Phonics and Reading at ESJ

Principles of our Reading Curriculum

At ESJ, we believe that a successful English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high-quality education, and will give our children the tools they need to thrive. Our curriculum recognises this through its focus on the two key dimensions of reading: word reading and comprehension.

We actively promote reading for pleasure and give children time to talk about and share their enjoyment of reading. We ensure the children have access to a wide variety of high-quality texts that reflect both their own experiences and the wider world that they are growing up in

Intent of our Reading Curriculum

Our aim is for all children at ESJ to see themselves as readers and find the type of literature or author they find enjoyment from. We want all children to read fluently and with confidence by the end of Year 6 so that they have solid foundations for their secondary education.

In order to ensure children are able to achieve these aims, our reading curriculum is planned to teach children the skills needed to successfully decode and comprehend texts, both fiction and non-fiction.

Implementation of our Reading Curriculum


We use the Twinkl Phonics programme which has been accredited and validated by the Department for Education. This follows a consistent, systematic approach and introduces phonemes progressively throughout the year. Phonics teaching begins when the children enter school in Reception and is taught daily until the end of KS1.  

The structure of every Twinkl Phonics lesson follows a set five-part structure to ensure that the four cornerstones of phonics are covered. During our phonics lessons, children will repeat the elements from the four cornerstones of phonics to ensure that they have rapid and automatic recall of GPCs and tricky/common exception words; each day, they will experience blending and segmenting activities to allow regular practice of these core skills.

If a child leaves KS1 and is not yet confident in phonics, appropriate provision will continue into KS2.  

Reading in Reception and Key Stage 1 

In Reception and KS1, children follow the Rhino Reading scheme which is matched to the progression of Twinkl Phonics. During guided reading sessions with an adult, children will read a book matched to their level of phonic knowledge. These teaching sessions, are an opportunity for the children to develop their decoding skills alongside building comprehension skills and vocabulary and language development. Decodable texts are taken home to share with parents and carers and access to our Rhino Readers scheme is available electronically.

Reading in Key Stage 2 

In KS2, we use Fred’s Teaching Resources as the foundation of our whole class reading approach. The children develop their reading skills within seven reading domains: 

  •   Prediction
  •   Compare, Contrast and Comment
  •   Author Choice
  •   Vocabulary
  •   Retrieval
  •   Summary
  •   Inference

Pupils who are not yet reading fluently continue their learning of Twinkl Phonics using the Codebreakers intervention programme. This has been specifically designed to support children in KS2 in their acquisition of phonics skills. Progress of reading in lower KS2 is supported by the provision of banded books up to colour band grey for home reading and focused teaching. These follow on from the phonetic early readers of KS1 and offer a range of content and complexity appropriate to each child’s age and attainment. Beyond this, children are considered to be fluent readers and they have access to a wide range of texts in classroom libraries.

Reading for Pleasure

Reading for pleasure is an important part of our day at ESJ. There are multiple opportunities to share books and stories throughout the day and every classroom has an inviting book area that hosts a range of books including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and quality picture books. These books are available to be read both in school and at home.

We also have a developing set of core books in each year group which are read to the children, ensuring they are accessing a well-rounded bank of literature. Teachers at ESJ take any opportunity to read to the children and ensure that children have adequate time given over to reading alone or sharing books with their peers.  

Home/School Partnership

We believe that empowering parents and carers with the understanding and knowledge to best support their children with reading at home is a crucial aspect of our reading curriculum.  In Reception and KS1, regular information sessions are held to discuss how phonics and reading is taught at each level of the Twinkl Phonics scheme. At the start of KS2, an information session is delivered to parents/carers about the progression of reading and comprehension expectations as their progress from early to fluent reading. Resources and activities are regularly shared to so that learning in school can be reinforced at home.

Throughout the school, volunteers support reading by coming in and sharing texts. We are continually looking for ways to further develop our Home/School reading partnership with events and activities with a ‘reading for pleasure’ focus being planned each year.

Impact of our Reading Curriculum

The progression of each child’s reading development is regularly assessed, both formally and informally. In Reception and KS1, assessment takes place at the end of each Twinkl Phonics level. In Years 3 to 5 we use the NFER test materials to support assessment of reading skills and children have national Key Stage tests at the end of Year 6.  Children also take part in the statutory Phonics Screening Check in the summer term of Year 1.

Our reading curriculum enables children to develop effective strategies for both decoding and understanding texts, supporting them to become fluent readers in KS2. Our curriculum gives children access to wide range of reading materials and supports them to make links between their reading diet and the wider school curriculum. Children at ESJ talk confidently and positively about reading and enjoy opportunities to share books with children in other year groups. Engagement with extra-curricular reading activities is very good and our whole school community is committed to continuing the promotion and development of a love of reading for all.