Early Reading and Phonics

Reading Strategy Norton Campus 


Central to the curriculum at Norton Campus is promoting a love of reading amongst our children. It is our belief that reading should open our pupils’ minds to new worlds and experiences and stimulate their imagination and curiosity. Every child should leave Norton being able to read to a high standard and enjoy reading for pleasure both at school and at home. We will give our pupils the tools to be able to read a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books and develop their language and vocabulary through the high quality, engaging texts that we share with them. Texts are carefully selected to ensure appropriate challenge and are linked to the learning across the curriculum. Teachers read to pupils often and model reading fluently and with expression on a daily basis, introducing texts with enthusiasm and enjoyment. Our rigorous phonics programme ensures that pupils become confident and fluent readers by the end of key stage one and are secure in their comprehension of age related texts in key stage 2. Pupils who are not yet confident readers with secure phonological awareness, including those with SEN, are supported in developing their reading skills through systematic intervention programmes tailored to their needs. The reading provision at Norton enables pupils to make rapid in-year progress and meet or exceed their expected attainment level by the end of KS2.


Phonics and early reading

At Norton Infants, phonics is taught using a whole class model which enables all children to access high quality first teaching led by the class teacher.  FFT Phonics Success for All has been adopted by the Trust and was fully implemented across Early Years and KS1 from September 2022.

The Reception phonics programme provides sessions that are planned by FFT to ensure that over the course of three terms the children will cover the first 50 sounds in the developmental progression first established in Letters and Sounds 2007.  The phonics lessons follow a consistent daily structure with clear timing goals for each activity.  This consistent approach enables lessons to be taught with pace as everybody understands the routine and what is expected.

Each lesson lasts 25 minutes and follows the same basic sequence each day:

  • Review of previously taught Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence (GPCs) (10 minutes)
  • Teach, Practise and Apply new GPCs (15 minutes)

Additionally to the phonics lessons interventions take place throughout the day; these may be to address misconceptions, to pre-teach or to consolidate previous learning.

The teaching of phonics helps support children in developing an ability to read and recognise sounds, to blend sounds together to read words and to string groups of words together to begin reading sentences.  

FFT Shared Reading 

It is important that children don’t simply know their phonics but can apply that knowledge to the skill of reading itself.  In the Success for All Phonics programme, children can apply their developing phonics knowledge and skill by reading the Shared Readers.  These are carefully aligned to the phonics lessons and allow children to practise reading the new and recently taught GPCs as well as the Common Exception Words to which they have been introduced.

There are 68 fully decodable reading books (Shared Readers) to support the effective teaching of phonics from Reception to the end of Year 1.  Each book is designed to be read over five days.

In Reception the Shared Reader lessons are 15 minutes long in Term 1, increase to 20 minutes in Term 2 and 25 minutes in Term 3.  The sessions also allow opportunities to develop comprehension, fluent reading and to consolidate letter formation, spelling and sentence writing.

In Year 1 the Shared Reader lessons are 30 minutes long.  As the Shared Readers get longer, the texts will be read over multiple days with clear guidelines for each day’s reading allocation.

  • KS1 pupils are taught a clear phonics programme and the lesson design maximises learning time
  • LK2 pupils who have not passed the phonics screening check take part in a daily rigorous and systematic phonics programme so they catch up rapidly with their peers.
  • FFT phonics

Key Stage 2 pupils who are working at a Key Stage 1 level in reading engage in appropriate catch-up intervention programmes including FFT Lightning Squad, Toe-by-Toe, Code X and Precision Teaching.

Reading within the curriculum

At Norton, each expedition is centred around a core text that is carefully selected by teachers to challenge and inspire pupils and contextualise their learning. Each 3-4 week English cycle is driven by the core text and includes a range of reading tasks based on National Curriculum objectives. Additionally, throughout each expedition, pupils are exposed to a wide range of challenging non-fiction texts to support their understanding, including scientific reports and historical and geographical sources of information. These texts broaden children’s understanding of the world around them, help to develop complex, subject-specific vocabulary and act as models for their writing across a range of curriculum areas. 

In addition,  teachers from Year 2-6 plan a 5 day cycle of reading lessons based on specific curriculum objectives (CPD session took place Jan 2022). These sessions provide daily opportunities for pupils to develop their fluency and comprehension skills whilst exploring a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts. Teachers select one text or text extract, which is age-related and poses an appropriate level of challenge, and this is explored over the 5 sessions.. The lessons allow pupils to explore the text deeply over the course of a week and include teacher modelled reading, paired and independent reading, summarising, understanding vocabulary and exploration of a specific year group objective taken from the reading rubrics

Accelerated Reader

Pupils in Key Stage 2 take part in a daily 20 minute Accelerated Reader session. This programme is designed to support children in developing word reading, vocabulary comprehension and comprehension skills whilst encouraging a positive attitude of reading and a love of books. Children select books from their reading range and take comprehension quizzes. Teachers review Accelerated Reader data on a weekly basis to monitor pupils’ progress and identify those pupils who are not on track in terms of their expected reading age. These pupils feature on class provision maps and consequently receive additional support to enable them to catch up to their peers. Accelerated Reader data is shared with pupils in weekly crew sessions and their progress is displayed in the classroom. This enables pupils to take ownership of their progress and is an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and make pledges to improve. 

Each term, each pupil takes a Star Reading test which provides a reading age and level for each pupil. This ensures that each child is selecting books at an appropriate level for their stage of development and allows teachers to monitor pupil progress over the year. Pupils who are not making expected progress are targeted as priority readers during daily Accelerated Reader sessions and given additional support through specific intervention programmes if required.


At the start of each year, teachers assess pupils’ reading speed using an age related text and this baseline is used to set an end of year target for each child. At the end of each term, reading speeds are assessed and pupils who are not reading at 90 words per minute or above are targeted as priority readers and read to an adult during daily AR sessions. Reading speed data is shared with parents during open evenings and pupil progress reports and teachers reiterate the importance of reading at home to parents and carers.

In Key Stage One, there are three summative assessment points in the academic year when  NTS assessments are used to assess reading for years 1. At the same time, past SATs papers are used to assess children in Years 2. 

Key Stage 2 pupils complete termly summative assessments. Year 3, 4 and 5 use NTS tests and Year 6 pupils complete previous years’ SATs papers. These tests inform teacher assessment judgements and enable teachers to identify pupils who are not making required rates of progress and put additional support in place, which is evident on the class provision timetable.

Promoting Reading for Pleasure

Significant investments have been made to develop reading areas at Norton Campus and purchase high quality fiction and non-fiction texts that the children will enjoy reading. As part of the development of Accelerated Reader at Norton Junior School, pupils were asked their reading preferences and a range of new books were purchased in order to encourage and promote reading for pleasure. Each week, a crew session – Tranquil Tuesday – is dedicated to reading and may include paired reading, individual reading or a member of staff reading to their crew. At Norton Infant School, crew competitions take place to encourage pupils to read regularly and special reading events are planned, including World Book Day, to raise the profile of reading.