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Holly Trees Primary School

Vaughan Williams Way, Brentwood, CM14 5RY, 01277 212296

Reading and Phonics


Reading is immensely important to us at Holly Trees. We know that reading is the key to learning: being able to read in all its varied forms allows learning in all other areas to be achieved deeply and with confident mastery. We believe that reading is fun and therefore all learning is made enjoyable and effective. Each class maintains an age-appropriate classroom library containing a range of book which are regularly updated. We encourage children to understand that reading matters and we take an interest in the children’s choice of books and guide them to discuss their books and support them with their next choices. As well as children reading independently, we value reading to them daily as we believe that this broadens their knowledge and builds their cultural capital. It also enables them to connect and relate to authors and to other readers.  

The phonics scheme we follow is ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds.’ This intensive systematic, synthetic programme supports our vision to have children reading confidently in the early years by developing fluency, prosody and comprehension.  



Implementation describes the way in which we deliver our intent consistently each day. To do this we have carefully designed our own school curriculum. This is designed to enable learners to acquire relevant subject knowledge which underpins the application of skills. Skills are carefully and progressively mapped across each key stage and subject area. Every subject has its own progression document which clearly identifies the way in which the acquisition of knowledge and skills is consolidated and built upon to support retention and recall as children progress from EYFS through to Year 6. 

Reading is taught in small groups using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds approach in EYFS and Year One. Children's books are fully decodable and matched to their phonics level until they are reading and applying their phonic knowledge fluently and with understanding. In EYFS and Year One, we primarily use Collins Big Cat for Little Wandle L&S. We also have a range of other fully decodable, book-banded books. Children can also take home a ‘sharing book’ to encourage sharing stories at home.  

 In years 2 to 6, reading is taught as a whole class focusing on reading fluently and VIPERS skills. Each unit typically lasts two weeks of daily lessons and a range of texts are used, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Standalone texts are used to supplement this approach. Children produce written responses once a week in their writing books which helps inform teacher assessment. Most new reading units start with teachers assessing children's prior knowledge of the content and new vocabulary before a text is introduced. This allows pupils better access to the text to support their comprehension skills. One to Two lessons are then dedicated to fluency and prosody. Reading comprehension skills are taught using VIPERS. VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the UK’s reading curriculum. They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts. VIPERS stands for vocabulary, inference, prediction, explain, retrieve, sequence, or summarise (VIPERS). This is displayed in each classroom in years two to six. Children keep reading journals in Years 2- 5 to record what they have read and respond to their reading. Teachers can use Literacy Shed resources to help plan and deliver their lessons in line with this approach.  

All children can select a book from their classroom libraries to share at home and read for pleasure. Classroom libraries are replenished regularly to ensure a diverse range of books are available including new texts and authors.  

In Years 2 – 6, Teachers read a ‘class reader’ to the children daily and texts are chosen that offer a range of genres, new and unfamiliar authors and are age-appropriate but offer challenging themes or vocabulary. In EYFS and Year One, pupils are read to several times a day -picture books, rhyming books and poetry - alongside singing and rhymes.  



Pupils leave Holly Trees with a secure understanding of the academic content but also with an understanding of how to be socially, morally, spiritually and culturally responsible and aware; how to make positive contributions to the local community and how to endeavour to be the best that they can be. We aim for all of our children to leave Holly Trees as respectful, skilful, ambitious children with a thirst for life and all it has to offer. 

Reading is assessed by EYFS and Year One teachers in daily phonics sessions. Keep up support is offered to those children not meeting the needs of the class. Half-termly assessments carried out by teachers to assess progress and data is shared with the English leads. Keep up support is provided for the lowest attainers.  

Teachers assess pupils formatively in each whole class reading session. Teachers use a range of questioning verbally and written to inform their assessment. Teachers identify the children who are not meeting expected standards on a termly basis. The lowest 20% - and the reason for their lower attainment - are identified and intervention approaches shared and discussed with the reading leads. Reading leaders will hear a sample of the lowest attaining readers read on a termly basis. During writing book scrutiny (termly), the English leaders will look for evidence of reading. Reading leaders will also speak to pupils about what they are reading, whether they enjoy reading and their class readers.  

Watch our useful guide to reading presented by Mr Hudson

A guide that introduces Collins Big Cat Reading to parents

Little Wandle Resources for Parents