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At the Priory School we are passionate about building a love of stories and reading in children. We allocate time everyday to read books with the whole class, while also developing the fluent reading skills children need to succeed. We use a range of resources to provide a coloured book banding scheme, initially linked to their phonics knowledge, which children progress through until they are assessed to be a ‘free reader’.

Since 2020 we have invested hundreds of pounds in ensuring our reading books are well-matched to a child’s reading ability – down to the exact grapheme (i.e. sound and corresponding letter combination) that a child is learning. Our phonics reading schemes are listed below:

Synthetic Phonics Readers for younger children (Phases 2 – 6)

  • Reading Planet Rising Stars 
  • Rocket Phonics and Comet Street Kids
  • Letters and Sounds books
  • Oxford Reading Tree – Floppy’s Phonics and Floppy’s Phonics (fiction and non-fiction) and Sounds and Letters

Synthetic Phonics Readers for older children (Phases 2 – 6)

  • Project X Hero Academy
  • Moondog Series
  • Rescue Series

During the coronavirus pandemic the school has made good use of e-books, subscribing to both Oxford reading owl and Oxford reading buddies (due to be relaunched). For our Year 6 readers we have subscribed to ‘Reading Plus’, as part of our catch-up programme.

The School has a small library, which we try to keep regularly stocked with new titles following Book Fair Days and generous donations.

All children have a reading diary and are expected to read daily. We are introducing reading journals as a way for them to reflect on their reading and not simply develop basic comprehension skills.

Our Reading Spine

This reading spine constantly evolves as teachers discover new books they would love to share with the children. We are passionate about our children hearing ‘different voices’ so we aim for a diverse range of authors – even is Matt Haig is a particular favourite for many of us!

Reading Progression of Skills

Reading skills are tracked carefully and our progression documents can be found below:

How to support reading at home

This advice is from Booktrust.org.uk

  • Set aside some time
    Find somewhere quiet without any distractions – turn off the TV/radio/computer.
  • Ask your child to choose a book
    Sharing books they have chosen shows you care what they think and that their opinion matters. This means they are more likely to engage with the book.
  • Sit close together
    Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages.
  • Point to the pictures
    If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell you the story by looking at the pictures.
  • Encourage your child to talk about the book
    Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Give your child plenty of time to respond. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling or how the book makes them feel.
  • And lastly, above all – make it fun!
    It doesn’t matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together. Don’t be afraid to use funny voices – children love this!


The school has a consistent approach to teaching phonics in EYFS and KS1. Our main resource is ‘Letters and Sounds’, although we also did into ‘Jolly Phonics’ for some of the rhymes and actions.

Each phonics session consists of the following elements:
Structure of a Phonics lesson

Revise (approx 5 mins)
This is the opportunity for children to revise previously learnt sounds or high frequency words.  

Teach (approx 5 mins) 
The teacher will introduce the word of the day and sound of the day (this will include alternative graphemes of the same sound).

Practice (approx 10 mins) 
The children have the opportunity to practice reading and writing words with the sound/word of the day e.g. which graphemes are found where and generate rules whether at the beginning, middle or end of a word. The children may read a passage and circle words with the sound of the day in or practice writing their word of the day in their spelling journals. They will play games: bingo, word searches, roll and read, go on word hunts around the playground, pen/chalk relay games, musical statues (when the music stops read the word you are stood on).  

Apply (approx 5 mins)
The children apply this new knowledge in a set job. e.g. Dictation. Use phoneme frames, the teacher calls out the word and the children write it into the phoneme frame
Another example would be to sort a bank of words according to their grapheme. 

Phonics Progression of Skills

How to Support Phonics at Home

You may find the following resources useful to support phonics learning at home:

Spelling and Grammar Development

At the Priory School, we follow the National Curriculum Programmes of Study for Spelling, Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation.

  • To implement the spelling curriculum, we also follow the ‘No Nonsense’ spelling scheme from Year 2 to Year 6. All teachers must use this scheme when planning spelling sessions. 
  • Joined writing will be encouraged to support spelling and motor memory (Year 2 onwards).
  • Children will be provided with a Spelling Journal which will be primarily used to record personal spellings, vocabulary choices and grammar and punctuation notes. This will be used as a reference point or resource for children during the writing process as well as for practising spellings.
  • Children will receive two discrete half-hour ‘core skills’ slots each week for spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation related activities
  • The teaching of spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation will be mainly taught in conjunction with reading and writing related activities taught during reading and talk for writing lessons.

Progression of Skills in SPAG (Spelling and Grammar)


Talk for Writing Strategy

Talk For Writing is the school’s strategy for core English teaching. It starts from the premise that children will be unable to write a sentence unless they can say a sentence. You can’t create from nothing – you need to be given the language tools and story frameworks in order to invent your own.

At its heart, ‘Talk for Writing’ starts with enjoying and sharing stories. Children learn to tell a story off by heart. They tell the story with expression and actions. Once a story is learnt, the children are encouraged to adapt it to make it their own, for example by changing the characters or the setting. As they get more confident, rather than simply changing elements of the story, they can manipulate and combine different genres and text types to create something new.

Class 5 learning the model text during the imitation phase

Our most recent Talk For Writing Parent Workshop was held in February 2019 and we shared how we use this approach to teach writing at our school. Below is a copy of the parent brochure about the approach:

Writing Progression of Skills