Reading & Phonics

English Curriculum Leader: Mrs C Ball

Response to COVID 19:

Due to the 2021 national lockdown, we are now teaching our daily Reading lessons remotely, in the form of specific Phonics lessons and English lessons (Communication, Language and Literacy Lessons in Reception). These are either Screenrec recordings or videos of the teacher to allow greater flexibility for children to access their learning around parental commitments. Additionally, some lessons are delivered ‘live’ via Zoom to the older pupils in school, depending on the content being delivered. This ensures that the provision is tailored to the needs of the cohorts rather than generic year-group learning provided by published Home Learning resources.

In order to maximise the effectiveness of our remote-learning package, teachers are selecting and delivering the objectives which provide the greatest opportunities to be taught successfully online.  The lessons therefore, may not not follow the long term plan but follow, where possible, the school’s phased approach of lessons with a reading focus, followed by targeted grammar and spelling work and then a writing focus which allows the pupils to apply their learning. The objectives taught are being recorded by the teachers so that full coverage will be delivered by the end of the academic year. Where children are performing significantly below or above their peers, teachers have provided either individual recorded lessons or alternative work to support or extend.

Our lessons structure has received positive praise from both the parents and pupils:

Parent voice:

‘the pre-recorded videos add much- needed flexibility parents’

‘(my child) really enjoyed the lesson the other day where you were sounding out the sentences as a class. I feel like it’s really helped his confidence as it showed him how you read part then go back to the start etc. We have found it really useful and when we were practicing last night he found it a lot easier and didn’t get stressed at all. Thank you so much for that lesson. We will keep practicing. Thank you so much for all your hard work’

Year 6 pupil voice: ‘they [pre-recorded videos] are better because we can listen again to the bit we get stuck on.

At Hindsford, we put the highest emphasis on enabling our pupils to become fluent, enthusiastic readers. Because of this, both explicit teaching of decoding and comprehension as well as opportunities to read independently and to be read to have deliberately been included in the children’s daily remote learning provision.

The daily Phonics lessons provided in Reception and Year 1 are designed to help the children consolidate their existing Phonics knowledge before introducing new graphemes/ spelling patterns as well as aid rapid recall and retention of high frequency words. They also include daily opportunities for pupils to practise and refine their decoding skills to read and write graphemes (letters) and/or words, depending on age. Teachers are following the normal sequence of Phonics lessons as set out in the school’s scheme of work.

During the first week of each 3 week block of lessons, the recorded English lessons also have a reading focus, with particular emphasis on the development of comprehension skills.

At the end of each day, teachers lead live Zoom sessions where the children participate in a Class Reader session (KS2) or Story Time (Reception and KS1) which help to maintain the children’s love of reading and allow for discussions around vocabulary, characters and plot.

As of January 2021, the school has subscribed to the Oxford Owl website which provides all pupils access to a wide range of books to read for pleasure. In addition, it allows teachers to set levelled texts for children who are still learning to decode. This has meant that children have still been able to consolidate their reading skills at home, as they would have done under normal circumstances.

Here are some examples of our children’s Phonics  home learning (Please see the individual class pages for daily examples):

World Book Day

Even in Lockdown, the staff and children at Hindsford were able to enjoy World Book Bay. Teachers taught and provided a range of tasks and activities based around books and the love of reading. Here is a selection of the work that took place across school:

Here is a more of the English Home Learning that has taken place over Lockdown:

Here are some examples of our Reading home learning:


At Hindsford C of E Primary School, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers.

We believe reading is key for academic success and that a fundamental pathway to high achievement in reading is via a deeply ingrained love of reading for pleasure.

It is our intent that pupils leave Hindsford as fluent, enthusiastic readers who can fully engage with a wide range of texts, and use their knowledge to competently evaluate an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader.


In light of our commitment to developing successful, motivated readers, we have devised a reading curriculum and environment which places a high value on these attributes, the details of which are as follows:

1. The Reading Environment

As part of our work on promoting reading for pleasure, we have put a significant emphasis on the reading environment.

Every class at Hindsford CE Primary School has a bespoke reading area which is designed to be engaging and age-appropriate for the individual class.



Teachers provide a selection of books which children can independently access from the class library.

Reading for information and for pleasure is further promoted by the inclusion of a range of fiction and non-fiction books in curriculum display areas within classrooms which are linked to the learning currently taking place.

