Dobwalls Primary School Reading: Our Reading Journey

 “The whole world opened up to me when I learned to read” – Mary McCleod Bethune


Statement of Intent:

At Dobwalls we believe that the ability to read is a life-long, vitally important and pleasurable skill which is a major priority for all our children.  For this reason, reading is taught, practised and developed across the whole curriculum as well as being addressed in lessons where the key focus is specifically on teaching the children to read with fluency, accuracy and understanding. Our overarching ambition is that all our children will become enthusiastic, independent and reflective readers who enjoy reading and for whom it provides a key gateway to learning and to life.



 So, how do we do this and what are the principal measures we put in place to achieve this ambition?

  •          There is ample research evidence that the best way of launching children into reading is through phonics which is a system by which pupils learn the sounds associated with both individual letters and combinations of letters. We therefore start by building a secure phonics foundation through using the widely acclaimed Read Write Inc. (RWI) phonics system. 
  •          We read to the children every day at school. Teachers read to their class from a book written by a carefully selected author or from a collection of themed books or from other resources such as poetry and non-fiction materials, which could, for example include newspapers and magazines. 
  •          In addition, we ensure that the pupils regularly read to us. This enables the staff including our teaching assistants, to support and review the progress of individual pupils and to encourage in every child a love of reading and literature. 
  •          We also ensure that there are regular opportunities for the staff to develop and share best practice in the teaching of reading, and where appropriate, to benefit, for example, from contacts with other schools in the SMART Multi-Academy Trust of which Dobwalls is a member. 
  •          Most importantly, at Dobwalls parents play a key role in supporting the development of their child’s reading by regularly listening to them read and by engaging them in conversations about their understanding of the story or subject matter. This home-based element is a vital part of the learning process.


The heart of our school – Our Library

The Reader's Journey at Dobwalls


EYFS – In the Early Years, we provide high-quality reading experiences that are essential in supporting our children in their journey to becoming competent readers. Our EYFS classroom has its own stimulating, well-resourced book area, which is accessible by children, as well as a wide range of resources and opportunities to apply reading skills, for example: name cards, alphabet mats, signs and labels and puppets and props to re-tell and act out stories. Using the Read Write Inc. phonics scheme we deliver high-quality, small group phonics sessions specifically tailored to the individual needs of each child. The children are taught a new sound each day which they then apply to reading in words and to writing them too. Children in EYFS take home two reading books to engage parental support at home. One is a RWI reading book which the children have already used in the week with their reading teacher at school and another is a “free-choice” book that they will have chosen themselves or with some adult guidance where appropriate.

To ensure that our parents feel confident to support their child with reading at home, we invite our Reception parents in to school to attend a phonics workshop in the autumn term. This is an excellent opportunity for them to learn more about phonics, the teaching of phonics and take part in some phonics activities that children engage in whilst at school, all of which promote the development of reading. The children throughout EYFS, KS1 and lower KS2 have home/reading diaries which parents are shown how to complete.

 Year 1 – The children’s reading journey through year 1 is carefully planned to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to make excellent progress and become confident, independent readers who are developing a love of books. The children will continue their phonics RWI sessions in small groups revising earlier sounds previously taught and learning new trickier ones. These sounds are then matched to the books they read in their English lessons when they discuss the stories in detail and write about different aspects of them. The year 1 classroom has its own reading area which contains a variety of reading material including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. In addition, each year group borrows topic-related texts from the Schools’ Library Service in order to enhance specific curriculum areas and the Foundation Subjects such as History and Geography. Children have the opportunity to take home three reading books in Year 1 – an RWI book and a “free-choice” home reader.

 Year 2 – The children are now well on their way to becoming independent readers. Their confidence and reading ability is growing and, as such, once they have completed the RWI phonics scheme, they can then choose their own home/school reading book. The children choose these books from an age-appropriate, well-stocked reading area which contains a wide variety of texts from poetry to play scripts and atlases to chapter books. In addition, they also take home a book from the school library.

Once the children are no longer attending the RWI phonics lessons, they take part in discreet whole- class reading sessions. These take place 3 to 5 times a week and follow the VIPERs teaching and learning approach outlined in the picture below.

Whole-class reading in which pupils are not divided into reading ability groups provides an opportunity for children of all attainment bands to be immersed together in the same high-quality literature and the discussions that these promote. Children benefit by encountering a wide range of views and opinions. 

 It is in Year 2 that the children also have a timetabled session at 8.45 each day for “Reading for Pleasure”. This time provides children with a calm, settled and composed start to the day. They come in and read or share their book with a partner for 10 – 15 minutes, allowing the class teacher time to read with individual children and discuss the books they are choosing. This “Reading for Pleasure” time begins in Year 2 but then continues throughout Key Stage 2.

Reading for pleasure is the best time of the day. I get to talk to my friends about our best books or just sit and read. It makes me feel relaxed.”  Elowen, Class 2

 Year 3 – In Year 3, children are taught the VIPERS skills through daily Whole Class Reading lessons. During these lessons children read a range of texts including fiction, non-fiction and poems. Each lesson contains a retrieval and vocabulary element to build children’s basic understanding of text and to increase their vocabulary.

During daily Reading For Pleasure time children will have access to choose from a wide range of reading materials. This can include novels, picture books, non-fiction texts, poetry, magazines and children’s newspapers. By allowing this choice, children will be exposed to texts that are structured in different ways and reading for a range of purposes.

Children also participate in a range of reading activities across the Curriculum, such as being read aloud to on a daily basis. There is also a reading element to topic lessons in order to embed VIPERS skills in every subject.

