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Whole School Reading Approach

The power of reading is transformative and opens up the world to children. We believe that equipping children with a strong literate foundation fosters a sense of meaning, curiosity and understanding of the world.

The Reading Curriculum

Class Texts

Children in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 have class texts, usually high-quality picture books which form part of the English curriculum and around which writing will be stimulated.

From Year 2 to Year 6 children will read whole class novels linked to writing. Exposure to such texts will ensure acquisition of rich and high-quality vocabulary, and allow all to enjoy an age-appropriate story regardless of reading ability.

Reading Aloud

All research indicates that reading aloud to children is powerful in fostering a love of story and encouraging creativity and imagination. Class teachers read their class novels to their pupils on a daily basis.

Individual Reading Book

All children will be heard to read on an individual basis and children struggling to read more than once a week. Parents will be expected to listen to children read every night and record pages and progress in their Reading Records.

“Home Readers”

The purpose of the Home Reader (Oxford Reading Tree Scheme) is to raise the profile and importance of reading. Children read ability-appropriate books.  Children are aware of their progress/levels. Children love books and are excited to get their new books each week.

ReadWriteInc (RWInc) pocket and ditty books are the home readers for pupils in reception and year 1.

  • Home Readers are reading age-appropriate books which are changed weekly.
  • Home Readers are grouped into levels and genre themes.
  • Home Readers are organised in green boxes and labelled clearly with their level and genre themes.

Book Week

Our exciting curriculum comes further alive each year when we celebrate our annual Book Week including, World Book Day. We invite authors and workshops into school, pupils have opportunities to become aspiring authors. Parents are invited to share stories and read with children. 

Library Visits

The purpose of the children’s library visit is to raise the profile and importance of reading for pleasure. Pupils look forward to their weekly visit to the library and have the opportunity to read a range of books and genres. The children have a free reading choice in the library. Books do not have to be reading ability-appropriate.

Reading for Pleasure

Whilst we place great emphasis on the mechanics of reading through phonics and comprehension we never lose sight that these are only conduits to become immersed in reading and therefore reading for pleasure is a habit we hope to instil in all children.


Early Reading - Nursery

We follow Phase One of Letters and Sounds, which focuses on developing children’s speaking, and listening skills. This lays the foundations for Read, Write, Inc phonics lessons, which start in reception. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

This Phase aims to foster children’s speaking and listening skills in preparation for learning to read with phonics. When the children are ready, they are taught to say the sounds of letters, to blend the sounds into words and read simple ‘blending books’. 

To ensure children develop a love of reading the following activities also take place:

  • Songs and nursery rhymes to build phonetic awareness.
  • There is a wide selection of books that staff read to children.
  • Name recognition cards and tracing/writing opportunities. 
  • A print-rich environment, which includes texts asking children questions, keywords, making statements and giving information.
  • Keywords and phrases to help children read and recognise them in context.
  • Story/circle time with props and visuals to support vocabulary.
  • Daily word games to develop experiences of rhythm and rhyme in speech. Activities include oral blending, rhyming stories and clapping     out the syllables in words.
  • Magnetic letters with a focus on initial sounds of words.

Parent Engagement

  • There is a library system for children and parents to access. A member of staff is available to help advise parents/carers on their choice of books.
  • Parents have the opportunity to read with their child during stay and play.
  • Parents with younger siblings are encouraged to attend the weekly under 3’s singing group ‘little acorns’.
  • Parent volunteers stay to read stories to a small group of children. Stories and clapping out the syllables in words.

 Additional support for children

  • Box Clever takes place every day to support key vocabulary.
  • Daily phonics groups support awareness of rhyme, alliteration, listening and attention.

 Higher attaining children

  • Daily phonics groups to support oral blending and to say the sounds of letters with the help of mnemonics.

Additional reading time

  • Daily independent reading to promote looking at and sharing books.
  • Daily storytelling groups with an adult.

Early Reading - Reception 

Reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach to reading (Read, Write, Inc). Children are systematically taught the phonemes (sounds), how to blend the sounds through the word for reading, and how to segment sounds to write words. Children are also taught how to read high-frequency words, which do not completely follow the phonic rules.

For the first term of reception, we continue to practise the core skills of listening, sound discrimination, alliteration and segmenting and blending. Alongside this, every day children are taught phonics (Read, Write, Inc). This begins as a 20-minute carpet session, teaching 1 sound a day. Children are taught set 1 sounds in the Autumn Term and set 2 sounds in the Spring Term; some children will go on to learn set 3.

Children continue to learn a key set of phonic skills, including grapheme recognition, phoneme pronunciation, oral segmenting and blending and decoding, that can be transferred to reading and writing in familiar and unfamiliar contexts. This allows children to apply phonic knowledge to read words and sentences accurately. They are also taught to read some irregular common words, which cannot be segmented referred to as ‘red’ words.

When ready children read from a range of storybooks and non-fiction books matched to their phonic knowledge. Comprehension skills are developed in stories by answering 'Find It' and 'Prove It' discussion questions and reading back a sentence to ‘hold’ it. Children can then demonstrate an understanding of what they have read.


The phonics assessment takes place when 15 sounds have been taught. This allows us to reteach any sounds that have not been consolidated and identify children in need of additional support.

When set 1 sounds have been taught, children are reassessed and set into four ability groups which are streamed across both classes. These groups are fluid, and children can be moved in between groups when teaching staff feel another group may best suit the individual’s needs. Groups are reassessed every six weeks. This ensures that all children are reading at their correct level.

