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Russell Lower School

Reading and Phonics (including Accelerated Reader)

Our phonics leads are Mrs E Jochacy and Mrs E Rogers.
Our reading lead is Mrs C Johnson.
We use the Department for Education's Letters and Sounds programme to teach children Phonics during daily sessions.  This is additionally supplemented with Phonics Bug and Jolly Phonics resources throughout the school.
We use Accelerated Reader to support the teacher's assessment of reading.  Children choose reading books according to the correct reading range. Once finished they then complete a quiz on an Ipad to ensure they have a good understanding of what they have read.  The children are motivated to read by growing electronic sunflowers as they progress.
Click here to view the accelerated book finder.
Phonics and early reading intent

At Russell, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. Reading begins at the earliest stage when children enjoy looking at books and hearing stories being read to them.  They then learn that print conveys meaning and carefully planned and sequenced phonics teaching, via Letters and Sounds and Jolly Phonics across Foundation Stage and KS1 provide children with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident readers.

The systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. We acknowledge that children need to be taught the key skills in segmenting and blending to be equipped with the knowledge to be able to complete the phonics check at the end of year 1. We also value and encourage the pupils to read for enjoyment and recognise that this starts with the foundations of acquiring letter sounds, segmenting and blending skills.

At Russell we feel that links between home and school are imperative to the children’s learning and progress. To equip parents to be able to support phonics and reading with their child at home we offer parent workshops discussing how phonics is taught, giving parents an opportunity to look at the resources we use to support learning and the opportunity to find out about the Year 1 phonic screening test expectations. Following on from this session we invite the parents into see a ‘live’ phonics sessions in their own child’s class. This is where parents can see the structure, activities and expectations of a phonics session at Russell.

As the children progress through KS1 they move on to the Accelerated Reader programme. This enables the children to improve their reading ability as well as increase their enjoyment of it. We intend for the children to become enthusiastic and motivated readers and to develop their confidence in reading a wide variety of genres and text types. We aim to encourage a love of literature, the enjoyment of reading for pleasure and to use reading to provoke thought within children.

At Russell we use ‘World Book Day’ as an opportunity to excite the children about reading! The children are invited to dress up as their favourite book character or a school theme e.g. characters from books by the author Julia Donaldson. The learning is then planned around the theme or the children’s choice of books, even inviting parents into school to see a parade of the children’s learning from that day! The children regularly visit our school library which is full of exciting texts within a wide range of fiction and non- fiction. The children have the opportunity to take a book home each week to share with their family. In class, the children are read to by an adult daily, sharing either a book from our familiar book boxes or a chapter book which really gets the children excited about what might happen next and builds a wider range of rich vocabulary.

We want the children of Russell Lower to leave us as confident, fluent readers who begin their time with us by ‘learning to read’ and leave us ‘reading to learn!’


Phonics Implementation 

At Russell Lower School we use the Department of Education approved document ‘Letters and Sounds’ for our teaching of phonics. This allows our phonics teaching and learning to be progressive from Foundation Stage up to Year 2.

Our daily phonic sessions support the development of early reading skills. The children are introduced to Phonics teaching as soon as they enter our reception classes with a strong focus on Phase 1 Phonics throughout.

As the children develop their knowledge and understanding of Phonics, alternative pronunciations and spellings will be introduced in Year 1 before moving onto spelling rules in Year 2. Phonics is delivered daily as an explicit lesson in EYFS and KS1. Phonics is taught as a whole class approach to ensure that quality first teaching is accessible to all children.

The children are regularly heard read by an adult in school (by their class teacher once every 2 weeks and a TA on the week they are not heard by their class teacher) to ensure they are regularly practising and applying their phonic knowledge. This includes additional one-to-one reading for those children who are most vulnerable or who need to make accelerated progress, to enable them to catch up to meet age related expectations.

Children are assessed half termly on their Phonics knowledge using our ‘Phonics Tracker’ document, which is then used as the basis for adaptation of planning and extra provision.

