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Reading and Phonics at WPA

Reading at  Wantage Primary Academy


Our Intent


At Wantage Primary Academy, we believe in a rigorous approach to the teaching of reading. We aim to develop learners’ confidence and enjoyment in reading from the start of their educational journey. We will create fluent readers who will monitor their understanding of what they are reading and review the text when something does not make sense. Our mission is that children are able to use their skills to fully involve themselves in our curriculum and the wider world.


How do we implement this?

As soon as children begin their school journey we encourage and foster a love of reading and listening to stories. This begins in Nursery with dedicated ‘reading time’ every day for children to look at and enjoy the wide range of fiction and non-fiction books.


In Nursery, stories, songs and print are shared daily. From Reception, reading books begin to be taken home and are changed during each week. We practise the skill of reading with individuals, small groups and with the whole class. At the early stages of learning to read, reading materials are closely matched to learners’ phonics knowledge using the Collins Big Cat books (Lilac – Turquoise). We use Collins Big Cat as a whole-school reading programme; the levelled readers systematically increase the level of challenge, vocabulary and stamina as children work up through the bands and have been audited to ensure they link fully with our SSP.  Authors, illustrators, genres, subject matter and formats are all carefully chosen to appeal to children and provide a wide-range of reading experiences.


We are committed to reflecting our diverse readership, so all children can relate to and empathise with the characters and recognise themselves and their worlds in our books.


For those readers who struggle, we provide targeted books that have age-appropriate visuals and subject matter, but more accessible text, so children are motivated as well as being able to read and make progress.


We use Supersonic Phonic Friends to provide rigorous, well-planned, consistent daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Nursery and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. We also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.


How we teach phonics

Our approach to phonics is 'Supersonic Phonic Friends.'  This programme is a fully systematic, synthetic phonic approach ranging from the simple to the complex spellings of the alphabetic code. Supported by their Supersonic Phonic friends, this approach will ensure children develop confidence and apply each skill to their own reading and writing.

The benefits of this approach include:

- Active engagement at all times ensuring every session is maximised, making every minute count. Fun and physical indoor and outdoors and so much more...

- Supersonic Phonic Friends fully meets the DFE’s 16 Essential Core Criteria. It ensures commitment, consistent, creative quality first teaching of phonics across all key stages.

- Injecting new life into phonics. Exciting, engaging and brain friendly phonics made simple and easy for teachers and children.

-Supersonic Phonic Friends has parent workshops, activities and weekly parent newsletters for all the phases to support and carry on learning at home learning.

Please visit the website for more information and to meet the characters! 

From Year 2, we continue to explore grapheme phoneme correspondence all the way up to Year 6 with a systematic approach to building on the firm foundations from our Supersonic Phonics Programme. From year 2, children will access daily spelling sessions based on No Nonsense Spelling but tailored to our unique context. 


  • In the nursery, children follow the ‘Firm Foundations for Phonics’ guidance. The focus is on daily oral blending and language development through high quality stories and rhymes.
  • In Reception and Y1, children follow the progression within programme. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.
  • Phonics starts in Reception in week 2 to ensure the children make a strong start.
  • By the end of Reception, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 4.
  • By the end of Year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.
  • Reception lessons start at 10 minutes, with daily additional oral blending – increasing to 30 minutes when ready.
  • In Y2-Y6 there are planned phonic ‘catch-up’ sessions following a set model to address specific reading/writing gaps. These are short, sharp sessions lasting 10 minutes in length and taking place at least three times a week.

Reading practice sessions

  • Children across Reception and Year 1 (and beyond if appropriate) apply their phonics knowledge by using a full matched decodable reader in a small group reading practise session.
  • These sessions are 15-25 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 6 children in a group.
  • We encourage reading and provide training and workshops for parents. Reading at home is supported with notes inside each book; they provide ideas and prompt questions for enjoying the books together.


How do we assess phonic knowledge?

  • In reception and year 1, at the end of each week there is a review session which recaps the learning. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
  • Children identified in reception and Y1 as struggling to keep up are immediately identified and daily ‘keep up’ sessions are put in place 
  • In reception and year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the assessment tracker.
  • The children in Y1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.
  • Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will re-sit this in Y2.
  • Children who are in Y2-Y6 and need ‘catch up’ sessions are assessed through teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.

Guided Reading

As well as ensuring children become fluent readers through the use of phonics, we also fully develop their comprehension. Daily Guided Reading sessions take place throughout the school


In Reception and Year 1, children will carry out Guided groups, following the set overviews, focusing on areas of fluency, comprehension and prosody.

From the Spring Term of Year 1, all children will move onto whole class Guided Reading using Badger Guided Reading texts. During guided reading, we ensure our pupils are exposed to rich and varied text which helps them develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. 


Key reading skills:

  • Vocabulary
  • Inference
  • Prediction
  • Explanation
  • Retrieval
  • Summarise/ sequence


Children are explicitly taught the skills of reading (outlined in the National Curriculum and the KS1 and KS2 test domains) through the use of VIPERS (see above). In KS1, ‘Explain’; is not one of the content domains, rather it asks children why they have come to a certain conclusion, to explain their preferences, thoughts and opinions about a text. In KS2, the Explain section covers the additional content domains of 2F, 2G and 2H which are not present in KS1.


