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Reading at the Vale of Evesham School

Reading Overview

At the Vale of Evesham School, we acknowledge that learning to read in its widest sense is central to the curriculum intent of the school. Progress in reading enables our pupils to access opportunities both in school and the wider community with independence and confidence. Reading provides pupils with rich communication opportunities and supports them in achieving their desired outcomes on leaving school. Our approach to reading:

  • Acknowledges that stimulus (e.g., smell/sound/facial expressions) carries meaning
  • Acknowledges that objects and carry meaning
  • Teaches that photographs and pictures represent objects, people and places and carry meaning
  • Teaches that symbols can be used as labels and to access text (and also supports communication)
  • Ensures that narrative can be accessed through sensory-based activities
  • Emphasises systematic synthetic phonics is our favoured approach to teaching reading using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme
  • Teaches the reading of words, new vocabulary and comprehension


At the Vale of Evesham School, we intend for pupils to:

  • Understand their immediate environment so they feel secure and ready to engage in learning
  • Use objects, photos, and symbols to anticipate, predict, communicate
  • Read words
  • Foster a love for stories and literature
  • Read purposefully to gain information using non-fiction texts
  • Apply reading skills to engage with the wider community in preparation for life after school


Phonics is timetabled prior to reading sessions where pupils apply their developing skills to reading books. The pace at which new phonemes are introduced is skilfully planned for using ongoing assessment to ensure pupils have successfully embedded their learning before moving to the next. The Vale of Evesham School uses the Read Write Inc. Phonics Programme across the whole school so that pupils experience a consistent teaching approach.

We ensure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and common exception words. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence with reading. Re-reading and discussing these books with teaching staff supports their increasingly fluent decoding. Each key stage has separate reading books to avoid repetition and continue to provide motivating reading opportunities as pupils progress through the school. See ‘reading book guidance’ document.

An important part of literacy teaching is the exposure to a diverse range of texts during literature lessons. Texts are carefully mapped across the year for the whole school. The literature suggested link to the units being taught within English lessons and also relate to the overarching theme for the term. Pupils will engage with literature above their reading ability; covering a broad range of themes, eras and cultures. They will access a range of motivating reading materials through a variety of medias, both for pleasure and for purpose. Texts will be high quality often using adapted versions (particularly in UKS2 onwards) and promote meaningful discussions, drama-based activities and a celebration of literature. The texts chosen will go on to inspire and support pupil’s writing. Refer to the working document ‘Text Map’ for further details.

To promote a love for reading, all classrooms have reading areas that are resourced with books that engage and motivate learners, matched to their cognitive level. These books will regularly rotate and pupils are encouraged to take an active role in this. The school library is accessible to all and contains story books, sensory stories, poetry, audio books and a wide range of non-fiction texts. Pupils take home a book for enjoyment each week from either their reading corners or the school library.

Furthermore; all pupils engage in Reading Enrichment sessions each term with a different focus depending on the strand of the curriculum they are working on. These sessions are designed to celebrate a particular story, poem or author. Details of these sessions can be found within the ‘Reading’ section of our website.

The below sections provide a summary of how reading is implemented depending upon phase and strand of the curriculum.

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS):

Within Early Years, pupils enjoy stories and rhymes each day to support language development. These are carefully planned for and repeated using props, actions and special emphasis on repeated phrases and rhyme. All children have access to a reading corner supplied with tactile, picture and symbol books and are encouraged to make independent choices throughout the day.

Our learners will develop early reading skills using objects of reference, photos and symbols as part of their daily routines; all of which link with their communication skills. The early reading skills are taught sequentially once pupils reach reception depending upon the level of understanding of each child. Please refer to the ‘EYFS long term plan’ and the pre-phonics sequence of teaching included at the end of this section for more information on this. Pupils accessing our Early Years provision have daily opportunities to develop phonological awareness through a range of engaging activities using Phase 1 (Letters and Sounds) aspects 1-7 where appropriate.

The Read Write Inc. Phonics program is introduced within our EYFS provision where pupils have developed communication and language skills required to engage with this. They will have opportunities to begin oral blending, practising using pure sounds and naming images before moving onto phoneme-grapheme correspondence of set 1 sounds. The pace and delivery of Read Write Inc is carefully adapted to suit the needs of our learners.

Semi-Formal Curriculum:

Pupils are given short-term targets each term which are shared with parents; these support their EHCP long term targets. Reading at home is promoted at the beginning of their school journey and continues throughout. Pupils working at the early stages of reading can access approaches such as ‘See and Learn’ to develop their understanding of photos. Symbolic awareness is taught through colourful semantics, matching activities and a total-communication approach embedded throughout the school day. With this text-rich environment, pupils can confidently understand timetables and engage learning feeling secure. The sequence of teaching the pre-phonics skills can be found on our ‘Pre-Phonics Teaching Sequence’ document, also included at the end of this section.

Pupils working on the semi-formal curriculum will be supported in developing their phonological awareness using multisensory approaches informed by Letters and Sounds Phase 1. Once these fundamental literacy skills are embedded, pupils will access systematic synthetic phonics using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme. Pupils access daily oral blending activities and new sounds are introduced at a pace that suits their learning needs. Structured ‘Word Time’ sessions support learners to blend sounds that they know to read words. Pupils then have opportunities to apply their phonics skills to carefully matched reading books. The reading books vary depending on the Key Stage they are in; refer to ‘Reading Book Guidance’ document for more information on this.

