Children begin learning to read in Reception. Through daily phonics lessons children learn the sounds of English and learn to decode words using their knowledge of phonics. They match phonemes (unit of sound) to graphemes (unit of writing). We use the programme Jolly Phonics to structure and sequence our teaching. You can find out more about how we teach phonics here.

Through Early Years and Key Stage 1 staff model the reading process and children regularly hear stories read aloud. Children absorb language structures and vocabulary that they are yet unable to read independently and through questioning and discussion, develop their comprehension. Alongside hearing children read themselves, we strongly advocate parents reading to their children at home. The pleasure of sharing a text provides motivation for the child to learn to read independently and opens up a world of language structures and vocabulary beyond that which the child can read independently. You do not necessarily have to purchase books yourself, residents of Harrow can access libraries that stock a wealth of appropriate reading books. For further information about libraries in Harrow click here. There is an excellent website with titles that are recommended for different age groups and reading abilities. Please click here.

In addition to whole class and small group reading, staff hear children read individually. This enables us to ensure that each child is reading a book that is appropriately challenging for them and assess the progress they are making.

We believe that the following websites are extremely supportive for parents and recommend them in supporting children with their reading at home.

Children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 move through our independent levelled reading scheme. At St Jérôme School we use the published scheme Collins Big Cat which is linked to the Institute of Education Guided Reading Levels. This ensures that children are exposed to fiction and non-fiction books that are appropriate to their reading level. Download a guide to the reading levels here.


Children bring a reading book home every evening and the books are changed at least twice every week. We encourage children to read every day and to read their reading book several times and discuss the content of what they are reading with an adult or older sibling at home. Parents record reading in a Reading Record book and staff review these regularly.

When teachers feel that a child may be ready to move on to the next level a thorough assessment of their reading (both decoding and comprehension) is undertaken. We use PM Benchmark to accurately track and assess pupils’ reading progress across the whole school, ensuring consistent and accurate levelling in reading.

We are fortunate that many parents, governors and members of the community volunteer their time to come into school to read individually with our children. If you feel you would be able to support the school by offering some of your time to do this then please contact us at [email protected]. All volunteers are DBS checked and receive training and supervision from school staff.

In Year 1, in addition to the daily phonics lesson, and opportunities for reading across the curriculum, children have a daily structured reading lesson in a small group with a member of school staff who is specifically trained to teach reading. Children are grouped according to their reading assessments and groups are reviewed weekly to ensure that children can maximise the progress they are making and receive teaching that is tailored to their particular needs. St Jérôme School is the first school in Harrow to adopt the Daily Supported Reading Programme which has been developed and proved to be highly effective by schools in the London Borough of Hackney.

The Daily Supported Reading Programme (DSR) is a classroom programme that helps to move all children on in their reading. It is delivered initially to Year 1, then introduced into Reception and for lowest attaining children in Year 2 for maximum impact across the school. It helps children make accelerated progress by working with trained adults in small groups matched to their independent reading levels. This method has a proven track record of success in raising school reading standards at Key Stage 1 and ensuring that all children leave Key Stage 1 well prepared for the next stage of their learning. To read more about this approach please click here.

At the end of Year 1 children’s progress in phonics is assessed with the National Phonics Screening Check. For more details about this please click here. In 2018, 88% of children at St Jérôme School achieved the required standard in the phonics screening check in Year 1. This is above local and national levels and indicates the strength of our stage and not age phonics teaching.

At the end of Year 1 children at St Jérôme School also undertake the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) Reading Test. This enables staff to see how children at St Jérôme School compare to the national sample of pupils who undertake this test. At the end of Year 1 in 2018 90% of children were working at age-related expectations in Reading and 30% well above.

For more information about NFER tests please click here.

At the end of Year 2, teachers are required to formally assess children’s attainment in reading and this is reported nationally. For more information please see the guidance for schools at or download our information for parents presentation here.

We are delighted that our PTFA have donated books and furniture to our Key Stage 1 Library and we are delighted when our Governors visit our school to hear our children read.

If you would like to find out more about reading at St Jérôme School please do not hesitate to contact us.