English - Reading and Phonics

Our Vision for English Learning at Burlington

We aim to engender a life-long love of English by giving children the strategies they need to become enthusiastic, strong, confident and independent readers and writers. We provide children with a wealth of opportunities that inspire their imagination and give them deep and sustained knowledge of vocabulary, genres and styles that they can use both when discussing the writing of others, and apply in their own work.

This web page will cover the Reading and Phonics aspects of our English teaching at Burlington.  To learn more about the Writing aspect of our teaching, please visit the web page below:

English - Writing web page


English Reading and Phonics Curriculum Overview

Reading and enjoying books are such important life skills and are at the heart of everything we do. At Burlington we think of reading as having components: learning to read words, learning to read fluently, comprehension and taking pleasure in reading. 

We firmly believe that learning to read is a partnership between home and school. From the beginning of Nursery onwards, all children bring books home weekly and are encouraged to enjoy and practise reading at home.Reading for pleasure books are chosen from our well stocked Library or classroom book corners. From Reception onwards the children also take home a decodable reading book they can read using the phonics they have learnt at school. They will also be allocated an ebook version of the book they have been reading at school so they can practise, become more fluent and show their parents how well they are doing with their reading!

We are a Power of Reading School which means we base our learning on engaging and exciting key texts. The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education provides guides for each text that involve exciting events, drama, role play, art, sculpture, games, as well as reading and writing activities. This holistic approach enables children to engage with characters and become engrossed in the illustrations and text. These texts are used for English lessons throughout the school and  Whole Class Guided Reading lessons in Year 2.


In Nursery, children are taught the essential Phase 1 phonics skills that are a precursor to reading such as listening to and making sounds, rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and oral blending and segmenting. 

Using highly engaging key texts, children learn new vocabulary,how to retrieve information from picture books and act out stories in sequence. They begin to infer the feelings of characters and start to predict what might happen next, such as in the book, ‘What the Ladybird Heard’. There are baskets and displays of high quality books throughout the Nursery that children can use to support their own learning and to read for pleasure. They take one of these books home every week to share. The Nursery staff are skilled storytellers and through encouraging listening skills and joining in, they immerse children in imagination and wonder on a daily basis. Children leave the Nursery with a knowledge of many stories and rhymes, they can read their names, and ‘read’ books by turning pages and discussing and describing characters, settings and events. 


In Reception children have daily phonics lessons covering phases 2, 3 and 4 as well as opportunities to use phonics skills in their independent play.  They read with an adult three times a week in small groups to practise decoding, practise fluency and develop comprehension skills. The children take home two books to read for pleasure per week. They also take home a decodable reading book and are allocated an ebook version of the book they have been reading at school.

English lessons are based on key texts that have been selected to support the topics covered in Reception and develop both a love of reading and deeper understanding. Vocabulary is a huge focus in Reception as well as using role play to sequence and act out traditional tales such as The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Each class has a display of the key vocabulary linked to their topics and teachers use a range of strategies and games to help children learn new words including a vocabulary box. Inspired by carefully selected resources and activities, children use their increasing knowledge of stories in their independent activities and play. The children are introduced to non-fiction books and how they can be used to retrieve information to support their learning such as worms and sharks! Daily storytime is an important part of the Reception routine. A list of award winning and high quality books are used for storytime throughout the year, but children are also encouraged to select favourite books for their teacher to read.

Year 1

In phonics, the children revise Phases 1, 2, 3 and 4 and learn Phase 5. Phase 5. The children read three times a week in a small group with an adult. The children have a weekly Library session where they choose a book to read for pleasure at home. They also take a reading for pleasure book home from the classroom and a decodable reading book. They are also allocated an ebook version of the book they are reading in school. The children read three times per week with an adult in school to practise decoding, practise fluency and develop comprehension skills.

