Throughout Reception, Year 1 and 2, children at Simonside Primary School take part in daily Batty Phonic sessions. Each session last for 20 minutes and the programme is designed to teach children the 26 letter sounds through stories, actions and dance. This is then extended to introduce the remaining letter sounds, including vowel digraphs (‘ai’, ‘ee’, etc), consonant digraphs (‘th’, ‘st’, etc) and split digraphs (‘o-e’ as in bone).  It helps children to hear the sound, recognise the letter and write the letter correctly, as well as write and read words/sentences.

Here are the stories and actions that we use in our lessons:

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At the end of Year 1, every child completes a national Phonic Screener Check, which is designed to test a child’s ability to decode words (including nonsense words) using their phonic strategies.  For the past few years, children have been required to read 32 out of 40 words correctly to meet the required standard. Any children who do not meet the standard must re-take the test in Year 2.


At Simonside Primary School, we are passionate about reading and actively encourage children to read for pleasure from an early age.  Staff at all levels seek to find as many opportunities as possible to promote positive attitudes to reading, as we recognise the importance of reading in child development.

Our school library has recently undergone a full transformation, which has been a huge hit with the children.  As well as visiting the library to choose books, our children have many opportunities to visit the library when working in small groups or as a class for story time.

In school, we use a combination of: PM, Oxford Reading Tree and Project X Books.  These books are chosen carefully by staff to suit the needs of individual children, offering an appropriate level of both challenge and support.  A range of additional high quality texts are chosen to support reading development within lessons and as part of our intervention programmes.

Within our Guided Reading sessions, children are taught to develop their skills of predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising, through our Reciprocal Reading sessions. Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 often take part in whole class Reciprocal Reading sessions, in order to develop these reading skills as early as possible.  You can find out more about Reciprocal Reading by clicking here.

Reading Buddies

At Simonside, we seek to provide our children with as many opportunities to work together as possible, highlighting that everyone can learn from each other in one way or another.  In 2015, we set up our ‘Reading Buddies’ system, where children in Year 5 and 6 participate in a weekly reading session with a ‘buddy’ from Years 1 or 2.  At the start of each year, our older buddies are carefully paired with the younger children and are given training by our specialist reading teacher, so that they can support their younger buddies appropriately.