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Our Learning

Being an Author (Reading)


At Barrs Court, our aim is to equip all children with the skills needed to become fluent, confident readers.  We passionately believe that the ability to read is central to pupils’ development and their success in education and beyond.  Consequently, reading is given a high priority by creating opportunities for children to become independent, enthusiastic and life-long readers.  It is our mission to enable every child to experience the magic and joy of reading by introducing them to a wide range of carefully chosen texts. 

Our Reading Journey

Early Reading in Reception and KS1


Phonics and Reading in Reception and Year 1:

Children in Reception and Year 1 are taught Phonics using the Little Wandle Phonics Programme.  In Reception children begin learning Grapheme-Phoneme correspondences (GPCs) from Phase 2 to 4.  (See Programme Overview which shows the progress of GPCs and tricky words taught each term.  The progression is organised so that children are the taught from the simple to more complex GPCs, as well as taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in commonly encountered words. In Year 1, pupils move onto Phase 5 which focuses on ‘growing the code’ and learning alternative graphemes for known phonemes. 

Download: Little Wandle Phonics and Reading Presentation for parents

All the graphemes taught are practised in words, sentences, and later on, in fully decodable books. Children review and revise GPCs and words, daily, weekly and across terms and years, in order to move this knowledge into their long-term memory.

Daily Phonics sessions have a familiar structure with opportunities to revisit and embed prior learning:


In addition to daily Phonics sessions, pupils apply their understanding during ‘Reading Practise Sessions’. Pupil’s phonic knowledge is assessed regularly and teachers are able to match decodable texts to pupils’ secure phonic knowledge – This means that pupils practise applying their understanding and do not come across words containing GPCs, tricky words etc that they do not yet know.  Pupils read with a trained adult 2-3 times each week using decodable ‘Big Cat for Little Wandle’ texts linked to their secure Phonic knowledge. Every session begins with practise recalling focus GPCs, reading of tricky words, focus words and exploration of new vocabulary.  Each session then has a clear focus on either decoding, prosody or comprehension.  


At the end of Year 1, pupils complete a statutory ‘Phonics Screening Check’ in which they are assessed on their understanding of letter sounds and decoding skills.  They read real and pseudo (nonsense) words - This is a great way of practicing breaking words into smaller parts and identifying known graphemes in unfamiliar words.  

Spelling and Reading in Year 2

From Year 2, most pupils have a secure phonic knowledge and read with increased fluency, recognising increasingly longer words by sight without orally segmenting/blending words.  Year 2 pupils then move on to learning Phase 6 spelling rules including homophones and suffixes.  Lessons are taught using the ‘No Nonsense Spelling’ scheme which ensures a clear progression of spelling concepts and opportunities to review, practise, apply and assess their understanding.  Pupils are also taught valuable strategies for spelling at the point of writing such as ‘have a go’ and the use of word banks and dictionaries.


Reading is taught through whole class reading sessions three times a week.  The reading skills of vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanations, retrieval and summarising (VIPERS) are explicitly taught over a two week cycle.  All pupils engage with a wide range of high-quality texts including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  Teachers use modelling, questioning and feedback to ensure pupils develop reading skills that allow them to discuss, analyse and comprehend age-appropriate texts. 


Reading Books:

Pupils’ phonic knowledge is assessed termly and this information is used to match decodable texts to each child’s secure Phonic knowledge.  Following their three Reading Practise sessions in school, the same book is assigned as an E-book for pupils to continue reading at home.  By this point, children are able to focus on fluency and comprehension and this is a fantastic celebration of the child’s reading journey that week.  In addition to a decodable ‘Big Cat for Little Wandle’ ebook, children will take home a high quality ‘sharing book’ from our school library and an additional Phonics book that gives them the opportunity to practise apply their Phonics skills.


Reading in KS2

Whole Class Reading:

In Key Stage 2, Reading is taught through whole class reading sessions. With the majority of children reading fluently by the start of KS2, our focus is now on understanding a text. The reading skills of vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanations, retrieval and summarising (VIPERS) are explicitly taught over a fortnightly cycle where children learn to identify the meaning of texts by modelling and practising key strategies.  Within these sessions, teachers will model reading focussing more specifically on how we identify the meaning of unknown words. All pupils engage with a wide range of high-quality texts including classic and modern stories, a range of non-fiction texts (which may be linked to their enquiry) and poetry.  Teachers use questioning, discussion and feedback to ensure pupils develop reading skills that allow them to analyse and comprehend age-appropriate texts.  In all these activities, teachers will look for opportunities to encourage lots of book talk to also develop the children’s oracy skills further.


