At The Lea, we recognise the fundamental importance of reading for a child’s academic achievement, access to the curriculum, wellbeing and success later in life. We prioritise reading, the importance of language and vocabulary and the love of stories and books in our school. It is our mission to ensure that every child at The Lea becomes a fluent and successful reader.
We believe that fluent readers are able to read words accurately and effortlessly. They recognise words and phrases instantly on sight. A minimal amount of cognitive energy is expended in decoding the words. This means, then, that the maximum amount of a reader’s cognitive energy can be directed to the all-important task of making sense of the text.
We understand that learning to be a fluent reader can be a complex and lengthy process (in line with Scarborough’s, 2001 reading model) as shown above. As such, at The Lea we don’t follow a single approach to the teaching and learning of reading – teachers carefully select from a variety of engaging approaches dependent on the level of reading development for individuals, groups of children and the whole class.
In every year group, the children are given multiple opportunities throughout the week to hear stories and books read aloud and to read with a teacher or teaching assistant. We work very hard to ensure each and every child leaves primary school with a great love of reading and strong reading skills to help them in their everyday lives.
In the early years, children are exposed to books and print all throughout the classroom and have daily opportunities to listen to stories, explore books and nursery rhymes and be read with as they develop their phonics knowledge.
In Reception and in Year 1 the children begin daily formal phonics teaching following the government-validated Little Wandle Letters and Sounds SSP (systematic, synthetic phonics) programme, in line with the 2021 DfE’s reading framework. Daily phonics lessons are supported with 2-3x weekly reading practice in small groups. All reading material is decodable and aligned to the phonics learning that is taking place. In Reception and Key Stage 1, as their phonics skills become more secure, children are asked to read daily at home to a parent or carer as part of their home learning. All children are given multiple opportunities to read with the class teacher or teaching assistant. In Year 2, the children progress beyond phonics to learn spelling rules.
In Year 2 and throughout Key Stage 2, as children become increasingly fluent, reading lessons focus more on comprehension skills and promoting fluency. The children are still asked to read daily at home as part of their home learning and continue to have frequent opportunities to work with their teachers and teaching assistants at school to further develop their reading skills. Reading lessons from year 2 upwards use a variety of approaches, these include:
Guided reading: a small-group reading instruction which is designed to provide differentiated teaching to pupils in school. It’s a chance for pupils who demonstrate similar reading behaviours and can read similar levels of texts.
Guided reading supports children in developing reading proficiency, with the smaller group dynamic allowing them to be taught in a way that’s more focused on their specific needs, which can accelerate their progress.
Whole class reading: Teaching sessions that are focused on building understanding and comprehension. This allows for opportunities to model reading prosody to a whole class. It also allows for a focus on specific reading skills such as retrieval or deduction.
Shared reading: regularly sharing a book , extract, poetry or piece of non-fiction with children is a core element of our reading approach and helps to develop the all important “love of reading”.
In Reception and Year 1, to support the children’s developing phonics skills and encourage a life-long love of reading, the children take home 2 books regularly: their reading practice book and a sharing book. Children will take home their reading practice book for use across the week and bring it into school everyday, along with their sharing book to read together with their families. The reading practice book will be changed 1x weekly to enable them to develop their fluency through lots of practice with the same text whereas their sharing book can be changed whenever they like. Their reading practice book is exactly matched the Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence (GPC) learning taking place in phonics lessons in line with our chosen SSP programme.
In Year 2, 3 and 4 (and in some cases beyond), the children continue to take home reading books matching their book band. Book banding schemes are used to track a child’s progression in reading independently. The class teacher decides which book band (or ‘book colour’) your child is on using their own professional judgment based on hearing your child read and join in discussions during daily guided reading sessions and any opportunities they have to read with your child 1:1. Once your child is deemed to be fluent and have sufficient comprehension skills using a particular book band, the teacher will assess whether they are ready to be moved up to the next book band using their own assessment. A reminder: while your child may seem to find a certain book band “easy” in terms of the word reading skills it demands, their comprehension skills may still need developing at that level and therefore the class teacher may wait to move them up.