Phonic opportunities are also embedded throughout the environment, providing an opportunity to practise and master phonics skills, applying this to both reading and writing. As well as a vocabulary rich environment to support children’s reading, independent and open-ended resources enable children to practise and consolidate reading skills.

Additional support

  • Where a child may need additional support they are provided daily, keep up phonics. In addition to this, individual and group needs are targeted with additional adult support and bespoke activities.
  • For higher attaining children as well as having accelerated exposure to set 2/3 sounds, there is also a focus on speedy reading for fluency.

 Parent Engagement

  • Reading records are updated each week; this informs parents on ways of helping their child at home.
  • Support and information regarding reading is shared with parents during stay and play and parents’ evening.
  • Information is sent out to parents regarding Book Bag Books. This explains how to build upon the ideas in the book that has just been read.

Guided Reading

  • Weekly class inference and prediction lessons are beginning.   
  • All children have weekly 1:1 reading with a teacher.

Year 1 Reading 

Year 1 Read Write Inc 

  • We continue to develop children’s phonic knowledge through the RWInc scheme. The children continue to learn set 2 and 3 sounds, which enable them to read and write a range of words. Children learn different representations of a sound (‘graphemes’).
  • Children are streamed according to their ability for daily phonics lessons. Each session is broken up into different parts, including revision of previous sounds taught, the teaching of a new sound, reading words with the new sound and writing them.


  • Phonics assessment and screening take place every 6 - 8 weeks. If the children are on blue level or above, they are also assessed on their reading speed. 
  • Children are set into ability groups and placed into five smaller ability groups. Children read from a range of storybooks and non-fiction books matched to their phonic knowledge.
  • Groups are fluid, and children can be moved in between groups when teaching staff feel another group may best suit the individual’s needs.
  • Children are also assessed in Year 1 using a phonics screening check to ensure they are on track to pass the phonic screening checks. This takes place every 6 - 8 weeks.

Parent Engagement

  • Children continue to take home Book Bag Books which link to their RWInc reading levels.
  • Support and information is shared with parents during open classroom mornings.

Year 1 Talk Through Stories (Guided Reading) 

Stories allow all children to extend and deepen their vocabulary and understanding of the books they will eventually be able to read for themselves. Talk Through Stories give all children the opportunity to build vocabulary through conversations and dialogue.

Reading a weekly story each day allows children to know the story well: the plot, characters, actions, and motives. Vocabulary and reading skills are planned precisely and systematically – step by step – to develop and build upon children’s existing knowledge and vocabulary.

Through introducing a variety of vocabulary each day, the children explore words from the story, specifically selected to develop their understanding of each word in the context of their everyday lives. Therefore, all children have a talk partner allowing them to practise new vocabulary in context and respond to questions.

The Structure of a Talk Through Stories Lesson at Derwentwater

Before Reading: Introducing the new vocabulary.

Sharing the learning objective and reading skill. These are referred to throughout each lesson so that children are clear about the skill they are learning or demonstrating.

Story Timetable

Day 1:  Retrieval - Introduce the story and read it to the children. Discuss characters and problems.

Day 2: Inference - Re-read the story. Show facial expressions for characters’ emotions at different points of the story.

Day 3: Sequencing - Have fun with favourite phrases and do the freeze-frame activity so that children construct sentences orally.

Day 4: Predicting - Encourage the children to join in with more of the story, and discuss the problem. How was it resolved?

Day 5: Revise all new vocabulary - Invite the children to decide what they think about the characters – are they ‘nice’ or ‘not nice’ – and why they think so.


  • Children have a RWInc phonics test and National Phonics Screen every 6-8 weeks to assess progress and test new phonics groups. 
  • If the children are on blue level or above, they are also assessed on their reading speed. 
  • Year 1 common exception words: Children are assessed termly.

Parental Engagement

  • Every week pupils will take home a RWInc reading book which they are able to read independently. To encourage reading pupils will also take home a reading for pleasure book which they choose from the library. This book is a book that parents can share with their child as it will not be a phonic book.
  • Parents are expected to read with their child on a daily basis and sign their child’s reading record. 
  • The school website has a list of recommended books to read for each year group.
  • The Scholastic Book Fair encourages parents to engage with their children’s book choices.

Individual Reading

Teachers will listen to children read during their library slot and where possible, elsewhere during the day. They listen to children read and identify that they are using the correct sounds, segmenting and blending, suffixes and how they apply other reading skills such as chunking. 

Year 2 - 6 Whole Class reading


Support for children who are falling behind

  • A Teaching Assistant leads Year 2 phonics boosters four times a week. The group is made up of the children who failed their phonics screen in Year 1 and will resit the test in May. Their progress is tracked through assessments that take place every 8 weeks. 
  • EAL children who have limited English receive 30-minute phonics booster sessions twice a week. 

Parental Engagement 

  • Extra reading homework is given for targeted children.
  • Children that are falling behind are identified and are given extra reading comprehension tasks to complete with their parents. 
  • Parents are expected to read with their children on a daily basis. Parents sign their child’s reading record to confirm that they have read with their child.
  • Invitations to reading events, e.g. author visits.
  • The school website has a list of recommended books to read for each year group.
  • The Scholastic Book Fair encourages parents to engage with their children’s book choices.

Individual Reading

  • In the morning, as the children settle during registration, teachers read with children. Teachers keep records of strategies children use when reading and identify gaps using reading analysis sheets.
  • 1:1 reading also takes place elsewhere during the day with focus on children.

Recommended Reading lists

Our recommended reading lists contain 40 age-appropriate books for children in each year group. We have taken the time to carefully choose books that will hopefully capture children's imagination and develop a rich vocabulary.