Whilst phonics is our preferred method of teaching reading, we recognise that for some pupils an alternative is necessary, or indeed a combination of approaches. Strategies such ‘action words’ as precision teaching work well to develop whole word reading skills.

Interventions are targeted to support pupils not making the expected progress. A range of assessments support teachers in identifying areas of difficulty with phonological processing which can help inform interventions as well as universal practice. Those accessing Read Write Inc are assessed on a half termly basis and the intervenors have access to the same resources as classes. Individual interventions may also include precision teaching so that specific sounds or words can be taught and assessed. Some pupils benefit from the TEACCH approach within the classroom.

To develop pupil understanding of text, questions asked closely link to the pupils’ level of communication; using Blanks’ level questions, symbols, signs and AAC where required.

As pupils progress to high school, they will continue with the approaches above but also focus on reading for life. This includes reading whole words and symbols in the community or the working world. Various technological resources can support with this to promote independence; the C-Pen is used with great success by several pupils. Within sixth form, pupils have further exciting opportunities to apply their reading skills in real-life situations such as the school café.  They will be encouraged to read words and symbols purposefully in a working environment to develop their functional skills.

Fostering a love for reading is at the heart of what we do at the Vale of Evesham School. We hold parent workshops each year for the different abilities of reading we have within our school, host book fairs, promote and facilitate library visits and welcome guest performers. Each term, the whole school participates in ‘reading enrichment days’ on a variety of themes; more information about these days can be found on our website in the reading section.

Formal Curriculum:

Pupils are given short-term targets each term which are shared with parents.  They are encouraged to read at home regularly with a reading book (alongside their chosen book for pleasure) and reading record sent home on a weekly basis.

In middle school, pupils working on the formal curriculum will continue to participate in Read Write Inc. Phonics sessions four times a week. From year 9, pupils who require continued support with phonics will access Fresh Start (Read Write Inc). To support high frequency word reading and address gaps in knowledge; some pupils will continue to engage in Precision Teaching.

Pupils working on the formal curriculum will complete a reading session to apply their phonics skills to carefully matched books. These sessions may include sharing a big book, 1:1 reading, guided reading and reading to a peer. Reading books are carefully selected to ensure they provide adequate challenging using age-appropriate themes (please refer to reading book guidance document)

All pupils are supported to engage in a dialogue and answer questions from adults/peers about what they have read to develop their comprehension skills.  Pupils accessing the formal curriculum develop their comprehension skills using V. I. P. E. R. S:

  • Vocabulary
  • Inference
  • Prediction
  • Explanation
  • Retrieval
  • Sequence/Summarise

Some pupils accessing the formal curriculum in middle school are able to read fluently. They take an active role in deciding what to read during morning reading sessions which can include 1:1 and guided reading. This is to continue to promote a love for reading. They begin to apply their reading skills to understanding a chosen topic, begin to access news articles, plays and chapter books using V.I.P.E.R.S questions to guide discussions.

Within high school, pupils will continue to access dedicated sessions to phonics (Read Write Inc. Fresh Start) and reading where required.  Fluent readers in high school engage in 1:1 reading, guided reading using a range of plays, graphic novels, newspapers, poetry, non-fiction texts and stories. They will also enjoy a broad range of literature during their English lessons. In most cases, these are adapted versions of well-known texts that are skilfully differentiated by the class teachers. These texts empower our students to engage in conversations on a diverse range of topics as they work towards Entry Level qualifications (Pearson Edexcel).

Within sixth form, the focus on reading turns towards the real-life application whilst continuing to foster the love for books. Pupils will have access to weekly Newpapers (First News) and magazines. They will develop their understanding of forms, letters and have opportunities to read job adverts within school and apply. The sixth form café also provides a diverse range of purposeful reading opportunities and prepares our pupils for the world of work.


Reading progress is monitored using Evidence for Learning for pupils working on the semi-formal and formal curriculum. We assess all pupils who are following Read Write Inc. Phonics and/or Fresh Start programme using the Entry Assessment. This initial assessment is used to inform groupings and gives a good indication of progress relative to their starting points. Pupils are assessed each half term to monitor the rate at which they are making progress.  This enables teachers to identify where interventions are required. Termly progression reflection discussions occur within class teams to identify gaps in learning and agree on strategies to support progression. Pupils in Year 1 and Year 2 take part in the phonics screening programme where appropriate. In High School, pupils’ reading progress contributes towards their English Entry Level accreditation (Pearson Edexcel) and their work is moderated and verified internally and externally. Pupils throughout the school, who are reading short passages, are assessed annually using the York Assessment for Reading and Comprehension (YARC). Many of our students go on to develop the skills and confidence in reading for onward study, including Functional Skills English.

We work collaboratively with parents and pupils to set long-term reading targets as part of pupil EHCP annual reviews. As a school, we take prompt action to address lack of progress in reading. Pupil’s accessing the Read Write Inc. Phonics/Fresh Start programme can be easily identified and short term, targeted interventions are carried out by class staff or as part of an intervention. When interventions are used, it is imperative that discussions are had at the start and end of an intervention with the class teacher to ensure progress made continues within the classroom.