We would expect that from Year 4 upwards, the children are ‘free readers’ and encouraged to read their own books and ones from school often for pleasure.
Our in school book banding expectations are shown below:
|Phase 1/Lilac books (Little Wandle)
|Phase 2 books
Phase 3 books
Phase 4 books (all Little Wandle)
|Phase 5 books (Little Wandle)
Turquoise books (for GD readers)
— at this point, children assessed whether ready for free reading OR if further book band support needed, use bands for Y5-6 (
— or free readers
— or free readers
A rich reading curriculum at The Lea
At The Lea, we believe the more exposure children have to rich and diverse texts that are representative of life in modern Britain, the more likely they will be to leave primary school with a deep love of reading for pleasure. In every year throughout their time at The Lea the children will have daily opportunities to engage with a wide variety of texts and genres through both their learning and free choice. Please click here to see our curriculum text list.
For parents who are looking to widen their child’s reading experiences we would recommend you view The School reading list here.
At The Lea, teachers and subject leaders have planned a clear progression of texts linked to learning across every year group. In all lessons, teachers exhibit their own love of reading and model reading aloud with expert fluency and prosody, giving life to the stories and encouraging the children to do the same.
In English, lessons are based on high-quality texts to inspire the children in their writing. Teachers have selected books with the intent to create opportunities to write for a wide variety of purposes and audiences. These books are from a range of authors with diverse backgrounds, both British and from around the world, and cover everything from traditional tales, magical worlds and epic journeys, to intriguing, modern characters reflective of our own cohort facing the challenges of today and tomorrow. Whole-class and guided reading lessons also give children the chance to read and ponder more challenging texts chosen to widen their vocabulary and introduce them to cultures and experiences they may not have had exposure to previously.
Fiction and non-fiction texts linked to units of work are also chosen to support the children’s learning in science, history, geography, RE, PSHE and all other subjects.
Class libraries and teacher’s choice boxes
In every classroom, the children can choose books to read from their very own class library. Each carefully curated selection of books will include curriculum-linked books such as those discussed above or high-quality recommended texts appropriate for that year group – lists of which can be found in the reading section of our website. The children may find works from celebrated current authors, classical works of fiction, poetry anthologies, non-fiction books covering a wide range of topics, and books inspired by their own interests and backgrounds. They also have access to a teacher’s choice box of books, each of which has been thoughtfully chosen to encourage reading for pleasure.
Located at the very heart of our school is our school library. Every class has a weekly library slot, during which time the children may come and choose a special book to take home. Our library catalogue is regularly researched and updated to include books requested by the children and teachers and includes books across a number of fiction genres and non-fiction topics. It is an inviting, comforting place where the children know they can relax, take off their shoes and cosy up with a good book.
How You Can Help
- The single most important thing you can do to help your child progress in their word reading and comprehension skills, and develop a life-long love of reading, is to read stories and books to them as often as possible. A bedtime story routine isn’t just a nightly calming technique for your little one; it also gives them an excellent opportunity to look at possibly new words and sentences with your support, develop their questioning and comprehension skills and spark their imaginations. Any spare moments you find to read to your children is time well spent investing in their academic achievement.
- Make sure you know what the reading home learning expectations are for your child’s year group. In Reception it is essential that your child practises their reading daily to secure their phonics knowledge. In Key Stage 1, to support children’s journey to being fluent, there are high expectations for daily reading to be completed with an adult at home. Ask your child’s class teacher what the expectations are and how you can help them develop their word reading and comprehension skills at your earliest opportunity.
- Ensure you know what your child’s reading strengths and weaknesses are by staying in contact with your child’s class teacher and hearing your child read daily. Is there a particular phonics sound they find difficult to remember? Do they find it tricky to remember certain words and have to keep sounding them out each time? Do they find it difficult to retell a story in order, or predict what might happen next in a book? Give your child a little bit of extra help to develop these areas.
Reading Eggs & Reading Eggspress
The Lea pays for every child in Reception, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 to have a subscription to the fantastic online reading programs Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress. You should find your child’s login and password stuck into their reading records/home-school contact books. Ask your child’s class teacher if you need another copy of this information and what the expectation is for your child’s online home learning.