Reading at Clyst Heath

Reading at Clyst Heath

At Clyst Heath we work hard  to develop confident, competent readers who will hopefully go on to have a lifelong love of reading. We use a variety of different approaches depending on the age and stage of the children we are working with. Children with English as an Additional language and those who find reading especially challenging are supported through Intervention programmes, working individually or in small groups with our specially trained Teaching Assistants.

Reading in the Early Years and Year 1

All children start their reading journeys with a comprehensive daily Phonics programme. We follow the Letters and Sounds Programme and use the Jolly Phonics Actions to teach each sound in phases 2 and 3. During these lessons they learn the name, sound and action for each letter of the alphabet. We use an action to match the letter, so for example 'ssss' we move our hand like a snake! These actions help the children to remember the sounds. We teach them one sound a day and by the end of the first week the children can start to blend sounds (push them together) to read simple words such as 'it', 'is', 'sat', 'pat', 'pit'.

Once we have taught all the single sounds of the alphabet we can blend lots of different simple words. The children will be introduced to reading two-syllable words and simple captions. We also teach the children ‘non-decodable’ words that they cannot sound out and need to learn on sight. For example: 'to' 'the' 'go' 'no' and 'I'. Once the children have a secure knowledge of the single sounds we move onto teaching them more sounds but this time, the sounds have two letters, but still make only one sound; for example oa', 'ie', 'ar'. These are called digraphs. Don’t worry if this all sounds confusing! We will hold a meeting for you when your child starts in Reception. We will talk you through the different sounds and actions and show you how we help your child to start to read. We will also give you a phonics handbook so you can check if you get stuck and you can support your child’s learning at home.


Home reading books are selected from our graded reading bands which include fiction and non-fiction from Rigby Stars and Bug Club.  We encourage the children to change their book twice a week. We also send home a school/home reading record for you to fill in how your child is getting on reading at home. We read with your child at least once a week in a ‘Guided reading’ session where we focus on teaching your child the skills they will need to become independent readers. We will help them blend sounds to read simple words and to follow the words with their fingers from left to right and top to bottom. The daily phonics lesson will help them to decode familiar words and give them strategies to decode unfamiliar more complex words.There will be many opportunities in the school daty to share and listen to stories and enjoy books as a class. 

Another important part of our reading session will include talking about the books, the characters in it, key events, important facts and the sequence of a story. We will teach your child to read for meaning to understand what they have read. During their time in Reception and Years 1 and 2 we will read a range of different texts and encourage them to have an enjoyment and love of hearing stories, non-fiction texts and poems. The reading books that come home from school, in the main, practise reading key words.  In the early stages of reading, it is really important that your child learns to love language and begins to make sense of English language patterns. This can only be achieved if your child has access to good quality children’s literature and an opportunity to share their favourite stories and books, outside of the ‘practise’ books from school. This will enable your child to move on much quicker and become more fluent in the way language works. If your child brings out the same book over and over and you feel they know it by heart, this is an important early reading skill. They are practising and playing with language.

Throughout Reception, Years 1 and 2 your child will work their way through the coloured book bands. They are regularly assessed to see when they are ready to move up to the next level. It is important to remember that for a child to progress effectively, they must demonstrate a good level of comprehension of the text that they have read, not just an ability to decode.

For more information about the Coloured Book band scheme see the links to attached leaflets below.

Year 2 Upwards

Children in years 2 and 3 will continue with colour book bands until they are able to fluently read and understand gold/white level books. If they have a reading age of more than 6 they will also have an Accelerated Reader book. All children are tested at least once a term to assess their reading level and progress. All children in Years 2, 3, 4,5 and 6 will also have a weekly taught reading session with their class teacher focusing on word meaning, reading with expression and comprehension skills.

Since the introduction of Accelerated Reader across the school in Spring 2017 we have seen significant improvements in outcomes for children. The programme is aimed at children with a reading age of 6 upwards and has an international reputation for improving children's attainment, comprehension and motivation in reading. The attached document below explains the programme in more detail. For more information please click on the link to leaflets below