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John Betts Primary School

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Everybody knows that learning to read is a fundamental skill for life. In the first instance children at John Betts are taught the sounds made by individual, pairs and clusters of letters. They read graded books with strongly patterned language and picture cues. In reception class and in Year 1, children have regular phonics sessions that assist them to recognise letters understand the sound they make and blend these sounds together to create words. Letter-sound correspondence is taught through a highly structured synthetic phonic approach.  Alongside this they learn to instantly recognise by sight the most common words in the English language.  Many of these words are not phonically regular and it is important that they develop automation in their sight vocabulary. They see a word and instantly recognise it, without trying to sound it out. This automatic sight recognition of common words is crucial, as they appear so regularly in all the texts they encounter.

To teach beginning readers about letter-sound correspondence we use a government publication called Letters and Sounds. The aim of this scheme is to equip children with the phonic knowledge and skills they need to become fluent readers by the age of seven. It is a six-phased scheme which is taught in Nursery (prior to the children’s arrival) through to Year Two.


Reception – Phases 2, 3 and starting 4

Year 1 – Phase 4 and 5

Year 2 - Phase 6


Jolly phonics mnemonics are used when introducing the children to individual letter sounds.


Our graded reading scheme – which incorporates a range of books from different highly evaluated series introduces children to new words gradually. We use a selection of schemes including Oxford Reading Tree, Big Cat Phonics, Rigby Star and Project X. These books are levelled into colour bands so that children can progress through the books in levels of difficulty. Reading deliberately patterned, simple, repetitive grammatical structures helps children to achieve early success. This success creates confidence – an essential prerequisite for ongoing, successful learning. 


Learning to decode text accurately is just the start of the reading journey. Reading is all about establishing meaning and appreciating the purpose and intentions of the writer. Teachers focus on developing seven aspects of learning:


Reading strategies

Key phrase


Use a range of strategies, including accurate decoding of text, to read for meaning

Decode accurately

Read with basic understanding (recall)


Understand, describe, select or retrieve information, events or ideas from texts and use quotation and reference to text

Seek, find and understand Literal response to text.

Refer to examples in the text


Deduce, infer or interpret information, events or ideas from texts

Inference and deduction. Read between the lines; interpret information; put yourself in the character’s shoes.

Use evidence from the text to support views


Identify and comment on the structure and organisation of texts, including grammatical and presentational features at text level

Why is the text presented and organised as it is?

Comment on structure. Comment on presentational features


Explain and comment on the writers’ use of language, including grammatical and literary features at word and sentence level

Why did the writer use that word/phrase/image/sentence construction/ punctuation?

Awareness of the impact of the language used on the reader; literary awareness


Identify and comment on the writers’ purposes and viewpoints, and the overall effect

What are the ‘big messages about life’ here?

What are the writer’s attitudes, values and view on the world?

What is the writer’s purpose?


Relate texts to their cultural and historical contexts and literary traditions

What style of writing is this? Which literary genre does it sit in?

How does this text relate to the world of literature?

Can you put the text in context: socially/historically/culturally?


To help develop children develop these skills, adults should pose questions for them when they are reading. The links below are to a range of generic question prompts that adults can use to formulate questions to pose when their child is reading.

What are the books that children at John Betts study in their literacy units of learning? Please use the links below to view some of the titles which will be studied in different classes.

Reading journals – All pupils have a reading journal. For young children this serves as a dialogue between the class teacher and parents about:

  • the book the child has read
  • what page they have got up to
  • how they read
  • how well matched the book was to the child's ability level
  • any words they have found difficult


For more fluent readers in Year 2, and for all readers from Year 3 onwards, the reading journal becomes something else: a record of a child’s personal response, in writing, to the books they are reading.

Writing at John Betts


John Betts begins with a quality text by a significant author. This text provides the context for learning and development of skills. Children become immersed in the text through carefully planned and engaging starting points; they might have a visitor to their classroom, a message from a character or a drama experience. Opportunities for developing punctuation, grammar and spelling are embedded throughout the sequence of work, along with regular written outcomes. Each sequence of work will result in a purposeful and sustained piece of writing.


Children at John Betts also have opportunities to produce some non-narrative writing that reflects the topic being studied by the class that term. Whilst the narrative sequence based on a quality text is being followed, children build up an understanding of their topic by exploring it through the different subject areas. This understanding, along with explicitly taught writing skills leads to quality outcomes. Throughout the year children are provided with extended opportunities to write across the curriculum with clear purpose. 

Handwriting at John Betts


Each year, children across KS1 and KS2 have the opportunity to win their pen licence. This is awarded to children who consistently show neat and joined handwriting in all of their books. Class Teachers will monitor and guide each child on this journey and when they think they are ready, a child can go and show Miss Mair their books. 


We follow the Nelson Handwriting scheme and as part of morning skills sessions, children get to practise forming their letters correctly.


Attached are examples of the high expectations we expect from the children across the school, in order for them to be awarded their pen licence.



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