We aim to develop children's abilities in the skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing so that they are able to learn and enjoy all other subjects.

Reading and Phonics


At Sythwood Primary and Nursery School, we believe that learning to read is the most important thing your child will learn at our school. Reading is vital for academic success and we promote reading across the curriculum. Being able to read allows children to understand the world, ask questions and acquire knowledge.

All children are read a story daily and participate in whole class reading sessions where they are taught key reading skills; such as retrieval, inference and prediction. The diversity of our community is reflected in our reading spine which allows children to learn about different cultures, abilities, careers and see themselves in the stories. Celebrating rich language, developing vocabulary and learning about other cultures ensures that children have the cultural capital required to succeed in life.

Children at Sythwood learn to read using Read, Write, Inc. which teaches children letter sounds, how to form letters/words correctly and finally to read lively storybooks. This is used from Reception to Year 2 in order to enable children to become competent, fluent readers who are able to communicate clearly about what they have read and discuss vocabulary used. If children need further support with reading, they may have a phonics intervention or support from our Reading Recovery teacher. Children work in groups based on their current phonics knowledge and regularly move groups so that they can make accelerated progress.

In key stage 2, children begin using Accelerated Reader and they participate in a STAR Reader test to check their comprehension and reading level so that they are able to read books at a suitable level of challenge. They read books at school and at home before taking a short quiz to check that they have fully understood what they are reading. If children need further support to make accelerated progress, they may take part in the Project X Code or SNIP interventions to allow them to secure their reading knowledge and fully access the curriculum.

Our curriculum is designed with these principles in mind:

•         language rich whole class reading sessions to develop communication and fluency

•         children read books that match their understanding and knowledge

•         every class has books linked to their topic which are used to pre-teach or revisit their learning

•         teachers are clear on progression of reading skills and teach these explicitly

•         regular teacher assessment ensures children learn in greater depth and make accelerated progress 

•     high expectations for children to communicate about books regularly

•         children read a wide variety of texts to develop a thirst for learning and an interest in many topics



Communication is vital for learning throughout the curriculum. At Sythwood Primary and Nursery School, we want to ensure that all children are confident and enthusiastic writers. Teachers plan English lessons to suit the individual needs of the children with appropriate support and challenge. Progression documents are used by teachers for clarity on when content is taught and how it develops from each year and key stage. Each day, children will access a range of activities to develop and apply their speaking, listening and writing skills.

In EYFS, early writing is developed through early mark making skills and carefully planned opportunities to enhance fine motor control. Targeted skills are taught through the RWI phonics program which enables children to read and form their letters correctly from reception. In KS1, teachers plan based on the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach where the children are able to imitate, innovate and invent a range of different texts. There is a focus on mastering the basics in writing and developing sentence structures before the children move into KS2. Once the children reach KS2, they learn how to edit and redraft their work; this gives them the opportunity to develop and understand their author’s voice. Model texts and shared stories are purposefully mapped across the year groups so that children can build on prior knowledge, with increasingly challenging content that reflects the Sythwood community. 

The size of a pupil’s vocabulary in their early years of schooling is a significant predictor of academic attainment in later schooling and of success in life. Because of this, we explicitly teach key vocabulary in all areas of the curriculum so that the children not only write accurately but have a rich bank of language to draw on as they establish an author’s voice.


These handwriting videos will support you in ensuring your child forms their letters correctly.


What we are reading...

Reception are reading Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

Year 1 are reading Toys in Space by Mini Grey

Year 2 are reading What a Waste by Jess French

What A Waste: Rubbish, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet:  French, Jess: Books

Year 3 are reading Pugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Cedar Class are reading A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

Rowan Class are reading Alex Sparrow and the Really Big Stink by Jennifer Killick


Cypress Class are reading The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond

Lime Class are reading The Girl Who Stole and Elephant by Nizrana Farook

Hawthorn Class are reading The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Sycamore Class are reading Wonder by RJ Palacio

Wonder by R.J. Palacio | Central Rappahannock Regional Library

Magnolia Class are reading The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster

Sequoia Class are reading The Emergency Zoo by Miriam Halahmy

The Emergency Zoo: Miriam Halahmy: 9781846883972: Books

Mrs Elliott is reading The Otherwhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie

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