Westvale Park

Primary Academy

Always Children First

Phonics and Reading

Reading is one of the strongest predictors of both academic and life-long success. To reflect this, reading weaves throughout our curriculum, giving children many opportunities to develop reading in a purposeful and engaging way. At Westvale Park, we believe passionately in the importance of developing a love for reading whilst ensuring that all children develop the skills they need to become confident readers of quality texts, with a deep understanding of the written word. Learning to read enables pupils to access every area of the curriculum successfully, and supports children in fostering our value of 'curiosity'.


At Westvale, we aim for all children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading. We believe that ‘Reading is the Key that Unlocks All Learning’.


Our reading offer in EYFS and KS1 includes Daily Supported Reader and Read, Write, Inc.  In Year 2 and beyond, our reading offer also includes Destination Reader and Accelerated Reader. These programmes are evidence based approaches to the teaching of early reading in KS1 (and where required in KS2). By using RWI and DSR we ensure that children have sufficient exposure to the two strands of the Simple View of Reading (Gough and Tunmer 1986) so they become confident and fluent readers from the start.


Our children’s journey in reading begins in our Early Years and Key Stage One classes where children are taught using the ‘Read Write Inc’ phonics programme. Children in Early Years are taught phonics right from the moment they start school and this continues until they are completely secure in their knowledge and understanding. Children are taught a progression of sounds, their corresponding graphemes and how to blend together with the help of ‘Fred the Frog’. Every child is regularly assessed in phonics and reading, and grouped accordingly. They are taught to blend sounds together out loud, and then in their heads, helping pupils to read unfamiliar words. Children follow a progression through different colours of books that match the phonics sounds and blends they have been learning in class. Children bring home books to read with parents. The books contain sounds, green 'decodable' words and red 'tricky or irregular' words to practise, as well as the story/non-fiction text to read. 


We encourage children to read as much as possible, but recognise that sometimes, reading everyday can be tricky. We therefore expect children to read ‘5 out of 7 days’. We celebrate children who read ‘5 out 7 days’ on a regular basis. Parents have plenty of opportunities to learn how we teach phonics through our workshops and information that we send home. Please see the home learning page for more information. 


UK research has proven that no single pedagogical process suits every child at every stage of development, so we personalise provision where required, using a multisensory approach to learning prerequisite skills in literacy. Westvale Park Primary Academy and Nursery ensures that phonological awareness is a strength of all pupils by supporting this development through games, rhymes, singing, and the online platform ‘Reading Eggs’ for home learning.


Classroom environments are rich in high quality children’s literature. Children are immersed in books and stories, and teachers model a passion for all types of books. They read regularly to students so that – whilst ICT is an important teaching and learning tool – pupils do not lose sight of the printed word. Where ICT can be used to accelerate learning or support pupils at risk of falling behind, teachers take the required steps in modifying the learning experiences for those pupils to ensure progress is maximised. Careful attention is paid to ensure each classroom is supplied with the best children’s literature, as well as books selected from the most successful reading programmes. Books are provided at all appropriate reading levels to ensure correct level of challenge for all pupils.


Assemblies also offer opportunities to share rich and diverse texts. Children have opportunities to visit our well-stocked library during the school day. They are encouraged to borrow books using our electronic library system. We raise the profile of reading across the school community by offering reading workshops throughout the year. We take part in World Book Day and children participate in reading challenges. During their time at school, children have the opportunity to be transported to magical worlds through reading, and we devote time in the school day to promote reading for pleasure. Through encouragement, children read a wide range of texts including fiction, non-fiction, magazines, and children’s newspapers, in order to expand their understanding, vocabulary and knowledge.


Westvale Park does not wait until children are fluent readers to teach comprehension skills; this is taught alongside phonics. In the early years, this is achieved predominately through discussion and questioning when sharing books. Beginning at KS1, children will have daily guided reading sessions to build reading stamina and develop comprehension skills. We use the Daily Supported Reader programme. 


Pupils are taught to read in daily lessons. ‘Daily Support Reader’ (DSR) is a teaching approach that is used in Year 1 and 2, but also when appropriate in other year groups; it focuses on building on pupil’s phonics knowledge and developing their reading fluency. Every day, children work in small groups with an adult and are taught the knowledge and skills they need to become confident and fluent readers. All staff receive regular training that results in them being highly skilled in helping all children learn to read. 


In Year 2, pupils make the transition from Daily Support Reader to reading independently and this is when they will first be able to choose books to read from the school library, rather than books strictly linked to their current level of phonetical understanding. We use ‘Accelerated Reader’ to help make sure that pupils are reading books at the right level of challenge. It also provides children with incentives and rewards depending on how much they have read. These are individual and for classes. 


In late Key Stage 1 and beyond children take part in daily reading lessons based on the ‘Destination Reader’ (DR) scheme of learning. Children continue to develop their knowledge and understanding of reading by learning seven key strategies which enable them to think more deeply about texts and gain a better understanding of what they have read. These are: clarifying, predicting, questioning, summarising, inferring, evaluating and making connections. During the lesson there is a focus on talk, talking to a partner and explaining your ideas as part of a class discussion. We feel this is important to ensure children begin to read for pleasure as well as understanding. Children read independently with a partner for 25 minutes a day enabling them to increase their reading mileage.  Within the daily reading lessons, we explore new vocabulary enabling children to better understand what they are reading. Children also complete comprehension activities based on seen and unseen texts. We believe it is important for children to read a range of high quality texts, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.


Children enjoy weekly sessions in our well stocked library where they read for pure pleasure.  

Year 1 RWI Phonics Screening Presentation

The Wonky Donky by Craig Smith (Read by Miss Goswell)

Miss Goswell reads one of her favourite books: 'The Wonky Donky'.