Early Reading

‘Aspiring to achieve, determined to succeed’

The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.


At Sandy Hill, our aims for reading are to ensure that all pupils:


  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding 

  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information 

  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading

  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage

Early Reading at Sandy Hill Academy

Enjoying books and reading stories from a very early age is crucial in the development of children. It helps with their ability to understand words, use their imagination and develop their speech, as well as being something they really enjoy.  During their time in Reception, children will be immersed into an environment enriched by the love of reading with a wide range of books which enhance and support the topics being taught or just to read for the pure enjoyment and fun. 

At Sandy Hill Academy, we have developed a reading scheme which is systematic and effective, it is closely matched to the phonic scheme. This page explains the process of our system and how you can support at home. We thank you in advance for your support with engaging your child with reading, fostering a love of reading and developing their independence and foundations of becoming a competent reader. 


Daily Taught Phonics Session

Each day your child will be taught ‘phonics’. This is a fun, practical and interactive session that is teaching reading and writing.  Phonics is the recommended strategy that children should be taught in helping them to read.  Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to read words and to spell words using the corresponding graphemes (the written corresponding sound).  The children will then progress onto digraphs (sounds made up of two letters such as; ch, sh, th) and trigraphs (sounds made  up of three letters such as; igh, air, ear).  Our reading system is supportive of our phonic teaching. Following guidance from OFSTED, we have made some changes to the way we will be developing reading at home and at school.

Each day in your child’s Phonic lesson they will be introduced to a new phoneme which they will then be encouraged to recognise and use in their reading and writing. In line with recent guidance your child will be bringing home reading books and word sets that contain graphemes that they have already learned to ensure that this new learning becomes fully embedded.

The Reception children have access to their own Library and will use this wonderful area throughout the school day as part of their ‘Continuous Provision’. Children will have the opportunity to select a book to take home each week that can be shared with an adult and returned the following week.



Reading Record

Your child's reading record is for use both in school and at home. It is used to log when your child has read at school and at home. Children will read at least three times a week in school and a detailed comment will be written once a week by the teacher. Please ensure that children are given the opportunity to practise each day at home as this significantly supports your child’s reading development. Each time your child reads at home make a comment and sign and date their reading chart in their reading diary. When the chart is complete your child will earn a reading certificate for the stage that they are on.


These are the three reading focusses that will be taught each week:

Decoding:  Children ability to ‘sound out’ each word using their phonic knowledge.

Prosody: The rhythmic and intonational aspect of speech that manifests as expressive reading. It comprises timing, phrasing and intonation, and helps to convey meaning and add ‘life’ to reading.

Comprehension: A child’s understanding of what has been read to them and what they have read themselves. This will include inference (reading between the lines) and how characters might be thinking or feeling.


Focus Phonic sounds and Words

Each week the children will have focus Phonics sounds inline with their weekly Phonics sessions in school. Initially, children are encouraged to segment and blend the words to read and are then encouraged to recognise them instantly by sight. The words that are sent home are taken from their guided reading book and contain both decodable words and 'tricky words.' The strip of words will be stapled in the children’s yellow reading diary each week on a Monday.  Please also make a comment with how they are getting on. 



Your child will receive a book on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The books are inline with the in school reading books containing sounds and words that have been taught to your child.  As part of the reading scheme, there are opportunities for children to receive a book that they have previously had. This is deliberate and is key to support children’s fluency and comprehension skills as reading is much more than ‘sounding out’ individual sounds to make words. Children should be reading books with fluency. The ability to read accurately with speed and expression. Fluent readers read words automatically without needing to decode. It is at this point that we see them able to focus on comprehension and make sense of what is being read.

Children will also receive a book from the library each week. This is to support reading enjoyment and is intended to be shared with an adult.

In Nursery our early reading learning journey begins by sharing stories together and participating in our daily phonics sessions. Children in Nursery are taught Phonics through activities that involve listening and attention, focusing on their ability to distinguish different sounds. These basic skills are vital to enable the children to progress onto more structured Phonics learning in Reception. 
At the start of the year, we also focus on developing the love of reading with the children. We enjoy sharing books together and having a focus book each half term so the children can gain a deeper understanding of the pictures and use of text. 
"I can hear birds in the trees." Nursery child, aged 3.
"Phonics helps us learn to read and write." Nursery child, aged 4.
In Reception we have begun our reading journey with daily phonics sessions. The children have three weekly guided reading sessions where they put their phonics knowledge into practise. We treasure our books and reading in Reception and we help to develop and foster the love and appreciation of reading. Over the year we read a wealth of books and they are the stimulus for our learning. 
"I like looking at The Colour Monster! It's my favourite." Reception, age 4. 
"I read every day. I love reading the books in the library." Reception, age 5. 
Year 1
In Year 1 we have enjoyed choosing books to read for pleasure during our trips to the school library and listening to stories being read to us. Our favourites so far have been 'Ruby's Worry,' 'Sweep,' and 'Nothing Can Frighten a Bear.' On National Poetry Day we thoroughly enjoyed poems from 'Please Mrs Butler' and 'The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems.'
“I love it when we get a new library book. I read it with my Mummy when I get home.” Year 1 child, aged 6.

“It was funny when baby bear was frightened of a noise but it was actually his own snore!” Year 1 child, aged 5.
Year 2
In Year 2 we have been developing a love of reading. We created art based on the book 'The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse' by Charlie Mackesy and we read about plastic pollution as part of our Geography topic. We were donated a book by an author and enjoyed sharing it in class.
Around the school interactive displays contain fiction and non-fiction texts to support the wider curriculum. All children have the opportunity to visit the library each week where they can select a book to take home and share with their family or read independently. The Early Years have their own library separate to the main school's library. In the Early Years story sacks are available to use to enhance story telling. 
Useful websites for Pupils and Parents/Carers

Sandy Hill Academy
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