Reading at Acocks Green

At Acocks Green Primary School we love reading! Throughout their time with us here at school, learning to read is one of the most important things your child will do. From the very start the love of reading is embedded. Our aim is to enable all our children to become enthusiastic and reflective readers, who understand the importance of reading as a life-long skill.

Our children are encouraged to listen to and share texts wherever possible during the school day. We want our children to enjoy reading a wide range of books as well as to be able to talk about these books and their authors with confidence.

Here at Acocks Green we teach reading from Nursery right through to Year 6. This will be in the form of one-to-one reading with an adult, whole class story time, assembly time, guided reading sessions and independent reading. As soon as they join us the development of reading skills being with daily story sessions, teachers and children sharing books both with and without words. This allows our children to develop an understanding of story structures and comprehension skills before focusing on words and what these may say to tell a story.

In the Nursery steps into reading begin with wordless books. These texts types allow our children to develop their own story ideas by using their imagination to decide upon the narrative to go with the pictures they see. Following on from this we then begin the developing our children’s reading skills further through distinguishing between sounds. We actively support and encourage the children to listen out for sounds in the environment and experiment with a range of sounds using their whole body before moving onto listening out for the phonic sounds in words.

We believe learning phonics should be fun, so when they’re ready we start to teach the children letter / sound recognition using catchy ‘Jolly Phonics’ actions and songs. Our children are taught the sounds made by individual letters first, this then moves quickly onto looking at the sounds made by pairs and clusters of letters. The children start following the sequence of sounds set out in ‘Jolly Phonics’. These can be seen here:

  1. s, a, t, i, p, n
  2. c k, e, h, r, m, d
  3. g, o, u, l, f, b
  4. ai, j, oa, ie, ee, or
  5. z, w, ng, v, oo, oo                     
  6. y, x, ch, sh, th, th
  7. qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar 

For more information on the phonic phases please scroll down the screen to the guides provided underneath our phonic policy.

Phonics sessions are taught daily and once ready our children are not only learning how to read the sounds in words but also how these sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell. Alongside the teaching of sounds, our children will now also start practising reading and writing ‘tricky words’ (words that don’t sound out easily). Words such as ‘to’, ‘the’, ‘said’ and ‘be’ are good examples of tricky words the children will learn. We do this to ensure our children gain knowledge of how to recognise these common sight words that can’t be spelled or read phonetically using the letter-sound correspondences they have been taught. We introduce these trickier words slowly and ensure the children have lots of exposure to them, with time given to both read and write them down so they become more familiar.

All children develop at different rates and so we group our children according to the phonic phase they are working on. As they progress through key stage 1, we supplement our Jolly phonic scheme with elements from the DfE Letters and Sounds program which is a six-phased scheme that is taught right through to the end of Year 2. Phonics workshops for parents of children in Reception are held in the autumn term to explain this all further to enable you as parents to support your child’s reading at home.

Our children practise their reading with books that match the phonic phase and ‘tricky words’ they know. These are known as wholly decodable books as they allow the children to have reading success by using the skills taught in their phonic sessions. This does wonders for the children’s confidence once they start seeing they can read. The children then progress through these stages throughout their time at school as their phonological awareness grows and develops. We use a selection of schemes including Collins Big Cat, Floppy Phonics, Rising Stars Reading Planet, Oxford Reading Tree and Project X. These books are leveled into colour bands so that the children can progress through the books in levels of difficulty, introducing the children to new words gradually. Reading deliberately patterned, simple, repetitive grammatical structures create both confidence and success. Our aim, as the children move further on in school through Key Stage 2 is to eventually have them be ‘free choice’ readers, having all the skills needed to tackle these more challenging texts.

It is vital that children practise their reading at home often by being heard by an adult. This is important for all of our children, no matter what reading stage they are on. Even though our fluent readers may be able to read the words, they still need opportunities to discuss the meaning of the texts they are reading.

For our younger readers, reading little and often is most effective. Learning to read is a hard and tiring process at the beginning. We’d like our parents to aim to read the given banded home reader book for about 15 minutes each day with their child. Parents then need to sign the reading diary to inform the teacher about what has been read. Books should return to school every day in a book bag so that they can also be shared with the children by an adult at school as well as be changed during the week.

For our readers in key stage 2 children have a little more choice over the books they can take within the reading stage they are on. Our teachers and teaching assistants make sure that the books taken are appropriately matched to their reading level, they also carefully monitor the amount children are reading at home. We like our older children to be reading for half an hour every day. Comments should again be recorded in their reading diary which is then checked at school. We encourage our children to read a wide range of authors and text types which they find in everyday life, as well as books.

Our teachers read regularly to the children too, and every day at 2.45 our day end with class story time. This is so the children get to know and love all sorts of stories, poems and information books. Listening to stories being read helps to extend children’s vocabulary and comprehension, as well as support their writing, To further support this, we actively encourage our children to take home ‘real books’ from the class collection or from the school library that they visit each week. These books may be of a higher level than they can read on their own. However, we want our children to experience books about all sorts of topics and have the opportunity to share these with parents and families at home. Reading to children regularly, ensures they understand that reading is a pleasurable process. Children love to listen to stories being read or told.

Guided reading sessions happen daily. These are timetabled for 30 minutes throughout the school from reception. Your child will work with children who are at the same reading level so teaching can really be focused on their needs. They will complete a circus of activities through the week. Some older children in key stage 2 will continue to access phonics through daily interventions, if they need further consolidation and development of their reading skills. We check the children’s reading skills regularly so we can ensure they are in the right groups for phonics and guided reading, as well as to ensure they are on the right reading stage. Children will move to a different group if they are making faster progress or may have extra intervention if we think they need some extra help. We will always let you know how your child is doing.

We use various ways to find out how well the children are getting on in reading. We use this information to decide which phonic and guided reading group they should be in. In Reception and Year 1 half- termly phonic checks are completed with every child to review the sounds and tricky words they know on sight. In years 2-6 half-termly reading comprehension assessment tests are completed.

In the summer term, the government asks us to do a phonics check of all the Year 1 children. This provides us with extra information about their progress. We will talk to you about how this is done in school as well as let you know how well they have done.

Years 2 and 6 also have statutory tests set by the government in the summer term, where their ability to answer questions about a text are measured. The children will be well prepared for this, so please don’t worry. We ensure our teaching includes lots of opportunities to discuss characters, settings and events. This reading for meaning is really important and only when a children can fully decode a text and answer questions about it, do we feel they are ready to move onto the next colour band reading stage.

We are lucky here at Acocks Green to be able to provide the children with access to a wide variety of reading materials from story books and poetry to non-fiction books, journals and newspapers. We believe that by engaging children in a variety of reading materials and reading experiences, they will become confident and keen readers. This then in turn has an automatic effect on their writing style throughout their primary education. Experience shows us that children who are keen and confident to read because they have been given opportunities to share a text, also in turn become confident writers. The two don’t happen in isolation, they work side by side. So wherever you can, please take time to read a book together.


Remember we are always here to answer any questions for may have so feel free to call or email your class teacher, the school English lead Mrs Stait or pop in too chat to us at the end of the day.


Useful websites:

Oxford owl for online texts children can read linked to their own reading level

Readiwriter for spelling activities set by your class teacher     (Years 1 -6 only)

Phonics play for learning sounds through flashcards and games

National Literacy Trust for fun resources and advice to help you support your children’s literacy development

Book Trust provides online information about children's books and includes information on Children’s Book Week and includes its Best Books Guide