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How We Teach Reading at Marshlands Primary School


Reading is a skill that most of us take for granted, yet is one that is essential for being able to get on in life. As a child grows up, being able to read well not only enables them to discover new facts and to learn at school, but also opens them up to a world of new ideas, stories and opportunities. As such, all of our staff are committed to ensuring that all children become independent and fluent readers during their time at our school.


Our children’s love of reading is fostered through access to a wide range of stories, poems and non-fiction books and carefully selected whole class readers. Books are used in all areas of the curriculum to help teach specific projects, as well as broadening children’s social, moral, spiritual and cultural awareness. As a school we subscribe to First News. Every week each class receives a newspaper that keeps children up to date with news events in the UK and around the world.


We truly believe that by inspiring children to read, being read to on a daily basis by an adult in their class and by giving children opportunities to explore a range of rich and appropriately challenging texts through a variety of reading activities they will, in turn, succeed.


The Classroom Environment


Each classroom has a dedicated, attractive reading area which includes a variety of class books (fiction and non-fiction) which the children can choose and read for pleasure. These appeal to different genders and also reluctant readers. 


The Teaching of Reading


At Marshlands Primary School, we teach reading through a blend of focussed phonic sessions, group guided reading sessions and whole class reading sessions, individual reading, shared reading across the curriculum and the opportunity to read for pleasure. A love of books and reading is also developed through a range of exciting and stimulating texts which are used as a stimulus and underpin the cross curricular themes across a range of subjects. All books in school (home readers, guided reading and library) are banded according to the Book Band system. This means that all books are triangulated at the correct level for each child. Within each band we provide a range of different books, with some at different levels of text composition. Children can therefore read a book that is in line with the phonics and common exception words that they have learnt in class. This allows them to practise new learning and become confident, fluent readers.




Phonics is taught using the Read Write Inc. programme. The children start their day with a 30-minute phonic session that is led by an adult trained in Read Write Inc. Within their daily phonics lesson, the children revisit previously taught sounds, learn a new sound using memorable phrases and pictures, practise their new sound and apply it within reading and writing. The children learn to decode letter-sound correspondences through “Fred Talk” and enjoy teaching Fred the Frog to blend his sounds to read. When the children are ready, they begin to develop their reading fluency by using the “Fred in your head” method – this teaches the children to blend in their heads before reading the word aloud. At the end of each session, the children always have the opportunity to practise reading ‘nonsense words’ that link to their sound of the day. 


The children are assessed every half term to ensure that they are remembering the sounds that are taught within their lessons. Children that have gaps in their phonic knowledge will be given specific interventions both in and out of class to support their learning needs. 

KS1 Shared Reading


The whole class have the opportunity to share a book or read together from an extract on the whiteboard. In this way, many skills are developed such as decoding skills, opportunities for the teacher to model what to do if children come to a word they don’t know, predicting what might happen next, discussing the use of particular language and vocabulary, discussing characters etc. At Marshlands we place a huge emphasis on understanding and comprehension of what children read so we ask a lot of questions.


Guided Reading


Children are grouped according to reading ability and all children have a copy of the same book which may be fiction, non-fiction or poetry. The teacher will have planned which skills they want to develop for that particular group and together they will each read the text at each child’s own pace whilst the teacher supports and questions. The children will be given a comprehension task as part of their guided reading session. Guided reading sessions take place four days a week in Key Stage 1. In Key Stage 2, guided reading session take place over five days during a guided reading cycle.


Reading Schemes


In school we have made a significant investment in a variety of reading schemes to encourage children to access a range of texts suited to their own personal interests while also extending their reading ability and confidence. Our reading schemes include:



  • Collins Big Cat 
  • Songbird Phonics
  • Engage Literacy
  • Fireflies
  • Tree Tops
  • Project X
  • Oxford Reading Tree (including Traditional Tales, Infact, Explore and Floppy's Phonics)
  • Story Sparks
  • Rising Stars

Home Readers


All children will take a reading book home daily. If they are reading regularly at home, children can change these books as often as they like (under the guidance of the class teacher). Children are also able to borrow books from the school library should they wish to do so. Children are encouraged to read at home by earning points for the number of times they have read. Once the child has reached 12 points, they are able to choose a book to keep. We carefully monitor the children’s reading at home and encourage parents to be fully active and engaged with us in this, in order to support their children’s ongoing development. Teachers keep detailed records and children who are unable to read at home are given additional support in school.  In Key Stage 1, parents are supported in helping their children read by being provided with an information card for the book band their child is reading. This card details what can be expected from the book at that particular band and tips on how they can support their child. As well as their reading books, children take home flash cards to practise and develop their recognition of high frequency words.


The Key Stage 2 Reading Cycle


In Key Stage 2, reading becomes much more about comprehension. Those children who require additional support with phonics access this support through intervention.


During a half term, three weeks will be dedicated to whole class reading. During these sessions, the teacher chooses a text aimed at where the children in the class should be at that time in the year. During the first week, the focus is on understanding the text using a reciprocal reading approach. Children are encouraged to make predictions, clarify the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary, ask questions and make summaries. The children also answer some retrieval, inference and vocabulary questions so that the teacher can see their level of understanding and so that children have the chance to frequently answer comprehension questions. During the second week and the first two days of the third, children are taught how to answer specific question types – on one day the question type is teacher-modelled and then practised and on the following day children answer questions independently. During the final week, children complete a reading assessment using a different, unseen text. This assessment will include examples of the taught question types alongside other question types. One day of each week is dedicated to reading for enjoyment.

Another three weeks of a half term will be dedicated to guided group reading. During these sessions, children are grouped by their reading ability and access texts suited to their ability. Children take part in a carousel of activities including reciprocal reading, teacher-taught skills, independent reading and comprehension questions and a session for free choice reading. In the final week of guided group reading, children complete a reading assessment using a different, unseen text. This assessment will include examples of the taught question types alongside other question types.


Any additional weeks in a half term are then used for other reading activities, as chosen by the class teacher. This may focus on poetry, picture books, fiction texts or non-fiction texts.

Key Stage 2 and The School Library


Key Stage 2 children earn reading rewards through the school library. All children sign up to the school library and are able to borrow one book at a time. Children earn points based on how many times per week they read. When they have earnt 12 points, they earn a book to keep.


The library has been organised by book bands and children are encouraged to choose books from the book band in which they are working. Some small allowances are made to allow children to access favourite genres and authors.

Staff keep track of children’s reading to ensure that all children are regularly reading their library book. Children are also given opportunities in school to read their library book but rewards are based on children reading at home.