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How we teach Reading at Whale Hill Primary

At Whale Hill Primary, we believe that reading is the gateway to all learning and are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers.  We value reading as a key life skill, one that lays the foundations for lifelong learning. It is our ambition to have every child reading by the age of six by teaching phonics in a systematic and targeted way, meeting children’s needs by ‘stage not age.’  By studying high-quality, relevant and engaging literature, in reading and also as a writing prompt, we extend our children’s horizons welcoming them to worlds beyond their doorsteps and imagination. We want children to have the confidence to play and experiment with vocabulary to both develop their speech and language and enable them to be more expressive in their writing.  We do this by weaving new vocabulary into all areas of the curriculum.  We provide our children with the tools to write for a variety of audiences and purposes (to entertain, inform and persuade) and equip them with the building blocks necessary for secondary school. 


Reading in Reception begins with phonics, from day one of starting school.  This then continues as children progress through Year 1 and 2.  At Whale Hill, we use a consistent approach to teaching word reading through the Read, Write, Inc programme. The main focus is to ensure that pupils can read accurately and fluently by the time they leave Year 2.   

Pupils who are not on track or are making slow progress are targeted for Fast Track Tutoring.  Pupils in Key Stage Two who have not passed the Phonics Screening Check access Fresh Start interventions to ensure they become fluent, successful readers.


In Nursery, pupils are encouraged to choose a book to take home and share.  As they start the RWI programme in Reception onwards they will take home :

  • A familiar RWI book that has been read in class all week.  They should be able to read this book fluently and we want them to show off their reading at home! (Children can also access an e-book version of this book).
  • A ‘Book Bag’ book which is a story based on a similar theme, closely matched to their phonic abiiity so that they can read it easily. 
  • A ‘reading for pleasure’ book which is a well-known story to enjoy sharing at home.


We have recently invested in updating our later reading scheme. Our main reading scheme is Oxford Reading tree, but we do have other schemes which supplement this.  There are many strands to the Oxford Reading Tree Scheme (see below) and all pupils experience a breadth of genres in both fiction and nonfiction.    After RWI phonics, our pupils work through the Oxford Reading Tree strands before moving onto the Tree Tops components in Key Stage 2.  We would anticipate a pupil who is at the expected standard to be reading specific levels by the end of each school year.

A new digital reading service to help every child develop key comprehension skills Oxford Reading Buddy is a digital reading platform for schools that coaches children’s reading and comprehension skills. Developed by reading and comprehension; Oxford Reading Buddy is designed to help children develop a lifelong love of reading.  Click on the picture below to watch a video about Reading Buddy which will explain it in more detail. 

As part of the recent update of our reading scheme, we will offer pupils who are no longer on the RWI scheme access to Oxford Reading Buddy (ORB).  This is an additional online element to Oxford Reading Tree that supplements the physical scheme.  The children can access virtual copies of their reading books, as well as further levelled texts, and challenge themselves with comprehension quizzes.  This informs both parents and teachers of their progress.  We encourage the children to access this on a weekly basis.


Some children in year Five and all children in year Six also access Reading Plus up to three times per week within the Guided Reading time of their English lessons. This is an online reading programme designed to improve reading speed and fluency, increase vocabulary and accelerate reading comprehension. Click on the picture below for more information and to watch a video explaining how Reading Plus works


After RWI through to Year 6, children can take home a book each day  – their school reading book (Oxford Reading Tree)

  • a book for pleasure will be available from the Reading Sanctuary.

Books will be changed after a discussion or completing an Oxford Reading Buddy quiz about their book. 



  • In Early Years and KS1 there is a timetabled daily story time where quality texts are shared and enjoyed.
  • Each class has a stimulating and inviting book corner for children to enjoy reading familiar books that they know and love. 
  • Our school reading sanctuary operates as a library to encourage reading for pleasure. All Key Stage Two children have the opportunity to sign up for a library card in order to check out a book to take home and read. Our partnership with World of Stories ensures that the reading sanctuary is stocked with an extensive range of books for the children to enjoy.
  • We celebrate World Book Day every year where we encourage children (and staff!) to share their favourite books and to dress up as their favourite story characters.
  • We seek out opportunities to invite authors and poets into school to work with the children. Recent visitors have included Paul Cookson, Liz Millions and Tom Palmer.


We are delighted to have a wonderful school library stocked with the latest range of books from a host of diverse authors as well as the classics of children’s literature. Children are able to sign up for a library card and borrow library books alongside their school reading books. The library provides a calm, inviting space for children to relax with a book and discover their new favourite author.


We are fortunate to be a Read North East partnership school which is a National Literacy Trust campaign to raise literacy levels and change the life stories of children and families across the region. This partnership enable us to provide our children with an exciting programme of events including author and creative visits, writing workshops, book donations and access to various activities for children and families to enjoy together.


At Whale Hill, we celebrate reading with:

  • Weekly ORB certificates.
  • Rewards for completing ORB quizzes.
  • Reading Awards and book prizes every half term.


Reading Policy to follow shortly.

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