How we teach Reading

Phonics and teaching reading at Nancealverne School


At Nancealverne School all pupils follow a staged mixed group approach to learning phonics. There are three different groups dependent on assessment and baselines of the pupils needs


The stage of learning the pupils are at


Ability and learning style of pupils

Group suitable

Learning any sounds


Struggle to learn new sounds / sensory approach appropriate

Sensory phonics group

Learning set 1 sounds


Able to learn new sounds phonetically

Phonics read write Inc. group

Learning set 2 sounds

Phonics read write Inc. group


Learning set 3 sounds

Phonics read write Inc. group


Has been learning sounds but has not completed reading book stages

Phonics read write Inc. group


Learning to read words from sight

Able to learn how to read words from sight / learning phonetically not suitable

Precision teach group


In the lower school all three classes mix up and work with different peers and adults from different classes. In KS3 the classes separate into their groups within their classes. Post 16 also mix up and work with different peers and adults.


Our staff learning and next steps

Our next step in learning as a staff team is to look at ways we can incorporate learning phonics and reading into our Post 16 accreditation work. We are also developing a new phonics group for our most able learners. This will be called ‘learning literacy and language’!


The stage of learning the pupils are at


Ability and learning style of pupils

Group suitable

Has learnt to read and needs to develop literacy skills further

All – scheme suitable for differentiation

Literacy and language group


School Improvement Project

We took part in a school improvement project during the academic year 2016 – 2017. This was in line with aspects of our school improvement plan. The scope of the project was to close the gap between the English attainment of lower and upper school pupils by embedding staged mixed age ability set phonics groups. These included sensory phonics, adapted read write inc and precision teach. Students were mixed with peers and adults from different classes in the lower and upper school.

The needs of students are complex and involved working with a number of staff to ensure interventions were successful in closing the gap. The intervention was developed based on meetings following data analysis and discussions with SLT.  Data was recorded by staff on provided proformas, analysed by myself with data review documents created to provide feedback and areas of learning. On assessing the impact of the project intervention the final data review documents show impact of the project on the pupils data and learning has been entirely positive.


Areas of strength to be celebrated


How do I know this?

Gaps in all aspects of English progress were closed – with the upper end of the school overtaking the lower end of the school in two areas!


                 Data analysis

Teachers and TA’s have used their initiative to add improvements and adapt their sessions


Meeting log and discussion with teams


The pupils have all made academic data related progress


Data analysis and assessment sheets from groups


The pupils have all made qualitative progress e.g. transition skills, working with other people, increased levels of engagement


Completed assessment sheets and staff feedback


TA’s have met and shared good practice, with positive implications in both groups that met



                Meeting log –

              sensory teams



Short wins and successes photocopies of work brought to me by teachers (who did not support that pupil in their phonic group)


Photocopies of work

Pupils and adults have had a chance to mix – which has been beneficial


Staff feedback questionnaire



The groups have been tailored to children’s needs (working with  similar level pupils from different classes/accessible way of learning)


Group list and staff feedback questionnaire



Pupils enjoy the sessions, have fun during them and look forward to them


Staff feedback questionnaire




The data gap between the lower and upper school was closed. The progress was even for both ends of the school. Initially the upper school progress was 62.3% lower. Difference in average percentage progress between lower and upper this year: Upper school progress was 6% lower. Has there been a decrease in the gap? Yes. An improvement in the upper school data average of 56.3%.

Reading Zones Area


Alongside this we also have a reading zones area – where books are organised by levels into easily accessible coloured and lettered boxes.

There are four  reading zones – organised by colour and letter A-D

  •         Zone 1 (PScales)
  •         Zone 2 (1C – 1A)
  •         Zone 3 (2C – 2A)
  •         Zone 4 (3C – 3A)


The boxes include a wide variety of books from different reading schemes – to ensure pupils are reading a variety of texts and text types. This means we can say to a pupil ‘You can read any book in red box A’.

For example – Red box A is equivalent to a P8/working towards, ORT stage 2 or Project X red 2.


Classes then support pupils to access the reading books. The pupils then see their progress when they move from box to box up through the coloured stages.

The information below is from the school's English policy. For the full document see the link at the bottom of the page.


The National Curriculum programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:

  • word reading

  • comprehension (both listening and reading).


At Nancealverne the teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are needed for each.

Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. Phonics is therefore emphasised in the early teaching of reading to beginners and emergent readers.

Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.

It is our aim that, by the end of their education, where appropriate, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence.

Teaching reading at Nancealverne school has a longer term approach as the children all develop at different speeds and abilities throughout their time at the school. All teachers are responsible for the implementation of differentiated teaching and the provision of outstanding resources to support their learners at whichever stage they are in their reading ability. There is a dual importance placed on symbol recognition as well as purely whole word recognition with many of the children having access to symbol communication books and AAC resources such as iPads and other specialist tools.