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We are incredibly proud of the improvements in the teaching of Reading at Whitwell Primary School!

Staff are united with the shared vision of Whitwell being a Reading School, where everyone gets the best chance to succeed with this fundamental skill, in order to tackle to the secondary school curriculum and life as a reader.


In 2022 our KS2 Reading data really improved, despite the COVID pandemic, meaning we can celebrate the impact that the improved teaching is making in school.

KS1 Reading data remained in line with National data.


Our KS1 Phonic Screening Results have also remained consistent thanks to the amazing work that the staff have put into this. During the pandemic this continued through live lessons, quality first teaching when the children were in school and intervention groups.


At Whitwell Primary School we consider the teaching of English to be integral and fundamental to the whole of the primary curriculum and pivotal for learning for every curriculum area. We believe that our children need to be well equipped with the skills to tackle all aspects of English as this underpins everything that they will come across later in life. We aspire to facilitate a continual learning journey for them which starts in nursery as the children begin life in school. English develops children’s abilities to listen, speak, read and write for a variety of purposes, using language to learn and communicate ideas, views and feelings.


English is taught daily to the requirements of the National Curriculum for children in Key Stage 1 and 2 and is also reinforced in most subjects across the curriculum. Teachers plan lessons to cover the reading and analysis of a shared text, deconstruction of text, speaking and listening or drama activities, followed by modelled writing, leading into independent writing opportunities. Discrete skills are taught progressively over a unit of work. Grammar is incorporated into each unit of work as appropriate.

Children are also given opportunities to read and write widely across the primary curriculum.

All teachers read frequently to their classes from a wide range of texts, choosing books to share that children may not choose for themselves. This includes reading non-fiction from news sites and other science, geographical and historical websites.


English learning is split into 3 key areas:

  • Speaking and Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing

Phonics - Implementation

At Whitwell, phonics is taught through a systematic, synthetic phonics programme called Read, Write Inc.

All staff in school received refresher training for this in September 2022.

Children are taught how to break down words into their individual sounds in order to read and how to put sounds together for writing.


The children know to sound out or ‘Fred Talk’ each sound whilst pointing underneath the letters, then to blend the sounds to make the word. If your child knows them on sight they can read them without sounding out and this is an important progression in their reading.


A frog called 'Fred' helps children to learn to read as part of the Read Write Inc program. The children love Fred!

Children are assessed and split into small groups so that children are taught within the appropriate phase. Assessment is regular and children will be moved between the groups as they are ready.

Year 1 children take the phonics screening check in June. Parents will be informed of the results with the annual school report.


Phonics Sessions

In total, the children learn 44 common sounds in the English language and how to sound-blend words for reading at the same time as developing handwriting skills and spelling. As their confidence in decoding develops they are taught to comprehend, reading books and answering questions together.


Green Words - During our Read Write Inc sessions we practise our reading skills by reading ‘Green Words’. These are words that are decodable because they only contain sounds that your child will be able to recognise. For example – mad, top, wish, bang, green, clean. The children have met Fred during our sessions. Fred is a frog who cannot read words as we can but says everything in sounds, or ‘Fred Talk’.


Red Words – These are used to help the children recognise the fact that there are words that are tricky to read because you cannot sound them out in the normal way. For example – my, said, they, are, you. Your child needs to be able to read these words on sight.


Further information

If you would like to know more about Phonics, the link below will take you to a collection of very useful videos on ‘What is Phonics?’, on how to pronounce the sounds (phonemes) we use to make words and how you can help with phonics at home. It is really useful for parents to know how to help their child read using the correct sounds.


We also host a meeting for parents regarding the teaching of phonics in school. (See calendar)

Reading - Implementation

Once children have a secure knowledge of letter/sound correspondences and can blend words confidently, they access our phonetically decodable core reading scheme which matches the Read, Write Inc Programme. There are fiction and non-fiction books within each band.


Reading records are sent home with reading books and we aim to work in partnership with parents in helping children both to learn to read and to love reading. Once children become competent readers they access ‘free-readers’ and for children who begin to fall behind with their reading we provide intervention to help to accelerate progress.


‘Free Readers’

Once a child is reading fluently they will no longer need to follow the reading scheme but can chose from a wide selection of ‘real books’. To support this, each child will undertake a ‘Star Reading Test’, this is an online test used to measure a child’s reading level. The test uses multiple-choice questions and takes around 20 minutes. The child is then given a range of books they can choose from. 


Accelerated Reader is a reading program we use to help teachers support and monitor children’s reading practice. Your child picks a book at their own level and reads it at their own pace. When finished, your child takes a short online quiz to measure how much of the book they understood. Regular testing ensures your child is reading books at an appropriate level. School has a good range of books for children to select from, including books from popular authors, such as Roald Dahl and Francesca Simon, a wider range of non-fiction (National Geographic) and more recently have purchased books with more diverse themes.


Guided Reading

The children in Y2, who no longer need phonics’ sessions, and the children in KS2 (Y3-Y6) have a daily guided reading session lasting around 25 minutes during which activities are planned to address the improvement and consolidation of reading skills. During these sessions children read to teachers and teaching assistants regularly. Guided Reading books offer a level of challenge and children are developing better comprehension and inference skills.



Children across school are quickly put into intervention groups when appropriate.

These include RWI phonics, NELI and the Inference Intervention Programme. All children are supported with additional reading sessions with familiar adults.


Whole Class teaching

Reading is taught within every genre block. Children have access to quality texts and are taught the strands of the 'reading toolkit' in order to be efficient and confident readers. Children are taught to examine structure, vocabulary and content linked to a genre as a model for their own work. This is used across the curriculum, our children know that reading is not just part of an English lesson.

Writing - implementation

Children are taught writing in genre blocks which link to a text. The whole process of learning is to use Speaking & Listening techniques, including drama, then to relate this back to a text. The children have access to text so that they can learn about its structure and any relevant grammar features. They often have a comprehension activity linked to it too. Finally, the children will learn from modelling by the teacher and the text. They will practise writing at all levels. These lessons will then build up to a ‘best’ piece of writing which will be used for assessment.


Grammar is taught as an integral part of English lessons. Occasionally, it may be taught in separate lessons if it is an unusual grammar feature or it requires additional practise. Spelling is taught frequently and the children build on the phonic patterns learned in KS1. Spellings are reinforced across the curriculum and are taught at an age appropriate level.


Handwriting is taught in all classes across school. In EYFS the children are taught letter formations, KS1 children practise ‘whooshes’ as they learn to write the letters and phonic sounds and children are encouraged to join up their writing from Y2 onwards.

Speaking and Listening (implementation) therefore becomes an integral part of the day. From the very first opportunities in the EYFS, every chance is taken to develop speech and language skills. As children develop, many opportunities are provided for them to plan, prepare and present across the curriculum. They also have chance to ‘present’ in class activities, in assemblies and also through drama including school productions. We encourage children to use their voice and know when it is important to speak out! They are taught to listen with respect, to listen as a critical friend to peers and to listen for key information in lessons. There are many examples of different listening activities in all subject areas.



Assessment is continual in English. 

We assess using diagnostic and summative assessments.

Reading is tracked frequently using phonic assessments, STAR reading and also SWST Reading twice a year.

Children from Y1 upwards also complete NFER reading assessments twice each year.

Assessment and progress notes are recorded in guided reading and through the progression through the reading scheme in KS1 and into LKS2.

Children are assessed using NFER spelling, punctuation and grammar twice yearly in Y1 – 5.

Children in Y2 and Y6 are prepared for all the end of KS2 assessments.

Data is recorded termly on the online tracking system.