Reading & Phonics

At Chetwynd Spencer Academy, we treasure the role that reading plays in a child’s education and as a key life skill that will prepare them for future endeavours.

At its heart, our reading curriculum seeks to promote a genuine love of reading. Along the way, we carefully sequence and structure reading sessions to develop excellent fluency and comprehension: the two main components of a successful reader.

Fluency and comprehension skills are developed and revisited constantly throughout a child’s learning journey at Chetwynd.


Our children’s reading and spelling journey begins with excellent Phonics teaching in EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2. We follow the Sounds Write phonics programme. Founded by John Walker, Sounds Write is a ‘linguistic phonics programme that reflects how sound is represented by print rather than the other way around. We begin with what children already know (sound) and teach a carefully structured sequence of code from the ‘initial’’ to ‘extended’, giving children daily opportunities to apply this knowledge to spellings from the very beginning.’ (Walker)

Our children are taught daily, for 20 minutes – in smaller groups or whole class in EYFS and whole class in Years 1 and 2. All children access the same content and learn through a mastery approach. Sessions are always packed full of reading and writing opportunities, constantly revisiting previously taught content. Children are assessed daily, with timely interventions taking place in response to their needs. Diagnostic assessments are used to identify specific areas of code knowledge or skills that individual children need further support with.

There are opportunities throughout the year for parents/carers to attend phonics training sessions, observing how phonics is taught and giving them the knowledge required to best support their children with reading and writing at home. Our Sounds & Syllables spelling strategy is built upon excellent phonic knowledge across the whole school.


Reading Progression

Reading fluency and comprehension is further developed in EYFS and Year 1 through shared reading. Teachers choose quality texts to read to the whole class, modelling expert reading skills, allowing for meaningful reactions and facilitating talk around the book. Continuous provision leads to an immersive reading environment, with many opportunities for children to engage with text.

Towards the end of EYFS and for much of Year 1, teachers tailor guided reading sessions to smaller groups. Children further practise fluency and flex their muscles of comprehension by exploring and discussing events and themes within books, with plenty of opportunity for repetition.

In the Summer term of Year 1, and for all year groups beyond, we teach whole class reading.

Our rationale for Whole Class Reading

Whole Class Reading is an enriching experience where our children immerse themselves in a shared text. They become invested in reading sessions through their shared love of the text which they unpick and understand together. Children are highly engaged as they ask their own questions of the characters, the author and their peers, activating prior knowledge and making connections to the wider curriculum. Reading fluency is strengthened through a range of approaches to reading aloud, including choral reading and quality teacher modelling. It is a wonderful opportunity to expose children to unfamiliar/unconventional authors, leading to high motivation and a love of reading beyond the classroom. The chosen texts are carefully crafted to work alongside our knowledge-based curriculum to ensure they broaden and deepen children’s prior knowledge at every opportunity.


Text Coverage

Every text the children read extends their knowledge of the world, complementing the aims of our knowledge-based curriculum. Whole class sets of books are provided so that the children have access to high-quality texts, deepening and broadening their vocabulary. Modern and classic authors are incorporated, as well as poetry.

Topic-linked texts are included in our knowledge-based curriculum wherever possible to enhance the children’s learning and as a tool for developing them as skilled writers. We create opportunities for reading in all lessons, constantly building fluency and reading with purpose.

Please see our ‘Reading Spine‘ for a full list of the books we use.


Planning for Whole Class Reading

We use a planning tool developed by James Durran (education consultant for N.Yorkshire). Its core principals reflect up-to-date research and ultimately nurture our children as ‘real’ and capable readers:

  1. Enjoy reading challenging texts with children
  2. Let the text lead
  3. Have rich conversations about texts
  4. Pitch high & scaffold for all
  5. Build talk around personal response
  6. Keep it varied
  7. Integrate the teaching of reading, writing & grammar


This approach to planning can be applied to any reading session, be it shared, guided or whole class. We have seen incredible engagement from our children, with genuine investment in the books they’re reading along with greater confidence when handling unfamiliar texts and assessment style questions. The tool has encouraged teachers to prepare their children for unknown vocabulary, themes or contexts. Key comprehension skills are weaved throughout, without being singled out as the sole focus of a lesson. Teachers plan for deep exploration of the text with time built in for live reactions, connections to personal experiences, and a wide range of tasks to enable children to process what they have read (e.g. through art, drama, writing in character, story mapping, mood graphs, agree/disagree statements, ‘I wonder…?’) Children take pride in these sessions, recording work in a separate book just for Whole Class Reading.


Reading Books

We currently use Dandelion Readers and Sounds Write decodable phonic books in F2, Year 1 and for some of Year 2. These provide children with at least one book to read at home that matches their current phonic level.

All children take home books from a range of publishers, both fiction and non-fiction, taking ownership of their reading choices and building awareness of their own reading fluency and comprehension.

We expect children to read 5 times at home throughout the week. We aim to read with each child on a 1:1 basis in school every fortnight.


Reading Environment

Two new library areas, one in KS1 and one in KS2, were recently designed and fitted. Our books have been restocked and each year group also has a set of up to 80 high-quality ‘recommended reads’, specially selected for children to enjoy a range of authors, genres and diverse topics.

Community Links

We have close links with our local community.  All year groups have opportunity throughout the year to visit Toton Library as well as visiting The Herons (our neighbouring residential care home) and Children’s 1st (a local nursery). During these visits, children are able to read to a ‘real’ audience, sharing their favourite books. These visits are very well-received by our community and certainly bring a smile to many faces, young and old alike!


News and Updates

Miss Davies’ half-termly reading newsletter is a guaranteed hit. In it, recommended titles are featured, alongside reviews from children and staff, as well as picture updates and an occasional competition! Don’t miss the links to our online libraries too.