In English lessons, children gain inspiration from key texts in engaging and exciting ways: for example, a spacecraft crashes and leaves wreckage in the school playground, just like in the book ‘Beegu’ in our Space topic. Children. They learn to apply prediction, inference, retrieval and sequencing skills through discussions and activities linked to the stories such as making story maps and comparing the feelings of characters. The school has adopted five animal characters: Sequencing Suki, Victor Vocabulary, Rex Retriever, Inference Iggy and Predicting Pip that support the children in understanding the key concepts of comprehension. Retrieval skills are further developed when children learn to research their topics, such as toys and plants using the pictures and text in non-fiction books. 

In Year 1, we aim for children to build up a knowledge of authors and books and feel confident in discussing their views and preferences. Daily storytime helps children in this way by exposing them to a range of books with wonderful illustrations and engaging stories aimed specifically at Year 1 children. Listening to their teachers read also helps children understand the importance of using expression and intonation to convey meaning.

Year 2

In Year 2,  lessons cover all the requirements of the National Curriculum. The emphasis in phonics lessons is on ensuring they are secure in all the phonics taught to date and become confident and fluent readers. If the children are fluent readers they choose two books that they can read independently at home. If they are still learning to decode and read fluently they will participate in daily phonics sessions and read at least three times a week with an adult. They are also allocated an ebook version of the book they are reading in school. All children have a weekly Library session where they choose a book to read for pleasure at home. 

In Year 2 English lessons, key texts are still central to the topics, For example in the topic ‘Chocolate’, the chapter book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Children also become proficient and confident in using the indexes and contents pages of non-fiction books to research information, such as the history of chocolate. In the Spring term Whole Class Guided reading sessions are used to further develop comprehension skills. They are also explicitly taught how to complete written comprehension in preparation for the Year 2 National SAT reading papers, taken in the summer term. 

The storytime book list in Year 2 provides children with the opportunity to listen to, enjoy and discuss a wide range of picture books, chapter books, non-fiction and poetry from famous, celebrated and current authors. Children become more confident in expressing preferences and have increased knowledge of children's literature ready for their journey as life-long readers.


We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Nursery and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. At Burlington we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.

How we teach phonics?

  • In the nursery, children follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for Phonics’ guidance. The focus is on daily oral blending and language development through high quality stories and rhymes.
  • In reception and Y1 phonics is taught daily. Children follow the progression within the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. 
  • Phonics lessons start in Reception in week 2 to ensure the children make a strong start.
  • By the end of reception, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 4.
  • By the end of year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.
  • Reception lessons start at 10 minutes, with daily additional oral blending – increasing to 30 minutes as soon as possible.
  • Y1 lessons are 20 - 30 minutes long.
  • In Y2  phonic lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate – following the model of Little Wandle but filling specific gaps identified through assessment.
  • In Reception, Y1 and Y2  there are short ‘keep-up’ sessions for children who need more practise on what they have learnt in phonics that day. There are also planned phonic ‘catch-up’ sessions following a set model to address specific reading/writing gaps. These are short, sharp sessions lasting 10 minutes in length and taking place at least three times a week.

Reading practice sessions

  • Children across reception, year 1, year 2 (and beyond if appropriate) apply their phonics knowledge by using a full matched decodable reader in a small group reading practice session.
  • These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 6 children in a group.
  • The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
  • The children then take the same book home the following week to ensure success is shared with the family.
  • In reception these sessions start in week 4. Children who are not decoding, do a little blending lesson, following the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sound Revised.

How do we assess phonic knowledge?

  • In reception and year 1, at the end of each week there is a review session which recaps the learning. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
  • Children identified in Reception and Y1 as in danger of falling behind are immediately identified and ‘keep up’ sessions are put in place – sessions follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
  • In Reception and year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.
  • The children in Y1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.
  • Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will re-sit this in Y2.
  • Children who are in Y2 and need ‘catch up’ sessions are assessed through the teacher's ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.

For more information and resources to use at home, please refer to the links below: 

Essential Information on Changes to Phonics and Reading Books - letter to all parents

Parent Workshop presentation slides on Phonics and Early Reading

Video of Parent Workshop on Phonics and Early Reading Scheme

Little Wandle Resources for Parents

Reading for pleasure

To become life-long readers, it is very important that children enjoy it and have a wealth of opportunities to celebrate reading and all it involves. We aim for children to leave with a love for and deep and wide knowledge of children’s literature, an ability to relate to books and express their opinions about what they read.