Teachers encourage reading for pleasure by sharing texts they have personally enjoyed and by recommending books/authors to children to extend their reading repertoire. The school also has a Key Stage One and a Key Stage Two Library which children freely access.

To further celebrate effort in reading for pleasure, one child from each class is chosen to be ‘Reader of the Month’. They are praised in Whole School Worship and have a photograph displayed in the Key Stage Two library.

Children are encouraged to take ownership of our school book stock by recommending an author of the month.

Once chosen, books by that particular author are purchased so that the children can borrow them. In this way, the school books are constantly renewed and kept up to date, following the children’s preferences and interests.

Additionally, the school enjoys regular visits from The Book Bus which provides pupils with opportunities to purchase discounted books. As part of these visits, children also identify new titles which they would like to be included in the school libraries, further ensuring that the book stock is kept fresh to maximise engagement.

More recently, the school has launched 100 Books to read before KS1 and 100 books to read before KS2, with rewards to children who have been successful in reading 30, 50, 70 and 100 books. Each child has a passport and the children are free to take these books to read at home and share with their family.

2. Reading for Pleasure

Pupils at Hindsford CE Primary start each day with 15 minutes of reading for pleasure.

In Reception and Key Stage One, this takes the form of a daily ‘Reading Meeting’ where teachers model reading for pleasure using a high quality text.

Having listened to and enjoyed the story, children orally explore one comprehension question in depth which is linked to the National Curriculum objectives for that year group.

These sessions involve opportunities for quality discussion focused on retrieval, language extension, authorial intent and creating links between texts in a supportive, engaging way.

In Key Stage Two, teachers provide pupils with 15 minutes of daily silent reading time.

In these sessions, pupils choose their own texts to read. Teachers take this time to target individual children, listening to them read and developing their fluency and comprehension on a one-to-one level.

They create a quiet, calming learning environment which is conducive to reading for enjoyment.

3. Phonics / Whole Class Reading Session

Following the Reading for Pleasure session, each morning, the children participate in a daily Phonics or Whole Class Reading session (depending on their age and ability) which lasts for 20 minutes.

These sessions are designed to develop the specific phonics, blending & segmenting of letters and words as well as the childrens’ comprehension skills. This is so that they become confident and competent readers.

For children who attend the phonics sessions, the school uses a bespoke synthetic phonics programme based on Letters and Sounds which teaches the children the letter sounds and how to blend these sounds together to read and write words.


 As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their developing needs.

Click on the link below to hear how these sounds should be pronounced.

The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children in Reception work through phases 1-4, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge. Pupils in Key Stage One continue to participate in daily Phonics lessons until they have completed Phase 5.

During the whole class reading sessions the emphasis moves from phonics and early decoding skills to comprehension.

Teachers plan a series of lessons based on a particular text, usually linked to the class’ English work. These sessions have been designed to develop and enhance the skills that the pupils often find most challenging or that the school deems to be of importance in later life such as:

  • Knowledge of a wide range of vocabulary.

  • Summarising

  • Discussing authorial intent and language effect.

The children also focus explicitly on pace, stamina and the test techniques required to successfully engage with the statutory Reading test.

An important element to this whole class approach is that all children, regardless of ability, access the same text and discussions surrounding it.

In this way, every pupil is exposed to new, challenging vocabulary and is able to develop the necessary comprehension skills in a supportive yet challenging environment.

The first session gives pupils the opportunity to explore the background of the text, with teachers using images, maps or film clips to deepen the pupils’ wider understanding.

Subsequent sessions focus on any new vocabulary found in the text with pupils using dictionaries and composing their own definitions of new words to aid their understanding prior to reading.

In the sessions following this, the teachers read the text aloud while pupils follow using their own text. This allows children to hear quality intonation and expression being modelled. Explicit links are made to the new vocabulary in order to reinforce their meaning and teachers fully explain the stated and implied meaning behind the text.

The session ends with pupils attempting 5 timed ‘Find and Copy’ questions which allow them to apply and reinforce the skills being taught over time.

In the next session, pupils focus on developing their summarising skills and using precise, focused language. In the final session or sessions, teachers focus on the higher-order comprehension skills such as recognising authorial intent and language effect. Children are encouraged to produce well-thought out, articulate written answers to develop their oracy and understanding.

