Reading Adventures at Neston Primary School

At Neston, we are passionate about reading.  Our vision is simple: we want to instil a love of reading in every child that will last them a lifetime.  We encourage children at Neston to read anything, anytime, anywhere.  After all, in the words of Dr Seuss:  “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  We firmly believe that children should be able to read for pleasure.  This is backed up by research which has shown that young people who enjoy reading are three times as likely to read above the level expected for their age as young people who do not enjoy reading at all.

In addition, it is important to note that developing a child’s reading is very much a partnership between home and school.  Indeed, the earlier parents become involved in their children’s literacy practices, the more profound the results and the longer lasting the effects. (Mullis, Mullis, Cornille et al., 2004).  Research tells us that young people who read outside class daily are five times more likely to read above the expected level for their age.  Conversely, over a third of young people who never read outside of class, read below the expected level for their age. (Children’s and Young People’s Reading in 2015, 6th Annual Literacy Survey by The National Literacy Trust).

 So, we would ask, that if you do one thing with your child while they are at Neston, please read with them.

Learning to Read

There are two aspects to teaching a child to read: technical skills and comprehension (understanding).

Technical skills

The first steps in learning to read, involve helping children to decode text.  Early readers begin by ‘hearing’ the different sounds in words.  They then learn to recognise how these sounds appear in writing as letters or groups of letters.  This sound/letter relationship is called phonics.


At Neston, we follow Letters and Sounds (a programme developed as a result of the Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading’) to develop children’s ability to decode text.  This is a six-phase systematic, synthetic phonics programme designed to help children become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1.  We primarily use Phonics Bug (Active Learn)  to deliver the Letters and Sounds programme.  All KS1 children have a daily phonics session, which is interactive, fun and impactful.

To support their children’s phonics learning at home, we encourage parents to use the Teach Your Monster to Read  computer programme which is also available as an app.

All children learn to read at a different pace and sometimes they may need to learn in a smaller group to boost their learning.  In such instances, we run a very successful KS1 Reading Intervention programme based on Read:Write Inc  resources.


Comprehension (understanding)

Right from the very beginning, children need to make sense of what they read.  However simple or complex the text, young people should be able to talk about what they have read, understand what has happened in a story and have an opinion about the text.

Have a go at reading the following text:

Corandic is an emurient grof with many fibs; it granks with corite, an olg which cargs like lange. Corite grinkles several other tarances, which garkers excarp by glarcking the corite and starping it with tranker-clarped strobs.

Now answer these questions:

  1. What is corandric?

  2. What does corandric grank with?

  3. How do garkers excarp the tarances from the corandric?

As you can see, it is possible to decode text and even answer questions accurately without having any real understanding of what you are reading.  Now try this question:

4.The author describes strobs as tranker-clarped.  What other words could you use to describe strobs?

This question demonstrates that it is impossible to move on to more complex questions which require the use of inference or reading between the lines, without a basic understanding of what you are reading.  At Neston, we ensure that children are supported to develop their comprehension skills alongside their decoding skills.

Across all year groups, there are several different opportunities for children to develop their comprehension skills, including: daily Guided Reading sessions; Paired Reading across age groups; our weekly Reading Army; Whole Class Reading.


Guided Reading:

Guided Reading happens daily in each class.  In these sessions, children have the opportunity to develop and practise reading skills whilst engaging with a variety of texts.  Working with groups of children, teachers support individual’s growing reading skills using a balance of questioning and guidance to encourage fluency and comprehension of texts.

We use resources such as Cracking Comprehension, Monster SATS,  No Nonsense Spelling and the children’s newspaper First News to deliver engaging, impactful and enjoyable Guided Reading sessions in KS1 and KS2.

Whole Class Shared Reading:

Working with the whole class, a teacher will share a piece of text on the interactive whiteboard so all children are able to see the text being read. The teacher can model the reading process and the use of effective reading strategies.  The focus is on comprehension, as the teacher does most of the reading of the text and encourages students to read along at different points of the text.  Shared reading provides the opportunity for children to learn how to analyse a text and really get to grips with how authors use grammar, punctuation and spelling when writing.

Paired Reading:

Paired Reading is a technique which we encourage parents and carers to use at home, at all stages of their child’s reading journey.   In school, paired reading occurs when older children pair up with younger children to share a book.  In brief, the technique involves reading a text together and then allowing the child who is learning to read to continue to read independently.  When the child reaches a word they cannot decode, their reading partner will step in and once again read alongside them.  Paired reading is a non-threatening and enjoyable way of enabling children of all ages to access more difficult and longer texts.


