Reading & Phonics

At Barrow School, we believe that all our children can become fluent, confident and competent readers and writers. To ensure this happens we teach using the Phonics Programme, Ready Steady Phonics. We follow the Ready Steady Phonics progression document which systematically develops children’s understanding of the phonics code and builds upon previous learning in an incremental manner as they move through school.

The programme develops children’s ability to blend and segment, using their current phonics knowledge, allowing early success, and increasing their confidence in reading. As a result, children at Barrow School are able to tackle unfamiliar words using their phonic knowledge.

We also model and apply the skills taught in the discrete phonics session into reading and writing across the curriculum, ensuring pupils apply their knowledge and skills.

In the Early Years and Key Stage 1 especially, we have a strong focus on language development as we recognise that speaking and listening are crucial skills that underpin reading and writing.

At Barrow School, we also want our children to be able to read for meaning and pleasure and to be able to view themselves as lifelong readers. The matched decodable readers provided by Ready Steady Phonics support this and provide engaging and meaningful texts for children to decode and to discuss for understanding. Development of comprehension is promoted within the Ready Steady Phonics shared and guided reading sessions and these are built on further as the children move through our school.

In Key Stage 1, once pupils are confident with their sounds, they then move onto Bug Club coloured book banded books. 

We have a large selection of Bug Club reading books which pupils in Key Stage 1 and 2 take home to practise their reading. The books are also available for children to access online with pupils having their own login. There are fun comprehension questions to be answered and the chance to collect rewards.

Here are just some of the ways in which we encourage a love of reading throughout the school:

  • There is an outdoor reading shed which is open every playtime for the children to enjoy books and stories together.
  • We have "extreme reading" competitions where we try to read in weird and wonderful places.
  • Mystery readers who are parents, govenors or members of our community come in and read to the children in class as a surprise!
  • Buddy reading takes place where children pair up with an older pupil to enjoy a book together. Paired reading also takes place.
  • From Year 2 upwards, we use shared reading to teach all aspects of reading and comprehension through high quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The engaged texts used also develop a love of reading and have strong links across the curriculum to enhance knowledge.
  • There are cosy book areas in each classroom with a selection of books, linked to topics or children's interests.
  • Classes enjoy focusing on different authors and reading a selection of their books.
  • Daily singing and rhyme time takes place in EYFS where children enjoy learning poems and songs.
  • Pupils enjoy sharing and recommending poems to each other. In Willow class, the 'Poetree' has recommended favourite poems for pupils to enjoy and Acorn class have a book of favourite poems. For National Poetry day, pupils learn how to perform a poem and we celebrate poems from around the world.
  • In Acorn class, we have a box of 'beloved books' which children take home each week to share and parents read the book to them. They then make recommendations to others about their favourite books.
  • Parents are invited to reading information sessions in school to understand how reading is taught and how they can support at home.
  • There is a "tell us what you are reading" area in each classroom where children celebrate the books they have read and encourage others to try them too.
  • Juicy book club reguarly takes place where small groups of children enjoy listening to and discussing stories whilst having a drink of juice and a biscuit.
  • Teachers read to pupils and enjoy sharing class stories.
  • Pupils have the opportunity to take part in  summer reading challenges and win prizes.


Our Year 1 pupils will sit the statutory phonics screening test in early June. Please see past phonics screening test papers attached below to help your child to practise at home.

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