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Communication – Reading – Writing


At Reeth and Gunnerside Schools, we believe that all children can become fluent readers and writers. We know that developing a love of our language is key in securing success at school and we value and promote all aspects of English as crucial life skills. 

When teaching phonics, our aim is that all children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. We 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 language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects. It is important that by the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. 

We aim for children to be independent, confident and creative writers. We encourage them to write in depth, articulating ideas clearly with purpose and audience in mind. We give children a wide range of opportunities in which to develop their writing skills both in English lessons and through the wider curriculum.


Phonics and early reading

We teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Nursery and Reception 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.

Foundations for phonics in Nursery

We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:

  • sharing high-quality stories and poems
  • learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
  • activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
  • attention to high-quality language
  • We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception

Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1

We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.

Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.

We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:

  • 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 Phase 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.

Rapid Catch-up

We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or above that 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 Little Wandle’s rapid catch-up programme. It mirrors the main phonics programme but has been created to help children catch up quickly, so has a faster pace. By the end of the programme, children should be reading with enough fluency and accuracy to access the curriculum in class, and to read with enjoyment and understanding. 

Teaching reading with 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 on pages 11–20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’.
  • 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 Year 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

The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family. Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through parent meetings.

Additional reading support

Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.

Ensuring consistency and pace of progress 

Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.

Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme. Lesson templates, Prompt cards and How to videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.

The Reading Leader and headteacher regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use a Little Wandle lesson template to ensure that key features of phonics teaching are included and summative data to identify children who have gaps in learning and need additional support.



Reading from Year 2 

The Collins Big Cat scheme is used throughout the school and continues to provide carefully structured reading support throughout Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Collins Big Cat is a levelled reading programme, with built-in progression. Textual features and language increase in complexity as children work up through the colour book bands, so they are challenged and developed as readers. Reading stamina is also increased as children automatically encounter longer and more complex texts as they read up through the bands.

Children will also read and analyse a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts within their English lessons and whole class guided reading sessions. Whole class guided reading takes place at least three times per week and will include:

  • Developing the key skill focus for that lesson (vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval, sequencing, or summarising)
  • A close look at key vocabulary children are unfamiliar with
  • An element of prosody
  • Modelled answering of questions


Alongside whole class reading lessons, children who require extra support with their reading receive:

  • Small group or individual focused reading sessions with a specific focus to meet their needs
  • Daily one to one catch up reading with their class teacher or teaching assistant
  • Phonics catch up and consolidation sessions if required using the resource Phonic Books


Reading for pleasure  

‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002)

We value reading for pleasure and work hard as a school to promote it, supporting all learners to find enjoyment in reading.  

  • We read to children every day in Early Years and Key Stage 1 and at least three times each week in Key Stage 2. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at our school and our local community as well as books that open doors to other places and cultures.
  • In Early Years, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
  • Each school has an inviting and extensive library that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.  Our libraries are well stocked with a range of quality classic and new fiction, non-fiction texts and weekly children’s newspapers.
  • Children from Reception onwards have a home reading record. Parents and pupils record comments to share with the adults in school.
  • As children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own book reviews and these are available for others to read on the school website.
  • Librarians visit both schools on a regular basis, promoting a love of reading and fostering links with the local library in Reeth.
  • We use books to enrich assemblies and reading is embedded in the wider school curriculum.
  • Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of reading for pleasure events (book fairs, national events, summer reading challenge).
  • We encourage reading at home at least four times per week. Our reading tree reward scheme promotes this regular home reading and celebrates the children’s achievements. Children who read at least four times per week are placed on the reading tree display, which is evident in every classroom. There are also opportunities provided for children who are unable to read with an adult at home to read their reading scheme book at school, and to also achieve the success of being on the reading tree. 



In Early Years, writing and mark making is promoted in all areas. Children are encouraged to talk and write about things they are interested in. Writing skills begin in Early Years, moving steadily from spoken language to being able to write independently in a structured and purposeful way.

At Key Stage 1 & 2 we aim for our children to become fluent, creative writers, who can write for a range of purposes and audiences. Through our teaching of writing, we aim to nurture in our children a love of literature and language, by placing literature at the centre of English lessons. Children will explore and develop their vocabulary through seeing it in practise and will explore grammar and punctuation in line with the National Curriculum objectives for their phase.

‘We often talk about the importance of pupils ‘reading as writers, and writing as readers’. It’s a powerful idea which doesn’t translate simply into a list of practices, but which is more about the culture of the classroom: the way pupils are encouraged always to think about their reading and their writing as in dialogue with each other; the way they are encouraged to develop a certain sense of control when they are reading and when they are writing.’  

James Durran 

Children will experience and read a range of books together, which will be used to inspire the writing process and provide opportunities for children to create a range of text types with an intended purpose. Through our topic based English planning, children are given a wide range of opportunities in which to develop their writing skills in all curriculum areas.

Children will create purposeful pieces of writing, supported by our ‘Boxed Success Criteria’ model, which puts an audience and purpose at the heart of all their writing. This model encourages children to consider the effect they would like their writing to have on the reader, and what vocabulary and literary techniques will help them to achieve this.

See below an example of the Boxed Success Criteria model used throughout school. Courtesy of James Durran.

Group and individual targets for improvement are set termly or more frequent if appropriate and recording in English books.


In Early Years and KS1, spelling is taught through the teaching of phonics using Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revisited. Children are encouraged to practise learned spelling patterns at home through regular homework.

For the teaching of spelling from Year 2 upwards, we follow the programme No Nonsense Spelling in which children will learn spelling patterns and rules, statutory words, common exceptions, and personal spellings. No Nonsense Spelling teaches spelling in a ‘little-but-often’ structure which allows children to revisit and review, learn new strategies, and apply them in their writing.

Spelling lists are provided for pupils in spelling books. Spelling tests are conducted once a week across KS1 and KS2.



Early Years, children begin writing by mark making, and are then taught how to form letters accurately and to develop a good pencil hold. Handwriting is then taught using the Morrell’s Handwriting scheme from KS1 upwards. Children are taught to develop a fluent, legible writing style, and are encouraged to take pride in their work by presenting it neatly.


Phonics and early reading

Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.

Assessment for learning is used:

  • daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
  • weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.

Summative assessment is used:

  • every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need
  • by the reading leader and the headteacher to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
  • with any child new to the school to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge (using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised placement assessment)

Statutory assessment

  • Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.

Ongoing assessment for catch-up

Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through:

  • their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment
  • the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds placement assessment
  • the appropriate half-termly assessments.


Pupils in Year 1 to 6 are assessed each term using a NTS assessment. These tests, complimented by key objective teacher assessment, help us to monitor the progress of each pupil.


Summative assessments of grammar, punctuation and spelling are completed at the end of each term using of GAPS tests and Rising Stars Assessment Tests. This information, combined with key objective teacher assessment of pupils’ written work, enables us to monitor progress and identify learning priorities for groups and individuals.

For further information. please contact our English subject leader, Catherine Guy, or our phonics and early reading leader, Abby Codman.