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Northill CE Academy

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Our Reading Scheme Explained

Phonics based reading:

Our early reading books are linked to our Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme. We have a range of books ordered by phonics stages, from Phase 1 up to Phase 6. At Northill we use a range of reading scheme books which we have closely aligned to our phonics scheme to complement our phonics learning. The books are organised into phonics phases and pupils will also have full access to these online through their ‘Active Learn’ account as well as hard copies provided in school.


Reception to Year 1 Pupils will usually be working between Phases 1- 5.

Phase 1: These books focus on understanding the sequence of a book and how to handle and organise a story for reading.

Phase 2: This phase introduce the initial sounds taught in our phonics lessons and gradually builds words through blending and segmenting. The first set of High Frequency Words and Tricky words will begin to appear here.

Phase 3: By phase 3 children are learning an increasing numbers of sounds and learning how to decode and decipher using CVC words and a wider range of high frequency words. Phase 3 completes the learning for all initial sounds.

Phase 4: At this stage in phonics pupils are consolidating their knowledge of sounds previously taught and beginning to blend clusters of consonants (e.g. n…k as nk in ink). Pupils will also increase Tricky word and High Frequency words recognition through these texts and increase their vocabulary through deciphering more CVCC/ CCVC words.

Phase 5: At this stage in reading pupils are being taught alternative spellings of the sound learnt earlier in the phases. Their growing knowledge will be echoed through the books they are reading, focussing on developing specific sound practise alongside their increased vocabulary and recognition of common high frequency words and Tricky Words.

Phase 6: By Phase 6 pupils are becoming increasing confident with reading and independent in their ability to decode fluently. It is at this stage pupils in Northill will begin to access our Accelerated Reader Scheme.


Pupils in Year 2 working at expected levels of development could still be reading Phase 5 texts but most will be moving on to the Accelerated Reader Scheme.


Through using phonics based texts a child should be able to sound out/ read each word in accordance with their knowledge of Phonics. Reading books will reflect in class learning and will be allocated to each child depending on their phonics ability and stages of reading.


Pupils should also engage in wider reading, through class and library books as well as books from home.   


Accelerated Reader:                                                                 

Once children reach the stage where they are able to read fairly fluently they progress onto the ‘Accelerated Reader’ Scheme. The books in this reading scheme are colour coded according to their comprehension level. Our scheme does not use the level or stage used by book publishers. Most publishers organise their reading schemes according to their own levelling system so a ‘Stage 2’ book from one publisher is often not at the same level as a ‘Stage 2’ book from a different publisher. This also lessens the impact of text size and the number of pictures in a book. Larger text and many pictures do not necessarily mean the book is only suitable for younger children – this is a common misconception.


When the children have finished reading a book they take an online quiz, using a computer, to check how well they have understood the book. At the end of the quiz they are given a score out of 5 or 10 and a percentage. Ideally they should be achieving 80% or above and they need to score 60% to pass the quiz and earn points towards achieving their termly target.


Before starting to use the Accelerated Reading Scheme the children complete an online test which assesses their comprehension level. This will give them a reading range within which they are able to read the words at around 90% accuracy. This then enables them to understand what they are reading. The children should choose books from across their range not just select from the top of their range. Each term they will take another test to re-assess their comprehension level and this may extend their reading range.


If your child brings home a book which they have read previously, use the opportunity to talk about it – why have they chosen it again, can they remember what happened? Remember, we all like to re-read a good book!


Please encourage your child to read lots of different books at home as well as their school books and emphasise that reading should be for pleasure. Please also read to your child as this gives them the chance to enjoy stories and non-fiction books that are beyond their reading level.                                                      



Reading Strategies


Following our whole school approach to the teaching of reading, and to ensure children are prepared for the National Curriculum as they move into Year One, children in Hedgehogs Class will be taught to read using phonics as the prime strategy. 


 Children will learn the letters and corresponding sounds and develop the skill of blending the sounds into words for reading, establishing the habit of applying this skill whenever they encounter new words. 


They will be supported by practise in reading books consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and skill. As their phonic knowledge increases, they will start to learn common exception ('tricky') words that do not follow the regular phonic pattern.   


Key words and Tricky words



















































Tricky words will be sent out as children progress through the year and they begin to apply their phonic knowledge in their reading.  Please focus on these words, it will really help make an excellent start.







Alongside their phonics learning, children will hear, share and discuss a wide range of high-quality books to develop a love of reading and broaden their vocabulary.


Reading Questions

Use these questions to help support your child to fully understand the book they are reading.





Where is the story set?


When did the story take place?


Who are the main characters?


What does the character look like?


Where does the character live?




What is happening?


What happened at the end of the story?


Who is telling the story?


Which parts of the story do you like best?


Which parts describe the setting?


What problem does the character have?




How can I help my child with reading?


As a parent you are probably helping your child with reading much more than you may realise. If your home contains books, magazines and catalogues that your child sees you reading then you are already modelling skills they need to learn. You also read to your child and talk together about familiar stories, again, if you use printed materials to find things out, then your child already has a head start in this area.


  • Remember that talking about reading is very important, so if your child is sometimes reluctant to read aloud, discussing a book will also help to develop reading skills.
  • Concentrate on enjoyment and grasping the meaning rather than absolute accuracy.
  • Keep reading time relaxed, comfortable and pleasurable, in a quiet corner, with the television turned off.
  • Talk about the cover and read the title before rushing your child into the text, asking questions such as: what do you think it will be about; what sort of book is it; have you read one like this before?
  • Look through the book, noticing interesting pictures and words, then read the opening together.
  • Don’t correct too quickly. If your child makes an error suggest having another go, searching the pictures for a clue, sounding out the first letter or reading on before you ‘tell’ the problem word.  Try some of the reading strategies.
  • Try not to confuse the meanings of the word ‘letter’ or ‘sound’. Letter refers to the alphabetical name of the symbol. Sound is the sound the letter makes in the combination they can see. E.g. instead of: “Say that letter” you could say: “What sound is that letter making?”
  • If your child is really struggling, take over the reading yourself and let the teacher know.
  • When your child brings home a book that has been read before ask for a summary before reading it again, then discuss the book at a deeper level than last time.
  • As your child progresses, talk about authors, characters and plots or what new information has been learnt.
  • Join your local library and use it regularly. Watch out for storytelling events, summer reads and reviews of new titles.