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Sowing seeds of success: Growing courageous learners

Growing Courageous Learners.

Reading at Sowerby


At Sowerby Primary Academy, our intention is to that all pupils develop a lifelong love for reading, achieve high standards of literacy and become confident and independent readers. The intent of reading in our school is to:

  • Foster a passion for reading by creating a reading-rich environment that celebrates and values literature.
  • Ensure all pupils have access to a wide range of high-quality reading materials that reflects their interests, backgrounds and diverse cultures.
  • Develop pupils’ reading skills progressively, allowing them to acquire fluency, comprehension and critical thinking abilities.
  • Promote reading for pleasure as well as reading for academic purposes.



Phonics and Early Reading

In Early Years and Key Stage 1, we use a wide range of approaches to develop children’s early reading skills, including shared reading, storytelling, and explicitly extending children’s vocabulary.  We believe that early reading requires the development of a broad and balanced approach, and that this will be more effective than focusing on any single aspect of early reading.

In Early Years, we have a strong focus on developing language and communication. This is especially important for young children and supports the development of a range of early literacy skills, as well
as their wider knowledge and understanding. To support language comprehension, we focus on vocabulary development, language structures and children’s wider understanding of the world (background knowledge) through storytelling and shared reading activities.

To support the development of decoding, we follow the Essential Letters and Sounds approach to phonics. Please see the Phonics curriculum page for more information on our phonics scheme.


Whole Class Reading

Reading is taught discretely in a daily, thirty-minute reading lesson. In years two to six, the key skills of reading are developed through guided access to beautiful, rich and authentic texts. Across the course of the school year, children systematically access a wide range of texts. 

Teachers introduce a whole text, pivotal moments or challenging content by activating schema: creating links between what the child already knows and the text they are about to access. Lessons may also involve pre-teaching vocabulary that children need to understand first to be able to access their reading. In all whole class reading lessons, children practice reading with fluency and expression. This can involve any number of key reading strategies:

  • cloze reading, in which pupils follow text read by the teacher and fill in ‘gaps’ that they leave;
  • choral reading, where pupils and staff read a passage aloud together;
  • echo reading, in which key tricky sentences are modelled by the teacher and repeated by the children with similar intonation and rhythm.
  • paired or group reading, with children reading to each other in small groups. 


Teachers then model and explicitly teach a key skill or concept to the class, such as making judgements about a character’s personality, empathising with a character in a dilemma or predicting what might happen next. Children are shown the process of being a reader before they work independently.

The main body of a whole class reading lesson should be centred on the rich exploration of a text, its language and the impact of the language used. Reading will not be reduced to “teaching to the test”, however there will be a clear and consistent focus on teaching test-style questions (assessment rubric) at the end of each lesson which are based on question stems from content domains and end of key stage assessments.

Individual Reading and Fluency

Children read often, giving them the practice that they need to decode, recognise words at sight and read with expression. Reading is integrated into all areas of the curriculum as a method of presenting information. Individual reading fluency and expression will be taught using the school’s current phonics and reading schemes and through whole class reading. Pupils currently using a reading scheme book will be listened to at least weekly by an adult in school. Pupils who do not pass the phonics screening check in Y1 will receive personalised intervention to support with their phonic strategies until they are reading and decoding with fluency. Pupils will receive regular opportunities to read for pleasure independently through the use of libraries and reading areas with high-quality, age/stage-appropriate texts which they can take home.