Helping your Child to Read

Being able to read is the most important skill children will learn during their early schooling and this has far–reaching implications for lifelong confidence and well being. High quality phonic work should be the prime means for teaching children how to read and spell words in the foundation stage. It is very important to develop children’s speaking and listening skills from the earliest stages, ensuring that beginner readers are ready to get off to a good start in phonic work by the age of five. This work should be set within a curriculum which is rich in language development opportunities.

Here at Balfour Primary school we use the Letters and Sounds programme which is structured into six stages.  We teach our Phonics lessons primarily through Phonics Play; this enables children to learn sounds discretely and in context in a fun way.  

Here are some useful links to phonic games you can play with your child on the computer.



Phonics and Reading Schemes in KS1

We use a range of phonics and reading schemes in KS1 which include:

  • Phonics -
    • Letters and Sounds [www.phonicsplay.co.uk](Scheme used for planning and lessons from Yr R - Yr 2) 
    • Cued Articulation
  • Reading - Rigby Star Books, Big Cat books and Rapid Readers 
  • Handwriting - Write Dance Yr R,    Penpals Yr R- Yr 6

 Children are assessed through the statutory Phonic Screening Test at the end of Year 1 to monitor their ability to decode effectively. Our pass rate has increased again this year from 85% in 2017 to 91% in 2018.


Guided reading sessions

Foundation Stage and Key stage 1

In Balfour Primary School we have a structured reading scheme for the Foundation stage comprising 100% decodable readers in it. There are many fiction and non- fiction readers which contain plenty of exciting stories and information. Fun, varied and packed with humour each book is 100% decodable and they enable each of our children at school and at home to be able to read them independently.
At the front and back of each book there are useful consolidation and extension activities for the reader to work through with the teacher/ teaching assistant and parents.

All children are given a phonic assessment at the beginning of the 2nd half of Autumn Term. If children have passed through Stage 1 and are working within Stage 2 they are given a reading book which they take home in a book bag.

In the Spring term the children are put into reading groups and are given the appropriate level of book for their stage of development.
As the children move up the school the books they are given introduce various strategies for reading such as context cues and decoding in a range of genres. At this stage the books are divided up into colour bands. The Reading Behaviour cards will focus on the strategies that are needed to help your child’s reading progress. Please click on the below links to download these Reading Behaviour cards.

We hope you find this information useful.

Key Stage 1

In Year 1 and 2 we teach Guided Reading through a carousel. Children are read with at least once a week with the class teacher and work their way through phased books which increase in difficulty and length as they progress. Other activities are linked to reading skills including key spelling recognition and comprehension. We assess children's reading level each half term through Benchmarking and checking their corresponding comprehension. It is vital not to move children through increasingly difficult books without ensuring that their understanding and ability to answer appropriate questions matches securely.

Children's reading levels are assessed at the end of Key Stage 1 through their Reading SAT assessment. Children complete two papers which are a combination of reading texts and answering comprehension questions. The percentage of children reaching Age Related Expectations for Reading has increased year on year - 80% in 2016, 83% in 2017 and 85% in 2018.

Key Stage 2
In Years 3-6 we continue to teach most Guided Reading sessions through a carousel. Children are read with on a 1-1 basis with the class teacher at least once every two weeks, and read books in a small group targeted at their comprehension level. As part of the carousel, children may also do a range of written (where appropriate) activities related to their Guided Reading text, choose texts from the book corner or visit the KS2 library. We also have weekly comprehension activities in upper KS2 classes, in addition to the carousel. We assess children's reading level each half term partly through a comprehension assessment, as well as through teacher judgement based on reading directly with the child throughout the half term.
Children's reading levels are also formally assessed at the end of Key Stage 2 through their Reading SAT assessment, which is marked and assessed externally. Children complete a reading paper which involves independently reading a range of texts and answering comprehension questions.
Spelling is taught through the ‘No-Nonsense’ spelling programme. Please refer to the ‘Spelling’ section of this website for more details of the patterns covered, expectations and advice about how you can support your child at home.
Grammar teaching is integrated into English lessons (although in Year 6 there are additional lessons in grammar) so that children can apply the new grammar skill or understanding directly into their writing in that session. For a glossary of grammar terminology, please see the ‘Assessment’ section of this website.
In KS2, a full range of fiction and non-fiction text-types are taught, from diary entries to newspaper articles, using a whole-class text as a stimulus. This is based on ‘The Power of Reading’ which was an initiative created by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education to raise motivation and attainment in writing in schools. Teachers use a high-quality book as a stimulus for writing, and read large sections of the book to the children, allowing all children to access texts they would not be able to access independently and enabling them to benefit from experiencing the rich vocabulary, detailed plots and character development. Writing lessons may include elements of drama, shorter writing tasks, sentence-level work and class and pair discussion, as well as a weekly longer writing task, all based around the high-quality text. There is no expectation that parents should purchase the class texts for their child, and in many ways the element of surprise and excitement that comes from hearing a story the children have not previously heard can be a real advantage!
Although all children experience the same stimulus for writing, all children are enabled to access the curriculum with support where needed (in many cases, children can self-select if they want to use the additional support, such as a writing frame, visual support or a vocabulary list) and with additional challenges to extend the children’s learning. For a detailed breakdown of the specific skills and expectations for each year, please see the ‘Assessment’ section of this website.