Alexander First School

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Early Reading

Early Reading at Alexander First School


Early Reading at Alexander First School

Early reading at Alexander First School is centred on the exploration of quality texts which engage and inspire our children. Reading for pleasure is at the heart of all that we do at Alexander First and this begins as soon as the children enter the EYFS. We recognise that the early years of a child’s life are crucial and the experiences that we offer the children in the EYFS and KS1 are fundamental in laying the foundations for future reading success.


Reading interest is sparked in our children from day one and we ignite this through the use of class libraries, mystery readers, daily reading, initiatives to encourage regular reading, celebrations of authors to name a few.



We follow the Read, Write Inc scheme to teach daily discreet phonics lessons which are taught in differentiated groups that are suitable for the child’s phase of learning. A synthetic scheme is used in school which is a fun and interactive way to support children in learning how to read and write. To promote high quality phonic teaching at Alexander First we use a variety of strategies and resources including:  

  • Quality daily phonics lessons
  • Careful differentiation for all ability groups, addressing the needs of children with special educational needs, including more able children, based on on-going formative assessment and teacher judgement.
  • Well planned interactive lessons, delivered at a brisk pace, that keep children engaged and focused.
  • Opportunities to reinforce and apply acquired phonic knowledge and skills across the curriculum.
  • Additional decodable reading books for children to apply their phonic knowledge to ensure children have grasped the basis of reading.


As children’s reading develops at different rates, phonics teaching is tailored to each child and their ability. Children are expected to sit a phonics screening assessment in Year 1 that tests their knowledge of phonics sounds. The children that do not pass the phonics screening check are given appropriate support and materials to ensure they catch up. To support these children we ensure they continue to receive daily phonics at the relevant phase and daily reading in shared reading, one to one reading or guided groups. These children also become a focus within lessons and they are encouraged to read a range of books that are tailored to support their learning of phonics sounds whilst being written in a context that is suitable for their age. This continues into KS2 if the children are still not secure in their phonics sounds.


Assessment of Phonics.

Alongside the continued teacher assessments of Phonics that take place daily in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, the children’s progress is tracked termly by the class teacher. This allows the progress of every child to be monitored, so further support can be offered if needed. The children are assessed on the sounds they can read and write and reading the high frequency words that are based on their phonics stage. Common exception words are also a focus in Year 1 and 2 and teachers assess whether the children can read these words and they identify those that need to become a greater focus in class over the next term. At the end of Year 1, the Year 1 Phonics Screening check will take place. This is a national assessment that all Year 1 children take part in.


Our School Library

Reading for pleasure and enjoyment is a key element of our reading programme throughout school. The library contains a variety of reading materials from Non- Fiction to Fiction and the children have mini libraries within classrooms and access to these areas in always encouraged to allow children to handle and share books. The children have weekly library sessions where they spend time selecting and reading books they wish to take home and share.


Parental Support

The school recognises and values the significant role of parents in further developing reading skills and they are encouraged to share books and read daily with their child. We support parents in developing their child’s reading skills at home and send regular information home on how to develop reading habits and the types of questions that children need to answer depending on their reading level. Parents are regularly invited into school to enjoy shared reading sessions with their children; these events are always well attended and provide another opportunity to share stories.


Additionally, we participate in the ‘Read Force’ scheme which aims to connect children with their deployed parent through reading. We are proud to support and encourage this bond whilst fostering a passion for reading. 


Using Texts in our Curriculum

Quality texts anchor our learning across the curriculum. A rich diet of books from modern classics to contemporary fiction along with high interest non-fiction texts are used to engage our children into new areas of learning. Reading is a core skill that allows children access to all areas of the enriched curriculum, and is in fact an essential and rewarding life skill. Books are placed at the heart of every topic, and reading is integral to everyday school life.


Shared Reading Sessions

In Nursery, pupils take home a book from our Library to share with Parents. By the end of their time in Nursery, some children will have a picture book to take home to support early language acquisition. When the children are ready, they may also have a banded book to further practise the use of the phonics sounds being taught.


In EYFS, daily instructional reading sessions take place that involves an adult working with a small group of children who demonstrate similar reading behaviours and can read similar levels of texts. During this session children apply their phonics, use the pictures, segment and blend words, practise reading tricky words and develop their strategies to read unknown words. In addition, they learn to ask and answer questions about the book to develop their comprehension of the text.


In Reception, phonics books and resources are sent home to consolidate their learning through our Read Write Inc Scheme. This is supplemented with a reading for pleasure book and Library book, to share with their family to help instil an early love of reading.


In Key Stage 1, a book banded contextual book and a phonic book are sent home. This encourages the children to practise phonic skills, at their level. Library books are also sent home to allow children to share a range of text types and develop their reading for pleasure.


ABC to Read

Where children are struggling to read or are unable to be supported at home due to the absence of part through deployment activity, we use ABC to Read volunteer reading mentors who work one-to-one with these children, to build their confidence and reading skills.


Reading Mentor

We believe in the power of agency and giving pupils the opportunity to learn from and support one another. We use reading mentors who are paired up with a younger child to support them with their reading.


Reading Ambassadors

At Alexander First School, we have a number of children who have volunteered to be a reading ambassador. A reading ambassador is when an older child (from year 4) pairs up with a younger child to support them with their reading. This allows the older child to be a positive role model for the younger child; to help model good reading; increase each other’s’ self-esteem and to develop a love of reading.  The year 4 read at least twice a week with their partner and this role has evolved during the current academic year with ambassadors reading to the whole class or practising spellings and common exception words with groups or individuals. The reading ambassadors also supervise the use of the reading and writing boxes at lunch times. Boxes of reading books, writing resources, white boards and even outdoor bean bags (to keep the children comfy) are used on the KS1 playground. The reading ambassadors help to organise the use of the boxes each day and all year groups enjoy an additional activity at lunch time that helps to support their reading and writing skills.


5 Reads

At Alexander First School, we encourage a culture of reading at home as well as in school; we do this through the 5 Reads award. The aim of 5 Reads is to motive and encourage a love of reading beyond the school’s expectations to read daily. Pupils who read 5 times over the course of the week receive a certificate and recognition during the weekly Celebration assembly. This is greatly appreciated by both pupils and parents who feel a sense of pride in seeing their child recognised in this way.


Mystery Reader

At Alexander First School we encourage our parents and members of our community to come and share stories with our children; we do this through the mystery reader scheme. The aim of "Mystery Reader" is to show children that adults love reading too. We invite family members to come into their child’s class and to share a book that their own child particularly enjoys or one they enjoyed when they were growing up. This is kept ‘secret’ to the children and there is a buzz of excitement as the children guess who the mystery reader may be.


Book Club

We are determined to support all children in their reading, and on occasions, some children may begin to make less progress than expected. In this case, we endeavour to support the child with reading both at school and at home. The Book Club is utilised to ensure children are challenged in their reading, both materials and discussion around reading. Pupils are invited to an early morning Book Club lead by an adult who introduces an unfamiliar text and spends time with pupils discussing various aspects of text.


Book Week

At Alexander First School, we use World Book day to celebrate and promote our children’s love of reading. To make the most of this national celebration we celebrate for a whole week rather than a day. The main aim of the week is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading, to celebrate authors and illustrators and to use the books they read as inspiration for their own writing. The events that take place have included an Oliver Twist drama workshop, cosy reading sessions with RBWM library as well as sharing reading sessions with families; book swap; book tasting; reading hunts and writing competitions in the style of the chosen text. The children always thoroughly enjoy the range of activities and the immersion in reading. Events like this inspire our children and encourage the lifelong love of reading that we are endeavouring to create.