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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.

Cornerstones Curriculum Cross-Curricular Opportunities

Derwentwater Primary School delivers the history, geography, design and technology, science, and art curriculum through the Cornerstones Curriculum. The Cornerstones Curriculum aims to raise children’s literacy levels through its teaching of other subjects to meet the national curriculum objective that all children should be able to ‘read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject’ by the end of primary school. For this reason, one of Cornerstone Curriculum’s core strengths is its commitment to providing a wide variety of ambitious texts to support children’s depth of knowledge in the foundation subjects.

Alongside the texts, the opportunity for children to record and respond to their learning through a variety of genres, such as explanations, reports and recounts, is integral to the wider aim of raising their literacy skills throughout the whole curriculum.

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 Whole Class Text and Guided Reading 

In guided reading whole class texts are used. Children learn about the different reading domains by using dog characters. The dogs are: Vocabulary Victor, Rex Retriever, Inference Iggy, Predicting Pip and Sequencing Suki.

Each week the shared sessions follow the same routine: 

Lesson 1 - Vocabulary 

  • When we start a new text from our English lessons, a short text is displayed. The teacher reads the text modelling reading for the children.
  • The children have to predict what will happen based on what they read in the text.
  • This lesson is focused on vocabulary. The reading dog is shared with the children to reinforce the skill being taught. Teachers choose 3 - 5 words and all activities within the lesson are based around these words. Teachers model how the text can be used to find out the meaning of the unknown word. Pupils create word maps with definitions, synonyms, draw pictures and write words in context sentences. 
  • Teachers highlight vocabulary in the text and display it on the English Working Wall. Teachers will revisit the words during the week.

Lesson 2 - Retrieval 

  • Revisit the previous day’s vocabulary. 
  • Teacher introduces the reading domain which is supported by the reading dog visual. Class teacher models reading the questions (using stem question starters) focusing on a specific domain. 
  • Teachers model answers to questions by highlighting keywords in the question and evidence in the text. 
  • Children practice answering differentiated questions on their whiteboards.
  • Children then complete an independent task sheet. Children self-correct their work with the teacher modelling answers.

Lesson 3 - Inference

  • Children are exposed to a different, unseen section of the same text.
  • Teacher introduces the reading domain which is supported by the reading dog visual. Teachers ask the children to share reading the text and questions focussing on the specific domain. As before, the teacher models how to answer the questions. Children then practise answering on their white boards independently.
  • Children answer questions independently in their guided reading books based on the skill taught in the shared modelling part of the lesson. Teachers work with a guided group when the children are completing their independent task.

Lesson 4 - Mixed domain comprehension task

  • Teacher reads the text with identified children. The rest of the class read independently. 
  • Teachers read with a guided group when the children are completing their independent task.
  • Texts are chosen to reflect the genre the children are studying in their English lesson or a text with a cross curricular theme.

Lesson 5 - Speed Reading

  • Children read 60 second texts in pairs to practice fluency and speed reading and answer questions from a range of domains. The National Curriculum stipulates that to reach the expected standard, children need to read approximately 90 words in a minute and comprehend what they are reading. 
  • The class teacher works with an identified guided group.
  • Following this, the teacher discusses the answers with the class and the children self-mark.


  • PiXL reading and fluency tests are completed termly. This information is used to assess pupils’ reading ages. Oxford Reading Tree levels are based on the PiXL Assessments.
  • Year 2 64 Common exception words: Over each week, six words are displayed and taught to the children. These words are revisited in weekly spelling tests. Teachers recap these words in 1:1 reading sessions. Common exception words are assessed termly.
  • Targeted children read 1:1 more frequently with the teacher and are in the teacher’s guided group in guided reading more than once a week. Some children read 1:1 daily with a Teaching Assistant.

Higher Attaining Pupils (GDS)

  • Children are challenged through differentiated questions. Often this will be an inference type question or challenging the children to give two reasons to justify their answers.
  • The teacher works with GDS pupils to address any misconceptions or to rephrase explanations for clarity.
  • GDS children are given a more challenging text to extend them.

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.

Year 3 - 6 Whole Class Text and Guided Reading

Intended Outcome:

  • Children are aware of their reading skills and question types.
  • Increased level of confidence when approaching questions.
  • Children can identify question types and explain what the question is asking them to do.
  • Exposure to a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books.
  • Children can articulate their knowledge on authors and a range of books.

Guided Reading

The VIPER (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explain, Retrieve and Summarise) approach aims to improve the teaching of reading skills and reading strategies. Vipers is a range of reading prompts based on the 2016 reading content domains in the National Curriculum: 

Reading Content domain reference KS2:

  • 2a give/explain the meaning of words in context
  • 2b retrieve and record information/identify key details from fiction and non-fiction
  • 2c summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph
  • 2d make inferences from the text/explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text
  • 2e predict what might happen from details stated and implied
  • 2f identify/explain how information/narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole
  • 2g identify/explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases
  • 2h make comparisons within the text

The Guided Reading Approach

  • We focus on a specific text each week/across 2 weeks from the CGP comprehension books/PiXL texts/class novels or a text that a specific class are enthused about and want to read together.
  • Children are taught one skill/domain per day/two days using VIPERS and national curriculum domains.
  • At least once a week, children are exposed to vocabulary, preferably at the beginning of a unit to understand the text and build confidence in answering questions whilst expanding their range of vocabulary at the same time.
  • Children are exposed to modelling during sessions where teachers model answering a question and then children complete another question(s) independently in their blue books.
  • Once all skills/domains are taught and the text is familiar, children answer the CGP questions as a mini-assessment independently. If a different text is used, children are assessed independently during lessons when answering questions verbally or in their books.
  • At the end of each unit, pupils are provided with a timed activity (unseen text). The purpose of this timed activity is to improve stamina in reading and improve words per minute and fluency in reading.
  • In order to teach the reading domains and have a clear link to the text, the skills taught throughout a unit are discussed during teacher planning sessions. These skills are identified by cross-checking with the unit of work that is being used: CGP books/class novels/PiXL resources which are already identified across the reading domains.
  • Texts can be chosen to create a link to Geography/Science learning or to link to a writing unit.
  • Teachers use question stems to generate questions for both modelling and for children’s independent tasks. 
  • Working Walls display the daily reading domain and are referred to in lessons.


PiXL reading and fluency speed tests are completed termly. This information is used to assess pupils’ reading ages. Oxford Reading Tree levels are based on the PiXL Assessments.

Fluency Speed Testing:

The purpose of this is to identify children who are struggling with reading speed and inform our decision on who to target for reading fluency interventions. This must be improved in order to improve reading comprehension and raise attainment across the school.

  • All pupils across KS2 are tested. Pupils read a 100-word extract and are timed.
  • Teachers tracked words per minute for each pupil.
  • Interventions to be set up based on this data.
  • Pupils are assessed every Autumn, Spring and Summer term.

Individual Reading

  • Children are given the opportunity to read in class daily.
  • The child’s individual reading is tracked on an ongoing reading record sheet, including prompts for the teacher (fluency, stamina, self-correction).

Higher Attaining Pupils (GDS)

  • Differentiation by outcome: Verbal discussion of answers and meaning of words in context.
  • Differentiated questions/tasks provided in lessons.
  • GDS pupils receive appropriate teacher input using the peel back/forward approach.
  • Reading for pleasure and library visits encourage children to read books to challenge themselves.

Parental Engagement

  • Focused parent information sessions are held.
  • The expectation is that children read with their parents on a daily basis.
  • “Oxford Reading Tree Home Readers” are changed weekly.
  • Parents are expected to sign their child’s reading records on a daily basis.

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.