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Berewood Primary School

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Reading and Phonics

At Berewood Primary School, we value reading as a key life skill. By the time children leave Berewood Primary School, they should be confident selecting and reading a wide range of material and enjoy regularly reading for pleasure.

Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary and material. They are able to recommend books to their peers and enjoy reading a wide range of genres, including non-fiction. Children enjoy participating in book talk, including evaluating an author’s use of language and how this can affect the reader. We encourage our pupils to see themselves as discerning readers and to be confident in discussing not only whether they enjoy a text but also the extent to which they agree with it. We ensure the books we read as part of our reading curriculum and in our books corners are representative of our wider school community and reflect the diversity of our childrens’ lived experiences. 

How we teach Reading

We teach reading comprehension through daily reading lessons. Each half term, children will read and analyse a fiction, a non-fiction or a poetry text. Reading lessons include:

  • An element of prosody (reading with feeling)
  • A close look at key vocabulary that children may be unfamiliar with
  • Unpicking the key skill focus for that lesson (retrieval, inference, prediction, summarising, vocabulary, making links)
  • Modelled answering of questions
  • Opportunities to apply the day's reading skills independently
  • A weekly reading for pleasure session

In addition to our reading lessons in Year R-6, we also provide children with:

  • Opportunities to read for pleasure
  • Phonics in small groups or interventions 
  • Regular, open ended discussions about stories and books.
  • Opportunities to read and discuss a wide read of genres including poetry and non-fiction (including weekly newspapers to ensure children are aware of local, national and global issues).

In addition, 1:1 reading is put in place for children that need extra practise. Books that the children take home are carefully chosen to match the children’s interests and their level of fluency.  

Types of reading

Reading for phonics - Explicit mention and use of reading books that link to phonics sounds are shared with pupils and online with families too and are referenced when they appear elsewhere across the curriculum.

Reading for comprehension and accuracy - Children pick from the book banded books in the library and outside Year 1 classrooms.  Children are also introduced to new and engaging texts through topics across the school and more formally through separately taught guided reading* sessions in school from years 3 to 6.

Reading for pleasure - In addition, we encourage pupils to choose books from the school library or from classroom libraries that they enjoy and want to read (sometimes again and again if it’s a favourite).  Children are also read to daily in lessons and at other times too.

Reading scheme

At Berewood we use Book Bands* to help teach reading as they are a proven approach to developing successful readers. We use a book bands system because it helps us to carefully grade the reading books by difficulty level and they provide a clear structure for us to help follow each child’s reading development. 

Books include a range of fiction and non-fiction books which helps greatly to interest children in reading. Most reading scheme books are given a book band colour by their publisher, which will be based on the book’s level of difficulty. 

Book banded books are also colour coded and are combined from a number of recognised schemes including Oxford Reading Tree, Bug Club, Big Cat Collins and other branded book collections.

Reading for pleasure at Berewood Primary School

Every child at Berewood Primary School will have...

Reading Communities:

  • Opportunities to participate in local reading competitions including the summer reading challenge.
  • Visits to the school library, at least, every half term.
  • Book fairs - children are timetabled in for browsing sessions.
  • Participation in World Book Day dress up and enrichment events based on the national theme.
  • Reading treat half termly for children that have been reading regularly at home.
  • Reading buddies- teaming up older and younger classes to share favourite books together.

Reading Environments and Choice:

  • An engaging, clearly labelled, tidy book corner with a range of classic and new, high-quality fiction and non-fiction texts.
  • Advice on how to choose a book that they will like and exposure to new authors and genres.  
  • Time every week to choose a book and read for pleasure.
  • Dedicated time each day where an adult will read to them.
  • Time each week to read to an adult and other children in the classroom.
  • Daily opportunities to engage in quality book talk.
  • Some children even have sessions with our reading volunteers- or our “reading dog”.

Teacher Commitment:

  • Teachers who have regular training sessions and are kept up to date with pedagogical developments.
  • Enthusiastic teachers with good knowledge of children’s books and enjoy participating in book talk.
  • Teachers who are motivated and participate wholeheartedly in reading enrichment activities such as World Book Day.
  • Teachers who model the love of reading!


We use the Phonics Play interactive teaching programme to teach phonics in school.  Phonics Play is based on the Letters and Sounds scheme.  In addition, we use a programme called Jolly Phonics to introduce the 42 individual letter sounds.  Jolly Phonics uses a multi-sensory method which is very motivating for children.  The sounds are taught in a specific order (not alphabetically) and are in groups called ‘phases. This enables children to begin building words as early as possible. 

At Berewood phonics is taught daily in school for at least 30 minutes from reception to year 2.  We use a systematic, synthetic phonics programme because we know this will help all children to keep up by developing the skills they need to "crack the reading code".  Children are often taught in whole class sessions so that all pupils can benefit from hearing the groups of sounds being taught and learn from each other.  Pre and post assessments are carried out before the new set out sounds are introduced as this helps inform planning for teaching.

The systematic approach to teaching phonics means children are given the tools that they need to independently write what they want clearly and with expression.  As children become ready for the next phase, they consolidate learning and are then encouraged to move on.  If they need more time to learn the new sounds, they are supported to learn the current phase of sounds through mastery folders*, precision teaching* and/or an extra reads programme.

As children become more confident the approach we use continues to revise and extend children’s phonic knowledge by complementing the earlier phonics teaching with further spelling, grammar and punctuation concepts.

Phonics teaching for pupils who find learning the sounds particularly tricky

However, phonics does not work well for all children. It is a "bottom up" approach. It starts with the letters that are the building blocks of words and shows learners different ways to put these building blocks together. Another approach is the look and say or whole language method, a "top down" approach which teaches children to recognise and memorise whole words by sight.  Children have different learning styles. If phonics does not seem to be working for a pupil, we will think about how they learn best – are they an auditory learner who likes listening to songs and stories and easily remembers what they hear? Are they a visual learner who likes looking at pictures and easily remember what they see? Or are they a kinaesthetic (physical) learner who likes to be physically active and who learns best by doing?