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The English Curriculum at Amberley (including our approach to Phonics)

Our Reading Scheme

We use Pearson's Phonics Bugs, Julia Donaldson Songbirds and Rigby Star schemes to teach reading in school.





We are wonderful readers here at Amberley! We love listening to stories and reading our books to enthusiastic adults in school. We are also learning to read for pleasure and enjoy quiet reading times in our fantastic reading areas in our classroom. We have great links with the local schools library service who provide a vast range of texts for us to enjoy linked to our half termly topics.

Guided Reading at Amberley


Guided Reading at Amberley takes place from Year 2 to Year 6 daily. Guided reading is an instructional approach that involves a teacher working with a small group of pupils to develop a range of reading strategies which includes inference and deduction skills. The aim of these 20 minute sessions is to challenge children's abilities to apply a range of reading strategies in order to access a broad range of texts.


Summarising Strategy



Inference Strategy


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Challenging Reading at Ambeley


“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn the more places you’ll go!”


Dr. Suess


With the increase in National Curriculum expectations the main aim of the reading challenge is to encourage children to steadily build their reading stamina as they progress across the primary phase. We also encourage your child to read and discuss what they are reading with parents and carers. The discussion element is crucial, as it will ensure each child has the opportunity to demonstrate that they have understood what they have read.


For every 500 miles that each child travels there will be an expectation set for the length of time that they have to read for to achieve their next miles milestone; all in line with building reading stamina. These times don’t have to be achieved all in one go, just whenever each child gets a chance to read in short bursts, long bursts or uninterrupted stretches! At Amberley we believe that true reading stamina is linked to the enjoyment of reading. Children allowing the depths of a book to take their imaginations or interests to a whole new place; time standing still when the enjoyment of a book takes over. For each mileage milestone that is achieved, we would encourage parents to sign their initials in the circle provided to verify that their child has read for that length of time.


Reading Stamina Expectations

Nursery and Reception: 5-7 minutes per milestone

KS1: 12-15 minutes per milestone

Year 3 and 4: 20-25 minutes per milestone

Year 5 and Year 6: 30-35 minutes per milestone


When each child has reached a country they must take their ‘Reading Miles Passport’ to Miss Leadbeater if they are in Foundation Stage or KS1 and to Mr Dawson if they are in KS2. A certificate for every country a child reaches will be presented to them in Star Learners Assemblies on Friday afternoons. For the class with the most children who complete their ‘Reading Miles Passport’ by the end of Summer term a surprise will be awarded!


Promoting Reading from the word “GO!”

The promotion of Reading at Amberley is embedded from Nursery all the way up to Year 6. The North Tyneside Library Bus visits Nursery, Reception and Year 1 termly. Children go onto the Library Bus to meet the librarians, return previous books they took out, discover new texts and listen to stories read by a librarian. Look at the photos below to see our visits...


RecSW on the Library Bus


Listening to a story on the Library Bus


We love books!!!



Children from Year's 1 to 6 have twice termly library visits to our local library situated within the White Swan Centre. Children have the opportunity to discover a range of new texts, learn key skills to help us search for new books in the library, listen to, read and take out new books. Lots of parents, grandparents and carers accompany us on our trip to the local library, we couldn't do it without their support. See the photos below...


Y2MN visiting the White Swan Library 



heart Reading and taking out new books heart


Y1AB visiting the White Swan Library



 Looking for new books



heart Reading and taking out new books heart







Author Visits

As part of Amberley Primary School’s aim to promote reading, throughout November 2016 children from Year’s 1 to 6 visited a range of well known authors. From these authors we learnt:

  • about the job of an author
  • what inspired authors to become an author
  • where they get ideas for stories from
  • how to plan a story they are going to write

...and lots, lots more!


Look at the photos below to see our author visits in action...



Year 1 visiting the author Tracey Corderoy 



We learnt how to draw her character Slippery Sam 





Amberley Primary School's approach to the teaching & learning of Phonics


Phonics teaching at Amberley is very effective and performance in the Year 1 Phonics Screening test has been significantly above national averages since the assessment was introduced. We are proud of these outcomes and they are achieved through a combination of carefully planned teaching and learning and work in partnership with parents who are involved and informed about our phonics teaching from the first days their child begins nursery or reception. Staff hold meetings for new nursery and reception pupils and these include advice on how to support their children with phonics. Teachers in Key Stage 1 invite parents to specific phonics meetings in order to support phonics home learning.


Our phonics teaching and learning in based on a combination on three phonic schemes, these being:


  • Letters & Sounds and
  • Read, Write, Ink.
  • Jolly phonics


Teachers use the best aspects of both schemes to plan work specific to their groups of children. Teaching support staff are used to further group our classes and support the most and least able learners, ensuring they are appropriately challenged. We have recently appointed a staff member to the role of 'Phonics Lead Teacher' who has worked alongside a Local Authority specialist phonics teacher to further develop our teaching and learning in phonics which has involved a review of teaching, differentiation, marking and feedback and interventions. Please see the attached phonics action plan for further details.


Below is a link to a website, which links each sound to their phoneme.





Teaching Teachers Phonics

Miss Leadbeater led a phonics focus morning held at Amberley Primary School, developing Trainee Teacher’s subject knowledge and skills, who are enrolled on the North Tyneside PE SCITT course. Focuses of the morning included:

  • What is phonics?
  • Why is phonic so important?
  • How we teach phonics at Amberley and why 
  • Assessment of phonics
  • The impact of phonics on developing young readers






As part of this morning, Miss Leadbeater demonstrated a 1:1 reading session with a Year 1 pupil. Trainee’s then put the skills they learnt into practice. See photos below:





Promoting Handwriting at Amberley


At Amberley we promote handwriting within Guided Reading and English lessons. Children are encouraged to take pride in the presentation of all their work across each subject. Pen licences are presented to children who show consistent and fluent cursive handwriting in their writing. Letter formation is taught from the earliest opportunities and reinforced in phonics and English lessons and all written tasks. 


Below are some examples of two children's writing who have achieved their pen licences.






We further promote handwriting through half termly handwriting competitions, where all winning entries are displayed in school.




Please see our English documents and policies section for further information on our handwriting expectations and letter formation.