Orchard Primary School

Be the best that you can be!

At Orchard Primary School,Reading is one of our key priorities


At Orchard Primary, we highly value the skills of reading. Reading is the most important thing that we teach our children – it gives children access to the whole curriculum and enables them to make sense of the world around them. Being a confident reader brings pleasure, aids wellbeing and ensures future success, once children leave primary school. 

There are three main skills that we aim to teach our children, during their time with us: word recognition, fluency and comprehension. Although these are three very different skills, ALL THREE are needed to become a fluent competent reader. 

By teaching our children to read, quickly, we hope that they develop a life long love of reading. Therefore, we expect our children to want to read as much as possible, outside of school and the classroom. We recognise that books have stiff competition from modern technology. However, with support from home in encouraging reading, we hope that a good home-school partnership will help a love of reading thrive for all of our children.  


Early Reading – Synthetic Phonics - Little Wandle Letters and Sounds


At Orchard, we follow Little Wandle Letters and Sounds. This programme of systematic synthetic phonics is highly structured and starts as soon as children join us in Nursery. By using this programme, we are able to ensure that the teaching of early reading is consistent. All staff, who work directly with the children, are trained to use the programme and there is a set framework for each lesson that ensures consistency.

By using a structured programme, such as Little Wandle, we are able to quickly identify children that may need some extra support to keep up. In addition, this programme helps support children learn to read who may have significant learning difficulties or may be new to the country. Little Wandle Letters and sounds really does support our motto of be the best you can be!


The teaching of systematic synthetic phonics is not just about helping children read words. From Reception right up until the children finish the Little Wandle programme, there are lessons three times a week that teach children the meaning of new words, how to read fluently or with prosody and how to use both of these to develop their comprehension or understanding of what they have read. This model is something that continues as the children move from Little Wandle and onto Guided reading.  

Please find here our phonics and early reading policy that gives more information as to the teaching and assessment of systematic synthetic phonics.

Parental engagement with helping your child read is key. Please find below resources that show you what sounds phases 2-5 include a link to the Little Wandle Website where you can watch videos to hear the correct pronunciation – vital that these are correct!


phonics and early reading policy.pdf



What happens after Little Wandle?

Although the teaching of synthetic phonics is officially completed by the time the children finish the first term of year two, the skills that they learnt to decode (read) are still vital in continuing to develop the children’s encoding (spelling skills). Therefore, the teaching of synthetic phonics is vital as it is a skill that our children will need not just for reading but for writing too.

Once the phonics programme of study is completed, our children continue to develop their reading skills, and love of reading, through a range of strategies.


Children’s Independent Reading

At Orchard Primary School, once the children have completed the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme, they move on to reading more independently. We use Accelerated Reader as a way to help and support children with their independent reading.  

Our school Library, is the at the heart of our school and the books are organised according to the Accelerated Reading Level they support – known as ZPDs or Zones of Proximal Development. The AR Reading books (fiction and non-fiction) are number coded according to their book level. To ensure children experience success from the outset they should begin by taking books at the lower end of their ZPD range. Your child will know their ZPD range/colour and the books they should be choosing. This will also be indicated in their reading diary as a reminder. A ZPD can change through the year based on STAR reading tests, professional judgement and quiz results.


AR book label

Information about the Accelerated Reader books (from the school library) can be found on a label on the back of the cover.

This label tells you the:

  • Quiz Number
  • Title and author
  • Book level
  • Points the child will earn if they complete the quiz
  • Interest level of the book e.g. 

LY - Lower Years (5-8 years),          MY - Middle Years (9-13 years)        UY - Upper Years (14+ years)

To assess where children are, they first take an online assessment called a Star Reader Test. 


Star Reader test

A Star reader test is a computer-adaptive reading test used to assess pupils' reading ability to determine recommended reading levels for Accelerated Reader. These tests also identify the children reading ages and help us identify children that are reading below their chronological age so that extra reading support can be given.

This is a multiple choice reading assessment based on the children comprehension of the book that they have read, completed on the computer. These assessments last approximately 20 minutes.

The questions continually adjust to the child's response, so if their answer is correct, the difficulty will increase. If they miss a question or give an incorrect answer, the difficulty level is reduced. Children take these tests when they start a new academic year in September, then again after every half term. These tests must be taken in school only.

The STAR reading test, along with teacher judgement, assists us in identifying a child's ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) range. The range aims to challenge a child without causing frustration or a loss of motivation. In other words, the book should be 'not too easy' or 'not too hard'!

For example: a ZPD could be 3.2 - 5.0, this shows the range of texts your child should aim to read.

What are Accelerated Reader Quizzes?

Accelerated Reader quizzes are taken when your child has finished reading a book they will be given time to take a quiz independently online. These quizzes happen between Star Reader tests and staff monitor to ensure that children are taking these regularly. These tests can be taken at home also.   

It is best if a quiz can be taken within 48 hours of finishing a book. Depending on the book level of the quiz this may be 5, 10 or 20 questions long and will take around 5 minutes to complete. The quiz assesses general comprehension of the book and results are calculated and shown to the child instantly.

Your child can take a quiz when:

  • they have read a book independently
  • a teacher has read a book to them e.g.. class novel
  • they have read a book with someone e.g. parent/carer/sibling/friend


Teaching of Reading in school – After Little Wandle

Guided reading is the main way that reading is taught from Year 2 (February Half Term) and these lessons happen daily. 

A teacher’s main objective during Whole Class Reading is along the same principles as when they are taught to read during the Little Wandle Reading sessions.

The teacher will directly introduce new vocabulary and explain the meaning of the new words in the text that they are reading. In addition, the teacher will model fluency or prosody as children who are unable to read more than 90 words per minute will find comprehension very difficult. This modelling will include ‘reading’ the punctuation.

Comprehension is only possible one children understand the vocabulary and can read fluently. During guided reading sessions the children will engage in a range of question types that help them understand different text types. Children will be expected to provide evidence from the text that they are reading to support their answers.

Teachers and Senior staff closely monitor children progress in reading using class based assessment and Accelerated Reader information. We intervene and support the bottom 20% of readers in the class – we do not expect these to always be the same children!


Whole class focus texts

Every half term, each class has a core text to focus on. This text is used in their English lessons as well as to explore a topic or theme throughout the other subjects in the curriculum. Teachers may use text as part of their Guided Reading sessions to begin with. The texts that are read in each year group have been carefully planned to support the curriculum content and also to ensure that children are exposed to a wide range of genres and authors. 

To continue to expose our children to different genres of text, we also use myON which is an enhanced digital library. Teachers are to use this in conjunction with their class Accelerated Reader levels to choose books that challenge students. In order to do this, we choose texts that match the higher levels of their class. 


Home reading and reading records

Children should read at home every day. This should be recorded in their reading records (EYFS, KS1 and Year 3 by parents/carers; Year 4-6, children can record themselves). 

To encourage children to read regularly at home, we hold a weekly reader of the week competition, with winners announced during our weekly Achievement assemblies. The photos can also be found on our Twitter page.