Otterham School Approach to Reading


  • At Otterham School we aim for children to become fluent, confident readers and to experience a wide range of texts

  • We believe in the value of books and the pleasure they can give

  • We hope to inspire children’s interest and enthusiasm in books; helping them to become independent learners

    We encourage pupils to read books and other materials in the classroom, library and online. By planning cross-curricular visits to schools, theatre and film venues they are able to respond to and critically appraise the work of many authors. From our youngest pupils all are taught to understand the layout and how to use different types of books. The school positively promotes a rich provision of story-telling language through our curriculum. Specialist drama, music and visiting professionals further extend story pattern skills and ensure that all children have access to a wealth of genres from many cultures. 

    In Key Stage 1, children are immersed in an environment rich in print and spoken language. Reading is taught alongside Letters and Sounds initially, which promotes a strong and systematic emphasis on the teaching of phonics to aid the teaching and learning of reading. The Phonics Play website is used to support our teaching of the letters and sounds curriculum.  As part of this scheme the children will be taught to: 

  • Discriminate between the separate sounds in words;

  • Learn the letters and letter combinations most commonly used to spell sounds;

  • Read words by sounding out and blending their separate parts;

  • Study written representations of a sound and how it looks;

  • Recognise on sight vocabulary identified as ‘Tricky words’

A phonic record is kept, detailing which sounds and high frequency words each child knows.

KS1 begin with a number of reading schemes to help them develop their skills in a structured way. (Notably: Sails Foundation, Oxford Reading Tree, All Aboard, Ginn and others).  The reading scheme books are colour coded using ‘Book Bands’ to coincide with agreed benchmark levels.

We encourage children to read at home on a daily basis and communication between school and home is recorded in a ‘Reading Record’ or diary.

In both key stages reading is taught through Shared and Guided Reading sessions.

Opportunities are given to practise and consolidate skills through independent reading.

Regular access to group guided reading sessions, where texts are explored with a particular focus may include some strategies outlined below:

  • Modelling and discussing the features of written texts

  • Giving direction to develop key strategies in reading

  • Demonstration – eg how to use punctuation when reading, using a shared text

  • Explanation to clarify and discuss eg need for grammatical agreement when proof reading

  • Questioning – to probe pupils’ understanding of a text

  • Investigation of ideas – to understand, expand on or generalise about themes and structures

  • Discussions and argument – to justify a preference

  • Provision of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction genres, for the children to choose from

Children’s reading development will be evaluated on an ongoing basis by the teacher which ultimately informs the planning of future reading tasks.

Oral and/or written targets will be set by the teacher and/or child to help children achieve their full potential in reading. These are assessed and progress is tracked throughout the school.

As parents you are your child's most influential teacher with an important part to play in helping your child to learn to read.

Here are some suggestions on how you can help to make this a positive experience

Choose a quiet time

Set aside a quiet time with no distractions. Ten to fifteen minutes is usually long enough.

Make reading enjoyable

Make reading an enjoyable experience. Sit with your child. Try not to pressurise if he or she is reluctant. If your child loses interest then do something else.

Maintain the flow

If your child mispronounces a word do not interrupt immediately. Instead allow opportunity for self-correction. It is better to tell a child some unknown words to maintain the flow rather than insisting on trying to build them all up from the sounds of the letters. If your child does try to 'sound out' words, encourage the use of letter sounds rather than 'alphabet names'.

Be positive

If your child says something nearly right to start with that is fine. Don't say 'No. That's wrong,' but 'Let's read it together' and point to the words as you say them. Boost your child's confidence with constant praise for even the smallest achievement.

Success is the key 

Remember 'Nothing succeeds like success'. Until your child has built up his or her confidence, it is better to keep to easier books. Struggling with a book with many unknown words is pointless. Flow is lost, text cannot be understood and children can easily become reluctant readers.

Visit the Library 

Encourage your child to use the public library regularly.

Regular practice 

Try to read with your child on most school days. 'Little and often' is best.


Your child will have a Reading Record from school. Try to communicate regularly with positive comments and any concerns. Your child will then know that you are interested in their progress and that you value reading.

Talk about the books 

There is more to being a good reader than just being able to read the words accurately. Just as important is being able to understand what has been read. Always talk to your child about the book; about the pictures, the characters, how they think the story will end, their favourite part. You will then be able to see how well they have understood and you will help them to develop good comprehension skills.

Variety is important

Remember children (of all ages!) need to experience a variety of reading materials eg. picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines, poems, and information books.

Adapted by Ray Newberry, from


Please speak to your child’s teacher for more advice