Vicarage ParkCofE Primary School

Reading and Phonics

What does Reading look like at Vicarage Park School?

N.Evans - Subject Lead


At Vicarage Park Primary School we put reading at the heart of our curriculum in order to ensure that by the end of their primary school education all our children are fluent, confident and enthusiastic lifelong readers.  We understand that reading underpins all aspects of the school curriculum and that reading should be taught and encouraged from an early age to ensure that we are giving our young people the best possible start.  Reading should open up for children a world of possibility and intrigue and offer them opportunities to explore far more about the world we live in.  Above all else we hope to create a community of independent readers who can read fluently and for meaning, read for pleasure and see the many possibilities that the written word offers them.

Reading is interwoven throughout our curriculum and our use of quality texts in all year groups exposes our children to a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts from quality authors.  We understand the importance of reading going beyond the English curriculum and provide our children with opportunities to read in a range of other subjects including Maths, Geography and History. 

The aims of our reading curriculum are to create pupils who:

  • Love reading and see it as a pleasurable experience
  • Read fluently and show a good level of understanding
  • Read widely for pleasure, information and to support them with their learning
  • Access a range of reading materials including different fiction genres, non-fiction, poetry, plays and their own writing and the writing of their peers
  • Make and explain their choices for choosing certain reading materials
  • Learn to read through a variety of methods
  • Read aloud to a variety of audiences and listen to adults and children read to them
  • Read regularly
  • Respect books
  • Understand the link between reading and writing
  • Access a reading provision which matches their needs
  • Develop a wider vocabulary as a result of reading a range of materials


Phonics at Vicarage Park Primary School

At Vicarage Park Primary School we use Essential Letters and Sounds as our only programme for the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics in school.  We have fidelity to this programme and lessons taught are from this programme.  All children in Reception and Key Stage 1 have daily phonics lessons lasting between 30 and 45 minutes using Essential Letters and Sounds. 

Our Nursery access a range of phonics activities both in provision and as part of a small group.  Children in Nursery take part in regular phonics sessions following Phase 1.  In Nursery Phase 1 phonics is addressed through the following seven areas:

  • Environmental sounds
  • Instrumental sounds
  • Body percussion
  • Rhythm and rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Voice sounds
  • Oral blending

We see this as an essential stepping stone in preparing our children for their phonics journey through school as they develop the necessary speaking and listening skills to allow them to be successful. 

Whole School Reading

Our school curriculum has reading at the heart with quality texts forming the basis of the majority of English lessons.  These texts are chosen to both link to topics and expose children to a wide and varied range of authors and text types.  Children share these texts as a class using a mix of reading sections for pleasure and dissecting sections of them for specific SPAG or writing objectives work.  In addition to this sections of the texts can be used for comprehension and speaking and listening activities such as role play.  These sessions allow all children, including less confident readers, to access, discuss and understand texts above their reading level, building their knowledge of vocabulary, context, genre and purpose, to name a few.

Reading in Nursery

Reading is at the heart of our Nursery classroom with a love of books being fostered and encouraged.  Most of our provision is based around a key text which is shared with the children throughout the week. In Nursery children are read to regularly by an adult and also encouraged to share books with each other.  The day usually begins and ends with the sharing of a story.  When discussing books adults encourage the children to talk about the book and they are asked questions to encourage discussion and opinion.

In Nursery, our children are able to choose a book from our sharing library to take home to read with an adult. Staff in Nursery support the children in choosing a book and they are changed on a weekly basis.  Parents are supported to help their children develop a love of reading and to talk about the books.


Reading in Reception and KS1

In Reception and KS1 children have regular access to storytelling where adults share a text with the children with a focus on reading for pleasure.  This is to widen the types of texts that the children have access to and allows them opportunities for immersion in texts.  In addition to this classes have a class library where a love of books is promoted and encouraged and modelling of caring for books is also completed.

In Reception and KS1 reading books are consistent with the phonics stage that children are working at.  Children will only bring home a book when they have been taught all the phonemes in that text.  This is to allow them to see success in practising their phonic knowledge.  Books are organised according to phase and week in classrooms to support this approach.  Children are also encouraged to take home a ‘reading for pleasure’ book which exposes children to a wider range of vocabulary and genres whilst also practising other reading strategies and comprehension skills. 

Reading at home is expected to take place at least 4 times a week and the children are given a reading record for parents and teachers to record comments.  In Reception and Year 1 we have a reading incentive scheme where children who read four times a week for a certain number of weeks receive certificates in celebration worship.  Time is made in school for those children who are unable to have the relevant support at home to allow them to achieve this.

In addition to phonics teaching and home reading books from Spring term of Reception children take part in weekly Guided Reading sessions.  These sessions are used to teach retrieval, inference and deduction skills with the use of texts which match the children’s abilities. 

Reading in KS2

In Key Stage 2 children who did not pass their phonics screening are assessed regularly to ensure that appropriate interventions are taking place. 

Reading from Year 2 onwards is supported using Accelerated Reader. Children are assessed on this programme once they have completed the Essential Letters and Sounds programme using the star reading text. Accelerated Reader assesses children on their comprehension skills on a regular basis by regular access to star reading checks, which then gives the individual a targeted ‘reading range’. This range gives children the opportunity to choose a book that interests them and that will also continue to support them in their reading progress. Pupils take reading books home from the classroom and library to practise the skills they are learning in school. These books are banded according to language and comprehension level and when children are confident with their knowledge of the book they take a ‘reading quiz’ online, which gives them instant feedback on their success. If children are consistently succeeding in these quizzes, then they are encouraged to read books that are higher within their range. ‘Star reading tests’ are carried out regularly, to ensure children are reading within their correct range.

Wider Reading opportunities

In addition to our class based reading activities we also offer a wider range of activities which we are constantly reviewing and adding to.  These include:

  • Subject specific topic boxes
  • Library van visits
  • World Book Day celebrations
  • Daily storytime
  • Opportunities to read and adapt play scripts for class assemblies

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Where Are We

Vicarage Park C of E Primary School

Vicarage Drive,