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Golden Valley Primary School

Learning for Lifelong Success

Reading and Phonics


At Golden Valley, we want our pupils to develop a life-long love of books by exposing them to a range of authors and high quality texts. We aim for all children to become fluent readers with a love of reading. Through the high quality teaching of phonics and reading skills, they will be able to develop their knowledge of the world in which they live.

We have embedded a strong reading culture across the school and an environment in which reading is valued and championed.

The Enjoyment of Reading

At Golden Valley we take every opportunity to promote and celebrate reading. We have carefully chosen the books for each of our classroom libraries and the teachers can talk with knowledge and enthusiasm about the selection. This allows each teacher to understand every child in their care as a reader and guide them to select suitable texts to support their reading journey. Our school library is well stocked with non-fiction books which are borrowed by the children to supplement the classroom libraries. These are chosen to suit the children’s interests and to link to our units of work in history, geography and science as well as ensuring that the children are exposed to a diversity of cultures.

Reading for Pleasure sessions are built in each week to allow children to share books with a friend. Within these sessions, children may choose to read picture books, poetry, plays, newspapers and non-fiction books for example.

This is a useful website to support reading at home;


Providing children with a rich diet of literature is important to us so teachers read aloud to children at least once each day from carefully chosen class novels, poetry or picture books. The books that teachers read aloud may be key texts for our writing outcomes or chosen to enrich learning in history or geography.

At Golden Valley, we take every opportunity to celebrate reading: we hold two book fairs each year, Celebrate World Book Day, promote the Library Summer Reading Scheme, take part in voting panels for National Book Awards and run a children’s book group. We have also hosted several author visits to inspire the children in their reading choices. There is a Year 6 Book group where children have the opportunity to read and discuss more challenging texts. In addition to this, there are opportunities to read and vote on books that have been shortlisted for National Awards.


The journey to becoming a fluent reader begins in Reception when children develop their phonic skills through the daily delivery of Unlocking Letters and Sounds. Once children are able to access a book, they have weekly guided reading sessions with carefully matched, phonically decodable books.

These books are read several times to develop fluency and understanding. Once the children are secure in their decoding, are reading with automaticity and show understanding of the text, they will move to the next stage. Reading at home allows the children to further practice what they have learnt from the teaching sessions. The books that children take home are closely matched to their phonetic knowledge and de-coding skills.

Teachers closely monitor the children’s progress in reading fluency and targeted intervention sessions are put in place to secure decoding and fluency skills for those children that may be falling behind.

In Key Stage Two, we continue to provide opportunities for children to develop their fluency skills by providing increasingly challenging texts.  Those children who have not fully mastered fluency have weekly fluency group sessions with books carefully matched to their reading ability. These sessions focus on reading accurately, with expression and understanding. The teacher uses a variety of strategies to model and support this process. Regular phonics teaching sessions are also put in place for those children are not secure in their decoding skills.

Reading at home is monitored weekly and children who need extra practice read to an adult in school as part of a ‘Regular Readers’ programme.



Decoding with accuracy and reading with automaticity is key to children understanding what they are reading. The explicit teaching of vocabulary enables children to have the skills that they need to understand the words in the context of the text that they are reading or listening to.

Comprehension is taught both through book talk around the class novels and key texts as well as through the reading that children do connected to history, geography and science units of work.

In Reception and Year 1 children are encouraged to develop their comprehension skills and to retell and make predictions. As the children reach Year 2, in addition to group guided reading session, whole class reading sessions are introduced to explicitly teach comprehension skills.

In Key Stage Two whole class guided reading sessions are used to develop children’s written responses to texts. These could be whole texts or extracts and are carefully chosen to ensure progression throughout the school. Pre-reading sessions are used to ensure that children who may struggle with the level of challenge involved in the reading, have the opportunity to practise and develop their understanding before the whole class session. As in Key Stage 1, book talk and expert questioning during the reading of key texts or class novel is used to develop comprehension skills.


Phonics and Early Reading

Phonics is taught to our EYFS and KS1 children through quality first, structured synthetics teaching, using the Unlocking Letters and Sounds Programme (validated by the DfE in December 2021). We regularly monitor the pupils' learning and ensure that support is provided to enable pupils to make rapid progress. Where appropriate, some pupils in KS2 continue to receive additional support to develop their phonics skills alongside other teaching of reading and spelling.


Our books are chosen carefully to match the stage of learning and enable children to gradually practice phonic knowledge and to be successful in their reading. We use fully decodable books that are closely matched to each pupil's stage of learning until pupils have good fluency and are ready to tackle a wider range of texts.


We use the Ransom Reading Stars books as our main scheme as it has been written to match the Unlocking Letters and Sounds Programme, with additional books from Collins Big Cat for Letters and Sounds where these fit the sequence of teaching.


We have a rich bank of other quality literature for children to read throughout the school and ensure that we are providing children with the skills and motivation to become readers for life.