Class Reader:

Every day at snack time our children have the pleasure of their class teacher reading aloud to them.  Teachers are able to share a book which is pertinent to the class topic and is a longer chapter book which is usually at a higher level than the children’s own reading ability.  This gives children the opportunity to hear and internalise written language usage and structure which they cannot yet access in their own reading.  The Class Reader also affords the teacher the opportunity to help the children develop their comprehension skills, especially inference and deduction.    We know how much the children enjoy these daily sessions and children are often inspired by the Class Reader to seek out other books by the same author to share at home.

Some of the books that teachers are currently sharing with their class include:

The Crocodile Tomb by Michelle Paver

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Fantastic Mr Fox by Road Dahl

One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean


Reading Army:

Every Thursday afternoon, an amazing team of volunteers including members of the local community, mums, dads and grandparents come together to form our very popular Reading Army.   Over 50 children are regularly given the opportunity to share a story on a 1:1 basis with an adult.  The enthusiasm and passion which our volunteers show for reading has an incredibly positive impact on the children and their enjoyment of reading.


Reading at home:

Hearing your child read (and continuing to readaloud to them) is one of the most effective ways that you can impact their educational progress.  In Reception and KS1 the expectation is that children read out loud at least 5 times a week.  When children are starting to learn to read the key is to read little and often; then, as they develop their reading stamina this can build up to 20 to 30 minutes a day.  All children have a Reading Record/Journal where you can record their reading at home.  This is an important means of communication with the class teacher and gives us the opportunity to celebrate the effort they are putting into their home reading.

With increasing maturity, children naturally prefer to read on their own, but it is important to still listen to your child read.  In KS2, children are encouraged to read every day and at least 3 times a week out loud to an adult.

As the children become more proficient readers we would start to encourage them to broaden their reading by exploring different genres at home, including: different fiction genres (mystery, realistic fiction, science fiction, fantasy, the classics, historical fiction, myths); non-fiction genres ( biography, autobiography, information texts, diaries, instructional texts); plays; poetry.

Above all, children should be given the opportunity to simply read for pleasure.  In the 21st century, reading material comes in many different formats, and we would encourage children to explore and enjoy all different types of text: online text, e-books, graphic novels, comics, newspapers (eg First News), recipes, instruction manuals…  Let them read anything, anytime, anywhere.


Our Library:

We have a very well-stocked library full of reading delights for every child.

Children start their reading adventures at Neston by working through the coloured book boxes.  We do not follow a set reading scheme, but the books in the coloured boxes are carefully selected so that children can access the text based on their phonics knowledge.  Your child will be shown which reading scheme box to choose from and can choose any book from this box.   Some of the most popular book series in the boxes include: Project X, Alien Adventures, Phonics Bug (also available as ebooks), Oxford Reading Tree, and Rigby Star.

In Willow class, children are able to change books at any time.  They may choose to read the book a number of times and choose the same one again and again – this is fine!  Please encourage your child to choose their own books from the box that Mrs Pillinger has selected.  This will provide just the right amount of challenge and success to help your child learn.

Oak, Silver Birch and Hazel classes all have a designated afternoon in the library when children can change their books, supported by either the class Teaching Assistant or Mrs Stansfield our Library Manager.  We use a computerised Library Management System called Junior Librarian which enables us to scan all books out and in to the children’s individual account.  Just like your local library in Corsham!  These library sessions enable the children to talk about their reading, not only with an adult, but also with their peers.  It is lovely to hear children enthusiastically recommending books to each other when they are in the library.  Reading for pleasure is infectious!

Library sessions are as follows:

Monday – Silver Birch

Tuesday – Oak

Wednesday – Hazel

Thursday – Reading Army

Children in Chestnut, Maple and Beech have access to the library on an ad hoc basis. 

Neston’s Festival of Reading:

Every year we hold a week-long Festival of Reading to celebrate reading for pleasure.  We run several different events during the week such as The Big Read, Books and Bacon and our Book Fair.

Our next Festival of Reading will run from Monday 27th February to Friday 3rd March 2017 and will incorporate the popular World Book Day celebration.



Useful links:

There are lots of great resources online for reading activities, resources and advice about children’s reading for pleasure.  Some useful links are: