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Lichfield Down, Walnut Tree,
Milton Keynes,


01908 550811

Reading at Heronsgate:

Reading at Heronsgate is central to our curriculum. All staff promote the importance of reading, placing great emphasis on developing both fluency and comprehension. It is our aim that all children have the skills to be able to read, and importantly, want to read for both pleasure and academic excellence. A culture of reading is firmly embedded at Heronsgate and allows children to develop a love of reading that they will take with them into adulthood.


Reading Policy 2023-24:

Reading Policy 2023-24 - updated September 2023

Reading Curriculum Overview - Layer 1 - October 2023 FINAL

Reading Curriculum Overview - Layer 2 and 3 October 2023 update



It is very much our intent that all children leave Heronsgate and enter the next phase of their academic journey as literate individuals who have reached the end point set out in the National Curriculum. We understand that reading is an essential tool that empowers children to be the best they can be in all areas of the curriculum. As soon as a child enters Heronsgate, they will be exposed to a wide range of texts and an array of opportunities to be read to, read by and read with.

By KS2, most children are fluent at decoding texts. It is therefore our aim to develop their skills further by supporting them to build their reading speed and stamina, reading more challenging texts from a range of authors and developing their comprehension skills. In addition, teachers promote the development of vocabulary by ensuring children unpick and discuss authors use of language and the impact such word choice has on the text.

Whole class guided reading:

Whole class guided reading is taught daily from years 3-6. Lessons focus on different text types throughout the half term. This includes poetry, a class book and a non-fiction text. Work is differentiated to suit the needs and abilities of the children. Throughout the week children will explore vocabulary and specific question types, using the VIPERS questioning technique to explore and unpick the text. Additional writing tasks, where children respond in a creative manner also help to develop a broad understanding of the text. Our guided reading sessions follow the Power of Reading technique. Long term planning ensures that reading skills are taught in a sequenced and progressive way.

Current class texts (autumn 1):

  • Year 3: Escape from Pompeii by Christina Balit
  • Year 4: Norse Myths by Louie Stowell
  • Year 5: The Devil and His Boy by Anthony Horowitz
  • Year 6: Coming to England by Floella Benjamin

1:1 reading and banded books:

All children are benchmarked and assessed in reading each half term. This allows books to be selected for children that are closely matched to their reading ability. Our books follow the Oxford University Press reading scheme and cover a wide range of genres and styles, such as classic tales, non-fiction information books and tales from other cultures. It is expected that all children read at home for 15 minutes per day ad record their progress in their reading record. The class teacher and LSA will read with the children throughout the half term. Our Reading Buddies not only help with reading during early work time but also help the children select new books so that they read a range of different text types.

Book Band Conversion Table - Updated Spring 2023


Not all children will arrive at Heronsgate as fluent readers. In such instances, children are supported using the RWI Fresh Start synthetic phonics programme. Fresh start is a vigorous teaching of synthetic phonics. The children learn the 44 common sounds in the English Language and how to sound-blend words over a short period of time, alongside spelling. The more sounds that a child learns, the greater the range of texts they can read. The 34 modules contain carefully graded stories and non-fiction texts. The texts are natural, amusing, and increase in age as pupils progress through the modules. All staff at Heronsgate School are trained in the assessment and delivery of the Fresh Start programme. Children who are still learning to blend words will be given blending books before starting to read on our book band scheme. Click HERE for more information on the Fresh Start programme.

Fresh Start Speed Words List: Fresh Start Speed Words

Fresh Start Red Words List: Fresh Start Red Words

Summer phonics - Set 1 - children learning the first digraphs

Summer phonics - Set 2 - group at home

Summer phonics - Set 3 - group at home

Reading for pleasure

We promote reading for pleasure by celebrating reading in all its forms. As well as ensuring all children visit our library weekly, we also hold regular reading open mornings for parents, reading fairs and hold regular reading competitions. Our library monitors and reading buddies also support reading across the school.


World Book Day 2023:

World Book Day 2023 was our best yet! As well as making story boxes, taking part in the BBC Live Lessons and dressing up we even managed to complete our Readathon with children from across the school helping to read for nearly 7 hours!

Book Fair:

To promote reading for pleasure and to encourage the children to read a wide range of books, we were delighted to welcome the Usborne Book Fair to our school. All the money raised will be re-invested in books for the school.


5 Tips for parents

Grow a love of reading by reading everyday – it doesn’t matter how old they are!

  1. Don’t just read at bedtime – airport waits or ‘lazy weekend mornings’ provide additional opportunities.
  2. Model reading at home – if your children see you reading they are more inclined to pick up a book
  3. Leave books and other reading materials on view so your child can access these quickly and easily
  4. It doesn’t need to be all about fiction – why not try a magazine or age appropriate newspaper
  5. Get comfy – settle down on cushions with hot chocolate to make reading extra special

Oxford Reading Buddy e-library

Our subscription to ‘Oxford Owl Reading Buddy’ provides additional access to up to 450 banded books alongside quizzes and support for both children and adults. All of the reading scheme books we use at Heronsgate are also available as e-book, making it easier for parents to engage and access suitable books at home. To access the website, click here.

Oxford Levels 

Reading Open Morning - November 2022