Swan Lane First School

Swan Lane First School

Learn, Play & Grow Together

Reading at Swan Lane First School

At Swan Lane First School, reading is at the heart of our English curriculum, and we have carefully designed both our programme of study and our school environment to instil a love of reading and books in our pupils, which we hope will remain with them all their lives.  

Every classroom has a welcoming and comfortable reading corner bursting with exciting books which our children love to explore.  Our school library is a treasure trove of fiction and non-fiction books, and also provides a wide range of magazine subscriptions covering a variety of topics to capture children’s imagination and interest.  We are also developing a selection of bilingual books which will enable our EAL learners to share books in their home languages while supporting their acquisition of English.

Outside, we are in the process of creating a designated reading area so that children can enjoy reading in the great outdoors with friends during playtimes and during some lesson times with their class teachers.

The English Curriculum

Important foundations for reading are laid in Reception and Key Stage 1, where our systemic and structured phonics programme introduces the key knowledge and skills children will need in order to become fluent readers.  Right from the start, and throughout their time at Swan Lane, children are encouraged to read both in the classroom and at home, with access to a wide range of interesting and exciting books which have been carefully selected to match their developing reading ability.  Our English curriculum is strongly rooted in literature, meaning that children are exposed daily to the work of a wide variety of authors and a broad range of genres during their time at Swan Lane, with lessons designed to focus children in getting the most from every book they read.

You can find out more information about the teaching of Phonics and our English Curricula at Swan Lane by clicking here.

Guided Reading

All children at Swan Lane participate in daily Guided Reading lessons.  Children undertake a weekly carousel of activities, working both independently and with teachers and teaching assistants, to develop their reading skills and deepen their understanding of the texts they read.  Many of the reading activities designed by the class teacher will reflect the current class text and provide links to the English unit being studied.  In addition, we have recently made a very significant investment in new books for the school’s Guided Reading scheme, so that we can provide the children with a wide range of exciting new books to read.

In Reception and early Key Stage 1, children will read books which are fully decodable.  This means that they will only contain the phonic sounds with which the children are already familiar.  The range of books links with our chosen Phonics Scheme, Essential Letters and Sounds.  Phonics are taught progressively, so that children continuously build on their knowledge of different sounds, and consolidate their earlier learning.

Once children are secure with their phonics, and more able to read words on sight, they are able to access a wider range of books across a variety of genres.  As their confidence grows, they are supported in developing their inference skills, so that they can read ‘between the lines’ to gain a greater understanding of the text.

Home Reading Scheme

Alongside our Guided Reading Scheme, children are encouraged to read daily with an adult at home.  Initially, in Reception, Year 1 and early Year 2, children will be provided with home reading books that are fully decodable, again linking to the phonics they learn in school under the Essential Letters and Sounds scheme.  In order to provide a richer choice of reading at home, children will also be offered an extra, age-appropriate book to read for pleasure.  This book may not be fully decodable, but can be enjoyed with adult support, and will help bolster children’s general reading skills and contribute to the development of their wider vocabulary.

Children will keep both reading books for a full week.  It is the expectation that the early reading books will be read at least four times before they are changed in school.  Research shows that repeated reading of the same text embeds understanding to a greater degree, and this links to the ethos of the Essential Letters and Sounds phonics scheme used in school.  Repeated reading also allows children to explore and discuss different ideas and themes within a book, and develop greater expression and poise when reading aloud.

As children grow in confidence with their reading, and progress onto non-decodable books, they will rely less on phonics to decode words, and will be more able to read on sight.  Repeated reading of shorter texts can still be of benefit, however, with longer chapter books (typically read in Years 3, 4 and 5), the expectation for repeated reading of a whole book is reduced, although children may be encouraged to re-read excerpts in order to deepen their understanding of what they read.  Books will continue to be changed weekly, although some longer texts may take longer than a week to be enjoyed fully.

Book Bands

All reading books at Swan Lane are organised into coloured Book Bands according to their level of challenge and complexity.  As children gain in confidence and skill with their reading, they progress through the Book Bands, so that the books they read provide an appropriate level of challenge for them.  Teachers carefully monitor and assess children’s reading throughout the year, in order to ensure that the books they read – both in Guided Reading lessons and from the Home Reading Scheme – are suitable for their needs. 

This chart gives an indication of the range of Book Band levels at which most children will be reading as they progress through school.


The chart shows the Book Bands for an ‘average’ group of children, but do remember that children are all individuals who learn and make progress at different rates, so the progression shown is only a guide. As well as periods of rapid progress, your child will probably have periods of consolidation, when progress is not as obvious. Although this may seem worrying, this is the time when they have the chance to develop confidence in using and applying their newly acquired skills. 

It is really important that children develop their comprehension skills alongside their ability to read the words on the page so you may find that your child is able to read the words fluently but continues on the same Book Band colour for a while to enable them to focus on developing their understanding. Class teachers assess the children’s reading on a regular basis and will change their Book Band colour only when they are confident that both the comprehension and word reading targets have been fully met. 

Click the links below to find out more about the different book bands in our reading scheme.

Oxford Owl Reading Buddies

We will also shortly be launching our online Oxford Owl Reading Buddies resource, which will provide you with an even greater range of reading material to support your children’s reading at home.

We are delighted to be able to offer such a rich and varied range of reading material to support your children’s learning journey.  Sharing books together with the family helps children to foster a greater depth of understanding and helps to nurture in them a love of reading and learning, which we hope will remain with them all their lives.