Halton Community Combined School

Together, our community

inspires a love of learning and

enables children to find their voice.

English - Reading and Phonics

Subject leaders: 

Mrs Jen Dawkins (Phonics)

Ms Philippa Bates (English)


If you have any questions regarding reading, please contact Mrs Dawkins or Ms Bates via the school office.


As a school we recognise that reading engagement has a huge impact on outcomes for children. Reading lies at the heart of our curriculum at Halton and is the first of our School Aims:

Our aim is for every child to develop a love of reading.


We are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers and we believe reading is key for academic success. We want our pupils to be confident readers who are able to understand and use a variety of texts for whatever purpose they choose. We want pupils to develop a love of reading, a good knowledge of a range of authors, and be able to understand more about the world in which they live through the knowledge they gain from texts. By the end of their time at Halton, all children should be able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education. We do not put ceilings on what pupils can achieve in reading and we do not hold pre-conceptions about any pupils’ ability to make progress. We understand the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop both word reading and comprehension skills, and so we want to encourage a home-school partnership which enables parents and carers to understand how to enhance the skills being taught in school through good quality texts.


‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.’

Philip Pullman


We teach reading daily as whole class lessons, so that all children have access to the age-related skills and knowledge contained in the National Curriculum.  Whole class reading ensures that children, regardless of reading ability, encounter new and rich vocabulary.  It enables all children to enjoy and understand texts outside of their own reading ‘ability’ or interests.


Within lessons, teachers and teaching assistants target support for less able pupils to enable them to achieve at an age-related level wherever possible. More able pupils  are also given opportunities to demonstrate a greater depth of understanding through extended answers, targeted questioning requiring more reasoned answers and making greater links across and between texts.


Every class has a timetabled 15-20 minute Reading for Pleasure daily.  This is when the class teacher simply reads to their class from a quality book from the Halton Reading Spine. 


Classroom book shelves and the school library are carefully organised to provide informed support for choice.  They contain a range of different texts that tempt reading.  Each teacher ensures that there is diversity of reading material for the children to choose from not just ‘books’: comics, graphic novels, picture books and newspapers are all available to children. Often our children are reading things other than books; as a school we recognise that these are of equal ‘value’ in reading for pleasure.  We encourage children's involvement and ownership through such things as class librarians and  book reviews.  Our classrooms encourage conversations about texts, peer recommendations and teacher recommended books on display.  


We encourage parental involvement through a half termly Reading Newsletter which contains updates about reading initiatives (such as the House Reading Challenge) in school, suggestions for supporting children children with reading at home and recommended new (and classic) reading material for children of all ages. 


We use the VIPERS acronym (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explain, Retrieve and Sequence/ Summarise) to explicitly teach each reading comprehension skill. These are used in our daily whole class reading sessions and also referred to when the skills are being used within reading across the curriculum. The 6 Reading Domains are part of the National Curriculum for reading and focus on the comprehension aspect of reading . We use VIPERS as a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions. 


Reading Skills Progression Document

Example of Halton Reading Newsletter


As children progress from Early Years to the End of Key Stage 2 at Halton,  they are building on their decoding skills, reading fluency, vocabulary, inference and comprehension to become confident and enthusiastic readers, who are able to verbalise their thoughts and opinions on a text. By the time children leave Halton, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. They can also read books to enhance their knowledge and understanding of all subjects on the curriculum, and communicate their research to a wider audience.


Children's Thoughts on Reading at Halton:

These are taken from our recent reading survey that all children took part in: 


We have multiple reading activities during the day.

We go to the library EVERY Wednesday.

We are surrounded by books.

We have a house reading challenge to take part in.

Every teacher reads.

We have a beautiful library.

We read good books every day.

Halton encourages us to read at home and at school.

We have our own library in our classroom.

Our teacher reads us all the newest books.



Reading EYFS and Key Stage One

We aim to develop a love of reading in pupils of all ages; the school is well stocked with a range of children's literature from authors past and present and a range of engaging reading activities are timetabled daily in all classes.


