Reading Journey - Gray's Farm Primary Academy

Reading Journey


Reading in Nursery

As soon as your child enters nursery with us at Gray’s Farm we begin having discussions about the sounds they hear around them. This means helping them to identify and isolate specific sounds within the environment such as animal noises, a car horn and people laughing.  We encourage body percussion through clapping and stamping as well as enjoying rhyming songs and stories together. Many of the games and activities within the classroom include strategies to support visual memory and fine motor skills, all of which form part of early literacy skills.  When your child is ready, they are encouraged to hear the initial sound in words and begin using the RWI (Read Write Inc Phonics) strategies that they will become very familiar with once in Reception.

To encourage reading, we tell stories using puppets, props, as well as picking from a selection of storytelling hats. Children use resources to retell stories, and have access to a range of non-fiction texts; for example, having DIY/toy catalogues in our role play areas. As well as this, torches and finger lights are used by the children to highlight texts and pictures which they really enjoy. Story sacks and the class reading bear play an integral role in nursery and the children love being chosen to take them home each week. Furthermore, story sessions are added to tapestry along with questions for parents to check their child's understanding.

Reading in Reception

At Gray’s Farm, reading is taught through ‘Read Write Inc Phonics’ (RWI) from the start of Reception. We begin by teaching the graphemes (sounds) to go along with the sounds your child has already started to identify in words. Firstly, they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these into words, and then they learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. Your child will read in 1:1 and small groups depending on the learning needs of the child.

Our children love learning to read through RWI and we love to watch their confidence and love of reading grow from the start. Phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases. Along with a thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice.

When using RWI your child will:

  • learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts
  • learn to read words using Fred Talk
  • read lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out

Journey 1

Similarly to Nursery, Reception continue to use story sacks and reading bears with the children; all of the children love having the opportunity to take them home and retell the stories to their family, and of course to the reading bear!

Furthermore, our role play areas encourage a love of reading as children often have the opportunity to retell and act out the stories they have read as well as recite facts they’ve learnt from our non-fiction books whilst in role as palaeontologists (for example).

Your child will take home several reading books each week, including one at their individual level, which they are encouraged to read to an adult, as well as books from the book corner which are for them to enjoy as a family. 

Reading in Key Stage 1

Our teaching of reading through ‘Read Write Inc’ continues from Reception into Year 1. To ensure we meet the learning needs of our children, we stream for phonics in Reception, Years 1 and Year 2. This means that your child is being taught phonics in a group where all children are working at the same level and learning the same letter sounds. As we know, children learn at different rates, therefore we tailor our phonics teaching to the needs of the children to ensure they are secure with letter sounds before moving them on. This ensures that children have a solid phonics knowledge, which they then build upon, making them fluent and able readers and writers. Once your child is secure with their phonics, they then move on to Big Reading (see below) which develops their accuracy and comprehension skills. Additionally, some children will also take part in reading interventions if a barrier to learning has been identified.

As well as this, children continue to take home several reading books each week, including ones at their level which they are encouraged to read to an adult and books from the book corner or library which they can enjoy with their family. 

Reading in Key Stage 2

Throughout Key Stage 2, reading accuracy and comprehension skills continue to be taught through ‘Big Reading’. However, for those that need it, we continue to support the development of children’s phonological knowledge and understanding through ‘Fresh Start’  (Read Write Inc).

Big Reading takes place every day; on Mondays for a one-hour session and then daily 30-minute sessions thereafter. The children will work as a whole class, in groups, in pairs and individually to answer increasingly complex questions presented in a variety of ways. Within Big Reading we use the ‘Big Reading SPIES Team’ to help us gain a much deeper understanding of the ‘Key Skills for Reading’. These skills are:


The ‘Big Reading SPIES Team’ members are

During these sessions, your child will build on their reading skills through structured whole class reading sessions, which teach key skills and probe children’s understanding. These sessions allow children to experience a wide range of text types and genres, with clear links to other curriculum areas. Children develop an understanding of vocabulary and real-world issues – learning about topics such as climate change and the Tudors – through a range of written short extracts, websites, articles and chapters of books. Children’s understanding of these texts and their themes is challenged through questioning linked to our Reading Spies. 

In conjunction with our dedicated teaching, we use ‘Accelerated Reader’ to give children the opportunity to delve into new books independently while building reading speed and fluency. Accelerated Reader is a fantastic programme which allows children to read books within their ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development). By reading within their ZDP, children are able to access the texts, enjoy the storylines while still making progress. The children at Gray’s Farm love Accelerated Reader and its partner programme – myON, which gives the children online access to a library of over 5000 books!

Whole School Reading

Every day the children listen to their teacher reading the Whole Class Book which provides children with the opportunity to hear a variety of high-quality texts being read aloud and discussed. Both the children and the teacher are involved in choosing the texts and chosen texts are then placed in their Star Book holder so that children can not only see their current class text but also what else they’ll be reading over the coming weeks.

The texts used will cover both fiction and non-fiction and include:

  • Extracts
  • Novels – both modern and classic
  • Short texts
  • Newspaper articles
  • Song lyrics
  • Video clips
  • Poetry

As well as this, every day all children take part in independent reading; a time for children to really relax and get stuck into a book type they love for an extended period of time. During this time, class teachers spend time with individual children, talking to them about their book, listening to them read as well as discussing any struggles that they are having with reading.

At Gray’s Farm, with the children’s input we continually invest in our library to provide children of all abilities with a wealth of books that will excite, inspire and develop children to become life-long readers. All classes have access to the library once a week, as well as it being open every day before school. To supplement our library, we use Oxford Owl online and myON online to ensure a range of relevant, age-appropriate and interesting fiction and non-fiction texts are available to all children whether they are in or out of school. 

All classrooms have an enticing book corner full of books that are matched to the levels and interests of the children within their class. These books are frequently swapped with those from the library so that children have an ever-changing selection of books to choose from. As well as this, we have school librarians who work together with the reading lead to ensure that we have books that match all of the children’s interests. Each librarian acts as an advocate for their class by bringing book suggestions or recommendations to the librarian’s weekly meeting so that they can then be purchased.

Each week the whole school enjoys a Reading Assembly. This is an opportunity for teachers to recognise and celebrate Star Readers, for the children to take part in our Masked Reader competition and for new additions to the library to be shown to the school. Our children love the Reading Assembly; it is something that the whole school looks forward to each week!

Finally, to aid our staff with the planning of Reading and to ensure that we not only meet but exceed the National Curriculum objectives we use the Gray’s Farm Reading Overview. This includes an overview of the books that each year group will use throughout the year. These book choices have been carefully considered to ensure that our texts are diverse, engaging, relevant, cross curricular and progressive. As well as this, our book spine is constantly being adapted to meet the needs and interests of our pupils.