How we teach reading

Learning to read is one of the most important things your child will learn at Guston. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read.

We want your child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we work hard to make sure children develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.

We start by teaching phonics in Reception. In daily phonics sessions children learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down through the use of the program Little Wandle. This is a systematic approach which uses synthetic phonics; focuses upon repetition of sounds and reading using sounds with which the children are already familiar which is essential for reading and writing.

Once children can blend sounds together to read words, they practise reading books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know. They start to believe they can read and this does wonders for their confidence.

How we teach blending:

Teachers regularly read to the children, they get to know and love a variety of stories, poetry and information books. This helps to extend children’s vocabulary and comprehension, as well as supporting their writing. To support this, we actively encourage children to read at home from the class collection. We want children to experience books about all sorts of topics and have the opportunity to share these with parents and families at home.

In whole class reading sessions your child will experience a range of text types, carefully chosen for their challenging vocabulary. The teacher will model a range of teaching strategies and give the opportunity for plenty of talk about books through the Big read lessons.

Alongside this whole class work in Key Stage 1 and 2, teachers will set mini-missions for the pupils to reinforce the children’s understanding and learning.  In Key Stage 2, children will continue to access phonics groups if they need further consolidation and development of reading skills.  We check children’s reading skills regularly so we that we can ensure they are reading appropriate texts. All of the books in our library are graded using a ZPD (Zone of Proximate Development) system. This allows the children to select from a wide variety of stories and none fiction booksthat are at their reading age. After each book the children take a short quiz to assess their understanding of the text These scores are relayed to the class teacher and parents through an email.


In the Summer Term, the government asks us to do a phonics check of all the Year 1 children.  We will let you know how well your child has done.


In the Term 5, Year 2 and Year 6 have statutory tests where their ability to answer questions about a text are measured.

To prepare children for this, we ensure our teaching of reading includes lots of opportunities to discuss characters, settings and events. This reading for meaning vital and only when a child can decode a text and answer questions about it- do we feel the child is ready to move on to more advanced reading skills like inference and deduction skills. These skills are taught with the help of the Big Read characters Rex the Retriever, Ansa the Analyst, Expi the Explorer and Dude the Detective.

As the children move into Key Stage 2 we begin to explore how the writer has used language to keep the reader’s interest. We look at the features of a range of different fiction and non-fiction texts, discussing the use of different layouts and sentence structures.

To help with reading at home, we ask parents to ensure children are encouraged to read widely and to challenge themselves, we have put together a 'Recommended Reads' list for each year group in the school. This list is compiled by the teachers based on their experience and knowledge of children's literature. These lists are available to download.


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