Early Reading and Phonics

There is a big focus on Communication, Language and Listening throughout EYFS. A high proportion of our Nursery children start at the school with low levels of language literacy, therefore our children benefit from being surrounded by a language rich environment that supports their communication skills.

We have a structured early learning programme spanning from ages 2-5. The teaching of early reading skills begins in the Nursery through daily story, rhyme and song time alongside weekly individual reading of books children have chosen to take home. All Nursery children participate in daily speaking, listening and understanding sessions (the learning is shared explicitly in differentiated small groups).

In Reception, systematic phonics teaching in small, streamed groups supports children’s progress towards independent reading. Bespoke CPD is provided to ensure that all adults are using the most appropriate and updated theory in early reading and comprehension for young children. Any children who are not making progress are identified rapidly and small group or individual tailored support is provided. Alongside this, there is a rolling 2-day guided reading programme which is delivered in differentiated small groups. The same book is kept for the remainder of the week so it can be shared and celebrated at home.

Our intent:

  • Develop a love of stories, rhymes and songs
  • Develop a curiosity about books and the written word
  • Teach that print carries meaning, how to handle books and that we read texts from left to right, top to bottom
  • Provide lots of opportunities for children to read in adult guided, as well as independent, reading activities, both indoors and outside
  • Foster an awareness with parents of opportunities for reading, sharing rhymes and songs, and the importance of talk



In EYFS and Year 1 we teach phonics using the Letters and Sounds scheme of work. We incorporate Jolly Phonic actions and Read Write Inc cards/letter formation to create a bespoke scheme that works for our children. In Year 2, children follow ‘No Nonesense Spelling’. Phonics teaching starts in Nursery and continues until the children are secure in applying their skills to reading and writing. Daily lessons focus on consolidating and developing the bank of phonics knowledge that children need to read and write with confidence and fluency. They are run in small, differentiated groups which are regularly reviewed in order to move children on in their learning.

Click here to see the slides from our Phonics Parent Workshop

Book Bands

Teachers and support staff assess children’s progression in early reading regularly using the PM Benchmark scheme. A percentage result and response to comprehension questions indicate whether the child is secure at that level and thus ready to move up. Children progress through ‘colour bands’. The colour band of books which children read in daily supported reading approximately matches the phonic phase they are working on.

Daily Supported Reading (DSR)

As children secure their ability to read phonically decodable texts and develop as independent readers, we widen their understanding of reading to teach the use of a wider range of reading skills including comprehension and inference. We run Daily Supported Reading in Year 1 and Year 2.  Each child in the programme receives a daily 25 minute reading lesson at their instructional level, taught by a teacher or trained adult. The lessons are scripted, and take place every day. Children are grouped by reading attainment level, and we try and ensure there are no more than 6 children in each group. The programme aims to maximise reading progress for every child.  All group leaders change reading groups regularly. This is so that they learn to respond variably to children at different stages of reading development. Elements of the programme are also used in Reception classes during the summer term.

We have a DSR project coordinator who manages the implementation of the programme, and organises a weekly development meeting for all the adults involved. These meetings usually last for 30 minutes, and are used to collect feedback on the progress of each child .This data informs the regrouping of  children each week and  shapes the planning of  future teaching sessions. These meetings always include a professional development component.

Our Intent:

  • To increase the quantity of texts that beginner readers engage with enjoyably and independently every day.
  • To ensure that all children make good progress by working with a trained adult in a small group every day.
  • To establish a coherent approach to early reading instruction in KS1.

For children:

  • To enjoy daily independent reading in small groups (preferably no more than 6) led by a trained adult, and to increase the quantity and challenge of texts read across the year.
  •  To learn to solve problems on text independently, while keeping a story or message in mind.

For adults

  • To teach a range of children who are at different stages of learning to read, and to develop a responsive approach.
  • To build the capacity of school staff to move children on, and to make effective judgements about when to do so.

Click here to see slides from our KS1 Reading Parents Workshop


We use aspects of the Destination Reader model which is an approach to teaching reading which can be applied to all texts. It focuses on:

  • Key reading strategies which support comprehension
  • Learning behaviours which support dialogue

It involves daily sessions incorporating whole class modelling prior to the children applying these skills through partner work and independent reading. Children deepen their understanding of the texts they read through the systematic use of a series of strategies and language stems. The approach encompasses the key principles of effective reading provision and fully meets the requirements of the National Curriculum. It also builds a culture of reading for pleasure and purpose.


  • To provide clear, consistent structure for daily reading lessons
  • To enable children to become successful readers and comprehenders through the explicit teaching of key strategies
  • To ensure engagement though an interactive approach, fostering reading for pleasure and purpose
  • To provide a structured approach to key learning behaviours which allow children to be fully independent learners

Reading for Pleasure

Our priority is both the teaching of reading skills and the enjoyment of literature, enabling children to become lifelong, confident readers. To help promote reading for pleasure, we run the Camden Reading Road Map. 10 roads in Camden represent a specific genre of books:  Adventure; Classics; Crime; Fantasy; Graphic Novels; Horror; Humour; Poetry; Sci-Fi and Sport.  The author and title of each book in each genre are listed along each appropriate road. On the back of the map are the sections listing the books relating to each genre. To the left of each book title is a coloured circle – we used a traffic light system for identifying less challenging, challenging and more challenging books. To the right of the title we have a small blank circle, which is ticked by the teacher when the book has been read by each child. The Road Map contains 60 books in 10 different genres. It allows children to start reading whatever they like and encourages them to try out different titles, genres and authors, get out of their ‘comfort zone’, to find new writers to enjoy, and to get into the habit of ‘dipping into’ different genres. Ultimately, children are reading more; they have a large number of well-curated new fiction made explicitly available to them and love a bit of competition to get closer to completing the map!

Click here to see the slides from our KS2 Reading Parent Workshop

Reading Progression


Children immerse themselves in texts so that they can understand and enjoy the themes contained within them. Children learn grammar, punctuation, spelling and vocabulary to support good quality writing. We also rehearse language out loud on a regular basis in order to strengthen not only written but also oral language. Pupils learn to write in a range of forms, such as reports and persuasive letters as well as stories and poems. We make writing a meaningful activity, so that pupils are motivated to write. Whenever possible, writing is connected to learning from other areas of the curriculum, the content acting as stimulus and aiding vocabulary development. For example, when learning how to write a diary, Year 3 write as Boudica which links to their history unit about Vikings. Wherever possible, writing is linked to subjects in the wider curriculum. There is a balance between fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Each writing genre has a Knowledge Organiser with the appropriate:

·        Features & Structure

·        Grammar & Punctuation

·        Audience & Purpose

·        Tense

·        Key Vocabulary

Click here to see an example of a Knowledge Organiser for writing

Writing Progression