Within all lessons we are working towards Rosenshine’s 17 Principles of Effective Instruction and use of the Great Teaching Toolkit. Short-term plans set out the learning objectives and success criteria for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them. Within our phonics lessons pupils develop the knowledge and skills they need to support their early reading by learning how to segment and blend. We use the ‘recap, teach, practise, apply and assess’ model in our lesson across FS and KS1. Questioning, modelling and feedback are used to support the teaching and learning process, ensure progression within every lesson and aid assessment.

At Russell Lower we take every opportunity to promote the teaching of phonics across the whole curriculum and throughout the school day. We use phoneme frames in our English sessions to support spelling and will often identify the phonemes we are currently learning in any reading that happens in any lesson throughout the day. We ensure that during the school day there is ‘no second wasted’ and we will practise songs, rhymes and phoneme flashcards while waiting in line for lunch, before we go out to play or just before home time. Phonics continues to remain our main focus and priority at Russell Lower.

In early KS1, there is a greater emphasis on phonics; this is then applied throughout the rest of the school to consolidate what has been learnt. As children build up their knowledge of sounds they are able to apply their decoding skills to any unfamiliar word, whether it be real or nonsense.  During lessons each day children will practice their decoding skills by sounding out nonsense words.  Children are unable to rely on existing knowledge of real words, and instead have to use their letter-sound knowledge. This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Check that the children complete at the end of year 1.

Extra support is provided to those in Year 2 (and in Year 3 where appropriate) who have not passed the phonics screening in Year 1. This support is implemented through small group or 1 to 1 sessions which are run by our experienced HLTA’s and LSA’s on a regular basis each week.

This year, we have completely updated all of our reading books (colour bands) so they now closely match to each phonic phase as well as ensuring that they are supporting the children’s ability to read ‘tricky words.’ This is so they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers, as well as consolidating the learning that takes place in school. 

Long term phonics/spelling plan

Phonics Impact

Through the teaching of systematic phonics we aim for the children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school.

In order to measure the impact of phonics we use a half termly tracker to closely track the progress of the children and ensure our phonics teaching is adapted according to the assessment data. Those children who are not achieving where they should be will then receive targeted, precise support on their current phonic phase. The children move through our reading colours throughout FS and Year 1 and move on to Accelerated Reader in Year 2. The impact of our phonics teaching and linked with our reading teaching shows that over a third of Year 1 children move onto our Accelerated Reader programme before they reach Year 2.

As a result of high quality phonics provision, children make good progress from their starting points. Over the last few years the Year 1 phonic screening result has improved and has either been in line with or above the national average.

Reading in Early Years: Word Reading = 91% expected July 2023 this is a 2% increase from July 2022.


Below is the recent phonic screening data taken from the year 1 screening check in June 2023







Year 1 Phonics screening

(June 2023)


(10 chn did not pass)


(9 boys did not pass)


(1 girl did not pass)


(1 child did not pass)


(8 children did not pass)



June 2023 - Year 2:

97% (87/90 children) of children passed (compared with the National Average of 87% (2022)). This is 5% higher than June 2022.

All children continue to receive high quality, dedicated, daily phonic lessons over the course of the week as well as the Phonics curriculum playing a vital role across the whole school curriculum. 

We believe reading is the key to all learning so the impact is felt across the whole of our school curriculum.
Reading intent

Reading begins at the earliest stage when children enjoy exploring books and hearing stories being read to them. Pupils learn that print conveys meaning and carefully planned and sequenced phonics teaching, via Letters and Sounds across Foundation Stage and KS1 provides pupils with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident readers. 

At the heart of our English curriculum are high quality, vocabulary enriched texts. We encourage pupils to read a wide range of texts and expose them to a variety both fiction and non-fiction in order to support them in gaining a life-long enjoyment of reading.

The range of texts shared and studied at Russell Lower supports pupils in developing their understanding of themselves and the world in which they live as well as gaining knowledge across the curriculum and developing their comprehension skills through the use of VIPERS lessons.

