Richard Cobden Primary School’s approach to Reading

At Richard Cobden Primary School, we have an ambition that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. Becoming a fluent reader is key to accessing the wider curriculum and becoming a successful learner. Our ultimate aim in the teaching of reading is for every child, who possibly can, to be a fluent reader by 7.

We value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.

We understand that some children who have more complex needs may follow a different trajectory. We are equally ambitious to support those pupils on their own path to becoming a successful reader.

Phonics and Early Reading

We place a great deal of importance and emphasis on the teaching of early reading. We teach early reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme approved by the Department for Education.

We start teaching phonics in Nursery and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. We also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on oral language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.


We start teaching phonics in Nursery and follow ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for Phonics’ guidance’ Our ambition is that by the end of Nursery all children are well prepared to begin learning phonemes and corresponding graphemes in Reception. Learning here focuses on:

  • activities that develop focused listening and attention skills
  • sharing high-quality stories and poems
  • learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
  • daily oral blending and segmenting
  • exposure to high-quality vocabulary and language

Reception and Year 1

In Reception, phonics teaching begins in Autumn Term week 2 to ensure children have made a strong start on learning letter sounds. The children follow the progression within the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Programme’. Phonics is taught through daily, engaging 30-minute phonics lessons. Each Friday we review the week’s teaching to help children consolidate their new learning.

Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy. Children in Year 1 review phases 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.

Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read

Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.

We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 and above who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Rapid Catch-up assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Rapid Catch-up resources – at pace.

These short, sharp lessons last 15-20 minutes daily and have been designed to ensure children quickly catch up to age-related expectations in reading.

Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:

  • are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
  • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids
  • are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.

Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

  • decoding
  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.

In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books. In Years 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.

Home Reading

Each week, our children take home a phonetically decodable reading practise book. They also take home additional fiction and non-fiction books to support comprehension skills and their love of reading. We encourage our parents to read daily with their children and record this in their reading record books. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources, workshops and family reading sessions to engage our families and share information about phonics and early reading. We also provide our families with access to the online Little Wandle ebook library so they can access online books too.

If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources.

Please also speak to your child’s class teacher who will be able to answer any questions you may have about phonics and the teaching of early reading.

Reading at Key Stage 2

Whole Class Reading

As decoding become more secure and children build fluency, we focus on teaching comprehension strategies explicitly in whole class reading sessions and then supporting children to apply these independently. These strategies which include, among others, self-questioning, inferring, connecting and synthesising are used consistently across Key Stage 2.

In Key Stage 2, reading is taught through English lessons and daily, whole class reading sessions. These lessons include a mixture of teacher modelling, oral rehearsal of strategies, guided practise and independent application. We use whole class sets of high-quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry books to support our learning in these sessions.

Teachers listen in while children talk about their reading to assess their understanding and use of different strategies. We use consistent language, routines and resources in each reading lesson to reduce cognitive load. We also use ‘Reading Box’ comprehension activities to develop the children’s ability to independently answer a range of questions on what they have read. Additionally, children who need further support such as phonics catch-up are taught in 1:1 or small group sessions.

Home Reading

At Key Stage 2 children take home an appropriately levelled home reading book and a reading for pleasure book of their own choice. Children are encouraged to keep a record of the books they have read and to write reflective comments in their reading record book.

Reading for Pleasure

We are passionate about developing a positive attitude towards reading and to foster a love of books through our enthusiastic reading culture. We have dedicated daily reading time where children enjoy reading and are encouraged to broaden their book choices. At the end of the day, from Nursery to Year 6 we have planned story time. This is an opportunity for teachers to share a range of exciting, high-quality texts with their class and engage children in order to develop a love of reading.

The reading environment is essential to promote reading. In our school we ensure:

  • each class has an attractive, accessible book corner
  • children have access to a range of high quality, diverse books, newspapers, comics and magazines
  • our school library is engaging and well-resourced and we plan time for classes to enjoy this space

We organise a range of exciting events and activities to celebrate reading and the love of books including;

  • Regular buddy reading sessions – children from KS1 and KS2 come together to read
  • Whole school reading assemblies – we join together as a whole school community to read and enjoy books
  • Family reading sessions and workshops – provided by school staff and in partnership with family learning services
  • Library visits – to our school and the local library. We aim to get all children in nursery signed up to the local library and accessing its valuable services
  • World Book Day – this exciting annual event is a fantastic opportunity for the whole school to come together and celebrate reading
  • Author visits and theatre workshops
  • Young Readers Programme – in partnership with the National Literacy Trust we deliver this exciting series of book events with our children in Year 1 and Year 3
  • Children’s Book Project – with the support of this fantastic charity we run a number of whole school book ‘give away’ events
  • Book Start – in partnership with the Book Trust our nursery children receive a book and take part in a family reading workshop

By creating an environment where reading is valued and championed, we hope we can support children to develop a love of books.

Phone: 0207 387 5909
Fax: 0207 380 1518
29 Camden Street
Richard Cobden Primary School