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St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

Rosebank, West Street, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 7RT
Tel. 01372 727850


Our Mission

All that we do at St Joseph’s is shaped by our commitment to our Faith.  Our Mission Statement is reflected in our Literacy curriculum, as children learn to:

  • use the English language confidently so that we can communicate well with people we meet.
  • speak clearly, fluently and audibly.
  • listen to people attentively with understanding.
  • use our reading skills to broaden our understanding of our diverse world.
  • use our writing skills to connect with others.

Our Vision

Children develop a solid foundational knowledge in Literacy, taught through reading, writing, spelling and grammar. We want our children to achieve fluency is all areas and with regular retrieval practice, they develop schema to link their spoken and written word. Through their writing and reading experiences children  will acquire the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.

  • In Reading we expect children to read age appropriate texts with 98% fluency. They will develop solid comprehension skills and read for pleasure.
  • Our continued successful approach to Phonics teaching will ensure that children rapidly move towards decoding words as a route to reading. 
  • In Writing children will develop fluency from an early age. We have a set of age appropriate school ‘non-negotiables’ for each year group which ensure that children embed core skills in grammar and punctuation and write a wide range of texts to suit purpose.
  • In Spelling and Grammar we expect children to spell the common exception words for their year group and have a range of strategies for tackling new words. They will have a solid foundation of the spelling patterns. 
  • Developing children’s Vocabulary is a key feature of our Literacy curriculum. Children will learn to fluently read subject specific words, to explain meanings and to increasingly use these words.

The Framework for Learning in Literacy

How teachers embed knowledge and skills?

On a daily basis Literacy is at the centre of our curriculum and is woven through all other subjects throughout the day. All children have a daily Literacy lesson in addition to other literacy-related work.

As part of our Home Learning policy, all children are encouraged to complete 10 minutes a day spelling and reading practice. From Year One, all children are expected to complete a weekly reading comprehension. Children in Key Stage 2 also complete exercises in grammar and punctuation.


We are proud of the success we have in Phonics, as measured by the national Phonics assessments in year one. We put this success down to high quality teaching through daily Phonics lessons. We follow the Ransom Unlocking Letters and Sounds programme. Children read books which match their phonics confidence at each phase.

 You can access more information about Unlocking Letters and Sounds  in the attached Powerpoint at the bottom of the page.

Our Reading Strategy

Our Ofsted Report states, 'The school prioritises reading and ensures that it is an integral part of the curriculum in every year group. Those who fall behind are helped to catch up extremely well. This means pupils become fluent and confident readers quickly.' There are numerous libraries across the school located near each class with age-appropriate books. The non-fiction libraries contain a wealth of books directly related to what pupils learn in lessons.'

Engendering a love for reading is central to the work we do at St. Joseph's. Events such as the annual Poetry Recital and Book Week bring out the reader in everyone. Decorating our classroom doors for Book Week 2022:


Our Early Reading Stages

Teachers are vigilant to the progress children are making in reading, moving them through a series of phases.

Phase 1 reading: In the early days of Reception children take home a 'Book to Share', designed to encourage parents to share a book with their child, to verbally construct stories.

Phase 2 to 5: As soon as a child secures key phonic sets of words, they begin their journey through Phases 2 to 5. Children will only move up a level in reading books once they have secured 98% fluency in their phonics and reading.

Each phase requires the children to embed a new set of phonics and 'tricky words' in their memory. Then, we know that they are fluently able to access the texts of the books they read and thereby make better progress and enjoy their reading.

In this way our reading scheme ensures that children are only moving up a reading level when they are 98% fluent. Reading will be automatic for them, and we hope that they will derive pleasure from this. 

Making Further Progress in Reading


Once children have been assessed as secure in Phase 5 phonics, they then move onto the PM Benchmarking colour stages, where we also have a full range of books (Oxford Reading Tree, Osborne, Project X). 


This variety ensures children are exposed to a wide range of texts, fonts, pictures, characters and content.