In order to develop reading skills further we also endeavour to teach from and expose pupils to more challenging texts which are above their age range such as the use of ‘War Horse’ in year 4, ‘Iron Man’ in year 3 and ‘Wind in the Willows’ in year 2. These challenging texts not only capture the pupils’ interests and imagination but also offer a wealth of high-quality vocabulary to be explored, explained and ultimately used within their writing.

It is our intention to ensure that, by the end of their time at Russell Lower, all pupils are able to read fluently and accurately with a good level of understanding and confidence.

Reading implementation

At Russell Lower School reading is at the heart of everything we do across the curriculum and an integral part of all our lessons. We begin by prioritising early reading in EYFS with a coherent and systematics phonics scheme (Letter and Sounds). Progression in phonics is closely monitored and the use of phonetically decodable books ensures the application and consolidation necessary for effective decoding.  Home/school reading books match each stage of phonics learning.  (See separate Phonics intent, implementation and impact statement).  All children take these reading books home on a daily basis. 

Reading is a priority at Russell Lower School and across the school we have a designated time of fifteen minutes a day given to reading.  This includes reading independently, answering comprehension style questions on an ipad and reading with a teacher or LSA.  Children are expected to be listened to read once a week by a staff member, this ensures the class teacher hears every child read at least fortnightly.

Progression happens in order through the books. Year 2 (and secure Year 1) children progress onto our Accelerated Reader scheme.  This system allows us to assess pupil’s reading closely and ensure children are reading regularly, select ability appropriate books to provide enough challenge and make progress, set targets and access their reading to address misconceptions and gaps in learning. 

The quality and variety of both fiction and non-fiction books is closely monitored by the English lead to ensure that all children have access to good quality, vocabulary rich reading books.    After reading a book the children take an Accelerated Reader test on the ipad. This test checks their understanding of the text read and immediately tells them how they have done and as incentive the children see a sunflower that grows in size as they progress towards their target.

The data that Accelerated Reader gives us helps to inform future planning to accelerate progress and quickly identify children who are not making the expected progress. Interventions are quickly put in place to ensure that these children can catch up. For children in years 2, 3 and 4 who are identified as not making reading at the expected level we have intervention groups which include ‘Switched On Reading’, additional daily phonics and daily reading practise to ensure gaps are narrowed and good progress achieved. 

At Russell Lower School we teach reading comprehension skills in discreet English lessons as well as making links across all subject areas of the curriculum.  We teach lessons that focus on developing pupils’ level of understanding of any text read through discussion, written and oral tasks; and the exploration of new vocabulary.  Pupils in all year groups are familiar with the VIPERS acronym of vocabulary, inference, prediction, explain, retrieve and sequence/summarise.  The VIPERS acronym and explanation of what each strand stands for is on display in all classrooms and across the curriculum in lynx lesson files. VIPERS lessons enable the children to access higher level texts which they would not necessarily be able to read independently such as ‘War Horse’ in Year 4 and ‘Wind in the Willows’ in Year 2.

Reading for pleasure is modelled by teachers daily. We have an excellent selection of familiar books to read with the children and also longer chapter books and non-fiction texts. We encourage the children to help choose these books allowing them to delve deeply into a quality text and explore new books and authors. 

Reading is celebrated via displays in classrooms and around the school.  Each class has a reading corner with bookshelves full of quality fiction and non-fiction texts, dictionaries, thesauruses and atlases.

Through our reading curriculum we equip our children with the knowledge and cultural capital to succeed in life.  Teachers model and share a variety of quality texts across the curriculum exposing them to things which they may not have had the opportunities to learn about.  For example, in EYFS children are encouraged to find books on their favourite topics. Year 2 teach the art of Claude Monet through a variety of texts including ‘Katy and The Waterlily Pond’ by James Mayhew. In Year 4 children are introduced to the work of William Shakespeare through ‘Julius Caesar’. We have author visits from the likes of Peter Laws and Keith Hatton, promoting the purpose of writing creatively and the doors it can open in later life. We have developed close ties with our local library and actively promote its use and value.  The EYFS children visit and the local librarian visits the school welcoming the children to join.  Recently the children at Russell Lower school have been successful in the National Library Summer reading challenge.

