about tough issues.

When you have to talk to your child about a difficult topic, books (both fiction and nonfiction) can be useful. For  parents, a book can help lessen anxiety; for the child, a book can provide context and make it easier to ask questions.


Broadens their horizons.

When children pick their own books, they tend to pick the same type of texts (over and over). Children tend to be  more open to new genres and themes when read aloud.


Improve decision-making.

When reading with your child, you have the opportunity to discuss topics and ideas that might not come up in the normal course of events. Children's author Katherine Patterson said, "Books are a dress rehearsal for life."


Bonding time.

Spending time reading with your child is an opportunity to get closer, both physically and emotionally. Even if you p don't snuggle up, just being close to your child to share a book can foster deep bonding.


Your child wants you to.

83% of children across all age groups say they love to be read to.

Amazing Author Visit 


KS1 (Apple, Chestnut and Maple) had a special visitor! They have spent the week reading the book Cousins and author L.G Etherington paid us a visit. He spent the morning reading to the children the last few chapters of the story before answering lots of questions from them. He surprised us by reading the opening chapter of his upcoming book. Mr Etherington then went into the classrooms and lookedat eve ry single child’s character ideas and letters which were written to try and persuade him to include their character in his next book... who knows if we will see oneappear in a future book. A huge thank you to Mr Etherington for coming in and if you’re interested in reading the story, then you can easily find it online.


1st October 2021

Reading highlights from September 2021

Roald Dahl Day Friday 10th September 2021

What a great celebration of reading we had last week!

We kicked off with a fashion show to see all our amazing costumes

In the afternoon, we mixed up the school so that older and younger children could share their books. In the afternoon, we mixed up the school so that older and younger children could share their books.

Here are some winning outfits….



Mindfulness and Creativity: St Mary’s International Dot Day

International Dot Day is celebrated by adults and children for boosting courage so that their creative potential is released. It is a great day to connect and collaborate, and also to celebrate self-expression. This week the whole school will be reading this inspirational book together and unleashing the children’s creativity in English & Art to inspire confidence and encourage self-discovery.

The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to make her mark. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.

What started as a story in the pages of a book is transforming teaching and learning around the world as people of all ages re-discover the power and potential of creativity in all they do.

17th September 2021

Reading at St Mary's

 At St Mary's Primary School we use Bug Club and Renaissance Learn to teach reading. Pearson's Bug Club is our structured reading scheme. The children follow the structured colour banded system from EYFS until they are fluent, confident readers when they select books to read at their level with guidance from their teacher. Whole Class Reading is a daily lesson where the teacher works with the children to focus on comprehension skills and discussing the texts.


Individual children’s reading progress and attainment are rigorously monitored through termly assessment tests and teachers continuous assessments. We also use Renaissance Learn Star Test to monitor children’s reading age in relation to chronological age and gaps are quickly addressed. Attainment levels are reported to parents at our  parent’s consultations where progress is discussed. Children are encouraged to read at home as often as possible. We work closely with our parents, using the children’s planners to as a two-way communication to record reading success. 


How you can help your child read

  • Find a quiet, relaxing place away from distractions such as TV
  • Sit comfortably in good light and talk to your child about their book
  • Read for about 10 minutes; a regular short time of quality is better than a long session which happens only occasionally
  • Ask why they have chosen the book
  • Talk about the cover and title and what the story might be about
  • Ask them to tell you who wrote the book or point to the author
  • Look at the pictures and ask them to tell you where the story takes place
  • Ask who they can see in the pictures (especially in simple caption books)
  • Try to be supportive and positive during the reading time
  • Encourage your children to look closely at the print
  • Read the first page or two together until your child is ready to continue alone
  • Encourage your child to point to each word as they read aloud Where possible wait for your child to decode words
  •  Encourage the use of clues such as the look/sound of the letters, what would make sense and the illustrations
  • Do not sound out words which are not phonetic e.g “because”
  • When a mistake is self-corrected or a previously unknown word is recognised, praise highly
  • Encourage expressive reading by drawing attention to punctuation
  • Help understanding by talking about the story or text – the setting, the plot, the characters
  • Discuss the kind of people the characters are and the way they behave
  • Talk about the kind of story it is (adventure, fantasy, science fiction, myth…)
  • Encourage your child to refer to words and passages in the text to justify opinions
  • If your child is finding a book difficult, help out by reading it together


If they get stuck on a word, you could:

  • Let them read on so they can work out the word themselves from the context point to a picture if it will help them guess the meaning,
  • give them the first or last sounds to help them read along with them then pause, prompt, praise if they get it righto read the word for them (especially if it is a Proper Name).
  • When they are confident with sounds, let them sound out unknown words – break longer words down in to syllables

Practise and Praise

The purpose of the ‘Reading Record’ book is to give your child’s class teacher feedback on how well your child is reading at home. If you have any concerns about your child’s reading please contact the class teacher by contacting the school office during the COVID pandemic. 


