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At Sparken Hill Academy, we just love reading and writing!

During the school day, children may read in small groups or 1-to-1 with an adult, with a peer or as a whole class. They may listen to audio versions of favourite books and enjoy daily 'story time’ with their teacher.


Whatever the reading activity, we place a strong emphasis on high quality ‘book talk’ whereby all children are able to discuss and unpick carefully chosen, high-quality texts. We expose children to a wide range of texts, styles and genres, including stories, non-fiction and poetry and both classic and contemporary texts.


We use a variety of reading schemes and books linked to current interests and topics to support the children’s reading development. We believe that, at all levels, good quality reading is invaluable for good quality writing!



Reading and Phonics


What do we teach?

In Sparken Hill Academy, Pearson Bug Club is used to teach synthetic phonics (DfE approved).

A graduated approach is used and children begin phonics as soon as they enter Foundation Stage. Phonics is taught daily through a systematic approach. Children are taught within their class and any additional support required is delivered in small groups.


In Reception class children begin by developing an awareness of sounds through stories, rhymes and games. They quickly move on to learn the links between individual letters and their sounds. There are 44 different sounds to be learned and again these are taught in a systematic way throughout Early Years and Key Stage 1.


How do we teach phonics?

Within Early Years and KS1 classes, phonics is taught discreetly in a daily session that lasts between 30 to 40 minutes. Children then apply their new skills when reading books from the Phonics Bug scheme which match the letters and sounds that they have previously learned.

Teachers regularly assess children’s progress to check where they are and what they need to learn next.


Phonics bug club



We adopt a graduated approach to the teaching of reading.

Phonics based approach

A phonics based approach is used in Reception class to introduce children to reading. Children learn to decode books that are closely matched to the letters and sounds they are currently learning.

Children are encouraged to read at home on a daily basis. Children keep the same book to allow them to apply their skills to decode the text. They then keep the same book to allow them the opportunity to practise reading for fluency. A reading record book is used as a communication tool between parents and teachers. Children are rewarded for their commitment to regular reading.


Also, children are provided with log in details for Bug Club online reading resources. Here children can practise phonics through appealing games and activities. They also have access to a wide range of additional books, arranged by difficulty using the coloured book band system that teachers allocate based on a child’s current stage of learning.




Book bands

When children move beyond Phase 5 phonics and a predominantly phonics approach to reading, then children are taught a broader range of reading skills to develop their understanding of the texts they read. Books are grouped by the coloured book band system and pupils are directed towards the appropriate band for their reading level.

Children continue to log their home and school reading in their Reading Record book. Regular reading continues to be encouraged.

When children are able to read fluently and independently they are assessed using the Star Reading system for Accelerated Reader. The assessment provides a standardised score and a reading age for the child. If they achieve the required standard then they are eligible to begin using Accelerated Reader. Teachers monitor children’s reading scores to ensure the system is right for them.


Accelerated Reader

The Accelerated Reader approach moves away from the traditional reading scheme to include real books by a range of popular, modern and classic authors and poets. There are also non-fiction texts, graphic novels and play scripts to name a few additional text types.

The system determines the level of readability for this vast range of texts. After an assessment, children are allocated a numerical range (called a ZPD) from which they can choose books. This is closely monitored by teachers.

As the system monitors reading through a digital reading log there is no need for the Reading Record book. There is an expectation that children will read for at least 25 minutes each day in class with additional reading undertaken at home.

Independent reading and level of understanding is confirmed through an online retrieval quiz taken on the completion of a book. Children are expected to achieve a minimum of 85% success rate over the term.

Children are rewarded for achieving an average of 85% or above for the books they’ve read and with an engaged time of 25 minutes per day. To this end (and to ensure a constant supply of books), the school also subscribes to MyON digital library, which is closely linked to AR. 

Parents can track their child’s success by signing up for email updates.

We provide books that broaden horizons and helps learners connect with the world around them with a focus on positive moral values, developing empathy and showing diversity.


Teachers’ reading to pupils

There is an expectation that all teachers will read to their class on a regular basis. A wide variety of books are chosen to offer children the broadest reading experience possible. Books are chosen carefully and for a number of reasons. We look for books that broaden children’s horizons; deal with sensitive or difficult issues; offer a diversity that our context does not offer and books that are fun, exciting or just wonderful!