We also have our own school library which has a wide range of quality non-fiction and fiction books.  We teach the children that the library is a special place where we can all participate in the pleasure of choosing a book of our choice, sitting/lying down quietly enjoying the simple pleasure of listening to an adult read them a story in a quiet environment. All books are on our library scanning system.  All classes are timetabled once a week for a library session (this can be used in a variety of ways e.g story telling) and all children from year R take home a library book of their choice (this is not linked to their reading level).

We are very conscious of the importance of children reading with their adults at home and with this in mind we offer parents the opportunities to attend a reading workshop where we reiterate the importance of a reading culture at home and the joy and pleasure it can bring to both child and adult when reading together.  Every classroom has a reading reward scheme to encourage the children to read regularly at home. The children all have a reading diary which parents are encouraged to comment in. 

Our reading diaries also evidence children’s progress, misconceptions and next step targets.

Reading documents
Reading impact

As we believe that reading is the key to all learning, ‘we read to learn’, the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the result of statutory assessments.  Children have the opportunity and skills to enter the wide and varied magical worlds that reading opens up to them.  As they develop their own interest in books, a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles is enhanced. Using the accelerated reading programme and also by looking at the children’s reading records we can see that they are choosing a variety of books both fiction and non-fiction and chapter and fiction books.  The children also choose books that they enjoy from a wide selection in the school library. 

Through the teaching of systematic phonics and reading enquiry, our children become fluent and confident readers who can apply their knowledge and experiences across the curriculum.  Children have opportunities to apply their reading skills in every lesson and often choose books that are subject related to read for pleasure.

Our parents and carers have a good understanding of how they can support reading at home and contribute regularly to home-school records. Children take home a bookmark with the stem viper questions.  The parents are aware of the types of questions that will help their children have a deeper understanding of the books they read.  The parents record their answers and observations in their reading diary.  The children get a reward for reading with their adults at home.  A recent reading diary scrutiny showed the impact of this, with most of the children reading regularly at home, with parents giving meaningful comments and feedback.  Parents have also attended reading workshops and celebrated World Book Day, and embrace our passion for books and the written word.

In order to measure the impact of our reading we use a range of formative and summative assessment in all lessons such as:

  • Questioning
  • Pupil, parent, staff voice/questionnaires
  • Observations/learning walks/drop ins
  • Analysis of our assessment tool linked to milestone documents/National Curriculum for each year
  • Use of the accelerated reader system and reading diaries

Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring of teaching and learning cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in reading as well as indicating areas for development.

Further to this there are regular moderation sessions with other schools and the local Middle School as well as staff development meetings dedicated to both training and also moderation in order to continually improve practice.

Children at Russell Lower School are passionate about their reading and it is celebrated in school. Most importantly by the time our children leave us at the end of year 4 they have developed a love for a wide variety of books and a passion for the written word. Following a local authority ‘deep dive’ into reading the following feedback was given.

Pupils show a love of reading; they give it high marks out of ten for enjoyment and can indicate personal preferences for reading as well as an understanding for the lifelong usefulness of reading for purpose and pleasure, at work and at home Pupils who read to us show a wide range for interests and knowledge from their reading”


Academic outcomes and impact.

For this year we are aware of the following outcomes for reading:


Phonics workshop – September -  Year 1 and Year 2

Do you want to know more about the government's statutory phonics screening test your children will take this year?

Would you like to be able to better support your child’s phonics at home?

Would you like to know how we teach phonics at school, and why it is so important?

Please attend our September workshop with Mrs Jochacy.  If you cannot make it, our Power Point presentation and any resources will be available on the Parent Tab/Parents Workshops Tab of the website.

Our Year 1 children all take the government screening test each June.  Any child in Year 2 who did not meet the expected standard in Year 1 will also re-take the screening test.

