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Harbour Primary


Reading offer at Harbour Primary School

Reading is an integral part of everyday life at Harbour Primary and Nursery school, and all staff place reading at the heart of the curriculum. We are determined that every pupil, regardless of their background and starting point, will learn to read with fluency and understanding and develop a life-long love of reading.

Research shows that children who enjoy reading not only do better in language and literacy subjects, but in all other subjects as well. Reading is also essential to develop language skills and will ensure your child is exposed to vocabulary on different topics which they may not hear otherwise in their day to day lives. We know that reading encourages a thirst for knowledge and leads to children asking questions and developing an interest in different cultures and languages. We also know that a love of reading helps to develop a child’s imagination and creativity.

Reading opportunities at Harbour Primary and Nursery School

At Harbour Primary School we want to encourage and nurture a love of reading for all our children and we do this in a variety of ways.

Quality teaching of reading is fundamental to school improvement, and therefore a significant amount of time is specifically allotted to the discrete teaching on a daily basis, but also extended to the wider curriculum.


We place a high importance on reading in the early stages and much of our daily timetable focuses on phonic skills and word recognition, whilst sharing picture books linked to the learning in class. The teaching of phonics and reading follows a rigorous and sequential approach to develop the vital early reading skills.

As a school, we have chosen to use the ‘Sounds Write’ programme which is used from the very beginning of the Reception year. Children who attend our Nursery, also benefit from early phonics teaching using the same approach.

The daily structured approach supports children in learning letters and sounds and our ongoing assessment identifies children in danger of falling behind, and they are given extra one-to-one tuition delivered by our trained and skilled staff. All staff teaching are fully trained (a 6 day professional course), and any new staff who will be teaching phonics are trained as soon as possible. Additionally, a literacy specialist from the English Hub visits the school regularly to provide support and training for leaders and staff.

All children use decodable books linked to the teaching in class daily, and home reading books are aligned with sounds learned in class.

Children who need support are assessed to pinpoint where they need support, and tailored, time limited interventions are put in place to enable them to make accelerated progress.

Whole Class Reading

Once pupils complete the phonics programme, the teaching of reading continues with another rigorous and sequential approach during whole class reading sessions. This follows a set procedure that is a research-based approach to consolidate the progress of reading.

During whole class reading sessions, children are taught the reading strands from the National Curriculum, focusing on vocabulary, decoding, reading fluency and comprehension skills.

A variety of texts, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry, are used as the basis of the lessons, and these whole class texts become incrementally more challenging as the children progress. Children are given the opportunity to develop an increased knowledge and understanding of both tier two and tier three vocabulary words. Vocabulary is pre-taught before pupils encounter the words in the shared texts. Teachers us a variety of strategies and skills to share the texts with children, such as ‘tracking’, ‘choral reading’, ‘partner read’ and ‘pick-up read’. A variety of question stems and question types are shared and modelled by staff until pupils are confident in answering comprehension style questions independently.

Children who need support with their fluency are supported by 1:1 reading with an adult daily, and supported by our reading ambassadors to ensure they build up their reading ‘miles’. Their progress is closely followed to ensure they make the necessary progress to enable them to enjoy and access reading at the age appropriate level.

Children who read fluently, but need support to understand what they read, are supported to build their skills. With adult help, they build their knowledge of words and the ideas that they represent, vocabulary and build the background knowledge needed to support understanding of what they read.


Regular formative and summative assessment supports staff in knowing which areas children need further development in. This informs the teachers planning the foci for their quality first teaching, and for interventions.

When children are identified as struggling with an age-appropriate expectation, extra support and intervention is put in place to help accelerate their learning. Progress is closely monitored for all pupils, including SEND pupils, to ensure they make good progress.

When a new pupil arrives from another school, they are quickly assessed (informally) to ensure that the reading books sent home are appropriate to the individual child’s level of understanding.

Promoting a love of reading

At Harbour, promoting a love of reading is a priority! Research studies have found that reading for pleasure enhances empathy, confidence and concentration. To support our children in developing their enjoyment of reading, we engage a range of strategies and ensure our children have access to a wide range of reading materials. Our reading materials are regularly updated and pupil voice is considered to ensure the materials are current, relevant and attractive to all children.

Regular Shared Reading

To promote a love of reading, staff read to children regularly in addition to the discrete reading lessons. The books are age-appropriate and read for enjoyment and also to widen our children’s knowledge and understanding of themselves and others. Alongside enjoying these stories, we also use this as an opportunity to enhance comprehension skills and vocabulary. Teachers read with enthusiasm, expression and intonation to enthuse the children. Visitors are also invited to share stories, and children may read to their peers.

