The Federation of Fairfield and Colneis

Reading at Fairfield

At Fairfield your child’s reading experience in school is focused on teachers nurturing and developing a love of reading amongst all of their pupils. Reading opportunities are embedded throughout our school day and our children practise their reading skills across the whole curriculum.

Instilling a love and passion for reading is one of our top priorities at Fairfield and we do this by showing children that we care about reading. Children will experience whole class, group and 1:1 reading sessions alongside their daily allocated reading time (10 minutes of story time every day).

Reading is positively rewarded within school through strategies such as our Golden Ticket Winner (lucky draw for children who have read 4x a week at home) and our Reading Fairies who visit classes throughout the school year and celebrate consistent readers with events like a tea party with the head teacher. We have also raised the profile of reading within our day to day school life. Children have the opportunity to take part in regular Jackanory sessions in the library where they are invited to come and listen to a story during their lunch time as well as regular reading assemblies where children can hear different adults sharing a book. Our teachers have taken time to create reading environments within their classrooms that are engaging and capture pupils’ imaginations. Our library has become a well-loved and central hub within the school, where children get their weekly visit with their class teacher as well as lunchtime opportunities to engage with story time.


Fairfield teaches Phonics using the systematic synthetic phonics approach outlined in the Department for Education phonics scheme, Essential Letters and Sounds. Essential Letters and Sounds is split into six phases and begins when they are starting to learn about sounds in Nursery until they are more confident and fluent readers around aged 7 (the end of Year Two). Phonics encourages the children to link letters (graphemes) to sounds (phonemes) which helps them read and write words in a simpler way.

During their time at Fairfield, the children progressively work through the stages of Phonics teaching:

  • They are first introduced to the idea of sounds around us which supports the children’s speaking and listening skills
  • Then they begin to match letter sounds to letters
  • Next they learn to blend letter combinations together to make words e.g. r-ai-n = rain
  • Finally they learn to read on sight the more common exception words that cannot be broken down and deciphered using their phonic skills (the, people, asked)


Vocabulary is a strong indicator of reading success (National Literacy Trust, 2017). We know from research that the size of a child’s vocabulary is the best predictor of success on future tests. Children with a poor vocabulary at five are four times more likely to struggle with reading in adulthood (Why Closing the Word Gap Matters: Oxford Language Report, 2018).

Because of this, explicit teaching of vocabulary is a key focus for us in our schools. Children take part in ‘Word of the Day’ where teachers pick key vocabulary from different word tiers (Beck et al. 2002) or subject specific vocabulary that runs alongside their topics. They introduce the word, give the children discussion time, and then go through the definition, synonyms and antonyms for that word. Our ‘Word of the Day’ is displayed within our classroom and revisited to ensure pupils have understood and applied that word within the correct context.

Reading books

The children are first introduced to picture books and simple, one sentence a page ‘reading’ books. The books might be poetry, story or information books which allow them to practise the skills they are developing. As they grow in confidence, the books begin to have more complex sentences and a greater variety of vocabulary.

The children’s reading books work alongside their Essential Letters and Sounds Phonics teaching in class. Each week the children will be given an ‘independent’ read and a ‘shared’ read by their teacher where sounds have been carefully selected to practise and consolidate their learning within school.

Their ‘shared’ reading book is a book which will challenge your child and can be shared with a reading partner at home. It can contain words and sounds they haven’t been taught before in class and is there to extend the children’s sight vocabulary. These ‘shared’ reads are often from the Oxford Reading Tree scheme.

Their ‘independent’ read is a book that will be used to practise their phonic sounds that they are learning or have recently just learned. For example, if they are learning the consonant digraphs in Phase 3 phonics (ch, sh, th and ng) their book will contain these sounds so that they can practise independently identifying and reading words containing these sounds (e.g. chips, shut, moth and king).

Once they are confident readers, the children further develop their interests and enjoyment of reading by choosing from a selection of simple ‘chapter’ books and age appropriate information books before ultimately moving on to even more complex texts as their skills develop.

Children will have access to additional ‘supplementary’ texts and library books to keep them busy!

Throughout this time, children are encouraged to enjoy sharing with their parents as many books and different types of texts as possible, not only to help them develop a love of reading, but also to begin to appreciate it as an essential skill and part of everyday life.

Reading skills

Reading is much more than just being able to read words. It is essential that children also read with understanding. As part of the teaching of reading skills at Fairfield, staff work on developing the children’s knowledge of the different text types and the varying ways in which information can be presented in books and other publications. We focus on answering a range of question types using a number of our reading skills such as inference, deduction, authorial, literal, vocabulary analysis.