Here are some questions to help you read with your child:

Reception & Key Stage One

  • Who is in the story?
  • Where is the story set?
  • Can you use the pictures to tell part of the story?
  • How do you think the story will end?
  • What will happen next?
  • Do you like the characters? Why?
  • What happens in the story?
  • What did the characters say? Why?
  • How did a character scare, upset or help another character?
  • Has this ever happened to you? How did you feel?
  • Did the story make you think of something that has happened to you or someone you know?



Lower Key Stage Two

  • Can you explain why you think a character did that in the story?
  • What does this word/phrase tell you about the character or setting?
  • What does the word ‘X’ tell us about ‘Y’?
  • Find two ways in which the writer tells you about an event/setting/character/theme?
  • Which words did you like the most? Why?
  •  In the story ‘X’ is mentioned a lot. Why?
  •  What other words/phrases could the writer have used?
  •  What do you think the writer meant by writing ‘X’?Which words do you think are the most important in this sentence/paragraph/page? Why?

When and how your child will read in school

Your child will experience a variety of reading activities in school:

  • They may be given opportunities to read individually from reading scheme books
  • They will read with the class during the ‘shared’ part of the daily Reading lesson
  • They will read with the teacher during Whole Class Reading
  • They may read during quiet reading sessions, where they may be encouraged to read silently or share a book with a partner
  • They will also be given the opportunity to read during other curriculum areas

At every occasion when your child reads in school there will be an emphasis on their understanding of what they have read, as well as fluency. It is also important this is encouraged at home. 



Handwriting at St Mary's Primary School focuses on the process of joined-up cursive letter formation. We use an online resource called Letter-join. This is a resource for teaching cursive handwriting at school and at home. It uses interactive animations to demonstrate joined-up letter formation. There is also an app version available for use on tablets. This is an example of the cursive alphabet.

You can support your child at home by encouraging them to trace over the handwriting sheets provided on a regular basis. Reluctant writers are often more willing to try if you give them different colour pens to trace over. You can even enlarge the letters and trace over using paint, chalk, using a bottle of water with a sports cap, or even tracing over the letters with a toy car.


Constant repetition is the key, emphasising the correct entry and exit strokes every time. It is essential that your child gets into good habits early on and this includes having the correct pencil grip.

One of the advantages of the cursive style is that you can quickly identify when a child is forming letters incorrectly. For example trying to start a at the bottom and moving clockwise, rather than starting with the entry stroke and then moving anticlockwise from the top of the letter to the bottom.


Here are some resources to help you at home!


At St Mary's Primary School we firmly believe that good spelling is an essential skill which allows the children to communicate their understanding in all curriculum subjects. In order for pupils to develop into effective and confident writers they need to develop and use a range of effective spelling strategies. By providing the children with a range of strategies, we equip them with the independence to attempt spellings before asking for adult help.

We particularly want the children to develop a love of language and the confidence to spell more challenging and ambitious words. In allowing them opportunities to develop a rich and exciting vocabulary, we are enabling them to become effective communicators.


By adopting a consistent approach to the teaching of spelling we aim for the children to develop confidence and accuracy when spelling across the curriculum. In doing so we aim to:

  • Develop and teach the children to use a range of effective spelling strategies
  • Encourage creativity and the use of more ambitious vocabulary in their writing
  • Enable children to write independently
  • Enhance proof reading and editing skills
  • Encourage children to identify patterns in words and spellings.
  • Promote a positive and confident attitude towards spelling
  • Help children to use a range of dictionaries and spell checks effectively.
  •  Help children recognise that spelling is a lifelong skill
  • Provide equal opportunities for all pupils to achieve success in spelling

We use Spelling Shed to practise spelling games

Lockdown Learning

February 2021

Here are some more fine examples of how the children are progressing with their English skills across the school. We are taking a look at our oldest and youngest children's work this week.


Great job, children! You are continuing to make excellent effort and progress as we drive through to half term. Very well done!


Mrs Rose

Oak Class UKS2

A Child's War

UKS2 have been studying World War 2 and looking at its impact on the lives of children. Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll is our class book. The children have been basing some of their writing tasks around this excellent text. Please take the time to read some of the work below. Outstanding!

Story maps are a great way to help children learn the elements of a book or story. By identifying story characters, plot, setting, problem and solution, students read carefully to learn the details. Here are some of Oak's story maps on Letters from the Lighthouse.
Amplification is a device used to make a point by adding information after an original point, to elaborate, embellish and exaggerate. It sometimes involves the repetition of a word for effect. The children have been practising this advanced English skill in Oak. Great outcomes everyone!

