Home Page

Reading at Berkeley



How we teach reading at our school


The importance of reading

At Berkeley Primary School we believe reading is the key to effective learning and one of the most important things children will achieve in our school.  Everything else they do in school depends on it.  Children learn how to appreciate books, to read independently and to take immense pleasure in reading.  We teach children that reading is an essential life skill, we want the love of reading to remain with our children for life. 


We want our children to develop a love of books and have access to high-quality literature that will not only support their learning across the curriculum but also extend beyond the classroom environment and enrich their lives. 


We aspire to support our children to become culturally and language rich; to experience, learn and be able to use knowledge and have an extensive vocabulary.  We aim to achieve this by reading ambitiously and widely.  Fluent readers can access a full range of life experiences and can enjoy an amazing breadth of genres and writers. 


Reading for enrichment and enjoyment

We love to talk about reading.  By having quality books and a wide range of choice, we entice our children to read.  We prioritise reading within our budget, every year we allocate money to top up books across the school and take much joy in purchasing some of the many new books that are published.  We have recently invested in curriculum themed books to support their learning in all subjects. 


We feel that it is important that children have a wide variety of text types that provide sufficient challenge and are ambitious for the children.  We ensure our books vary in length, complexity and genre.  We have fiction, non-fiction, poems, comics, newspapers, plays and audio resources. We have books that are classics that teachers enjoyed when they were young, we have books from different cultures, books that reflect our wide society (race, religion and disability), books with current issues like refugees and eco-awareness and we have books written in different languages. 


We have a range of additional activities that enhance our day to day activities and promote the enjoyment of reading.  These include:

  • Reading café sessions – parents are invited into class to share reading activities and books with their children.  Each class in key stage 1 and lower key stage 2 have a session every term. 
  • Book and reading competitions – we hold competitions throughout the year to encourage even more reading.
  • Secret storyteller – our children love to have a visitor come to their class to read a story.  Our ‘Secret Storytellers’ include parents, grandparents, staff from other parts of the school, Governors, the Fire Brigade, Scunthorpe United Footballers and many more.
  • Authors in school and visits to reading events – we are fortunate to have accessed sessions with real authors to develop this love of reading and these always lead to quality writing as an outcome. 
  • World Book Day, Roald Dahl Day and National Poetry Day – we celebrate days like this each year with activities in school to promote reading.
  • Nursery Rhyme week – we celebrate this in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 every year.
  • ‘Booktime’ books – this is a national charity that sends a book for every child in Nursery and Reception each year.  We do activities based on this book and then send it home at the end.


The reading journey at Berkeley Primary School

Early Years and Key Stage 1

(Nursery – Year 2)

In the early years classrooms, we start by encouraging ‘book talk’.  Teachers read daily to the children so the children get to know and love all sorts of stories, poetry and information books.  The children learn to handle books, they talk about what’s happening and they begin to recognise a few key words.  The children will also have books which have no words and we use these to encourage discussions about the pictures, what is happening, the characters and setting and the story as a whole.


We buy our Nursery and Reception children a Nursery Rhyme book and set them a challenge to learn some as part of their induction to the school.  Rhymes are an important step in learning to read; they extend vocabulary, have rhyming words, actions, patterns and rhythms.



All this is happening alongside a phonics programme so that when the children are learning letters and sounds, they can apply these skills to the books they are reading.  Phonics means learning how to read the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down.  This is essential for reading and it also helps children learn to spell well. 

Phonics is taught through a daily 20 minute session.  This allows children to learn strategies to support early reading and spelling.  We teach phonics through the ’Bug Club Phonics’ programme.  This provides a brisk, systematic, rigorous and enjoyable approach to the learning and teaching of the 44 phonemes.  This is supported by using the ‘Phonics Play’ app.  The children learn to link the sounds to the letters of the alphabet and graphemes, they use their phonic knowledge to blend and segment words for reading and writing.  They are also taught that some words are not phonetically correct and are therefore learnt as ‘tricky’ words, such as once, have, said and where.  We use the ‘Jolly Phonics’ actions, this is a multi-sensory approach which matches fun actions, stories and songs to the letter sounds.





