Woodside 1 copy 4 12

Woodside 1 copy

Woodside 1 copy 4

The intent for the teaching and learning of reading at Woodside Academy is

  • for every child, from the youngest to the oldest, to read and love reading 
  • for all children to be exposed to rich text and language to support their understanding of the world, to promote their communication and to equip them with the ability to navigate their way through life with as much independence as possible

For our pupils, reading at Woodside is interpreted as any activity which leads a child to derive meaning from visual or tactile information. Reading supports our ability to understand, interpret and communicate with each other.  Communication is fundamental to learning and in building relationships.

Objects, symbols, pictures, written words or texts are all valid reading tools which the children use in order to learn to read.

We promote a love of reading and teach children to read in many ways, reflecting our understanding of individual needs and bespoke approach. Our environment supports all learners, with wide use of both words and visuals.

All children are taught phonics, using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. This structured, whole school programme focuses initially on environmental sounds, developing focused listening and attention, including oral blending, progressing to beginning grapheme-phoneme correspondence and blending. Phonics and the teaching of early reading continues throughout the school where necessary and appropriate. Class teachers know and adapt the learning opportunities and approach on an individual basis.

We provide a bespoke offer tailored to each child.

 Strategies and Implementation

Woodside Academy staff are trained and experienced in a range of specific approaches and interventions to supplement reading skills and to promote a love of reading:-

  • Phonics, a method of learning to read. It involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters.
  • Blanks Questions and levels of understanding. This is a bank of structured sets of questions, used to develop children’s understanding of what they are reading. Questions and prompts are taken from the level appropriate to the child and help their comprehension.
  • Attention Autism, to support language development for less able pupils through developing focus and looking from left to right for information
  • ‘Big Cat’ Reading Scheme, used across the school, comprising of levelled books written and developed by award winning authors, supported by both illustrations and photography. The range includes National Geographic books and an online feature which allows families/ carers to access books to read at home.
  • PECS - Picture Exchange Communication System, where a picture is given or shown to someone to communicate a need, a want, or to express a thought
  • Proloquo, a symbol-based augmentative and alternative communication app designed to promote growth of communication skills and develop vocabulary
  • Word Up, a sight word reading intervention to develop vocabulary.
  • Blast- Boosting Language, Auditory Skills and Talking, a sequential programme to support early learning skills
  • Communicate-In-Print, symbols-supported resources for printing visuals and learning support for use in class and learning environments
  • Colourful Semantics, a system for colour coding words in sentences according to their role
  • NeLi- Nuffield Early Language Intervention, a programme of short small group or individual sessions to improve children’s language and early literacy skills ( where appropriate for individual children only)
  • Guided reading strategies, sharing effective practice and research
  • Aided language boards to support vocabulary linking to themes/ topics/ subjects, by providing examples and prompts of useful or inspiring words
  • Use of wordless books to develop imagination, interest in stories, enrich vocabulary, provide a child with opportunity to make up their own stories and heighten interest in reading stories
  • Bag Books, multi-sensory books and storytelling sessions
  • Visuals, to support reading though use of picture and symbols
  • Storytelling, recognising the importance and value of regularly reading aloud to children of all ages, with guidance on strategies for professional use and ways in which to support home reading
  • Signalong- a key word sign-supported communication system based on British Sig Language
  • Intensive Interaction, an approach to teaching communication skills to those who are still at early stages of development
  • Functional Words, prioritising words of practical use in the immediate and wider world to support greater independence.

All staff share good practice and new initiatives/ research through professional discussion, planned paired and team work and a comprehensive CPD programme. Our specialist speech and language team work alongside children, staff and parents, /carers to support and develop social and language skills.

Reading Provision at Woodside Academy

Every learner has reading experiences every day. These may be reading 1:1 with an adult, independent reading, sharing a book with a friend, whole class reading sessions, guided reading as part of a small group or being read to. Targeted interventions take place across the school. Reading opportunities and teaching of reading skills are embedded throughout the school day.

Reading can and does take place anywhere. Each learning space has its own book corner, stocked to reflect and support the needs and interests of the children using it. Students are proud to share the photos on display of them enjoying reading. There are both timetabled and impromptu visits to each of the school’s libraries- in EYFS/KS1, KS2 and a whole school library. Post 16 students work as librarians as part of the work experience offer. 

We provide high quality texts for use in class. For the youngest learners in particular, the approach is immersive, with all learning inspired by the carefully selected text of the week.

Word walls are used to display key words or to enrich vocabulary. Reading for purpose takes place across all curriculum subjects.

Visuals are in place all around the school environment, including on staff lanyards to be easily transported and always available. In the Dining Hall, visuals support children to independently select from the school dinner menu.

Books in book corners and libraries reflect and celebrate diversity and equality. Children are encouraged to read books which reflect their own experiences and interests, but also those which expand and enrich their knowledge, understanding and experiences.

In classes and around school there are words of welcome to be read in a variety of languages to reflect the first and second languages used by members of our community.

Our new whole school reading scheme is Big Cat including the very popular National Geographic non-fiction texts. This is used in school and also shared with parents/ carers online to encourage reading from home.

Each child has a specific reading target which they are working towards. This is shared with the child, their parent or carer, and regularly reviewed. Reading activities are focused. Each small step is celebrated as it is achieved.  Targets are directly linked to academic next steps, personalised learning plans and EHCPs.

Every member of staff, including the senior leaders, is allocated a nominated reader to provide targeted reading sessions and promote an enjoyment of shared reading experiences.

Parents and carers are encouraged and supported to read with their child at home. We work to support reading at home or out in the community with even the most reluctant readers. This takes the form of face to face conversations either at the end of the day or during progress meetings, by phone calls home from the class team, written in the home school contact book, in the form of ‘top tips’ sent home or by phase videos to describe and demonstrate helpful strategies and effective ideas.

Who reads at Woodside Academy?

Woodside Academy is a reading community. As well as class and small group opportunities each day, classes sometimes pair up with one from another phase to share reading experiences together. Our reading ambassador schemes sees older students volunteering to read to younger children.

Staff and student Signalong Champions support everyone to sign more and increase our signing vocabulary. The student champions are School Council representatives who feed back directly to their classes.

Staff model reading to children and share which books they like, what they are reading. There is a Woodside Academy book club which all staff are invited to take part in. Photos showing staff ‘extreme reading’ (in unexpected places) are on display to inspire students to view reading as an enjoyable activity for outside as well as inside school.


To ensure the teaching and learning of reading has the intended outcome, continuous monitoring of both pupil progress and Teaching and Learning takes place across the school year. Our expectations are aspirational. Any learner not making expected progress is identified and actions put in place to support success. Standards continue to rise.

A love of reading is evident from the amount of reading taking place across a school day, and the young people choosing to use the book corners and the libraries provided. Many children are designing and creating their own reading boxes to reflect their interests and share with others.

Woodside Academy is a reading community where reading is promoted, valued and enjoyed.






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