Lilac Class EYFS

Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs

EYFS have been working hard on their letter formation and creativity! They were asked to change parts of Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs. Great improvements all round! Very good work!

January 2021

I wanted to show you some of the work that the children are producing across the school. Amazing things are happening at home, despite all the difficulties we are facing as teachers, as learners and as parents! 


Well done, children! You are managing to move ahead with your learning even in these very tricky times! That's a credit to you all, and your parents, and all your teachers. I'm very proud of you all.


Keep up the good work!!

Mrs Rose

Maple Class KS1

Bright Lights, Big City

KS1 have been learning about the Tudors and Stuarts in their topic this term. Maple Class have been working so hard on their letter writing skills. Check out these authentic letters to King Charles I. Beautiful work!


Well done everyone!

Hazel Class LKS2



Hazel have been hard at work this week writing myths for their topic on Traders and Raiders. I was lucky enough to be invited into their classroom on Friday to congratulate them on their hard work. Here are some fine examples from Hazel children.


What lovely creativity and so entertaining to read! Excellent use of punctuation and handwriting too! Keep up the good work!

Hawthorn Class UKS2

Persuasive Letters

Hawthorn have been using persuasive writing techniques to write from the point of view of one of the characters in our class book, Letters from the Lighthouse. The main character, Olive, is trying to persuade Esther to be friends with her.


Excellent work guys!



Foundation Stage


Can I switch it on?


Reception children have been practising their writing skills. NOT an easy task at home!


What an excellent job! You should feel very proud of yourselves!

Early Years Writing

Helen Moss Visits UKS2

The Phoenix Code


Helen Moss, author of THE PHOENIX CODE, our class read in the first half of the Autumn term, visited school in October. We were delighted to welcome her! She explained her research methods and how to plan a full length novel and each class benefited hugely from her writing workshop. Thank you Helen! What a great experience!

Helen Moss Visits UKS2

St Marys Reading Workshop

Thank you to all parents who attended our Reading Workshop.The evening began with a talk by Mr Curzon in the hall outlining the importance of reading in St Mary's. Following that, all teachers returned to their Key Stages to present age appropriate information on how parents can support their children outside of school. If you missed the information, please find it below along with some useful links.


Before the holidays, we have issued a challenge to the children to be 'caught reading' over Christmas! We look forward to finding out where people have read their books... Check out the display in the entrance in the new school year to find out!


     Mrs Rose, caught reading at The British Museum 



Towards the end of term, each class has revamped their reading corner...




Reading a variety of texts is essential to develop a child's language skills as well as their fluency and comprehension. We encourage pupils to read regularly at home and ask parents to support them in ensuring they do so. Pupils use the Renaissance Reading scheme when learning to read, from phonics through to free reading. Books are also available to borrow from the class library too.




In September, we took a day to celebrate the well-known author Roald Dahl. We came to school dressed up as our favourite Roald Dahl Character! (No money donations, just for fun) There was even a special Dahl Dinner Menu. We spent part of the day reading together, older and younger children switching classes to enjoy a book in the sunshine. The children were given golden tickets instead of house points for excellent work and behaviour, with a prize for the children with the most tickets at the end of the week. The afternoon was spent taking part in Roald Dahl inspired activities. Fun!!





September 2019

The Summer Reading Challenge has been a great success!! All the children have done exceptionally well with the volume and quality of reading they have undertaken during the six weeks we have spent away from school.

The class with the most children who completed their teacher’s challenge was Oak, with 20 complete challenges. Oak will be allowed to choose their playtime activities all week next week as their prize.

In the staff v class competition, the children won! Staff members read a total of 105 books over the summer and the top three reading classes where Oak (132 books) Ash (122 books) and Holly (120 books). The teacher that read the most was Mr Curzon, who read 13 books!

Key Stage One (2018-19) particular mentions should go to the following children for putting in extra effort and bringing in photos of all the different reading bingo tasks they completed: Mia, Grace, Millie, Daniel T, Nicole, Lottie, Samuel, Derya, Henry, Hannah, Tabby, Samuel and Matthew

In Key Stage Two, 75 children read 6 books or more, with 573 books read in total! Several children read even more than they were asked! Edward, Lucas, Leo, Aaliya, Eden and Amy all read 7 books. Erin read 12 and Harriet read 15!! Many others did an excellent job of their reviews: Ethan, Lola, Caden and Oscar. Kitty brought in a wonderful bookcase of her book reviews which are in the entrance to be admired!

Thank you to all the parents and carers who helped the children with reading over the summer.  Well done everyone!


See our 'recommended reads' booklist below. How many of these have you read? Are there any you would add to this list?

More Handwriting Help

Recommended reads book list

Author visits, theatre groups, book swap, book fayre, shared reading, Performing Arts Week, Book Week, dress as a book character day and much, much more!