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How We Teach Reading at Chalfont St Peter CE Academy


When children first begin at our school their teachers assess their reading and comprehension skills and assign them to a level on our colour banded reading books (Cliff Moon scheme). This scheme includes books from the Oxford Reading Tree at the early stages but also allows any other suitable books to be banded appropriately, so that the children are no longer reliant solely on books from a set scheme.

The vast majority of our children start with fairly fluent reading skills and almost all are above or equal to their chronological age in terms of their ‘reading age.’ Those who are identified as not having the age equivalent reading ability will be given immediate support on a one to one basis or in small groups. These groups continue throughout the year, using the Rapid Reading Scheme to promote confidence, fluency and comprehension skills.

During the year, teachers will constantly reassess pupils and decide when they are ready to move on to the next colour level. This will involve not just the de-coding of words, but also the comprehension of the books being read.

The home/school diary is used to provide a record of each child’s reading. Each time they choose a book it is written into the diary and teachers, support staff, parents and carers are requested to make written comments when they hear the child read. We only allow the child to change their book if they have read from it at least once to an adult.

When the children have progressed through the levels they will be ready for ‘Free Reading.’ This means that they are able to choose any book from home or school so clearly, the teacher needs to be certain that they are ready for this stage. We would usually expect the child to have a ‘reading age’ of 9+ years to move onto free reading, as well as having the appropriate level of understanding. There is a standardised test we can use to check that this level has been achieved. The majority, but by no means all of the children will be on free reading as they enter Year 4.

In lessons the teaching of reading evolves in three ways:


  • Individual – during registration periods or other appropriate times, teachers, support staff and parent volunteers will listen to children reading and discuss the book to establish comprehension. A child may be requested to read aloud during a lesson from a book or the interactive white board.
  • Guided/Group – during registration or literacy lessons, groups of children with similar reading ability will read in turn from a set of books which they discuss with their adult helper.
  • Class reading – for the most able groups, a whole group novel may be appropriate and used for further literacy work.


Phonics is taught to those children needing a catch up from KS1, using the Phonics to 
Spelling scheme. In literacy lessons the children will be covering comprehension, either modelled by the teacher or individual practice. It is also important for children to refine their higher order skills of inference and deduction. They are increasingly taught to look at language and the choices writers make as well as features which affect meaning. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are major areas of the curriculum and all contribute to reading ability – for example learning different prefixes enables children to decode new words containing these prefixes when they are encountered. Similarly, studying compound words, antonyms and homonyms helps to develop vocabulary and the ability to use words precisely. The use of dictionaries and thesauruses is encouraged and all Year 3 children are issued with their own copy of the Usbourne Illustrated Dictionary, donated by the Rotary Club. On line dictionaries are used often being modelled by the teacher on the interactive whiteboard.

We encourage children to read a variety of material – ficti

on, non fiction, playscripts and poetry. Books are generally stored in year group libraries and new additions are made throughout the year.


Initiatives to encourage a love of reading include:


  • Twice yearly Book Fairs for children and parents to purchase books – commission raised (usually up to £1000) is used for new classroom books.
  • World Book Day – the children dress up as book characters and take part in the Big Book Swap, bringing in their unwanted books for tokens to ‘buy’ new books.
  • Read For My School – an annual Book Trust initiative where children can read from an online library. There is a competitive element with prizes for the top readers and the year group which reads the most books. We have had regional winners for writing a book review and reading a large number of books.


Reading is naturally embedded throughout the curriculum in all subjects. We aim to promote a love of reading and lifetime enjoyment of books.
For further information, please refer to the Parents’ Workshops section on reading where there are booklets, guides and presentations advising on how to help your child with their reading.