At Byker Primary School we strive to create an atmosphere that fosters a love of reading. Once we have captured a child’s interest in reading, we hope they will be a reader for their entire lives. We regard reading as one of the most important life skills, because it is the key, which unlocks the door to a world of knowledge and other skills.

Miss Barnes - Literacy Coordinator

Our fantastic school library contains over 5000 books and we also have well over 1000 titles available online as e-books. Children can use our Reading Cloud to log in to the library at home to read e-books, reserve physical books, write reviews and share reading news ans successes with their peers. We all feel very lucky to have such an amazing resource available to us. Why not log in here and see what its all about? (Usernames and passwords available from class teachers.)

Mrs Pace - School Librarian

Our school is proud to be part of Newcastle Council’s Literature Works initiative which aims to promote reading for pleasure at school and at home. Our class topics will be linked to this text and each child will have their own copy of the book. Children will learn a shortened version of the text off by heart and will analyse it in detail. At the end of each half term, children will get to take the book home and start building up their own personal library. We are encouraging children to re-read the book at home and share it with their family. Please see our school ‘Reading Spine’ to see what books children will be working on in each year group.

Miss Quigley - Literacy Coordinator

Where it all begins...

  1. Reading in Early Years (Nursery & Reception) including PHONICS

    In the Early Years we provide a rich ‘Book’ experience, by giving endless opportunities to share books with adults. This develops a child’s enjoyment of books and other printed material, teaches them how to handle books and gives reading a real purpose.  Together children can talk about stories or information, join in with familiar phrases and sing favourite rhymes, songs and jingles. Also they begin to make up stories of their own based on outdoor experiences, role playing adventures, or toys and jigsaws they have made. The Early Years has high quality book areas, where the books are accessible, owned and loved by children.  With the addition of story props, sacks and boxes filled with desirable objects to enthuse.

    From the beginning of Nursery we teach reading through a phonics approach, following the highly successful ‘Letters and Sounds’ document (click here).  At the very beginning, the focus is on listening to and hearing sounds, rather than recognising the actual letters (graphemes), which come later. Our children have opportunities to explore different sounds in their environment, how to make and change sounds using musical instruments and create rhythms. This teaches them the pattern, pace and expression reading requires. Through listening, our children learn to link sounds and letters in the order they occur in words, as well as naming and sounding letters in the alphabet. Oral segmenting (breaking up letters in words) and blending (putting them back together) plays a huge part in the steps to teaching a child to read.

    In Reception children learn to recognise 42 letter sounds (graphemes), read CVC words (ship, cat, hat, chop) by blending letters together, recognise ‘tricky’ words, such as she, no, go, was, the and learn letter names. When they have achieved this, they begin to read short captions and simple sentences (The farmer gets up at six in the morning). Now it’s time to practice reading books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know, with our Book Band system.

  2. Reading in Key Stage 1 (years 1 &2)

    Reading in Key Stage 1 continues with a phonics approach (Letters and Sounds- click here), where systematic, daily, discrete teaching takes place, with opportunities for the children to practice and apply their skills in the context of reading.   At this stage, we emphasis that reading for fluency is important, therefore by giving children opportunities to re-read familiar books, we build their confidence and they begin to feel like real readers! 

    By the end of year 1, the government require children to complete a phonics test.

    ‘The Phonics Screening Check is meant to show how well your child can use the phonics skills they’ve learned up to the end of Year 1, and to identify students who need extra phonics help. The Department for Education defines the checks as “short, light-touch assessments” that take about four to nine minutes to complete.’

    At Byker Primary School, we take every measure to ensure that children are not worried about this test. The children are used to phonics in their lessons and we incorporate the test into normal lesson time. Most children are not even aware they have actually completed a test.

    More information for parents can be found at:

    By the end of year 2, the government require children to complete a Reading test to check what they’ve learnt in Year 2.

    Again, we make the children feel as comfortable as possible about these tests. Children complete the tests with their teacher’s supervision in small groups and children are often unaware that they have even undertaken them.

    More information can be found at:

  3. Reading in Key Stage 2 (Years 3, 4, 5 & 6)

    Within Key Stage 2, the emphasis on learning to read shifts to reading to learn. At this point, texts become longer and less familiar, reading becomes more fluent and the pace of reading is quickened. However, if children are not reading fluently, they will still be working on the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics programme and be reading colour banded books.

    During whole class literacy lessons, at least two lessons per genre in a two week block will be spent on reading through and analysing the class text. Children will explore the text further during guided reading sessions. In reading lessons, children will take part in RIC (Retrieve, Interpret and Choice) activities based on a photograph, video clip, poem or short extract from a text which deepens their understanding.

  4. Listening to readers

    Throughout school we listen to daily readers and have guided reading groups. Also our teachers regularly read to the children in order to develop a love of books and access poetry, stories and information books. This helps to extend children’s vocabulary and comprehension, as well as supporting their writing. Daily readers practice the technical skills of reading, the sounding out and breaking down of words with a smaller amount of inference and comprehension work. This becomes less frequent as the child moves up through school and a greater emphasis on guided reading takes place.  It is in the guided reading sessions where the skills of questioning, summarising and clarifying are taught. These occur in small groups of children working at the same level in reading and who have a similar pace. Children are encouraged to think about texts and respond to questions or complete tasks based on their reading.

    In addition to banded reading books, all children can also develop their enjoyment for reading as they have the opportunity to access the school non-fiction library, to choose a wide range of information books and every classroom has a well-stocked reading corner, which further promotes and encourages reading for pleasure.

    Although we assess children’s reading throughout Key Stage 2, Year 6 children complete a SATs Reading Test in May.

    More information can be found at:

  5. What if my child finds it difficult learning to read?

    We want every child to learn to read, however long it takes us to teach them. Therefore, we give extra 1:1 support and guided reading groups where needed. Please remember all children are individual, so some children take a little longer to learn to put sounds together to read a word.

  6. How can you help?

    Children benefit hugely from exposure to books from an early age and finding books that fire your child’s imagination and interest is key. Make reading fun!  Remember to keep reading to your child. This helps them to grow a vast vocabulary and understand the meaning of books. Children love routine, and reading is something that you and your child can look forward to every day. Some love fiction others non-fiction! It can be stories, information books, magazines, annuals, comic, signs, list etc. It all counts! Please don’t say, ‘This is too easy.’ Instead, encourage your child to read whatever they have a love of, as it develops their fluency and expression.

    In Reception parents are invited to a coffee morning, where the teachers explain how we teach reading. During the meeting, they will share lots of suggestions on how to help your child read. Your support really does get your child off to a flying start and encourages them to make good progress! One simple way is to help your child to sound out the letters in words and then to ‘blend’ the sounds together to make a whole word. Try not to refer to the letters by their names.

    If you have any further queries about how we teach reading, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  7. What will my child read in class (reading Spine)?

    As part of our Literacy Works, you can see which texts your children will be reading throughout the year on our ‘Reading Spine’ (click here).