Reading and Phonics


At BHJS we understand the importance of encouraging a love for reading, after all it underpins everything we do every day of our lives. We desire for every child within our school to develop a love of reading; a good knowledge of a range of authors, genres and text-types; and, to be able to understand more about the world in which they live through the knowledge they gain from texts. These texts should encompass the best that has been thought and written. We intend to design, and continuously improve upon, a curriculum that builds on the foundations laid within the early years and infants schooling to provide children with the fluency of decoding and comprehension skills required to understand and analyse texts. In doing so, we aim to address the ‘5 Plagues of Reading’ so that every child can successfully access every subject in the secondary curriculum before continuing their journey beyond to college, university and life-long learning.

We do not put ceilings on what pupils can achieve in reading and we do not hold pre-conceptions about any pupils’ ability to make progress: all children are expected to meet national standards and we intend to put in place targeted support to ensure that they do. Furthermore, we understand the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop positive reading habits, decoding and comprehension skills. This can be achieved by encouraging home-school partnerships which enable parents and carers to understand how to enhance the skills being taught in school through good quality and breadth of texts.

Finally, we intend for our curriculum to represent the diversity of our pupils and the wider world through book corners, a school library and studied texts that represent all genders, races, religions, differing world views and that challenge stereotypes. By doing so, we hope to remove all limitations on children’s aspirations and develop responsible citizens who contribute positively to a tolerant, cohesive and prosperous future society.

Why is reading so important?

‘Developing a reading habit is perceived as helping students to get better at reading. Teresa Cremin et al (2014) suggest that the acquisition of the habit of reading is helped when teachers build communities of readers in their classrooms, developing a love of reading and the motivation to do so – building both the will and the skill. Likewise, Jerrim and Moss (2018) argue that reading fiction is a predictor of long-term academic success. ‘ EEF Blog: Reading aloud with your class – what does the research say?


In order to achieve this we aspire to share as adults our own love of reading with our classes. We encourage the children to read a wide-range of authors and genres (including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, classics etc…) through which they are immersed into new worlds through challenging texts that represent our diverse school and world community, challenge stereotypes and deepen the topics studied in the wider curriculum. See the ‘Reading Progression BHJS November 2020’ document to view how this has been mapped out across the school.

Phonics & Fluency of Decoding

Before being able to successfully access whole class reading sessions, some pupils may require differentiated and/or additional provision to accelerate progress toward age-related expectations for fluency in phonics and decoding. This may be due to SEN, EAL, PP or other individual needs.

Nessy Phonics, Reading & Spelling (x3 weekly adheres to the Orton-Gillingham approach, meaning that each child receives instruction tailored to his or her specific needs.

  • Flexible enough to be adapted to how the individual learns. Nessy can be used to supplement an existing program or as a complete system of instruction.
  • Every resource is graded so the student is not expected to know anything that has not yet been taught.
  • Multisensory activities are used to teach reading and spelling at the same time.
  • A highly structured, sequential, cumulative and systematic phonics based learning program.

The essential components are: phoneme-grapheme correspondences; six syllable types; suffixes; rhyming skills; phoneme identity, blending and segmentation; phonological awareness; phonics and word recognition; vocabulary, fluency and comprehension

Daily Precision Grids are also used for some pupils, particularly those for who phonics alone does not achieve the best results. Individualised to focus on a few common misconception words that a child has yet to acquire fluency of sight word-recognition.

The Intensive Reading Programme (daily 20 mins) is an alternative to whole class reading for Years 3 and 4 and an additional afternoon intervention for Years 5 and 6. Through daily recorded reading assessment and progressing children through the Read, Write Inc and Oxford Reading Tree book bands, pupil progress can be accelerated to close the gap between them and age-related expectations. Where possible & pertinent, particularly for UKS2, pupils also participate in whole class reading sessions in order to access age appropriate texts with deep themes and challenge to stretch them towards being SATs ready.

Read to Succeed focusses on reading comprehension strategies and reading for enjoyment. Children are selected from PP and data (working towards, greater depth, falling behind KS1 projected attainment for KS2). Depending on the need of the children, the children are taught in pairs, groups or 1:1, targets are given by the teacher.

Early Bird is an additional morning booster group that focuses on skills for written answers aimed predominantly at Year 6 pupils. This may be to stretch those working at or toward Greater Depth Standards; to boost those Working Towards Standards; or, to secure those working within Expected Standards.

Whole Class Reading

Reading is taught through focusing on the core skills of VIPERS:

V – vocabulary
I –  inference
P – predict
E – explain
R – retrieve
S – summarise

On a Monday the children are introduced to the text, starting with the revealing of the title and first line/paragraph. Throughout this session the teacher will model their thinking as a reader using the ‘read aloud’ and ‘think aloud’ model and through the use of three key questions: What do we know? What do we think we know? What might happen next?  As the teacher continues to reveal the text, the children are encouraged to become more active participants within the session explaining and justifying their reasons with their peers, agreeing with another ‘because …’ or giving a different opinion, building upon others’ ideas and making comparisons within & across texts on areas such as plot, character, genre, language techniques, style, layout and themes. Progressively sophisticated high-utility tier 2 vocabulary and sentences stems are modelled orally by adults and children are expected to use these in their own oral contributions.

