Hayesdown First School

Striving for excellence together

Reading at the Heart of Hayesdown

Our Intent

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free. —Frederick Douglass


We place “Reading at the Heart of Hayesdown” because we believe reading is critical for every child; it unlocks the world and enhances their life chances. Reading is an essential, fundamental, key skill which helps a child to access learning across the curriculum, read for pleasure and prepares them for life. At Hayesdown First School our aim is for every child to become a fluent, CONFIDENT reader, making good progress from their starting point. In addition, we want children to develop a love for reading and read for pleasure on a regular basis.

Our curriculum is designed to develop pupils who:

  • show high levels of AMBITION and achievement whilst exhibit very positive attitudes towards reading;
  • become successful word readers by:
    • rapidly acquiring an understanding of the alphabetic code, that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words, and make sustained progress in learning to read fluently;
    • participating in the teaching of phonics knowledge, skills and understanding in a systematic and enjoyable way;
  • develop a love of reading;
  • be ENTHUSIASTIC reader who read for pleasure both at home and school on a regular basis;
  • read easily and fluently with good understanding across both fiction and non-fiction;
  • acquire a wide vocabulary;
  • develop their reading in all subjects to support their acquisition of knowledge;
  • through their reading develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually;
  • develop good comprehension drawing from their linguistic knowledge.


Our Reading Spine

Reading for pleasure is known to have a significant impact on children’s attainment and life chances. We have developed a ‘reading spine’ of key books that we believe will enrich children’s experiences, develop cultural capital, bring enjoyment and nurture a love of reading.

Our reading spine was compiled using the principles of Doug Lemov’s ‘5 Reading Plagues‘, including texts with resistant structures, non-linear timelines, archaic language, narrative complexity and symbolism. This has been combined with our drive to represent diversity in the books children read and the authors who have written them. We have aimed to include a range of well-known authors, some traditional tales as well as high-quality, recently published stories. Many books will also link to our projects and will be used as inspiration for writing.

Each year group will have Core Texts (reading as a writer) that will be read, enjoyed, explored and may inspire our Talk for Writing models. Additional Texts (reading as a reader) will be used in whole class reading lessons and will support the development of reading comprehension skills, whilst exploring rich vocabulary. Our Read Aloud choices complement the core and additional texts and will be shared with the children, as well as being available in class book corners. Some of these books will be read in their entirety; others will be studied in extract form. All will be available for children to enjoy.

“These ‘essential reads’ would be a store of classics, creating a living library inside a child’s mind.” – Pie Corbett

To view our Hayesdown Reading Spine click here


Phonics and Early Reading

Developing an understanding of how sounds are used in words is the heart of learning to read and write. At Hayesdown First School we teach phonics daily using the Read, Write, Inc scheme of work from Reception through to Year 2. This is a systematic, synthetic phonics programme which enables children to build their knowledge of sounds and apply it in reading books linked to their learning. The materials are also used to support any child who needs additional phonic support in Key Stage 2.

Parent Guides

  1. Watch this link to find out what phonics is and why your child is learning to read with phonics.
  2. Video introduction for parents on how Read, Write, Inc works
  3. How to say the sounds

If you would like to find out more, please visit the Read, Write Inc Parent Portal 

What reading book will your child bring home?

In Reception, children will learn their first 16 sounds before a book is sent home.

Once your child knows 16 or more initial sounds, they will be able to access “blending” books. These books can be read at home as many times as possible as they embed blending and sound recognition.

When children know 30+ sounds and can blend, they will move onto colour coded reading books (starting with Red). At this point, and throughout their phonics learning journey, your child will bring home:

  • Monday – a Book Bag Book (matched to their phonic knowledge and linked to the theme of their phonic group book)
  • Wednesday  – they will bring home a paper version of the phonic group book they are reading in class. This book can be read as many times as possible in the week as re reading embeds learning.

Both books need to be returned every Monday.

In addition to these books the children will visit the school library once a week. They will be encouraged to take out books they find interesting, these books can be shared and enjoyed at home with an adult.

RWInc Reading at Home – Booklet 1

RWI – Reading at Home – Booklet 2


Home Reading expectations

While we are teaching your child to read, they will need plenty of practise at home to develop their skills. We have set our whole school a challenge for home reading called the 5 X 10 challenge. We ask that children read for 10mins, 5 times a week. Parents are asked to sign their child’s reading record to show they have practised their reading.

In classrooms we have Reading Rainbows which chart the number of times children read at home. Children move through the colours and collect bookmark stickers. When they get to the top they earn a certificate in assembly.


Reading beyond Phonics – whole class Guided Reading

Once children have “learnt to read” they move on to “reading to learn”. We teach a variety of reading skills including retrieval, inference, author’s choice and intent, links between texts as well as scanning and skimming. We encourage children to read for pleasure and to read a range of texts – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and play scripts.

We teach reading every day, through whole class guided reading sessions, as well as ensuring there are opportunities to develop and use reading skills across the whole curriculum. Our whole class guided reading sessions are where children will read either a non-fiction text or class novel which is often linked with their project. (See the reading spine information above for the choice of texts for each year group). They will explore new and challenging vocabulary as well as exploring, interpreting and answering questions about the text. Sometimes pictures and video clips are used to support our reading sessions.

Throughout the year children also participate in a range of experiences which enhance the reading curriculum such as:

  • Drop and Read with parents
  • World Book day events
  • Book week
  • Wild reading – reading in unusual places!
  • Book fairs and sponsored events
  • Author visits/experiences


Our Library



Our fabulous new Library (opened in July 2022) sits at the heart of our school. It provides a welcoming haven for anyone who wants to read a book – and at Hayesdown that is everyone! There are a variety of reading spaces that are enticing for children, with a reading tree house, toadstool seats, a large comfy couch, storytelling chair, laptops for research and books galore, which will grab the interest of any reader.

At Hayesdown we know that reading unlocks the door to learning and gives children the skills to be successful. Reading really matters!