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How we Teach Reading at Downs Junior 


Rationale / Intent

At Downs Junior, we are passionate about developing a love of reading in all our pupils.  We provide a wide variety of literature and texts that celebrate diversity, appeal to all and inspire creative thinking.

Our Reading curriculum is designed to enable pupils to:

  • become confident, independent readers, who understand that books of all kinds are a source of pleasure, information and new insights.
  • become critical, reflective readers.
  • read and respond to a wide variety of stories, novels, poems, plays ,non-fiction and media texts.

The ability to read is fundamental to pupils’ development as independent learners in all subjects.  In order to read across the curriculum with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment, pupils need to achieve the standards within the National Curriculum. We explicitly teach key reading skills throughout our curriculum.

Reading development is closely related to that of writing. It is by reflecting upon and talking about the texts they encounter that pupils come to understand how writers write and the special relationship which exists between author and reader.  



Book-led English

At Downs Junior, we teach reading in a variety of ways. In English, we have redesigned our curriculum to include book-led units based on quality texts that appeal to all genders and inspire writing.  During these lessons, the whole class will study and read one quality core text.  When appropriate, this text will be adapted or pre-taught based on the needs of the cohort or the individual learners.

When sharing these rich texts, the teacher acts as an expert reader providing a high level of support.  Teaching objectives are pre-planned and sessions are characterised by explicit teaching of specific reading strategies, oral response and high levels of collaboration.  The teacher’s role is that of the expert reader, who models how the text is read. The pupils, the learner readers, join in where appropriate with the reading of the text – singly and/or chorally. 

Guided Reading

At the start of each academic year, class teachers spend two weeks engaging in ‘Book Talk’ with their pupils. This involves finding out how children feel about reading, what they read and how often. Reluctant readers are flagged up and staff help these children to find books they enjoy, which are appropriate for their level.  

Guided reading takes place across the school in the first term of each year however there will be a greater focus on guided reading for years 3 and 4 throughout the year. We recognise that as children develop their reading skills over the years, the model can be adapted to suit the class’s needs. For example, teachers can choose to follow a carousel model, working with a group while others complete appropriate, quality follow-up tasks, or teachers may prefer to allow the rest of the class to read independently. Whole-class guided reading also takes place, particularly in our book-led English units. Texts are carefully chosen to ensure that children are exposed to a range of genres - for example stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction. Children who are below age-expectations will have additional support.

Addtional Support

For children, who are working towards age releated expectations or who have specific needs, there is a range of support available.  These include:

  • Catch-up Literacy
  • Nessy
  • Dyslexia screening
  • Assembly book group
  • One-to-one reading support
  • Phonics support
  • Book Buzz Club
  • Banded books 

Class Book

When selecting a book to read to the class, it may be appropriate to occasionally select texts that are more challenging and beyond the current reading ability of the majority of the class.  This will expose children to more complex sentence structure, character development and richer vocabulary.

The role of the teacher is:

  • to foster a love of reading as an enjoyable, stimulating and worthwhile activity
  • to follow the school’s policy with the aim of helping pupils to become independent readers
  • to create a supportive environment for reading
  • to model the act of reading through shared reading and to provide focused support through guided reading
  • to assess the pupil’s progress as a reader and provide guidance for their development
  • to promote the use of reading for research purposes.

Reading Aloud

Research shows that reading for pleasure is a key factor in building children's successes as readers and writers. We are taking part in a study with the University Of Sussex and are ensuruing that each class teacher reads aloud to their class for 10 minutes each day.  This enables children enables to encounter more challenging content, text features and vocabulary than they might access alone and also  creates a sense of community, building the class repertoire of ‘books in common’ and a shared reading history. 


Reading while you are

Home Learning 

 David Walliams will be reading aloud each day at 11am. 


You can hear actors reading a selection of picture books at:


If you're a fan of Neil Gaiman (author of Coraline and The Graveyard Book) head over to http://www.mousecircus.com/ , the "Official Neil Gaiman Website For Young Readers". You can listen to him read The Graveyard Book on video, and watch another video where Gaiman and "lots of other people" read the whole of Coraline.

Oliver Jeffers, author of The Day The Crayons Quit and many other books, will be reading one a day while we are at home. 


BBC Radio has stories and books to listen to. Year 5 have been listening to Michael Morpurgo's Friend Or Foe, but there are lots more books to choose from. 


Audible have a 30 day free trial for children, but be careful - parents need to add card details and it will charge you automatically after that time. Cancel free at any time before that. 


Epic books is a U.S. website which has a 30 day free trial. There are books to read via the website as well as a good selection of audiobooks to listen to. Be careful - parents need to add card details and it will charge you after that. ($7.99 a month plus tax automatically after free trial). When you sign up, it tells you the date your free trial ends on and you may cancel free at any time before that. 


Peter Kenny, who visited Years 5 and 6 for World Book Day this year, will be reading a chapter a day from his book, Magnificent Grace. It is suitable for readers of around 9-10 and above. Search for Skelton Yawngrave TV on Youtube.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClA9cGN1jqMIjmHkQuqOFfQ




Author Visits

We were delighted that the author, illustrator and Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell came to visit our school! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYR0GfT9MD4

  We have also enjoyed visits from other authors:

Sam Gayton, author of Hercufleas, has kindly come to talk to Year 5 for the last four years. This year, he provided a lively presentation about how he develops characters through 'show, don't tell' and ran a workshop for each class. The children were really inspired by him, producing some fantastic writing. Find out about his books here: 


 Roman Kemp and Vick Hope came to talk to Year 5 and 6 about their radio show on Capital FM and their new book, Listen Up.


Peter Kenny (who writes as Skelton Yawngrave) will be coming to talk to Years 5 and 6 about his experience as an author and his book Magnificent Grace. There will then be free workshops for each Year 5 class, which will include looking at the editing process and discussing themes of justice and tolerance in the text. Skelton Yawngrave’s website is Skeltonyawngrave.com


Siobhan Rowden will be delivering a fun and interactive presentation to Years 3 and 4 about being an author and about three of her books – The Curse of the Bogle's Beard, The Revenge of the Ballybogsand Wild Moose Chase. ​

Siobhan’s website is https://www.siobhanrowden.com Have a look and see what gruesome bogles and pickles are on there!

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