1 (Nursery / Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

2 (Reception)

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

3 (Reception)

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions.

4 (Reception & Year 1)

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

5 (Year 1)

Now we move on to children learning more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

6 (Year 2)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

Early Years and Key Stage 1

(Nursery – Year 2)

Phonics links to spelling and as children become competent in learning to read the sounds they begin to learn to spell.  Children will begin to learn ‘spelling rules’.


We use Bug Club phonetically decodable books in order to help our youngest children get off to a good start in their reading.  These are sent home and changed weekly and are directly aligned to the sounds taught each week and the children’s increasing phonics knowledge.  In order to promote reading for pleasure, children also take home a library book each week.  This is often read to the child (it may be too difficult for the child to read alone) and discussed together to provide them with wider reading opportunities.  We buy our Nursery and Reception children book bags to help keep these altogether and promote children caring for books. 


All children are encouraged to read with a carer at least 3 times a week in order to develop fluency, comprehension and a love of reading.  Children in Reception get a sticker each week for doing their 3 reads and in Year 1 and 2 they get 3 Dojos for doing their 3 reads. 

Reading Records are used as a communication tool between home and school.  These are monitoring on a weekly basis. 


Each child receives a phonics pack when they start school.  There are lots of fun phonic activities within the pack and we ask carers to do these with their children every week.  When we are learning common (tricky) words we also send these home so carers can support their children with this.  We hold regular phonics workshops for carers so they can support their children really well at home.


Phonics lessons

Within a phonics lesson the children will either be taught a phoneme or common (tricky) words.  The fast paced lesson routine is:


Target phoneme lesson

  • Introduction – alphabet song
  • Share learning intentions
  • Revision of previously learnt sounds
  • Introduce new sound
  • Visual search for new grapheme
  • Reading – shared reading activity
  • Independent spelling / writing
  • Follow up – consolidation of learning
  • Wrap up – recap of lesson intentions


Common (tricky) words

  • Introduction – alphabet song
  • Share learning intentions
  • Introduce tricky words
  • Spelling tricky words
  • Reading – shared reading activity
  • Independent spelling / writing
  • Follow up – consolidation of learning
  • Wrap up – recap of lesson intentions


What is sent home?

  • In Nursery our children will get a story book and a wordless book to take home in their book bag.  These are changed weekly.
  • In Reception and Year 1 the children will have 3 books a week – a book with a previous phonic sound they have already learnt, a book with the current phonic sound they are learning and another book (fiction or non-fiction) to share for extra enjoyment.  These are changed weekly.
  • In Year 2 the children will have a Bug Club book that is at the right reading level for your child and they will also have another book (fiction or non-fiction) to share for extra enjoyment.  These are changed weekly.


Phonics Check in Year 1 & 2

In the Summer term, the government asks us to do a phonics check of all our Year 1 children and any Year 2 children who didn’t meet the pass mark in Year 1.  This check gives us extra information about their progress.  We will talk to you about how well your child has done.  We use this information to guide the children’s next steps. 


Comprehension skills

The teaching of phonics runs alongside the teaching of comprehensions skills and word recognition.  Through reading, we help children develop all the other vital reading skills and hopefully give them a real love of reading.  Our teachers love to read to the children, they do this every day.  The children get to know all sorts of stories, poetry and information books.  We read a huge range of books including fairy tales, recipes, limericks, jokes, comics, scary stories, suspense, traditional tales, fact files, topic books, letters, and many more.  Our children learn more words this way and reading this range helps us to write in different ways. 


Shared reading is where the teacher works with the children (often whole class) to model fluent, expressive reading, the use of effective reading strategies and to encourage response to texts.  It can be a vehicle for both teaching children to read (decode) and for teaching children about reading, including comprehension.  Shared reading enables children to access and enjoy rich, authentic texts which are slightly beyond their independent reading level. 


Children also join in with Guided Reading, which is twice a week in a smaller group, up to 8 children with a teacher or teaching assistant leading the group.  We use a range of phonics appropriate books (Rec & Y1) or levelled books (Y2) or sometimes a book read by an adult.  Children who we identify as needing it read on a daily basis to an adult.