Tuesday to Thursday (20mins) the sessions focus on vocabulary, inference and retrieval questions firstly modelled by the teacher or the children complete in pairs, then the children complete vocabulary, inference and retrieval questions  independently within the same lesson. Progressively sophisticated tier 2 vocabulary and sentence stems are modelled in written answers and children are challenged to include these in their written answers where appropriate. Careful questioning and differentiated scaffolds targeted at individuals alongside extra challenges or low threshold, high ceiling tasks aim to provide challenge for the most able readers as well as stretch all toward greater depth standards.

Friday the reading session is an hour long. Throughout the session all the VIPERS are taught through a comprehension text.  Over a period of three weeks the comprehensions are completed x2 modelled/paired learning and x1 week the children are required  to complete  the comprehension independently, this always the children to practice and apply the VIPERS skills when reading across the curriculum and school day. The independent comprehension provides a low-stakes formative assessment against VIPERS to inform teachers’ subsequent planning.

Reading Café 
Once a term ‘Reading Cafes’ are held within classes – to promote a pleasure of reading during this half hour play children are encouraged to read  a book of their choice either independently or with a partner. In order to create a ‘café environment’ teachers play background music and the children are treated to a drink and biscuits. Some guidance and scaffolds for sophisticated book talk are provided.

Book Buddies
Year 3 children are paired with Year 6 children fortnightly to read to each other. This is an opportunity where our younger children are able to benefit from listening to the fluency, intonation and expression of our older children. Vice versa our older children are able to enhance their questioning skills by asking their ‘Buddy’ about the text they have read. Each Year 6 child is given a booklet about how to support their ‘Buddy’ and are required to complete a record sheet of the session.

Story-time is planned in each day for the teachers to read to their classes, this could be the book they are reading as part of their English lessons or a choice made by the class and teacher together.

Independent Reading
Children are encouraged to read daily independently for a period of 10/15 minutes after lunch, providing another opportunity for reading for enjoyment. During this time, pupils may be encouraged to share a recommendation orally or via a class book of recommendations/display and share something exciting about their book with the class. Teachers and parents work together to monitor pupil selections and provide recommendations based on ability & knowledge of the pupil. Book banding is not currently used in order not to limit pupil choice or aspirations; however, a range of challenge is available in all classroom, including texts that are dyslexia friendly, appeal to reluctant readers and will stretch the most advanced.

Home-School Partnership
Reading records to record daily reading in are taken between school and home. As mentioned, teachers and parents work together to monitor pupil selections.  Regular recommendations and reminders are communicated to parents via Twitter, email and parents evenings. Additionally, the parent community is encouraged to support the school with donations from our Amazon Wishlist of carefully selected texts. Bromley heath is also developing its use of Youtube & Twitter to promote a variety of adult role-models from our school community, famous authors and celebrity readings of books.

Each year, the school celebrates World Book Day with each year group studying a specific author and encouraging fancy dress in favourite characters from books or indeed authors. We also have an annual English week that aims to further promote and enrich students’ experiences of English language and literature through author visits, visiting readers and special experiences. Around the school, displays such as ‘Author of the Month’ and ‘Extreme Reading’ further enrich the reading environment.

In order to maximise the impact on our pupils development in reading, it is essential that the reading lead gain an insight into how reading is learnt and taught across the school, identifying actions for the future and providing professional development opportunities for the staff in the best practice that contemporary evidence-based research provides. Book looks, pupil progress meetings, lesson observations, pupil voice, data, drop-ins and collaborative practice with our partner schools all assist with continuous improvement of pedagogy and curriculum provision for all pupils.

How is reading assessed at BHJS?
Reading is assessed through the use of PIRA reading tests in years 3-5 that the children take three times a year. In Year 6 reading is assessed termly using past SAT Reading papers. Children who have been identified as not meeting age related expectations are given extra support from year 3 onwards in order to boost the child’s reading comprehension, confidence, and fluency whilst also promoting an enjoyment for reading. Support through the school is given in a number of ways:  Early bird intervention, Read to Succeed with our Reading Assistant, Wave 3 intervention, Focus in class and reading with volunteers.


Intended Impact

By the end of LKS2 we expect our children to: –

  • Have decoding skills that are secure and hence vocabulary is developing;
  • Be independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers who read widely and frequently;
  • Be developing their understanding and enjoyment of stories, poetry, plays and non-fiction, and learning to read silently;
  • Be developing their knowledge and skills in reading non-fiction about a wide range of subjects;
  • Be able to justify their views independently about what they have read.

By the end of Year 6 we expect our children to:

  • Read sufficiently fluently and effortlessly, with understanding at an age appropriate interest level in readiness for secondary school;

In addition we expect our children to:

  • Have a love of reading that feeds the imagination and nurtures a critical mind;
  • Read widely across both fiction and non-fiction, developing knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live;
  • Have a developed vocabulary beyond that used in everyday speech;
  • Understand nuances in vocabulary choice;
  • Understand age-appropriate, academic vocabulary in preparation for life-long learning. 

Measured Impact

Termly assessment is showing that the majority children at Bromley Heath Junior School are achieving in Reading, and English generally, at age-related expectations. In each year group, we have percentages of children working at greater depth roughly inline or above national expectations and this is evidenced in our SATs results over the last four years:

Pupil conferencing, observations and conversations with parents regarding children’s attitudes to reading and reading habits also provide further evidence that the majority of pupils are enthusiastic readers who enjoy reading fiction and non-fiction for a variety of purposes including pleasure. Many pupils read above and beyond the minimum expectations of 15 minutes a day at home with a large number reading well in excess of this.