For books after phase 5, children also need to have a 75% comprehension confidence in that level alongside the 98% fluency. 

   The final four levels of reading (Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire and Black) and enhanced for the children by being located in inspirational reading zones:

  • Wonderland
  • Narnia
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Hogwarts

Our extensive library resources encourage reading as a passion, and we are very proud of how well our children read from an early age. 

Adults read to children on a regular basis, modelling what it is to enjoy reading. Each year group has a box of books with a variety of genres. Teachers choose books from this box to read to the class as well as to use in Literacy lessons to inspire writing. Texts that they use progressively extend children's awareness of reading genres. Children really enjoy these sessions.


We use the Jane Considine Spelling programme, which ensures that core spelling knowledge and skills are regularly retrieved and embedded in children’s writing. There are daily spelling lessons. Children learn 10 spellings each week at home for their weekly test, which are based on the common exception words and core spelling patterns.

Reception class begin their spelling tests in the summer term. Please go to the Parent Pages for more information about spelling.


Key skills and knowledge are embedded through daily Literacy lessons. Carefully chosen text types ensure children write with variety and intent. Writing expectations are high across the curriculum, including History, Geography and RE where activities are planned for to ensure cross curricular learning.

Children complete a short ‘independent daily write’ or ‘speedy write’ where they demonstrate what they have secured and are able to apply.

The teaching of handwriting is built into Unlocking Letters and Sounds and letter formation is taught as part of each phonics session. Unlocking Lessons and Sounds includes dedicated support for children who need more time and support to make good progress.

Speaking and Listening

We create a language rich environment. We encourage children to speak coherently and this is expected from Reception. Regular opportunities are provided for children to develop their skills. For instance, our annual Poetry Recital, for which all children prepare a poem.

A carefully structured development programme (NELI) supports children with additional communication needs.

Vocabulary Enhancement

There is a strong focus on securing subject specific vocabulary. Children have a ‘100 Words Challenge’ which leads to an award at the end of each term. Over time, with practice, they show that they can sight-read the vocabulary relevant to their year group learning.

Achieving Mastery in Literacy

So, are our children communicating, writing and reading at a high level? We are pleased to say that the evidence is strong that they are. Our end of Key Stage results are testimony to the good work being done by the teachers to help children meet their potential.

Our Vocabulary assessment and termly Award shows us that children do make very good progress and achieve a high level of competence with reading and explaining subject specific words. The combined efforts at home and in school help children to embed these words. Many children earn the highest level of award each year, which is Diamond (95%).

For Phonics in year, since 2014, we have been recognised by the Department for Education for a high level of success in Phonics, being in the top 5% of schools nationally. In 2019, 98% of our children reached the threshold. Post pandemic, we were delighted to demonstrate that we had recovered children's disrupted learning with a score of 95%. The average score out of 40 words was an exceptional 36.4. 

For writing, the children’s learning ladders show the excellent progress that children make with their grammar, punctuation and in their writing ability. Children enjoy recording their progress and show us that they are keen to address any gaps. Teachers use regular independent writing tasks to assess, and most children make excellent progress against expectations for each year group as our end of key stage results show (see Assessment and Testing under Welcome Information).

The quality of work in the children’s books reflects the coherent planning and delivery of the subject by teachers.

Assessment in spellings, along with the termly Award for progress, indicate that children are committed to embedding spelling as a core literacy skill. Many children earn the highest level of award each year, which is Diamond (95%).

Our children reach a level of confidence with their reading which is impressive, so much so that from an early age they are happy to read in front of audiences in assemblies and in church.

End of year assessments in Reading, along with end of Key Stage SATs results are a strong indication that our children achieve fluency in their reading and comprehension. In 2022, 46% of children attained higher level of 'Greater Depth' in Writing in year 6, more than readying them for their next steps in education.

Children have opportunity to share their work with their parents on three open days through the year, a shared time, which they relish.