Key Stage 2

Year 3 – 6



Most of our children are reading fluently by the time they start the junior years.  We continue to encourage the children to use their phonics learning of blending and segmenting as they come across unfamiliar words.  Our focus in the juniors is developing children’s comprehension skills and continuing to grow their love of reading so they read widely.


Reading Lessons

Explicit teaching and modelling of discrete reading skills: vocab, retrieve, predict, explain, summarise, infer and deduce.  The teaching team will be asking highly focused questions that challenge children’s ideas.  In fiction (stories, plays and poems), we will be developing these reading skills, speculating on the reasons for authors’ character, setting and plot choices.  We will be using new texts as an opportunity to grow a rich spoken vocabulary.  We will use non-fiction texts to deepen the children’s understanding of topic work across the curriculum and increase exposure and understanding of vocabulary across the subjects.  We are seeking to ensure children appreciate that reading helps them to understand the world around them. 


Book Club

All children in the juniors do ‘Book club’ reading every day with their assigned adult.  Pages are then set to read at home so children are prepared and ready for the following day’s session and we can get through books more swiftly, increasing the amount they have read.  Children may also be set a question or task, based on the book, for the following session to do at home.    


We have sets of 9 books so every child and the adult have a copy of the book they are reading.  We have invested in the most amazing library of books that cover all genres; fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays.  Because our children are reading this book every day, they have had the opportunity to read a wide range of books over the year and really develop their reading skills. 


We typically follow a structure whereby children familiarise themselves with the text.  Dependent on the children’s reading ability, this may include reading the text several times to develop fluency, expression and accuracy.  New vocabulary may be discussed and explored and opportunities for retrieval and summary practised.  Once children have a strong understanding of the text, the opportunity for more in-depth discussions, often with an inference or evaluative focus, take place.  Children are invited to share and justify their views. 


We love ‘Book Club’ at our school, having the chance to read stimulating books, develop our reading skills and learn and explore vocabulary.  We discuss characters, settings, plots, motivations, use of language, author techniques, issues raised in the books, etc.  Book Club really helps our children make informed decisions about the type of books they like to read.  These sessions are real ‘book talk’.   


Other reading opportunities

 We devote times within our school day to reading.  These opportunities include:

  • DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read) – this happens at the end of every day in every year group, time for everyone to enjoy reading before going home.  DEAR time is often a teacher sharing a book or poem with the class, a chance for children to read their own selected choice, or sometimes listening to spoken books online read by authors or celebrities.  When staff read to the children they can model the excitement and expression that story telling brings.  It is a great way to end the school day and is valued across the school.
  • Library and book areas in school - we have several designated areas in school that children are given the opportunity to go to read and every classroom has a welcoming reading area and attractive book displays.  The books in these areas are regularly changed and / or restocked.  Our classrooms are a language rich environment and we promote the written word. 
  • Bug Club – the children are able to access Bug Club books online.  Bug Club offers over 500 finely levelled interactive eBooks, the levels give our children manageable steps in reading progression as they move through the levels.  Our teachers allocate books to individual children for home reading and in school reading and we are able to assess their progress.  Bug Club has an enormous range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and features well-known characters from film and television. 
  • Class Reading Buddies – our Year 3-5 children are all reading buddies with children in Reception – Year 2.  Classes and children are paired up and they really love the opportunity to get together and share books and their own writing. 
  • Reading Buddies – each year we train a group of older children as reading buddies.  They support children in school with their reading and particularly like to share books with younger children at lunchtime. 
  • Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library – we are very fortunate that North Lincolnshire Council support this scheme.  All children in North Lincolnshire from birth to five years old who live in North Lincolnshire are eligible to register, we support parents to ensure that all our parents do register.  Each month a new, carefully selected book is delivered to each child’s home and addressed to the child.  It is completely free to parents.  By the time the children reach their 5th birthday they will have received 60 books, creating their own personal library.  Our children love receiving their new book each month, and these books help start a lifelong love of books and reading.  Whilst the children are younger our parents share these books with their child, reading to them.  As their reading ability improves, they often like to go back and read for themselves the books they got when they were younger. 


