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At Bowes Primary School we believe that fostering the love of reading is the key to all learning and as such children are exposed to books on a daily basis from the moment that they enter the school. We want all pupils at Bowes Primary School to begin their journey to read with confidence, develop a love of reading and apply their skills competently to writing.

Our systemic approach to the teaching of reading is planned to address the varying needs of our diverse community; in particular those children who enter school at an early stage of English acquisition or who struggle with more formal, academic English. In addition, we ensure that our disadvantaged pupils access the cultural richness and experiences that our more privileged children enjoy. 

Reading has a central role in narrowing the gaps because becoming a fluent, confident reader is a prerequisite for both academic success and confident citizenship. In addition to securing a firm foundation through the systematic teaching of the mechanics of reading; synthetic phonics and higher order skills, we immerse all children in high quality texts. Through the use of a range of carefully selected core texts, with planned repetition for the younger children, we enhance and extend vocabulary and model a range of complex grammatical structures, mastery of which are essential for all children and particularly challenging for second language speakers.


At Bowes Primary, we are dedicated to enabling out children to become enthused, engaged and successful lifelong readers. To achieve this, we implement structured daily phonics where phonetic knowledge is developed. 

We have a range of reading systems, including books sent home, reading records, class reading activities, daily ‘story time’, visits from authors to the school, as well as celebrating children’s favourite books. Our class libraries are regularly refreshed and upgraded with books that reflect our community. Libraries in every year group contain books which relate to our curriculum divers.

There is a real ‘buzz’ around experiencing new books through written reviews by the children and teachers, and verbal recommendations. Teachers understand the importance of talk and stories, and the critical links between these, especially the role stories play in young children’s vocabulary and language. There is a strong culture of developing a love of reading, supported by class book areas and daily opportunities to enjoy high-quality stories and poems selected as part of our ‘Story Chest’

Learning to Read – Cracking the Phonics Code and Teaching Fluency

What is our approach to teaching phonics?

We use the Read, Write Inc. (RWI) programme which is carefully matched to the new curriculum. Children progress through 3 sets of sounds, allowing them to learn the essential ‘building blocks’ of words to help the read and spell with great fluency. The RWI Phonics programme aims for children to be fluent and able readers by the end of the Spring Term in Year 2.

All staff who deliver the RWI programme have been trained which has given them the skills, knowledge and confidence to plan, deliver and assess phonics to a high standard. Staff are very clear on progress expectations and which sounds children are expected to know by each half term. The Reading leader, teachers and teaching assistants use their professional judgement on a daily basis to assess the children in their group, and identify any gaps in children’s phonetic knowledge.

How are pupils grouped for phonics?

Early Years Foundation Stage

In the Early Years Foundation stage, pupils are grouped by their ‘phonic ability’ for the taught sessions; due to our systematic teaching of phonics, the clear phases of development greatly assist in understanding progression in phonics and support staff in grouping pupils according to their stage of learning. Sessions take place every day for 20 minutes.

Years 1 and 2

The children in Years 1 and 2 are grouped in accordance with their phonic knowledge and learn to read a RWI book which corresponds with their reading ability. These groups are fluid and change half-termly, based on the assessment information. The sessions last 40 minutes and happen daily. Once the children have finished the RWI programme, and are fluent and confident readers, they will begin taking part in ‘Active Reading’ sessions. 

What is Active Reading?

Once children have become confident and fluent readers, they take part in 'Active Reading' sessions. These sessions take place daily for 20 minutes and are based on the MIDAS (Making Inference a Difference Across Schools) strategies. Different strategies are applied to the text/s each day, some of which include predicting/asking questions, retrieval of information, inference and summarising.

Texts for the Active Reading sessions are selected by the class teachers. These could be linked to the core text being studied in some English lessons or to the wider curriculum. The texts cover all genres: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, songs and picture books over a term. All children have the opportunity to read to the teacher across these sessions.

How are children assessed?

Daily observations and formative assessments of children’s phonic knowledge, coupled with a robust assessment approach each half term, ensures children are given the correct book which is carefully matched to their phonic understanding, and the acquisition of sounds which have been taught. Equally, this means children are issued with the correct home reading book for them to enjoy at home, thus allowing them to experience early reading success, gain confidence and consolidate the learning that takes places in school.

Staff Continuous Professional Development as a Priority

We take the continuing professional development of staff seriously and as result ensure our staff receive regular training on how to deliver phonics effectively and how to deliver the comprehension curriculum. This includes full induction for members of staff who are new to school. Our EYFS and KS1 staff are fully trained in delivering the RWI programme of study.


As a result of our commitment to pupils becoming fluent and confident readers, our statutory results remain higher than the national average.


Statutory Reading Data
2023 Bowes Percentage (all pupils)
2022 Bowes Percentage (all pupils)
Latest National Percentage

Year 1 Phonics Screening Check




Year 2 Phonics Screening Check




Year 6 Reading (expected standard)




Year 6 Reading (higher standard)





Please click on the tabs on the left to find more information about reading at Bowes.