Year 4 –
Children continue on their journey but with further access to the library and a stronger focus on the VIPERS skills, deepening pupils’ consideration of the author’s choice of words, themes and the structure/layouts of texts. Also, during this year, the children become Reading Ambassadors. They listen to and support children in year 2 with their reading and book choices and then record a brief, helpful observation in the pupils’ reading diary. This builds links across the school and gives our year 4 children a sense of pastoral responsibility, as well as providing an opportunity to introduce younger children to many different genres and authors thus continuing to inspire a love of reading.

Year 5 –
Our children are now reading most words fluently and with increasing speed. They enjoy daily reading for pleasure slots as they arrive at school. Children select their own book either from the classroom or the library. Books in the classroom are changed at least half-termly in order to link to topics. There is a choice of available resources including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and picture books. Children have their own reading diaries and are evaluating the author’s use of language and the impact upon the reader. In both the whole class reading and in the children’s individual selection of books there is an increasing level of challenge and a broadening of age appropriate topics.

Year 6 –
Over the culmination of 7 years of work, we now have fully fluent readers who are able to decode unfamiliar words with speed and accuracy. They have now built the skill of attempting to recognise the meaning of new vocabulary through contextual clues presented to them. In whole-class reading, the children are given the opportunity to discuss and evaluate a wide genre of texts at length and recognise more complex underlying themes within what they are reading.  Over the course of the year, they will be challenged increasingly to increasingly longer texts both independently and with a partner in lessons to enhance their reading stamina and draw links and conclusions throughout a longer piece of writing in preparation for their end of Key Stage 2 SATs test. Through carefully chosen ‘Talk for Writing’ texts, children are able to analyse and evaluate how figurative language is used for effect in a piece of writing, using technical terminology such as metaphor, simile, imagery, alliteration and personification.

 In daily reading for pleasure time, children are provided with a wide genre of texts both in the class library and in the Topic reading corner. Every half-term, these books are rotated to give children fresh opportunities to enjoy differing genres and authors. Discussions take place during this time with the teaching staff and their peers so that the children can explain and talk about their understanding of what they have read, drawing out key information to summarise the main ideas or themes in a text. In year 6, children are also given the opportunity to write detailed book reviews in order to critique what they are reading and further develop these key skills. Daily opportunities to read out loud are provided for all children in differing areas of the curriculum.



In 2019 89% of children in our Year 1 passed the phonics screening test. The national average was 82%.

In 2019, 76% of Year 2 children achieved “Expected Standard” for reading. The national average was 76%.  

In 2019, 67% of Year 6 children achieved “Expected Standard” for reading. This figure is an increase of 7% compared to the previous year. The national average was 72%.


 How do we meet the needs of children requiring extra support?

Our motto here at Dobwalls is in line with that of RWI – “Keep up, not catch up!”. As such, we run, for example, 1-1 tuition sessions for those children who need to “keep-up” with their learning and blending of sounds. These are led by an RWI-trained Teaching Assistant. For any children in Key Stage 2 who might need further support with reading, we put in place a personalised plan. This might include, for example, continuing to access RWI phonics lessons to ensure they have a firm basis on which to build their reading skills, accessing Fresh Start (a phonics scheme of work targeted at children in Years 5 and 6), or simply participating in regular reading sessions with an adult in school to encourage fluency, accuracy and understanding.  In addition, children can access a 1-1 intervention reading programme called Nessy which is specifically designed to support those with dyslexia.


How do we assess reading?

Our reading assessments take many different forms so as to provide us with an accurate and well-rounded picture of each child’s reading ability, vocabulary and love of books. To form these assessments, information and data are taken from child/teacher discussions in “Reading for Pleasure” time, notes and information from the children’s reading diaries, the termly class reading assessments, whole-class reading lessons and national and school-based phonics assessments (where appropriate).  Using a variety of indicators in this way enables us to obtain a properly balanced judgment of each child’s reading ability and progress thus enabling us to identify the next steps in their learning journey.


How do our parents get involved?

At Dobwalls we believe that parental engagement provides a vital role in a child’s success at primary school. With respect to reading and phonics, to ensure that school and parents are working closely together we have put in place:

  •          Phonics and reading workshops for parents of children in EYFS and Key Stage 1.
  •          Open-house phonics sessions when parents are invited in to learn alongside their child in a phonics lesson.
  •          Home/school reading diaries to monitor children’s progress and book selection.
  •          Parent readers are used across all key stages of the school and provide regular reading opportunities for our children. We are very grateful for their support and participation.
  •          In addition, the regular parent/teacher meetings enable detailed discussions about their child’s reading and an opportunity for parents to ask questions and seek guidance if needed.  


Reading Activities - ideas for home

  •        Why not complete a book review about the book you have just read. Bring it in to school and share it in the library so that everyone knows your thoughts on the book. Please use the link below to download book review template.
  •        Practise your VIPERS skills with your home reading book. Perhaps you can become the teacher and create questions to ask your parents?

Useful Links

What is phonics?  Understanding Phonics - Information for Parents

Phonics presentation for parents – (this is currently on the Reception Class page.)

How to say the sounds - Information for Parents

The Year 1 Phonics screening Check - Information for Parents

Ten top tips for reading with your child at home - Information for Parents

Top tips to support your child's reading - BBC Bitesize

World Book Day
Every year, we love World Book Day!  In 2020, we enjoyed a super visit from author Ellie Jackman.  The children then spent time working on activities to develop their understanding whilst being inspired by her visit. 
In 2021 due to lockdown, it was celebrated a little differently but just as much fun none the less.  Children engaged in reading activities both at home and at school.  Activities included sharing favourite books online over Teams, creating front covers, making book characters, writing stories and much more!
Year 6 visited the Nursery to read stories to them.  This was loved by all!