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Cromwell Community College

Early Reading

At Cromwell Primary Phase, reading is a top priority and is a key driver for our curriculum. Taking a book home is just part of our children’s reading diet. We believe inspiring children to read is a moral imperative and their fundamental right. It underpins all learning and secures a good trajectory for personal development and understanding the world in which they live.

It is our aim to allow the children the opportunity:

  • To experience reading in a variety of situations so that it becomes a pleasurable & productive experience.
  • To access a wide range of print materials, including all genres of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays & pupils own writing.
  • To progress to becoming selective in their choice of reading materials.
  • To be knowledgeable about the purpose and organisation of books.
  • To nurture a love of reading.
  • To learn to read through a variety of methods.
  • To read to themselves and to others.
  • To read to a variety of audiences and to hear adults and children read to them.
  • To read regularly and to develop a respect for books.
  • To receive reading provision and support appropriate to individual ability.
  • To become aware of the link between reading and writing.
  • To use ICT to further the development and love of reading.

At Cromwell Primary Phase we have designed our early reading curriculum with the intent that all children, regardless of background, will become fluent, insightful readers. We have developed a curriculum that will instil in all children a love of reading that we hope will stay with them for life. We understand that children who are confident adept readers will be empowered to succeed in all other areas. We understand that parents and carers play a vital role in the development of early reading and in nurturing positive habits and attitudes towards reading. We welcome this and their contribution. We believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Story Time Phonics, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme.

We will deliver an early reading program that comprises of direct, focused phonics which is taught every day in Reception and key stage 1. Phonics will be taught progressively from Foundation to Y2 as an effective way of developing children’s reading and spelling skills, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school. Tricky words will complement the teaching of phonics.

As a result, our children are confident to tackle unfamiliar words as they read. We also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.  

Click here to view the Reading Book Bands 


We value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children move into Key Stage 2, it is our aim that they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers will be equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.

Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader and a Phonics lead who drive the early reading programme in our school. These staff members support other teachers. They are highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and alongside our head of Primary Phase, monitor and support the teaching team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Story Time Phonics programme.

Daily Phonics Lessons in Reception and Year 1

  • We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 20-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each day, we review taught sounds to help children become fluent readers.
  • Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins by Week 2 of the autumn term.
  • We follow the Story Time Phonics programme
  • Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
  • Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.

Catch - Up Lessons Ensure Every Child Learns to Read

  • Any child who needs additional practice has daily support, which uses the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
  • We will timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 who is not fully fluent at reading or does not pass the Phonics Screening Check.  These children will urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. Assessment is ongoing and children’s needs are met by ensuring interventions are timely. We use teacher knowledge to identify gaps in children’s phonic knowledge and teachers work quickly to address any gaps through structured intervention.

Teaching Reading

1-1 Reading practice sessions take place twice a week in Reception and once a week in Year 1. Children will receive additional 1-1 reading if they are at risk of falling behind.  1-1 reading sessions:

  • are taught by the class Teacher or Teaching Assistant team
  • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge
  • are monitored by the class Teacher
  • Children build up to selecting their own book from within their phonics level 

Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

  • decoding
  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text

In Reception these sessions start by Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional individual blending practice that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books. In Year 2, we will continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.

 Home Reading

  • While children are beginning to learn their first sounds, they take home sounds cards and picture books to develop story and book language.
  • Decodable reading practice books are taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
  • Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.
  • When children can blend and segment, they take home Tricky words to learn which are aligned with our reading scheme. This ensures that any non-decodable is pre-taught before the book is sent home.
  • These books might be changed often, and children may move bands quickly, but at other times, children may have the same book for longer as there is more to develop and gaps to address.
  • Children are also able to borrow books from the school and class should they wish to do so.
  • We also carefully monitor the children’s reading at home and encourage parents to be fully active and engaged with us in this, to support their children’s ongoing development.

 Ensuring Consistency and Pace of Progress

  • Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
  • The phonics progression identifies each element of new learning broken down into weeks for the duration of the programme.
  • The Reading Leader, Phonics Lead and SLT use the QA system to monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data and formative assessment to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.

Ensuring Reading for Pleasure

We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.

  • We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Cromwell and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures. Books are carefully chosen to support our curriculum as well as to introduce children to ambitious vocabulary.
  • Every classroom has an inviting book area that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
  • In Reception and Year 1, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
  • All children have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school.
  • Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, local Library visitors, author visits and workshops, national events etc.) As our phase grows, we will invite parents and carers into to school to share with some of these events.


Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.

  • Assessment for learning is used:
    • daily within class to identify children needing additional support
    • weekly to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
  • Summative assessment is used:
    • every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the detail of the support they need
    • by SLT and scrutinised through the Phonics progression grid to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.

Statutory Assessment

Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.

Working in Partnership with Parents

We want to encourage every child to read with a grown up at home every night. Children who read with their families grow in confidence much more quickly and develop a love of reading that can last a lifetime. In recognition of the important role parents have we hope our home/school reading initiatives will motivate children to read at home whilst earning ‘rewards’ for their efforts. See Cromwell Book Worm.

We hold a meeting for all parents early in the autumn term to explain our reading schemes, procedures and expectations. Throughout the year we offer support for parents of children in all year groups, to explain how they can support with reading development at home.

We love reading at our school. Look at all the fantastic reading opportunities we have! 

The Classroom Environment

Each classroom has a dedicated reading area which includes a variety of class books and texts, which the children can choose and read for pleasure. In these collections there is a book for everyone! A selection of decodable books are also available for classes to use during independent reading.

Curiosity Corridor

We are lucky enough to have a dedicated area for some of our non-fiction collection which match with some of the models and creative learning children carry out at Cromwell.

Reading across the Curriculum

We enjoy using our reading skills in every lesson and our teachers provide opportunities for us to do so in all subjects. We have explored texts such as ‘You Can’ as a whole phase - a text which has made us really think about our choices and what we might want to do when we are older.

Whole Class Reading

Children take part in whole class reading focussing on retrieval, make inferences, discussing characters, making predictions and developing new vocabulary.

World Book Day

We love celebrating World Book Day. In 2021 were in the middle of Lockdown but our home learners took part by sending in pictures of eggs they had designed as book characters, as well as joining in with fun events remotely.

In 2022, our theme is based around Animals.  

Mystery Reader

The aim of ‘Mystery Reader’ is to show children that adults love reading too so we regularly invite staff from secondary to come into class to read a children’s story. In order for the class to gain full impact and excitement of the reader experience, we keep each visit a secret and mystery until they arrive!

Cromwell Book Worm

This initiative encourages children to read lots and often as well as promote visits to the library. Children are awarded special certificates during their first two years at school so they develop positive reading habits.

Cromwell Book Shop

Regularly, we run our very own book shop selling brand new books at incredible prices often more than half the RRP. These books are suitable for all ages, across a different range of genres. A wonderful opportunity for children to sae each week until they have enough to take the book home.  


If you would like access to some fantastic eBooks, why not visit www.oxfordowl.co.uk. There are over 260 free books for parents to read with their child at home with lots of ideas on how to support your child with reading.

Author Visits (in person and remote)

We are developing links with the local library and other establishments where we source authors to engage and inspire the children. We love meeting new authors and learning about their journey of becoming storytellers and writers.

Reading Buddies

Children enjoy reading books they have chosen quietly in our class reading corners, with a friend or being supported by an older student as a reading buddy.