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Teaching a child to read is vital. We use a range of strategies, in addition to phonics, such as a variety of decoding methods, teaching high frequency words through sight recognition, discussion through picture books and high quality book corners and reading books. 

Essential Letters and Sounds planning supports the teaching of daily phonics, where pupils are taught as whole class groups with 1:1 “Keep up not catch up” daily interventions put in place for those who require additional support.

From Reception to Yr4, reading is taught through carefully selected high quality texts.  These activities include reading with a teacher or teaching assistant and written comprehensions. Yrs5 and 6 are taught through whole class reading. Children have focussed guided reading sessions each week and are expected to complete one written comprehension in that time. One to one reading occurs in across EYFS and KS1 and continues into Year 3 where required. During the reading sessions, there is an emphasis on vocabulary, the retrieval of facts and inference. Novels are used to teach reading as well as a range of non-fiction texts. These texts are carefully chosen to ensure that there is progression and challenge across the school.

At GKCS, we aim to develop a love of reading, so children are encouraged to read for pleasure at home and school. Teachers read a variety of high-quality texts to the children on a regular basis. We currently use a range of different reading schemes to meet the interests and individual need of each and every child.


Reading is a fundamental and essential part of a child’s education. A love of reading, supported by the tools a child needs in order to decode and understand what they are reading, enables children to maximise their potential. A child who reads has a wider vocabulary, gains insight and empathy for others, strengthens their cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills and can learn new life lessons. An education where reading is celebrated, and children are inspired to read, gives children the confidence to read for pleasure, access learning more independently, think independently and to find greater enjoyment and curiosity for the world around them.

Intent: At Great Kingshill School we believe in a wholistic approach to reading that will both inspire a love of reading and equip our children with the tools they need to decode, sight read and comprehend what they are reading. The teaching of reading at school is supported by high quality reading resources for use at home. High quality reading texts are used in school to promote a deep love of reading and to engage children in discussions

Supported by quality teaching for phonics using Essential Letters and Sounds, where children are taught a systematic and synthetic phonics program, children have access to a clear, structured and engaging reading program which enables children to access age-appropriate books by the time they leave Key Stage 1.

Guided reading sessions support and guide children in their reading fluency and decoding skills, as well as teaching them the tools they need to understand and draw insight from what they read.

In line with the National Curriculum (2014), our intent is for all pupils to:

  • Apply phonics knowledge and skills to the decoding of words, both familiar and unfamiliar. To read common exception words by sight.  To be able to sight-read many common words.
  • To recognise word changes when prefixes and suffixes are applied.
  • To develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read and to develop their vocabulary and understanding of what they read. To listen and read a wide range of texts. To become familiar with key stories and traditional tales. To draw on their own understanding of the world and apply this to their reading.
  • To discuss a wide range of texts and to express their views. To draw links between books and to discuss favourite books, words and phrases and to use dictionaries to check understanding. To experience texts set out in a variety of ways and for a variety of purposes.
  • To be able to recommend books, enjoy poetry, and to read confidently aloud with expression, tone and intonation.


Essential Letters and Sounds is used at Great Kingshill School to provide a systematic and synthetic scheme for phonics. Teachers teach the whole class, providing all pupils with the opportunity to access the phonics curriculum together. We use a “keep up not catch up” approach, with the intent that no child is left behind. ELS uses consistent terminology by teachers, children and parents, repetition and reinforcement of learning and regular, manageable assessment to ensure all children “keep up”. Lessons use a scaffolded approach: “Me then you”; provide opportunities; provide modelling; active teaching and learning.

Our reading scheme is split into 3 sections:

  1. Reading resources correlating to Phonics teaching
  2. Physical reading books
  3. Big Cats e-library

1: Physical reading books which correspond to phonics sounds are used to support and reinforce phonics learning at home.

2: Our physical books are banded by colour. Children are assessed and benchmarked before they move up a level to ensure both reading fluency and understanding.

3: Big Cats e-library supports both the teaching of phonics and the reading scheme. Readily available reading resources which children can access at home and make choices about their reading is essential to encouraging a love for reading.

Guided reading at Key Stage 1 is done in a “carousel” of activities, whereby small groups of pupils read with an adult or carry out comprehension activities. In Key Stage 2, guided reading is taught daily as a class. 1:1 or small group reading continues in Key Stage 2 where required. During the reading sessions, there is a focus on word meaning, text understanding, inference and prediction. Texts are chosen carefully to ensure progression and challenge across the school.

Support at home

Reading is the key to enabling children to enjoy many aspects of the curriculum and as such we place high priority on this. 

We suggest that Parents read at home with their children daily, but as minimum 3 times a week. This should be recorded in the Reading Record Book.  School will check these books weekly and may ask children to read with an adult in school at other times if there is no record of reading at home. We will provide information and training for Parents on how to support the development of Reading including Phonics. If you are unsure, then please do ask us.