Teachers aspire to be ‘influencers’, using the valuable shared reading experiences as a basis for high quality teacher-children conversations, developing skills and encouraging children to talk about books and different authors from a range of genres, cultures and aspects of life.

All classes enjoy ‘mini book club’ sessions, in which both adults and children discuss and recommend books to each other, giving our learners opportunities to expand their diet of reading.

All our staff are committed to having up-to-date subject knowledge of children’s literature, in order to select and recommend high quality books suitable for each reader. Staff engage in ‘Staff Book Club’ in ZOOM meetings, where we share knowledge and recommendations that will further our own knowledge and make staff proficient in recommending the right book to each of our children.

Each year group has a ‘book spine’, which details the main texts that year groups will be studying and sharing, giving families support in choosing age appropriate books to read at home, and maybe to share in addition to the reading at school.


To foster the love of reading, we find it vital to give the children choice in what they read. All our children access our redeveloped library, which hosts a range of quality books that immerse the children in the magic of exciting stories and fascinating information books. Time is set aside each week for the children and staff to choose their own books to read for pleasure from the huge range available.

Our library is organised in a child-friendly manner with books sorted into genres, which enables children to browse and feel inspired by books that both mirror their own lives and gives them an insight into the lives of others. Our book stock is regularly updated, with the help of our young readers.

The library is also open to our community daily after school, inviting families to come and enjoy and borrow books for reading at home. A dedicated member of staff is at hand to support and enthuse children, parent and carers to dive into the magic of books.

Reading stations and book corners

Each classroom has a book corner, where children are able to choose from high quality books, and also a reading station outside the classroom. The books in class book corners are discussed and displayed in a ‘book shop’ manner to inspire children’s book choices. The books are regularly evaluated and refreshed to maximise children’s engagement. 

The reading stations are linked to age appropriate texts, and from these staff guide children towards books that will further their reading development. The books are regularly replenished, in order to respond to pupil voice and to give the children a varied diet of reading materials that aim to foster their life-long love of reading.

Reading Ambassadors

A group of passionate Reading Ambassadors, children from KS1 and KS2, inspire reading around the school. They share their enthusiasm for reading with their peers, lead assemblies and are excellent role models to others. Among their roles are:

-reading to and with children around the school

-planning for themed days such as World book day

-contributing to the reading newsletter

 -considering the views of their year groups when selecting titles for the library and reading stations

Our ambassadors make a significant contribution to our aim of ensuring all children find life-long enjoyment in reading and books.

Reading Newsletter

Our reading newsletter is distributed to all our community, informing families about all things reading at Harbour. Children and staff contribute with book reviews and recommendations, photos from reading related activities are shared, advice for parents re reading at home and reading ambassadors contribute with reading updates, recommendations and initiating competitions and activities.


In addition to Harbour’s Reading Offer, children at Harbour will also benefit from:

1:1 Reading with an adult

Provision is made for children who need to accelerate their progress or who have fewer opportunities to read at home. These pupils receive daily 1:1 reading sessions to boost their fluency during the school day.

1:1 Reading with Volunteers

Both parents and volunteers from the local community are invited to visit the school on a regular basis to read with those who need additional support.

Early Reading Parent Workshops

Parents are invited into the Nursery, Reception and Year 1 for a bespoke reading workshop that highlights the importance of reading, how it is taught at Harbour and what parents can do to support at home. They also have the opportunity to join in a phonics lesson in their child’s class to gain a better understanding of the strategies we use.

Visits to Newhaven Library

Children across the school will have the opportunity to visit the local library for events at least once a year. Staff from the library also visit the school annually to share the Summer Reading Challenge and inspire them to take part.

Visiting Authors

Throughout their time at Harbour Primary, children will meet a range of visiting authors who inspire them to read more widely and learn about what writing a book involves from a published author’s perspective.

World Book Day

At Harbour we enjoy celebrating World Book Day as part of an especially themed week full of exciting activities that raise the profile of reading and motivate the children to be more adventurous in their selection of books. Previous Book Weeks have included:

  • Visiting authors and illustrators
  • ‘Books at Bedtime’
  • Themed dress-up day
  • Reading competitions
  • Visits to the local library
  • Book Fairs
  • Visiting theatres

 Please click on useful links:

Harbour Reading Newsletter

Book spines – main texts studied and shared in each year group