Reading is Fun

“I opened a book and in I strode,
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends~
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.”

By Julia Donaldson

There is strong evidence that reading for pleasure can increase empathy, improve relationships with others, reduce the symptoms of depression and the risk of dementia, and improve wellbeing throughout life, new research carried out for The Reading Agency has found.

There is already strong evidence to show that reading for pleasure plays a vital role in improving educational outcomes. However, in the UK, reading levels are low among people of all ages: most children do not read on a daily basis and almost a third of adults don’t read for pleasure.

At Bridgelea we believe that the ability to read is fundamental to pupils’ learning across the curriculum, their ability to be independent and their future life choices. Reading development is closely related to that of speaking and listening and of writing. By reflecting upon and talking about the stories and texts they encounter, pupils are better able to make sense of their own experiences of the world and their place in it.

Our Aims

  • To nurture and support the essential skill of reading and develop this to a high standard for all pupils.
  • To promote a culture of reading for learning and reading for pleasure.
  • To develop engagement and skills of pupils as independent learners.
  • To prepare and equip pupils for the next stage in their education following placement at Bridgelea.
  • To narrow the attainment gap in reading for all pupils at Bridgelea.

The Teaching of Reading

We will teach the skills needed to read fluently and for meaning through a combination of whole class phonics lessons and activities, targeted reading activities and by hearing pupils read their individual ‘banded’ reading book. We will use our termly and half termly assessments to tailor provision to meet the changing needs of all learners and ensure that every pupil acquires the essential skill of reading.

We believe that reading feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy. A broad range of reading material is available in each classroom. We offer the use of a school library which the children are encouraged to visit regularly. Throughout the school, all children are encouraged to choose books which they would like to read and are given the skills needed to choose books which are appropriate. The variety of books available to the children in our school, enable every child to find a book they enjoy; to create a positive reading culture. All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to build upon the love of reading and build upon their knowledge across the curriculum.

As well as this, there are systematic and progressive home reading and guided reading schemes in place that the children work through as their reading improves. The current schemes used by the school are: The Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cat Books and Project X. Books and Rapid Phonics. Children also have access to iPads containing a variety of interactive books at different levels which are updated on a regular basis.

Appropriate Level Texts

At Bridgelea, we understand the importance of children enjoying the reading process and how this can be impeded if the children are faced with texts which are inaccessible. Therefore, members of staff ensure that the texts the children are reading are sufficiently accessible, so that at least 90% of the words are decodable. Staff use running records as part of the Benchmarking Kit to establish how well the children can access the reading material. The table below shows the percentage accuracy against the level of difficulty. 

Accuracy Rate: Difficulty:
95-100% Independent Easy enough for independent reading
90-94% Instructional Instructional level for use in leveled reading session
50-89% Frustrational Too difficult and will frustrate the reader

Skilled Adults

At Bridgelea, much time has been invested into the training of teaching staff and support staff so that they are equipped and confident to deliver the teaching of reading. We have started this year to train Teaching Assistants as Better Reading Partners.

Our Reading Approach

At Bridgelea developing a community of ‘readers’ is developed in a variety of ways:

  • Staying up to date with children’s literature.
  • Promoting members of staff as readers.
  • Favourite book displays in classrooms
  • Whole class reading sessions
  • Staff reading display in staffroom
  • Visits to the school library or local library.
  • Reading 1:1 with an adult in school at least once a week.
  • Have a ‘banded’ book to read both in school and at home.
  • Have access to a range of high quality texts through: the banded reading scheme, the class book/reading area and the school library.

Wave 1: Whole Class Teaching

At Bridgelea, every child experiences high quality reading teaching at classroom level. This could take the form of individual 1-1 reading, guided reading sessions or whole class reading lessons. The children will be able to read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction texts in a range of formats from the classroom book corner and the library. In addition to this, the children will also have a book from a progressive reading scheme.

Wave 2: Better Reading Partnerships.

For children who are identified as being just below the class average but have the ability to reach the appropriate levels, Better Reading Partnerships (BRP) may be used as an intervention.

BRP is a Wave 2 intervention programme delivered by school support staff, focused on targeted children in order to develop independent reading strategies and text comprehension. It provides one- to-one additional support for reading. It is a 10 week programme: 15 minutes, 3 times per week, following a common structure. Standardised test scores point to an average gain of 6-9 months in reading ages. Other benefits from this intervention are increased confidence, more independence and more enjoyment of reading.

Wave 3 Interventions

At Bridgelea we use a range of interventions to target phonic and reading skills. Examples include:

  • Rapid Phonics
  • 5 Minute Box
  • 5 Minute Box 2
  • Keep Up Sessions Little Wandle (1:1 and small group)

Reading and phonics

Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics should be emphasised in the early teaching of reading to beginners (i.e. unskilled readers) when they start school. Many of our older children have gaps in their phonic understanding and teaching is required to support this. We use the Little Wandle Letters & Sounds Revised scheme in school.

Phonics Screening Test

The phonics screening test is used within years 1 and 2 as an assessment tool. The check will contain a mix of real words and ‘non-words’ to assess the children’s decoding skills within Year 1. Children who have not met the standard in Year 1 will retake the check in Year 2. Interventions will be put in place for those children who need additional phonic support.


Given the importance and value placed upon reading at Bridgelea, it is considered essential that assessment is regular and accurate. Therefore, every child in the school is assessed using the Oxford Criterion Scale for Reading. Teachers use these grids to accurately determine the level of the children in their class. These levels are collated by the Assessment Leader every half term and reported to the Leadership Team and Class Teachers for discussion and analysis. As well as this, reading is assessed at the end of each key stage.

Running records, using the Benchmarking Kit, are also used to determine the accuracy rate at which the children read and whether their reading book is suitable. Running records are also used as a useful tool to illuminate the problems that struggling readers might be facing and are used as formative assessment in order to teach the next steps. We have invested in an online assessment tool to provide a standardized assessment called the New Group Reading Test and also a Dyslexia screening test.

How Do We Promote Reading?

  • World Book and Poetry Days
  • Story Time-Cushions & Cocoa
  • Reading Tubs in guided reading
  • Role play area, costumes, masks. Mirrors as a tool in the nurture curriculum.
  • E Books and ICT based reading
  • Books everywhere!
  • Whole school incentives-leavers books, rewards
  • Adults modelling reading and a love of reading

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