Leven Valley C of E Primary School


Learning to read

At Leven Valley, we aim for every child to learn to read as soon as they can and to develop a real lifelong love of reading. We use phonics as the primary approach to decoding text, but work with each child on an individual basis to support them in finding the strategies and techniques that work best for them, on their journey to becoming a happy and confident reader.

Direct teaching of phonics takes place every day for all children in Class 1, from the start of the Reception Year. The school follows a systematic synthetic phonics programme and children are taught within groups according to the phase of phonics that they are working on. Children in Class 2 and 3 who require further support in learning to read and write will continue to use a phonics-based approach, alongside other reading and spelling intervention strategies.

We hold a phonics information session for parents each year, in order to help you support your child in learning to read and write.

Sounds of the English Phonic Code

When teaching synthetic phonics it is really important to make sure that we are demonstrating the sounds correctly, as it makes it much easier for children to blend the sounds together to make words. The video below demonstrates how we can model each sound:


Reading Books

In Class 1 children take home new reading books each week. These books are kept in a book bag and are sent between home and school each day with a notebook for parents and teachers to write comments and celebrate each child’s achievement in reading. In the early stages, children take home a book to share. These are intended for adult- led reading, enabling children to enjoy a range of stories, poems and non-fiction books; explore rhythm and rhyme; join in with repeated phrases and familiar tales; and to enhance their vocabulary. The adults model reading to the child and encourage an early love of books.

As children begin to learn the skills of reading, they take home some decodable books, which have been carefully selected to enable children to practise and apply the skills and knowledge that they have gained through their phonics lessons. In the early stages, the books run alongside or lag behind the teaching of new sounds, so that children feel a sense of achievement when they are asked to read such books. The books also contain common exception words (or ‘tricky words’) which cannot be sounded out using phonics. These words are taught separately- in phonics lessons or during 1:1 reading sessions, and can be practised at home with parents using flash cards.

Within each stage there are a variety of different text types, including fiction and non-fiction, poetry and playscripts. This is because we are keen to engage all readers. Different stories and text types appeal to different children- and we believe that this variety and choice of books ensures that we garner a real love for reading amongst all our children.

Children read to an adult in school most days, or, as they become more confident readers, enjoy quiet, independent reading time each day.

Helping your child to start reading booklet 

An information leaflet with good advice and golden rules about how to help your child start reading from Hamilton Trust.

Helping your child to keep reading booklet 

Some good advice and golden rules about how to help your child keep reading from Hamilton Trust

Reading Comprehension

It is crucial that children have a good understanding of what they are reading, so reading is not taught in isolation, but alongside other language-building activities, including speaking, listening, drama and role-play.

During English lessons, children build directly upon their language comprehension skills. They are taught to develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read, vocabulary and understanding by discussing and expressing views upon a broad range of text types. They are given lots of opportunities to practise the skills of retrieving and recording information, predicting what might happen next and inferring meaning from the text.

 Each class has a selection of books appropriate for the ages and abilities within the class, which is regularly updated with new and engaging texts that will capture the interest of the children. The school library has a broad selection of non-fiction books aimed at all ages and this can be used to support topic work and allow children to undertake independent and guided research. In addition to this, we receive excellent sets of topic books, linked to each class’s theme every term, from the county’s library service. The library bus visits school twice a year and gives children the opportunity to choose their own books to add to the class’s collection. Special events, such as World Book Day, help to develop a culture in which reading is celebrated and enjoyed across the school.