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At Ferndown First, we believe that English is an essential part of the curriculum which supports the development of successful, creative communicators. Communicating through speaking, reading and writing is key to expressing our emotions, thoughts and ideas.

The elements of English are undeniably linked and development in each can be dependent on the others. Reading is particularly crucial and our curriculum reflects this. We know that children who read regularly and widely, acquire a greater number of words, and ultimately, can use a wider range of vocabulary in the spoken and written language. Through reading in particular, children are able to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.

We aim to build a community of readers and writers who can make links between their learning, ideas and experiences. As a result, children at Ferndown First School receive a solid foundation on which to build, in becoming empathetic, responsible citizens, able to communicate confidently with the world and the communities in which they live.



Reading is central to all learning and crucial for success in life. Reading is a means for language acquisition, communication, and sharing information and ideas. It is a process that begins with decoding and recognising words leading to the development of comprehension. As well as this, reading feeds children’s imaginations and opens up a world of wonder and joy for curious young minds.

Phonics is the foundation for ensuring children learn to read well, quickly. We take a systematic and structured approach to the teaching and learning of phonics. We prioritise the teaching of phonics and have high expectations for its teaching and learning. We aim for all children to pass the phonics screening check at the end of Year 1.

Reading is not just about decoding words. Language comprehension runs alongside this key strand and children need to take meaning from the texts that they read. We aim for all children to be able to read with fluency and apply a range of strategies in order to confidently comprehend what they read.

We want to nurture a love of reading, allowing our children to access the worlds of fiction and fact. We aspire that our children will talk enthusiastically about a wide range of favourite books, authors and genres.

Reading opens up the world of learning and has a direct impact on progress in other areas of the curriculum. Research shows that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background (Kirsch et al, 2002), so at Ferndown First we celebrate reading, demonstrate that it is for everyone and promote reading for pleasure.


  • In EYFS we follow the Statutory Framework which includes Literacy as one of the seven areas of learning and development. Within this, the Early Learning Goal for reading is separated into the two areas:  Word Reading and Language Comprehension.
  • In Years 1-4, we follow the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. Within this, the content is separated into the same two areas.

Word Reading

  • Word Reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. We teach this through Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) which is a government validated systematic, synthetic phonics programme.
  • ELS teaches children to decode by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently. It also teaches children to read Harder to Read and Spell words (HRS words) which need to be read by sight, without decoding.
  • ELS whole-class daily phonics teaching begins from the first day in EYFS and spans the whole of EYFS and Y1.
  • Lessons are designed to minimise cognitive load on our learners. The structure of lessons is repetitive. Children know what to expect and how to be successful.
  • Children take home a reading book that is matched to the phonemes that they have been taught. Children keep the same book at home all week and are encouraged to re-read the book repeatedly with their parent/carer, to develop fluency and confidence.
  • Parents are supported through Reading and Phonics Workshops, during which teachers share ideas about how to support children at home in the early stages of reading.
  • In EYFS and Key Stage 1, teachers aim to read with each child on a 1:1 basis, weekly.
  • In Key Stage 2, teachers aim to read with each child on a 1:1 basis, fortnightly.
  • All children who are making slower progress are prioritised and read more frequently with adults in school.
  • Children who are not keeping up in phonics lessons (EYFS+Y1) and children who have phonic gaps (Y2-Y4) receive intervention sessions. These children also read daily with an adult and approaches are put in place to address gaps in phonic knowledge and sight vocabulary.

Language Comprehension

  • In EYFS and KS1, pupils’ Language Comprehension is developed through daily story time (fiction and non-fiction), regular poems, rhymes and songs and Whole Class Shared Reading lessons.
  • Whole Class Shared Reading lessons begin in EYFS and continue into KS1. These lessons are based around a high quality picture book and children are taught early comprehension strategies through teacher modelling, pair talk and discussion.
  • Reading in KS2 is taught through a range of approaches including Fluency lessons and two types of Whole Class Reading lessons.
  • During Fluency lessons (Y2-4), children are taught the key elements of reading with fluency; accuracy, speed and prosody. Teachers model reading a short text with fluency and then the children practise reading the same text repeatedly, with increasing fluency each time. These lessons happen twice weekly and last around 15 minutes.
  • During Skills-Based Whole Class Reading (KS2) lessons, short extracts are used to teach the key comprehension elements outlined in the National Curriculum. Extracts are used from fiction, non-fiction and poetry in order to expose children to a range of genres. These reading lessons occur during the first 2 weeks of every half term and they include both modelled, shared, paired and individual reading, as well as opportunities to practice answering questions to show understanding.
  • During Extended Whole Class Reading Lessons (Y2 summer term and KS2), teachers use a high quality, challenging whole text to drive the learning. These lessons are content focused with the key aim being to understand the text through teacher modelling of comprehension monitoring strategies and careful questioning. Children are exposed to the whole text over the course of 4-5 weeks, with opportunities for reading aloud, deep thinking and discussion throughout.
  • Children who are struggling with comprehension also receive intervention. These children practise fluency with an adult in order to increase pace, accuracy and prosody so that they are able to access and understand texts.
  • In rare cases, where children who can read accurately and fluently are finding comprehension of texts a challenge, intervention is put in place which focuses on reading skills such as retrieval and inference.
  • Emphasis continues to be placed on Reading for Pleasure in all year groups, with engaging story times (fiction and non-fiction), as well as opportunities for independent reading every day.
  • Our library is stocked with a large range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books and children are able to choose a book to take home and share with an adult each week.


Children at Ferndown First School will become readers who:

  • read for a range of reasons including for pleasure, for knowledge and for understanding of themselves and the world around them.
  • foster a love of reading through exposure to a broad literary diet, including a variety of subjects and genres
  • through reading a wide range of diverse texts, children will become accepting and respectful towards a range of different cultures and lifestyles.
  • know that reading helps them to access all areas of learning.
  • read with fluency, independence and with understanding at an age-appropriate level, in readiness for middle school.
  • acquire an extensive vocabulary which they can draw on purposefully when speaking and when writing, being adventurous and brave with their word choices.
  • will be able to recommend books to their peers, participate in discussions about books and evaluate books and their impact on a reader.