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 is such an important life skill and is at the heart of everything we do. We firmly believe that learning to read is a partnership between home and school. From the end of Nursery onwards, all children are encouraged to practise reading at home: children are given two reading books per week to take home and are given a Reading Record that is filled in weekly by both staff and parents/carers.  Our main reading scheme is Big Cat Collins but books from other publishers are also used. 

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 and Whole Class Guided Reading lessons in Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2).  

In Phonics, we follow the Letters and Sounds programme from Phase 1 to Phase 6 for teaching children to read words through systematic phonics. Phonics lessons are taught daily, with catch-up sessions provided for children who need extra support. Children begin by learning individual sounds and blend them together to make words but by the time they leave our school we aim for them to be fluent readings who convey meaning through intonation and expression. 


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. By the end of the year they will understand that words are made up of sounds and be able to identify these in simple words i.e. d-o-g. The children are taught these skills through games, singing, music, using puppets and books, both in short age appropriate lessons and through role play in the environment. Nursery children embark upon their independent reading journey in the summer term when they take home their first reading books, initially with pictures only and their first Reading Record. They are also given access to BugClub (an online reading platform) and allocated age appropriate books to read online at home, with the opportunity to answer comprehension questions about them online..  

Using highly engaging key texts, children are introduced to the school’s comprehension animal characters and learn how to retrieve information from pictures and act out stories in sequence. Through carefully selected key texts, 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’. Children are introduced to new vocabulary through books and encouraged to use it in their independent play. Rather than have a designated book corner, there are baskets and displays of high quality books throughout the Nursery that children can use to support their own learning (i.e. gardening books next to our vegetable planters) and to read for pleasure. 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 and as well as opportunities to use phonics skills in their independent play.  They are taught Phase 2 and 3 sounds and by the end of the year they recognise graphemes including digraphs (two letter sounds i.e 'ai') and trigraphs (3 letters sounds i.e. 'igh'). Children become early readers by segmenting and blending words with these sounds. They also learn high frequency words by sight. Daily small group interventions are used to help children who need more intensive support to learn phonics. In Reception, children take home two decodable reading books per week and are allocated books on BugClub appropriate to their individual reading abilities. 

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. Towards the end of the year, guided reading is introduced in small groups for the children who are ready. 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 Comprehension characters are used to help support developing comprehension and children are taught how to predict what might happen next and infer simple meanings from pictures and text. 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 that they would like read to them.

Year 1

In phonics, the children revise Phases 1, 2, 3 and 4 and learn Phase 5 and part of Phase 6 sounds. Phase 5 focuses on learning alternative spellings and pronunciation of sounds. In the June of year 1, children take the national phonics screening check where they have to read 40 words, half of which are made-up / 'alien' words, but all involve decoding (segmenting and blending) words with the graphemes they have learnt in class. Phase 6 includes learning some prefixes, suffixes and basic grammar. This is the year in which children often make rapid progress in their reading and parents are asked to help their child read at home as much as possible. 

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. Whole Class Guided Reading lessons enable children to engage fully in a book by reading it over several weeks, focussing in detail on the key vocabulary through interactive games to ensure new words stay in their long term memory. They also 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 English skills lessons, children have the opportunity to practise and apply their reading skills through small group guided reading or other activities specifically geared to the needs of individual children. 

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. 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, the emphasis in phonics lessons is on revising all the phonics taught to date and becoming confident and fluent readers; we aim for them to be able to read at least 90 words per minute in a book they have read before. They also learn how to use expression and intonation when reading out loud to convey meaning. Children study Phase 6 phonics sounds and skills, involving reading suffixes, prefixes, homophones and longer more complex words.

In English lessons, the key texts become more challenging 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 Whole Class Guided reading the children use their comprehension skills to compare books exploring similar themes such as the environment.  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 children continue to take home two books to read each week, and as we aim for them to no longer be reliant on overt segmenting and blending, they are free to choose more challenging texts of their choice. 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.

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 @ Burlington - Curriculum Map


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.

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