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“Enjoyment of reading has a greater impact on a child’s educational achievement than their parents’ social-economic status” The National Literacy Trust 2014


‘First we learn to read, then we read to learn.’ 

Intent of our Reading Provision

At Whitehouse Community Primary School, we believe that reading is crucial in order for children to reach their full potential, and that in order to achieve well in reading, children first have to enjoy it.  Therefore, teaching children to read and supporting them in developing a love of reading underpins the reading curriculum at Whitehouse.   We believe that all children should have the opportunity to be fluent, confident readers who are able to successfully comprehend and understand a wide range of texts. We want children to develop a love of reading, a good knowledge of a range of authors, and be able to understand more about the world in which they live through the knowledge they gain from texts. By the end of their time at primary school, all children should be able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject, in preparation for their forthcoming secondary education. Our reading curriculum is fully inclusive; we do not put ceilings on what children can achieve and we do not hold pre-conceptions about any children’ ability to make progress. We understand the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop both word reading and comprehension skills, and so we want to encourage a home-school partnership which enables parents and carers to understand how to enhance the skills being taught in school through good quality texts.


Alongside our reading curriculum, we have developed a reading spine which has been created to introduce children to a growing range of texts. Our reading spine is designed to be inclusive, progressive, support the wider curriculum, support the ethos of the school and celebrate the unique cultural and social diversity of our community. The intention is that by the time they reach year 6 and beyond, our children will have developed a wide, rich vocabulary and broader knowledge of the world and will be able to access the more complex texts expected of them in secondary schools.


Implementation of our Reading Provision

At Whitehouse, we firmly believe that teaching a child to read is one of the most important things we can teach your child to do. Throughout the primary school journey, we teach children all the basic skills needed to enable a child to read independently. We start by teaching phonics in Nursery using the highly successful ‘Song of Sounds’ phonics programme. Children learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well.


Once children can blend sounds together to read words, they practise reading books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know. They start to believe they can read and this does wonders for their confidence. Teachers read to the children every single day so the children get to know and love all sorts of stories, poetry and information texts. This helps to extend children’s vocabulary and comprehension, as well as supporting their writing.

At Whitehouse Community Primary School, we teach the core comprehension skills (retrieval, inference, prediction, vocabulary and summarising) as whole class daily guided reading lessons. Each reading lesson focusses on one age-related key reading skill in order to reduce cognitive load. These skills are taught using character dogs to support the children’s understanding in a way that is relevant to their age and abilities. Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 have slightly different character dogs to focus on their age specific skills. The character dogs link closely to our content domains:

  • Sequencing (Sequencing Suki – KS1)
  • Retrieval (Rex Retriever - KS1 and KS2)
  • Vocabulary (Vocabulary Victor - KS1 and KS2)
  • Inference (Inference Iggy - KS1 and KS2)
  • Prediction (Predicting Pip KS1 and KS2)
  • Summary (Summarising Sheba – KS2)
  • Compare, contrast and comment (Cassie the commentator KS2)
  • Author Choice (Arlo Author KS2)


As part of our spiral curriculum, these skills are revisited throughout the year through a broad range of texts. In lessons, children study carefully selected texts which aim to inspire, motivate and promote a love of reading as well as promote their understanding of rights and the Whitehouse Way. In many cases, books are chosen to support and further enrich our Enquiry curriculum in order to give an even greater purpose to reading.  A range of fiction texts, non-fiction texts and poetry are studied in each unit. Therefore, depending on the text length and year group, some units may only last a week while some units may last up to four weeks.  Older children are more likely to study a novel for a number of weeks. Discussion is at the heart of all reading lessons and children are given opportunities to formulate their thoughts and ideas through paired or group discussions.  Children are taught to elaborate and explain their understanding and ideas during whole class teaching.


To support the planning of the units, teachers use a range of carefully written age-related targets, which cover all aspects of reading as per the National Curriculum, as well as strands from the content domains.   Relevant targets are shared with the children at the start of every lesson along with the Whitehouse ‘three step’ learning challenges. These steps allow for differentiation and the chance for all children to achieve.  A gold challenge offers further extension to more-able children. In each reading lesson, there are opportunities for independent reading and demonstrating understanding. Children are asked questions relating to the skill being taught so that they are able to practice their written explanations.  These are marked daily, usually through ‘live marking’ in order for the children receive instant positive feedback and to be able to act upon advice they are given.  ‘Afternoon surgeries’ are used following morning reading lessons to clarify misconceptions and to embed learning and understanding. Intervention reading groups and extra one to one reading sessions are also used to support SEND and other focus children where reading has been identified as a target area.  We help each child maximise their potential by scaffolding learning and providing help and support where necessary, whilst striving to make children independent workers equipped with the confidence, tools and strategies that they need.


In addition to daily reading lessons, we have well-stocked libraries in school and the children are given regular opportunities to read for a variety of purposes such as reading for pleasure or reading to inform.  They are encouraged to use the library to change their books regularly and we have a librarian to support children in choosing books which will interest them.  We expect children to demonstrate their love of reading through regularly reading books they have chosen for themselves.  When children read a book, they keep a record in their planners which are checked regularly. At Whitehouse we use the ‘Accelerated Reader’ (AR) scheme in KS2 to support children to read books at their own level, pace and based on their interests.  Children also take a short quiz to assess their understanding of the text.  This enables teachers to quickly identify children who need additional support or challenge and to reward their achievements.


Our reading spine guides our children to access a wider range of titles, authors and genres that they might not otherwise meet or choose independently. Books are selected based on a range of recommendations, including the National Literacy Trust, CLPE, The Book Trust and Books for Topics to ensure that the books in the reading spine include:

  • Texts that are multi-layered and capable of being read at different levels
  • Books that deal with important themes
  • Books in which language is used in lively, inventive ways
  • Texts to support progression of vocabulary
  • Books by skillful and experienced children’s writers and illustrators
  • Traditional and contemporary ‘classics’ of children’s literature
  • Stories with different cultural settings
  • Texts that promote discussion and reflection
  • A range of narrative, poetry and topic appropriate non-fiction

The books in our reading spine can be used as class readers, independent reading, study books for writing or for extracts for guided reading.


Impact of our Reading Provision

The top priority of our school reading curriculum is clear: for children to develop and demonstrate a love of reading that will enable them to make progress in all curriculum areas through sustained learning and transferrable skills. 

  • Children have highly developed transferable knowledge, skills and understanding and are able to make connections and apply what they’re learning in reading to other curriculum areas and the wider school community and world.
  • High quality work is evidenced within guided reading books and other topic based work. Sequences of lessons show progress of skills and knowledge.
  • Reading displays and presentation of children’s work promote the importance of reading and boost motivation through the celebration of high-quality work.
  • Cross-curricular links in lessons build confidence, motivate children and support them in making connections,remembering and applying the skills they have been taught.
  • All children use the libraries and AR reading programs confidently and children in all year groups react positively to and speak enthusiastically about their reading.
  • Our reading spine gives our children a wide and rich vocabulary, broader knowledge of the world and the ability to access more complex books expected of them in secondary school.
  • Teacher assessment, peer assessment and children’ self-assessment are used to track progress and attainment. Assessments are recorded and monitored on classroom monitor and analysed through pupil-progress meetings termly.
  • Attainment and progress data shows the positive impact of our reading curriculum on children’s understanding. Some year groups show accelerated progress.
  • In Key Stage 2, our children’s reading data has met the national average benchmark.
  • The number of children working above the expected level for their age is increasing.