At Halsnead we want our children to become enthusiastic and engaged readers, and to develop a life-long love of books. 

In the early stages of reading, we teach children to decode words using phonic skills as their main approach, alongside which we teach sight vocabulary. Once grasped, the focus for developing reading is understanding and comprehension. 

Home reading and reading for pleasure

Children will bring home books to read with an adult each week. This will include, when appropriate, a book at their phonics level and a free choice book.

Please spend time reading with and talking to your child about what they read, and help them to use their reading diaries or reading journal  to record their enjoyment of reading. 


At Halsnead, phonics is taught daily to all children in Nursery, Reception and Key Stage One. We use the RWInc programme to teach children the letters of the alphabet and their matching sounds. 

The children are taught to read words by blending, which means saying each sound and then pushing all the sounds together to make a word. The children are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words and writing down the sounds they can hear.

The children are assessed and grouped according to their ability and they work with a teacher or teaching assistant on the Read Write Inc programme. The children are continuously assessed by the Read Write Inc lead teacher, to ensure that they move through the programme at a good pace. At the end of each half term all children are assessed and then put into new groups according to their phonic knowledge and fluency when reading.

At the end of Year One all the children in the country take a test called a Phonics Screening. They have to read 40 real and nonsense words. We call the nonsense words ‘Alien words’ and the children practise reading them every day. 

Focussed Reading

In Key Stage Two we teach whole class focussed reading. This means the whole class access the same, challenging text. We focus on these key skills:

V ocabulary
I nference
P rediction
E xplanation
R etrieval
S ummarising

We use a range of fiction, non fiction, poetry, picture books and song lyrics. 

We also use Focused Reading to explore the class novel.

Story Time

Every year group has story time, everyday. Teachers use this time to model high quality reading. They use books from our Class Novel Spine.

During Focussed Reading on Monday and Friday the class novel is explored further.


At Halsnead, we use a core text approach to plan quality written outcomes. This high quality literature is used to engage and inspire the pupils, and provide rich models of writing for them to imitate in their own independent writing, through style, voice and language structure. We follow The Pathways to Write schemes of work and work closely with The Literacy Company to adapt them for our learners.

All classrooms at Halsnead have an English Working Wall which provides scaffolds and models for the pupils’ writing, including higher order vocabulary, examples of a range of sentence types, and models of the quality written outcome that the children are working towards. The working walls are updated continuously throughout the unit of work to support pupil learning.


At Halsnead, continuous cursive script is taught from Year 1 onwards through handwriting sessions. In Nursery and Reception, pre-cursive script is taught. Attention is drawn to capitalisation and spelling during the session, as well as to the correct starting point, letter formation and join.