Our long term teaching plan for phonics and spelling can be found here: https://www.russell-lower.co.uk/website/reading_and_phonics_including_accelerated_reader/451380

If you cannot make the workshop, we would urge as many of you as possible to view this Loom 'Workshop' so that you are best able to support your children.  Just click on the link below to view it.  You can watch it as many times as you want.

Following this, should you have any questions, please contact your child’s class teacher via the class email, or Mrs Jochacy (our Phonics Lead) at wrenclass@russell-lower.co.uk. The slides, Loom and resources will all also be available via the ‘Parent Workshops’ tab on the school website.

Thank you so much for your continued support.


Loom video link:



Additional resources linked to Letters and Sounds

Youtube video links:  

A typical phonics lesson structure (10 mins)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9Cd-CRbH6s&safe=activeCVCC words with segmenting (sounding out) and blending for reading (4 mins)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG-xKG7I83E
CVCC words being taught in class (reading) (3mins 30 seconds)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39R_7s2El6M
CVCC words being taught for segmenting in preparation for spelling (and writing) (4 mins 46 seconds)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5v35_jYJYw 
FS Reading and Writing Workshop - September 
Mrs Brown will talk you through how we approach teaching reading and writing at school and how you can support your children from home.

If you cannot attend, you can view the Power Point at the Parent Tab/Parent Workshop area of the website.  Alternatively, you can view this Loom Video of the workshop for you to watch (and re-watch if you want to!) at your leisure.  Please see below.

As well as the link to the workshop itself, we have also created a Loom Video demonstrating how to say the letter sounds in our Phonics sessions (although the sound quality of the Youtube video is not as good as we would like).  We have also included a hyperlink so you can go straight to the Youtube video yourself as you may find the sound quality better.

Reading Diary/Record: Now you have 'seen' how we approach these subject we will be sending home reading books for the first time.  Please aim to read with your child 4 times each week, recording this in the Reading Diary please.  Purple shelf books are wordless.  Please still look at the book together, discussing the 'story' and using appropriate vocabulary.  Evidence shows that this is the single biggest beneficial 'habit' you can form to support your child's success at school. Little and often practice is essential at this stage.  This should also be recorded in the Reading Diary please.  Thank you very much.

Learning Logs: Learning Logs will begin just before half term (as the first one is 'My Half Term').  These are lovely ways to support your children's learning further from home. 
Thank you in advance for all your support from home.  A partnership between home and school allows your child to thrive and feel confident.

How to ask a question: If you have any queries about reading or writing at Russell you can contact the class teachers via:swanclass@russell-lower.co.ukswiftclass@russell-lower.co.ukdoveclass@russell-lower.co.uk
Mrs Brown is the Phase Leader and can be contacted via Swan Class email.
Thank you so much for your time and your support.

Link to the Loom video workshop:https://www.loom.com/share/5ad047ff8f604943abce7d02b44f972f?utm_medium=gif 
Link to the 'How to say pure sounds' Loom video:


Link to the 'How to say pure sounds' video - Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCI2mu7URBc&safe=active  

The average ARE+ for all year groups is 89% which is 1% higher than last year. 

The children have made excellent progress as a result of quality first teaching and our amazing ‘reading army.  We have invested in a large range of quality texts for the children to enjoy.  In foundation stage and year 1 (year 2 where necessary) reading books are matched to the children’s current phonic ability.  From year 1 when ready through to year four the accelerated reader system motives the children to want to read whilst improving their comprehension, giving accurate reading data too.

In June 2023 year 2 were moderated and all judgements were agreed by external moderators in fact some children’s judgements were moved up to Greater Depth.

We also had a successful Ofsted where we were deemed good. The following comments were made

Leaders and staff prioritise reading. Pupils enjoy reading and talk enthusiastically about books they like. Children start to learn to read from the very start in Reception. Staff have the expertise to teach reading and phonics consistently and well. Adults check regularly on pupils’ phonics knowledge. Adults use these checks to provide extra help to pupils to help them keep up.


The local authority also visited and were impressed by our reading curriculum and results.