4. Reading Within the English Lesson

All children throughout the school also participate in daily English lessons which are in addition to the Phonics/ Whole Class Reading sessions. These lessons follow a three-phased approach of reading (developing comprehension skills), exploring the genre (including grammar) and writing. Teachers deliver lessons based on high quality texts and continue to model reading and comprehension skills even if the focus in that particular lesson is not reading. Objectives are taken from the National Curriculum to ensure the correct level of challenge and progression in skills.

Below is  copy of the Long-Term Plan for each Year Group in Reading.

Below is a copy of the Reading Progression in skills.

5. Reading at Home

A fundamental standpoint of the teaching of early reading at Hindsford CE School is that children should only be given texts to read independently that are closely aligned with their phonics knowledge.

As a result, children in Reception are not given books to take home until they have developed a sufficient phonological knowledge.

They are then given books which are at the level below their current phonics level. This is so that they can enjoy texts that they can read completely independently and to ensure they experience success as they develop their early reading skills.

However, in order to foster a love of reading and start the development of early comprehension skills as soon as possible, we encourage the children and their families to choose books from the school library which they can share and enjoy with adults at home from the start of the Autumn term.

When children have completed Phase 5 of Letters and Sounds, they progress through the school’s levelled reading scheme, which includes a wide range of non-fiction, poetry, fiction, extended novels and graphic novels.

Once they are fluent, independent readers, they have the option to choose library books or books of their own, as long as the teacher agrees they are at an appropriate level.

A further commitment to the promotion of reading for pleasure is through the challenge of ‘One hundred books to read’ before the end of Key Stage One or Two.

Pupils are given a book passport and are encouraged to work their way through the titles. Children are free to read these independently or share them with family at home. Progress towards the end goal is rewarded with various prizes.

Below are some top tips for reading at home with your child.


Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We give all children the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of literature and to enjoy the breadth of experience that it brings.  Children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors and to review their books objectively. This enhances a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles.

Reading Gallery:

Pupil Voice:

“We have lots of interesting and exciting books in school and that makes me want to read.” (Year 1 Pupil)

“Reading is one of my favourite things to do.” (Year 1 Pupil)

“Teachers make reading fun because they give us the skills so we can do it on our own.”(Year 2 pupil)

“I really like our whole class Guided Reading because we learn loads of new words and then I know what they mean when I see them again.” (Year 2 pupil)

“Teachers help us improve our reading by changing our books so that we read harder texts.”(Year 3 pupil)

“There are lots of rewards at our school that makes me want to read more.”(Year 3 pupil)

“I love it when it’s my turn to read in the Reading corner.”(Year 4 pupil)

“Teachers persuade us to read different authors so we don’t just read the same kind of stories all the time.”(Year 4 pupil)

“If you asked children at Hindsford whether or not they like reading, they would say yes!” (Year 5 pupil)

“We are encouraged to read because we have our own reading areas with lots of interesting books.” (Year 5 pupil)

“Teachers share ideas about what we could read next by giving us suggestions about books we’ve never heard of before; I read ‘Hitler’s Pink Rabbit’ and I loved it!” (Year 6 pupil)

“I like the way our learning is linked. I know when we do Spelling work, it helps with my reading because I recognise those patterns when I come across them in other books.”(Year 6 pupil)

Parent Workshops:

As a matter of course, parents are  offered the chance to come to a Reading & Phonics Workshop, designed to explain how we teach Reading at Hindsford and how they can help their child at home. This habitually occurs early in the Autumn term although alternative arrangements will be made this year, in light of the Covid virus.

Staff Training:

(In order from most recent)

December 2020: Inset to introduce comprehension test technique to aid speed to all staff and to show proposed new English planning and teaching sequence, designed to give children meaningful opportunities to apply non-fiction comprehension skills (research etc…)

October 2019: English Curriculum Staff Meeting

September 2019: Staff Meeting – Key Stage 1 Reading Meetings and Key Stage Two Reading for Pleasure Up-date Sessions

June 2019: Consortium Cross-School English Moderation

May 2019: Closing the Vocabulary Gap (Marcus Jones)

April 2019: Learning environment Staff Meeting (Working Walls and Reading Areas)

March 2019: Consortium Cross-School English Moderation

November 2018: Guided Reading 2 Staff Meeting

September 2018: Guided Reading 1 Staff Meeting

September 2018: Teaching Spelling Strategies Staff Meeting

September 2018: Planning for Cross-Curricular Extended Writing