Widening our children’s vocabulary

We provide our children with a language rich environment.  We aim to expose our children to a wide range of vocabulary so that they are able to decipher new words and then use them when speaking and writing both informally and formally.  We want our children to know and apply subject specific vocabulary to all areas of the wider curriculum. 


Ambitious vocabulary is taught within reading lessons and other curriculum lessons, with new vocabulary embedded daily and it is applied on various situations.  We have ‘word of the day’ taken from their reading or other subject lessons, that the children are exposed to.  Daily vocabulary activities linked to the words can include: exploring definitions, synonyms and antonyms, related words and ultimately the correct application of the new vocabulary in spoken and written pieces. 


Additional support for those children that need it

Teachers and teaching assistants ensure all children are provided with the help they need to get off to a good start in reading.  We identify children that need additional support and make sure this is put into place swiftly.  Our SENDCo is on hand to advise teaching teams as needed and support their work in identifying any factors making progress difficult and finding solutions, including intervention programmes. We want children to learn to read, however long it takes us to teach them.   


Teachers and Teaching Assistants in Key Stage 2 are all trained in phonics, so this teaching and support does not end when the children finish Year 2.  We know some of our children will need to continue to be taught phonics throughout the juniors.  There are extra reading sessions for target children.  There can be many different reasons that children find reading difficult and our SENDCo can help find the reasons, through testing and specialist agencies being involved.


We have a range of strategies to support our children with their reading.  Some of this include:

  • Toe by Toe – Toe by Toe is a highly structured, multi-sensory reading tool to support children with reading skills. It supports children who have difficulty in decoding or reading fluently as well those children showing signs of dyslexic difficulties. It recommends that the minimum age for a child to start Toe by Toe is 7+ years of age.
  • Lexia – Lexia is a computer reading programme that provides phonics instructions and addresses the development of oral language, reading, spelling, and writing skills for children who are learning to read.  Lexia also supports our phonics strategy. 
  • Speech and Language support – We work with our Speech and Language Therapists to deliver support for children, and follow any strategies and programmes they have identified in children’s plans.  Children’s speech can affect their reading.  We also use ‘WellComm’ in school which is a complete speech and language toolkit for children for 6 months to 6 years.  Wellcomm helps us identify areas of concern and gives us the resources to target early intervention. 
  • Rapid Phonics programme – the Rapid programme is a proven intervention approach for Year 2-6 children who have gaps in their phonic and reading knowledge.  The series includes decodable print and eBook readers, flashcards and lesson plans and assessments to get the children back on track. 


How carers can help

Carers are of course partners in their child’s reading journey. We’ll make sure parents are well communicated with about what is happening with reading in school.  We always let you know how well your child is doing and how you can support your child. 


A child cannot read too much! We ask our carers to read regularly with and to their child, building this into your daily routine and encouraging children to look after, respect and love reading and books.  Parents will be invited to come and read with their children in school. 


You can help your child to sound out the letters in words and then to blend the sounds together to make a whole word.  Help your child to focus on the sounds, rather than the letter name.  Sometimes your child might bring home a book that they already know well, children and adults alike love to re-read books – ask them to tell you the story, ask them questions about the story and the characters and what might happen next. 


We will support you with how we teach reading.  We will send out support leaflets and you will be invited to workshops on phonics, reading, SATs testing, etc – please read them and join us to learn more about how to help your child be an amazing reader. 


Great rhymers make great readers!  We ask that you share and learn nursery rhymes with your children.  The importance of nursery rhymes cannot be overstated or underestimated. Songs and rhymes are a cornerstone of language development.  When you read nursery rhymes together, you are telling them a story, they are learning new words, how to pronounce words, learn all about rhyming and developing their social skills.  According to Reading Magic, “experts in literacy development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.”  They are such a fun and positive way to learn how to read.

The Phonics check is completed with Year 1 and some Year 2 children - please see leaflet below

Below are some ideas for how you can help your child with their reading.