At Garras Primary School we aim to inspire a love of reading that will continue for years to come. This is approached through meaningful reading experiences inspired by inspirational texts. We encourage and plan for a range of reading experiences so that pupils can apply their reading skills across the curriculum. It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.


  • Ensure progression of reading and comprehension skills across the school.
  • Teach reading through Phonics sessions, Guided Reading, whole class shared reading, and through opportunities for children to read with an adult on a 1:1 basis.
  • Develop a culture of reading that involves strong links with parents who actively engage in regular reading at home with their children.
  • Provide meaningful reading experiences using the contexts inspired by quality core texts and the whole school topic themes.
  • Use whole class story time, or class novel, as an essential part of our whole school approach, to enrich the scope of texts that children access, secure high expectations, inspire learners, and model lively, joyous reading aloud.


Phonics (reading and spelling)

Phonics is robust at Garras. We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We ensure that the teaching of phonics is lively, interactive and investigative. We use a multisensory approach so that children learn from simultaneous visual, audio and kinaesthetic activities, designed to secure essential phonic knowledge and skills. Staff work hard to promote phonics at every opportunity so that pupils recognise that it is not a standalone subject, but an integral part of all their reading and writing development. A progressive stance ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.

As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Garras, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.


At Garras, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.

Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team to ensure all staff are reading experts, delivering a consistent approach with fidelity to our chosen phonics programme.


We use the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics programme from the beginning of the Reception year, which children begin within a week of starting school. The programme provides a structured and systematic approach to teaching literacy and is implemented with support materials in an active and engaging way. It is designed to create fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers.

The school uses fully decodable series from Oxford Reading Tree and the Phonics Bug series to support the Letters and Sounds teaching programme. These books are categorised to match sub-sets within Phases to closely match our children’s phonics progression to consolidate learning and subsequently promote confident and independence

Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1

  • We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
  • Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in the first full week of the Autumn term. Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
  • Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.

Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read

  • Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
  • We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 and above who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does no widen. We use tailored assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
  • These short, sharp lessons last 15-20 minutes daily and have been designed to ensure children quickly catch up to age-related expectations in reading.

Teaching reading

Early Reading with Reception and Year 1: Reading practice sessions three times a week

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week.


  • are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups with a maximum of six children
  • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using tailored assessments and book matching grids
  • are monitored by the class teacher on a regular basis.

Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

  • decoding
  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.

In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.

In Year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.

Reading in KS2

Through independent reading, shared reading in literacy lessons and cross-curricular sessions, whole class guided reading sessions and reading for pleasure, reading in Key Stage 2 develops and extends the phonetic skills acquired during the Foundation Stage and Year 1.

Children explore a wide variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction which allows them to access, input ideas and understand what they are reading. They are given opportunities to speculate on the tone and purpose of texts they explore as well as to consider both the themes and audience.

Our children take part in whole class guided reading sessions to develop their reading ability and comprehension through specific teaching. During whole class guided reading, children have access to high quality texts which link to the focus text in Literacy lessons and the overarching topic being taught in class, where possible. These books are intended to extend and challenge pupils to motivate next step progression, whilst allowing them to take risks, explore new strategies, encounter new vocabulary, and demonstrate comprehension with the support of the adults and peers within the classroom.

Accelerated Reader

Accelerated Reader is introduced at Garras when the children can demonstrate that they are becoming more fluent and confident in their reading ability. This can be as early as from Year 2 when the children have completed the Little Wandle programme. Books on the AR scheme are matched to the child’s reading ability so they text is ‘just right’ for them to enjoy.

AR is research-proven, pupil driven and teacher-guided. The children are ‘in charge’ while the teacher guides the child in ensuring the text chosen is accessible and completely at the right level for them. Children participate in engaging quizzes and activities that help support and hone reading skills – encouraging further growth and development.

During Accelerated Reader time at Garras, 15 minutes per day, teachers focus on specific children by listening to them read individually. Children are also given time to share texts in pairs or read individually. Time is also given for children to complete the Accelerated Reader quizzes from the books that they have chosen to read in the library system. These quizzes, along with other regular assessments ensures the books being read are matched to their reading ability.

Reading at home

Home Reading Books

Our children are issued with a home reading book within the first few days of starting school. The school uses fully decodable series from Oxford Reading Tree and the Phonics Bug series to support our teaching program. These books are categorized to match sub-sets within Phases to closely match our children’s phonics progression, to consolidate learning and subsequently promote confident and independence. These books offer a range of genre such as stories and poetry, as well as non-fiction texts such as recounts, information, and instructions. Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.

In KS2, books are also leveled and banded to ensure a cumulative learning stance, but also with a focus on reading for enjoyment and to help pupils develop their own interests and tastes in reading.

Parental Involvement

We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops. An introductory phonics workshop is offered to parents at the beginning of Reception and Year 1. During this workshop, parents are made aware of how phonics is taught, what support can be given at home, and the national expectations of attainment for the end of the year. The vital part parents play in supporting reading in the home environment is also acknowledged and discussed. An open week towards the end of the first half of the autumn term allows parents to observe the learning in the classroom and to embed their understanding from this workshop.

New learning is shared with parents on a weekly basis. Parents are supported with strategies of pronunciation and the skill of blending phonemes to read words.

Ensuring consistency and pace of progress

  • Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
  • Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
  • Lesson templates, Prompt cards and ‘How to’ videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
  • The Reading Leader and SLT use the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.

Ensuring reading for pleasure

‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002) ‘The will influences the skill and vice versa.’ (OECD 2010)

We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.

  • We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Garras and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
  • Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
  • In Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
  • Children from Reception onwards have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school.
  • As the children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.
  • The school library is made available for classes to use at protected times. Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, national events etc).



Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.

Assessment for learning is used:

  • daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
  • weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.

Summative assessment is used:

  • every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.
  • by SLT and scrutinised through our assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.

A placement assessment is used: with any child new to the school to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan provide appropriate extra teaching.

The fluency assessments measure children’s accuracy and reading speed in short one-minute assessments. They also assess when children are ready to exit the Rapid Catch-up programme, which is when they read the final fluency assessment at 90+ words per minute.

Statutory assessment

Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child not passing the check resits it in Year 2.

Ongoing assessment for catch-up

Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through:

  • their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment
  • the above placement assessment
  • the appropriate half-termly assessments.

Reading Spine

Reading progression

Writing progression