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Reading and Phonics

Reading at Balksbury

At Balksbury Federation, we have a strong book culture where a love of reading is instilled within our ethos and culture. Our Learning Values ‘Perseverance’ ‘Respect’ and ‘Collaboration’ are embedded in the reading environment we create for our children.


Both our libraries, are well stocked with books that support all children to thrive. Each classroom has a carefully chosen book collection which are refreshed and replenished regularly. Each week children borrow library books and learn how a library works; explore the world of language, and of course celebrate a love for books. This academic year, we are introducing a book swap box on each of our playgrounds so that families can enjoy and share books together. This is to ensure we create an inclusive environment of committed, enthusiastic readers who have a positive attitude to reading.

Guided Reading

From Year 1 through to Year 6 the school week has direct guided reading time where the teacher teaches core skills.  During these sessions, there are opportunities to share texts and books including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and big books.  These sessions provide opportunities for adults to model as the ‘expert reader’ especially with skills such as decoding, selecting information and prediction. 


On Fridays, the federation participates in ‘Free Reading Friday’ to inspire children and encourage the sharing and love of books. This is where the whole federation take a moment to enjoy the endless experiences reading provides for us.


When adults support children with reading books in school, they use the 3 pronged approach, this incorporates word reading (decoding) and reading comprehension. Click here to read about this approach in our ‘Supporting Reading at Home’ guidance.


Exposure to a Language Rich Environment

Across the week, children experience different ways that incorporate high quality talk centred around reading. The development of vocabulary and language is important in ensuring our children flourish into fluent readers, who have a passion for books. Opportunities for talk and exposure to rich language are embedded within our classroom practice. In classrooms, children are exposed to tiered vocabulary which includes everyday words alongside technical vocabulary; this starts in Year R where spoken language is at the heart of provision we offer.

Top 10 Books!

For each age phase, we have created a Top Ten Book list that we think each child should read during their time at Balksbury. 

All of these books are available to borrow from our library and feature a wide range of settings, characters and plots. 


Here at Balksbury Federation, we use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds to teach phonics.  This is a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) developed by schools for schools.  Direct teaching is frequent and consistent in its approach both across Year R, Key Stage 1, and where necessary, into Key Stage 2.

The federation recognises that phonics is powerful knowledge and opens the door to a world of reading so our approach is backed by:

  • Engaging high quality resources that provide repeated practise to build working memory

  • Decodable reading books that match the phonic programme


Click below to learn more about the reading provision at Balksbury

Our libraries

Focus Bookshelves

Library News