How reading is taught

Reading starts with phonics and we use a synthetic phonics programme for teaching reading.  This method teaches the children the 44 phonemes (sounds) in the English language, linking letters or groups of letters with words.  The children in Years R – 2 have a daily phonics teaching, beginning with their early phonics and then this is built on, introducing blending and segmenting words and then learning the 'harder to read and spell' words, which are not phonetically decodable. 

Teaching phonics to develop early, confident readers
In Reception and Key Stage 1 we use Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) systematic synthetic phonics programme, validated by the DfE, to teach phonics. Our Curriculum map for the teaching of synthetic phonics in Reception and Year 1 follows the week by week progression to ensure fidelity to the scheme.
ELS is delivered through daily, whole class lessons. Each lesson uses the same teaching sequence to structure learning– show, copy, repeat, until each child is independent regardless of the year group. Children are given the opportunity to hear and say each sound, first in isolation and then within words and sentences. When introducing a new grapheme-phoneme correspondence (GPC), a mnemonic or rhyme is used with an accompanying picture to ensure that the children understand. Practise and repetition are key.
It is vital that whilst children are learning to read, they read books that match their phonic knowledge. We use decodable readers to support ELS teaching in school. These books are carefully matched to every aspect of the ELS programme. Decodable readers are sent home as phonics books each week. Children keep the book for one week and re-read them at least four times in this period, to develop their phonic knowledge and reading fluency. The children will also have access to ‘sharing books. These may not yet be decodable but are there to read with an adult to instil a love of reading. These books can be read together with the child reading the words they are able to decode or they can have them read to them. The children can also read decodable text assigned by their teacher using Oxford Owl Online.

Phonic assessments occur in the fifth week of each half term. Assessment of the children’s reading skills is key to ensuring that all children make rapid progress in synthetic phonics.

The reading chest website can offer families  advice and support about synthetic phonics

The children in Years 3- 6 have daily guided reading sessions.  Quality texts and extracts are used, often weaving in the creative curriculum, ensuring  children develop competency in the six reading domains we call VIPERS. 

VIPERS stands for






Sequence or Summarise

During Guided Reading the children will  carry out independent reading tasks linked to The Vipers, and they may also be practising phonics and spellings. Reading activities will happen at many other times, linking skills through cross curricular learning.  An example of this may be researching a topic using information books or online searches.  Children will also take part in shared reading sessions which takes place as a whole class and incidental reading over the day such as reading signs, labels and other environmental print.


Reading Scheme

Children in Reception and Year 1 will bring home a decodable book that they read 4 times across the week. Spending 10 minutes a day reading with your an adult will hugely support the children in their journey to becoming  independent readers. From Year 2 we use  a range of books from different reading schemes which go from purple (band 8) to lime (band 11).  The children then move onto ‘free reader’ books.  These books cover fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  Teachers assess children’s reading skills carefully and will decide when it is appropriate for children to move up to the next stage of reading.  These assessments are made on the fluency, independence and understanding of a range of texts.  Sometimes some reading books will seem much easier than others.  This is to be expected and serves to boost confidence and reinforce prior learning.


Changing books

As every child’s reading skills will differ, the reading material that they take home will vary.  For example, they may be reading a book that has several chapters and will want to keep hold of that book for a few days.  Another child may read their book in one night and wish to change it the next day.  Both of these options are fine.  We just ask that reading is noted in reading diaries so that we can monitor what books have been read at home.  

How you can help at home

Read read read! Your support at home is invaluable practice throughout your child’s time in Primary School.  You can help in the following ways:

Please support your child by reading their school reading book with them.  For children in Years R – 2, we ask that you hear them read five days a week.  This only need be a couple of pages, but regular practice is key to a developing reader.  For children in Years 3 – 4, we expect children to be reading aloud to an adult at home at least three times a week and hope that they read independently every day.  In Years 5 – 6, we expect children to read aloud to an adult at least twice a week, but to be reading independently every day.  All reading that is done at home must be noted in the reading diary and initialled by an adult.  We monitor reading at home closely.

Each child in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 has an Oxford Owl login, giving access to eBooks.   If you are unsure of your child's log in please ask the class teacher.

The school library and classroom libraries have  a wealth of quality texts for children to choose from. We inspire our children to love reading. 

Visiting your local library is a great way of widening your child’s reading experiences… and it is FREE!  Any reading material that gets your child motivated to read is fine.  Open them up to a range of texts such as magazines, newspapers and football annuals.
Read to your child.  No one is too old for a bedtime story!  Sharing a book with your child is precious.  It is important that children hear you read too and listen to books as well as reading them independently.  This is also a good way to develop comprehension skills by discussing what you can see in pictures and talking about what you have read.

Questions you can ask at home whilst sharing books

  • What can you tell me about this book so far?
  • What sort of book is this? (Poetry, fiction, non-fiction)
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • Can you tell me about the characters in the story? Why has the character behaved in that way?
  • Does this book remind you any others that you have read before? How are they similar?
  • What can you see happening in the picture?
  • What image comes into your head when you read this text?
  • How do you use this punctuation as you read? (Full stop, italics, bold text, inverted comma, exclamation marks)
  • What was the funniest/scariest moment in the book?
  • What descriptive words has the author used that you would use in your own story?
  • Does this book have a contents page/glossary/index? (Non-fiction books) What do you use them for?
  • The questions bookmarks below can be printed out for handy reminders of helpful questions.

KS1 Reading Questions Bookmark

KS2 Reading Questions Bookmark

Recommended Reads

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