Home reading books:

We use a reading scheme which links in with "Twinkl Phonics", to ensure that the children have the opportunity to consolidate the phonics knowledge that they are learning in school. This is new for September 2022, however we are confident that this will continue to support the development of early reading and to ensure that children experience a range of different genres e.g. fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts. 


From September 2022, in line with government expectations, we have begun delivering phonics using an approved phonics programme. We have chosen to use Twinkl Phonics



The Twinkl Phonics Programme offers a coherently planned sequence of lessons that supports the effective teaching of phonics within EYFS, KS1 and, where appropriate, KS2. Level 1 Twinkl Phonics provides themed teaching packs for nurseries and preschool providers to deliver each of the DfE’s Phase 1 phonics aspects. Throughout Level 1, young learners develop the knowledge, skills and understanding to discriminate between and use auditory, environmental and instrumental sounds. Level 1 is taught in the EYFS and runs throughout the teaching of phonics Levels 2-6. In reception, children work within Levels 2-4. The total number of teaching weeks for Levels 2, 3 and 4 do not fill the whole academic year. This has been planned to allow for additional consolidation if required, assessment time and it also takes into account the events that take place throughout the year such as Christmas productions, school trips etc. In Levels 2-4, learners are introduced to phonemes/sounds and graphemes/letters systematically. They also learn to develop and apply blending and segmenting skills for reading and writing. In KS1, children work within Levels 5 and 6. The coherently planned sequence of lessons within Level 5 allows opportunities for children to apply their phonics knowledge and skills as the prime approach to reading and spelling. It focuses on phonetically decodable two-syllable and three-syllable words and the alternative ways of pronouncing and representing the long vowel phonemes. Furthermore, children will develop their ability to attempt to read and spell increasingly complex words. During Level 6, children explore spelling patterns and grammar while also developing a breadth of knowledge, skills and understanding in the recognition and spelling of common exception words. The Twinkl Phonics Programme intends to not only provide children with opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding essential for reading and writing, but also, to develop each child’s confidence, resilience and engagement in phonics lessons and a love for reading and writing. We also understand that not all children progress at the same rate so we intend to provide teachers with the tools they need to bridge this gap. For those children who are working below agerelated expectations, phonics learning shouldn’t end in KS1. If, through assessment and observation, teachers decide that a child needs further phonics intervention, Twinkl Codebreakers, a comprehensive and scripted intervention programme, can be used. It is specifically designed for KS2 pupils to close the gap and develop essential reading and writing skills.



The Twinkl Phonics Progression Map sets clear expectations for pupils’ progress within the Twinkl Phonics Programme. The tracking document allows headteachers, senior leaders, teachers and practitioners to track pupils’ progress. It provides opportunities for data analysis and encourages discussions around pupil progress, group progress, future learning and misconceptions, enabling schools to respond and adapt teaching within the programme to provide additional support and challenge to pupils. The dynamic and engaging materials delivered in the daily lesson packs within Levels 2-6 ensure a clearly defined structure to the teaching of phonics. The direct teacher-led lessons enable all learners to develop and apply new skills, while also providing opportunities to further apply these skills within fun and engaging activities and through continuous provision. The lesson presentations, stories, games, additional texts and toolkits are meticulously planned to allow children to apply and practise phonics skills. They also offer opportunities to challenge learners and provide support to teachers and parents. Teacher guides for each stage are provided to allow teachers and adults working with children to feel confident in their own subject knowledge, knowing they are fulfilling the national phonics criteria and enabling each child to achieve their potential.



The impact of using our complete Twinkl Phonics Programme (including lesson packs, display photos, weekly planning and parents notes), as the basis of your phonics teaching within EYFS and KS1, will be for children to develop their phonics skills and knowledge through a systematic, synthetic approach, while covering the statutory requirements outlined in the 2014 National Curriculum. It provides sufficient support for children to become fluent readers and prepares them for the statutory year 1 Phonics Screening Check. Following the programme gives schools a consistent approach to phonics, which is clear to teaching staff and learners. Parental engagement can also be improved through the use of the Phonics Workshop slides. 

Phonics Skills Progression Map