Key Stage 1

From Summer 1 of Year 1 - in KS1, reading skills are taught and practised using the VIPERS during whole class reading sessions.


KS1 Content Domain Reference


1a draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts


1b identify/ explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction, such as characters, events, titles and information.


1c identify and explain the sequences of events in texts


1d make inferences from the text


1e predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far



Key Stage 2

In Key Stage Two children reading skills are taught and practised using VIPERS during whole class reading sessions.


KS2 Content Domain Reference


2a Give/explain the meaning of words in context


2b retrieve and record information/ identify key details from fiction and non/fiction


2c summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph


2d make inferences from the text/ explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text


2e predict what might happen from details stated or implied


2f identify/explain how information/ narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole


2g identify/explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases


2h make comparisons within a text



Whole class reading sessions take place each day for 25-30 minutes. Sessions may vary from session to session/ class to class depending on the needs of the children but has a general rule time spent on each skill (vocabulary, inference, prediction, explain, retrieval, summarise/ sequence) is based upon the English Reading Test Framework (2016) number of marks available for each area.


Whole Class Reading Lesson Structure








Key skill

Vocabulary and prediction

Retrieval and simple inference

Inference and Explanation


Sequence and summarise


Using evidence

Consolidation of all skills  


During a typical session:


On a Monday, Teachers carefully select up to 4 key vocabulary words they want the children to learn that week. These will be taught, over learnt and embedded throughout the rest of the week during the sessions and across the wider school day to allow for children to use these words in different contexts.

Badger books are used encompassing: fiction, non-fiction, poetry etc to ensure children get access to a wide range of texts. Types of text given are appropriate to the age and key stage of the children.


Children read during these sessions in a variety of different ways. They may hear the teacher model fluent reading and then have time to reread the same extract themselves, they may read individually and feedback, work in groups, take turns in pairs or read aloud to the their peers. You may see a number of these different strategies during one session.


Teachers plan key questions each session based on the content domain being focused on. Children are encouraged to orally speak the answer before writing anything down. At times children are given sentence stems and vocabulary that is expected to be used within their answer.


Children are encouraged to provide evidence for their answer based on a text extract or a picture they have seen in the book. Where appropriate children are encouraged to use evidence from a range of different places within the text.


Recording and Assessment during whole class guided reading sessions


We encourage children to orally talk through their answers and ensure it is the best they can give before writing anything down. We also acknowledge it is good for children to also be able to formally record an answer. Children can do this in a variety of different ways such as discussing the answer first with peers and/or an adult and then writing their final response, working individually and then editing their answer accordingly after discussion or orally discussing 1 or 2 of the questions and writing down the others working individually.


During this reading session teachers focus on specific children during the session, this may mean hearing them read individually whilst others are reading independently, in pairs or groups, discussing answers with those children and working one to one or within a group with them during a session whilst the others form an answer independently. Teachers can then assess these children based on NC expectations and how they are performing relating to the specific content.


KS1 English Reading Test Framework (2016)




In KS1 we base a lot of guided reading questions around the ‘Retrieve’ VIPER and balance the other VIPERS appropriately.


KS2 English Reading test Framework (2016)



Appendix 1: Examples of questions for Y3



The Suitcase Kid Up to Chapter E


Retrieval and inference


  1. What is the name of the girl and what is her ‘nickname’?


  1. How old are Zen and Crystal?


  1. Write down 6 things about Zen and Crystal’s bedroom that you find out from the text.


  1. What does Andy make a great fuss about? (page 37) Why does she make such a fuss?


  1. How did Andy first find out about the baby? (page 38)


  1. Why does Andy decide to call her little sister Ethel? (page 41)



The Suitcase Kid Up to Chapter E


Inference and Explanation


  1. Why did Wendy visit the twins? Who did this impact?


  1. What do you think Carrie is like? List 5 things that you find out about Carrie from this chapter.  For each of the 5 things, copy the words / sentence that tells you about Carrie.


  1. Explain what Andy means when she says she is ‘lumbered’ (page 34).


  1. What does ‘fell about’ mean? (top of pg 35).



The Suitcase Kid Up to Chapter E


Sequence and summarise


  1. Summarise the character’s actions in this chapter


  1. Look at the events on the board and order them in terms of importance

2 star and 3 star – justify your reasons






Phonics attainment and attainment in reading will be measured and monitored regularly.

We measure the impact and success of our reading curriculum by the use of assessment, book monitoring, pupil voice, hearing readers and analysing data.




Reading for pleasure

We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.

  • We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at our school and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
  • Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books. 
  • In Nursery and Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed. 
  • Children from Reception onwards have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school.
  • Children in foundation stage take home a ‘story sack’ to share at home which includes quality stories, non- fiction books and resources to support their development of the love of reading and fire their imagination and interest. 
  • As the children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.
  • The school library is made available for classes to use at protected times. Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, national events etc).


    Belong, Believe, Achieve