At Fairfield we use The Totally Pawsome Gang to encourage deeper thinking, understanding and their inference and deduction skills. The Totally Pawsome Gang are used throughout our reading lessons to encourage children to understand the different question types that they need to answer and the different skills that they need to draw upon. For example, Sequencing Suki helps the children put the events in order and identifying the beginning, middle and end whereas Retrieval Rex encourages the children to dive into a text or piece of information and retrieve the answer.

Reading at Home

Practising reading, and your child’s phonics and comprehension skills, is one of the most valuable activities you can do as a parent to support your child with their learning. A really crucial part of phonics is ensuring the correct pronunciation, so when encouraging your child to use their phonics during their early years of reading, it is important that you are correctly modelling these too. The following website has videos which show you how you can support your child with these early reading skills. There is a video on how to correctly pronunciate pure sounds as well as a video on what blending sounds to read whole words looks like.

Encouraging your child to identify the sounds in their books and to use these skills to read whole words supports the strategies we teach in school. By using the same strategies at home and school, it will enable your child to consolidate their phonics knowledge and become a more fluent reader.

Reading fluency and sound recognition is a fundamental skill when a child is learning to read. However, reading comprehension (where a child can demonstrate their understanding of what they have just read) is an equally important skill. This is something that you can do easily at home when sharing a book with your child. Encourage your child to discuss the pictures, what they have read, to make predictions about what is going to happen next, to talk about what they like or dislike about the book and to discuss characters. The discussion that you can have around a book, or a page of a book, is never ending and can provide really rich learning opportunities for your child.

In recent years we have changed our approach to reading books to ensure that our children are getting the opportunity to practise the sounds they are learning in their phonics lessons within the books that come home. The following document explains how to support your child with reading at home and the difference between the books that they will be given. The children’s reading books work alongside their Essential Letters and Sounds Phonics teaching in class. Each week the children will be given an ‘independent’ read and a ‘shared’ read by their teacher where sounds have been carefully selected to practise and consolidate their learning within school.

Please read ‘Parent Guide to Reading Books at Fairfield‘ which explains in detail the type of books your child will receive at Fairfield each week and what you can do to support them.

What if my child is a reluctant reader?

Many parents often ask their child’s teacher for help if they are reluctant to get their books out and read at home. Reading can be done in lots of different ways and doesn’t always mean sitting down with their school books. They can read anything as long as they are practising their reading skills. It may be a comic, game instructions, ingredients or information on their tablet or laptop.

We have a range of interactive resources and logins available at Fairfield to encourage children to develop their love of reading. Your child will be given a class Oxford Owls log in as well as an individual Oxford Reading Buddy log in where they can read interactive e-books and earn points/ badges for finishing books and completing quizzes. Reading can also be practised on Phonics Play and Busy Things which are games based websites where they can practise these skills too. Please speak to your child’s class teacher to gain access to any of these websites.

Top Tips for Reading at Home!

  • Read regularly with your child and keep sessions short- we recommend 10 minutes at a time 4 times a week. Keep sessions relaxed and find a comfortable space for you to read.
  • Give lots of praise and encouragement throughout- progress may not always be fast and some children find the skill of decoding and understanding the text tricky.
  • Talk about the book before you begin reading and ask questions about the front cover to engage your child with the text.
  • If your child struggles to read a word, support them using their phonics e.g. by using their letter sounds to sound it out and blend the whole word or encourage them to make sensible guesses using the initial sounds alongside the pictures and context of the sentence.
  • Bedtime stories- even if your child is a fluent reader, children enjoy and gain a lot from hearing fluent reading from adults. The more stories and books your child hears, the more they will want to read and the better writer they will become.
  • Ask lots of questions about the story and the characters. Discuss how the characters may feel, how they have behaved and try to predict what will happen next in the story.
  • Visit the local library, the school library and use the school’s supplementary book boxes to encourage your child to read a range of fiction and non-fiction texts.
  • Encourage children to read everything and anything! Road signs, names of shops and magazines- let them know that reading is a valuable skill.
  • Use our online resources to support reading. Your child may not even realise they are practising these skills if they are reading e-books and completing quizzes on their tablet!
Oxford Reading Tree
Oxford Owl Reading has 250 free eBooks for you to share with your child as well as activities and games to help your child with their reading at home. You’ll also find helpful advice from educational experts on many areas including phonics, motivating boys and how to help a child who is struggling with their reading.
Oxford Reading Buddy
Your child will have access to a range of reading books matched to their reading level by their teacher. They are able to move through levels once they have read lots of these texts and completed the quizzes.
Oxford Owl – help your child’s reading
Reading Tips – Top tips to support your child’s reading at home
Letter Sounds – how to pronounce pure sounds