Reading Books:

In addition to this, each child reads regularly with a trained adult. Where appropriate these sessions may focus on word reading but also support pupils developing their comprehension and understanding of what they’re read.  Pupils may continue to take home a banded text/Ebook matched to their individual reading level.  Once pupils reach the end of our banded ‘Big Cat’ reading books, they become ‘free readers’ and are encouraged to read a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts from our school book corners and library. 


Additional Support for Reading


Teachers use formative assessment during Whole Class Reading sessions to identify pupils at risk of falling behind Age Related Expectations (ARE).  Termly summative assessments are also used to track and monitor pupil progress in Reading.  The pupils with the lowest 20% attainment (plus pupils with SEN needs) are identified and additional support is implemented to ensure these pupils have opportunity to ‘close the gap’ and make at least expected progress. 


Reception and KS1:

In Reception and KS1, pupil progress is carefully monitored using Little Wandle Phonics assessments, Phonics Screening assessments, teacher assessment and Reading assessments (Year 2).  Little Wandle ‘Keep up sessions’ are used to address gaps in children’s Phonic knowledge or support children developing specific skills such as blending/tricky word recognition. These are either group or individual sessions dependent on the focus. Precision teaching is also used to develop fluency and confidence recognising GPCs and tricky words.  Short daily sessions are tailored to the needs of individual pupils. 


KS2 Reading Practise Sessions:

In Year 3 and 4, Reading Practice Sessions are planned for small groups of children whom we have identified would benefit from additional reading practise. These sessions are timetabled twice a week, are taught by a trained adult and follow the ‘Little Wandle’ recommended structure as used in KS1. Within these sessions, pupils practise recognising GPCs, tricky words and read books matched to their ability.  Sessions focus on decoding, prosody and comprehension.

KS2 Individual Keep Up Sessions:

Year 3 and 4 individual keep-up sessions are for children who have significant gaps in their phonic knowledge or decoding/blending skills.  A phonics assessment is used to identify exact areas of focus and the Little Wandle scheme is used to identify the appropriate keep up intervention.  Regular intervention sessions will then happen 1:1 with a trained adult. 


Extra Readers (1:1): Teaching staff identify children who will benefit from additional 1:1 reading opportunities in school and our trained reading volunteers read with these children on a weekly basis.


Reading at Home


To encourage regular reading at home, children are asked to read five times per week as part of their home learning.  If this is achieved, they earn a ‘Fiver’.  Earning ‘Fivers’ will enable children to achieve ‘Reading Karate’ belts, certificates and bands which regularly presented and celebrated in assemblies.


Reading for Pleasure


We know that children with positive attitudes towards reading are more likely to read at or above their expected age. In addition to this, children who read for pleasure make significantly more progress in vocabulary, spelling and maths than children who read very little. Therefore, reading for pleasure is very much promoted across our school and we aim to foster a life-long love of reading.

At Barrs Court, every class reads their own ‘class book’ in addition to their book they are reading to inspire their writing outcomes.  Our children engage with a range of different types of books and authors and each class has a dedicated, weekly, ‘Drop Everything And Read’ session where the children can read a book of their choice or can vote for a book for the teacher to read to them. We encourage plenty of book talk and discussion in these sessions. We often visit our school library during these sessions too so that the children can browse the shelves and take a book out if they wish. We also celebrate World Book Day annually and hold regular Book Weeks with a whole school theme.  Children also have the opportunity to participate in regular reading events, book swaps, community library visits and sponsored reading events during the year.


Our new library

We are very proud of our new library which is well-stocked with a vast range of high quality texts and is run by our librarians in Year 4. Every class in school is encouraged to book a slot in the library on a regular basis so that the children can peruse the shelves and take a book home to read themselves or share with an adult. We aim to update our books regularly so that our children can access a wide range of modern fiction and non-fiction and foster an interest and love for books.

Virtual Library

Come and have a look at our virtual library and enjoy listening to a story with your family.

Download: Barrs Court Virtual Library


Assessment - Impact  

Children’s progress in Reading is assessed against ‘Age Related Expectations’.  Teachers use pupils’ verbal and written responses to inform their judgements and they’re able to use this assessment information to see any gaps in learning and prioritise support for the following term.  Children in Year 2 are also assessed against the Reading TAF Framework and Year 6 pupils take a Reading SATs paper in term 6.

Get in touch

Barrs Court Primary School
Stephens Drive, Longwell Green, Bristol, BS30 7JB

01454 867799