Reading for pleasure - the Burlington way

National Curriculum

The English curriculum at Burlington follows the National Curriculum.  You can find the appropriate extract of this National Curriculum for English here: 

National Curriculum in KS1 - English

Please note this extract covers KS1 (Years 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2 which is followed by the Junior School (Years 3 to 6).

The curriculum maps below gives you a complete summary of the English phonics and reading skills, knowledge and key vocabulary that we teach our children, during each term as they progress from Nursery / Reception and through to Years 1 and 2.

Reading @ Burlington - Curriculum Map

Phonics Progression for Reception and Year 1


News and Events

Reading at Burlington is great fun. We always have lots of activities planned to help us love reading and become great readers. Here is our latest news.

Black History Month and Reading Recommendations - October 2021

To celebrate Black History month the school is buying books with characters that reflect and celebrate the diversity of our school community.  We are using the sponsored read money you so generously contributed last year, so thank you again for your support. Below is a list of recommended books for 3-7 year olds. Great ideas for Christmas and birthday presents!

Black History and Diversity - Recommended Books

Book Week 2021

The children had lots of fun on Book Week dress up day in their fabulous costumes! It has been wonderful to see all the different characters and hearing the children talk about their favourite books. The staff also got involved!

Book Week 2021 - Photos

Spark Book Awards 2020-21

To discover the shortlisted books, read to you by our very own Mrs Davies, please click on the attached poster:

Spark Book Awards

Thank you to everyone who voted for their favourite book at our school. The clear winner was Avocado Asks by Momoko Abe.

Meet the Author of Avocado Asks - Momoko Abe

We will be having a whole school celebration of this book in the summer term. We have postponed our book week and dress up day until June, more details to follow nearer the time. 

Click below to find out how to get involved:

Spark Book Awards - get involved

We are a Beanstalk school!

We have built a partnership with the charity Coram Beanstalk over the last 3 years. Coram Beanstalk is a national literacy charity that recruits, trains and supports volunteers to work in primary schools with children who have fallen behind with their reading. They are currently looking for lots of new volunteers to join them in our attempt to ensure that every child leaves primary school being able to read well.

Their reading helpers work with children on a one-to-one basis, giving them consistent support to improve reading levels, increase overall confidence and help them gain the vital literacy skills they need to succeed in education, training and employment.

Each Beanstalk reading helper works with three children and sees each child for two 30 minute sessions a week, during the school day, for a whole year. The sessions tend to include lots of talking, reading, games and fun and with Beanstalk's support the child's approach to learning and enjoying reading is often greatly improved.

Volunteering as a Beanstalk reading helper is incredibly rewarding and can make a lasting difference to a child’s life. They give all their volunteers two days training before they start in school and offer further ongoing training together with social events for people to get together and share experiences.

If this sounds like something you are interested in then please get in touch with the London West branch of Beanstalk on 020 7730 8259 or email innerlondon@beanstalkcharity.org.uk

Please also take a look at their website for more information:

Beanstalk Charity


How to Help at Home

Here you will find some useful documents, videos, links to great websites and guidance on how to help at home. Alongside their weekly reading books sent home, book marks, based on ability, are also provided that give helpful advice for parents on how to read with their child. All children also have a BugClub account where they can read and answer questions online from high quality digital books, allocated by their teacher. In terms of comprehension, the whole school uses comprehension characters to help embed the skills of vocabulary, information retrieval, sequencing, prediction and inference. Useful questions you can ask your child when reading based on these characters can be accessed here.

Guide to Phonics Phases and Reading Book Colour Bands by Year Group

Reading Objectives by Year Group

Comprehension Characters Question Cards

Book Marks by Reading Book Colour Band with Prompts to Help Your Child

Guide to Help Your Child Read at Home

Vocabulary Guide

Storytime Book Lists by Year Group

Parent Workshops

Recording for Parent Workshop on 'Reading with 2-4 year olds'

Slides for Parent Workshop on 'Reading with 2-4 year olds'

Reading Comprehension - March 2020