At Ark Victoria, we believe that reading is the greatest gift.  Reading has an enduring power to shape and develop minds within and beyond the classroom.   
We strive to provide children with the tools they need to become confident, fluent readers whose passion for reading encourages them to read widely for enjoyment and to further their learning. 

Our Reading Curriculum

Text Selection

Our reading curriculum is underpinned by careful text selection to ensure that it is:

Balanced Diverse Representative Coherent
Exposing pupils to a range of genres and authors encourages them to read more widely of their own volition.  Where appropriate, texts are chosen to align with other areas of the curriculum, such as history and geography, so that background knowledge and vocabulary can facilitate the comprehension of challenging texts.  Pupils read texts which offer opportunities to engage with a diverse range of perspectives, cultures and settings 
(both familiar and unfamiliar to them).  This encourages pupils to become respectful, curious and to develop a strong moral purpose. 
Our text selection reflects our school community, offering up a mirror to pupils whereby they can see themselves represented by both characters and authors of texts that are studied.  Coherent text selection facilitates progress by considering various measures of difficulty including Lexile levels, complexity of plot or narrator and non-linear time sequences. 


The Five Pillars of Reading 

Our teaching of reading is informed by expertise across reading’s 5 pillars. 

Phonic Awareness Phonemic awareness, the ability to hear and manipulate phonemes (sounds) within words, is the basis of reading and pupils begin their instruction in this in the Early Years.  Phonemic awareness is taught through language songs and games and other activities that encourage pupils to listen for the sounds within words.  Children learn to segment and blend orally so that they are prepared for phonics instruction.   
Phonics Pupils in Reception and Key Stage 1 are taught phonics through the rigorous and structured Read Write Inc (RWI) programme.  
Teachers support children in learning to connect phonemes to the graphemes (letter(s)) that represent them. Children are taught to recognise these correspondences until they become automatic.  Pupils blend learnt phonemes to decode words as well as learning to recognise and read common exception words by sight. They apply these skills to read texts within their phonic knowledge. Children read the same text over the course of a week to ensure that they develop comprehension alongside decoding. 

Our approach to phonics: 

  • teaches children to decode effectively
  • ensures children read fiction and non-fiction books matched to their growing phonics knowledge
  • assesses children regularly to track progress
  • ensures that pupils are able to decode fluently so they can devote their cognitive resources to comprehension
Fluency Fluent reading (reading text aloud with accuracy, speed and appropriate expression) supports pupils to bridge the gap between decoding and comprehension.  The following signature strategies are used to support pupils in developing fluency: 

Vocabulary which might disrupt fluent reading (for example, multi-syllabic words, words with complex phoneme-grapheme correspondences, technical vocabulary) is identified by the teacher and rehearsed prior to reading in the context of the text. 

Pupils rehearse reading identified words quickly and accurately, receiving feedback from a peer.

Pupils rehearse decoding the extract of text.  They initially focus upon their accuracy and rate.  Once this is secure, they develop an expressive read which reflects their deepening understanding.  Peer feedback alongside feedback from the teacher supports increasing fluency

Vocabulary There is a reciprocal relationship between the extent of a child’s vocabulary (knowledge of word meanings) and their language comprehension. Explicit vocabulary instruction ensures that pupils are taught the meaning of new words and strategies for understanding the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary in context. This develops their vocabulary breadth and depth. Vocabulary which is particularly useful for pupils because of its frequency of usage in academic writing is prioritised for study.  

Using the ‘6-step’ model, pupils are taught the meaning of vocabulary. The word to be learnt is contextualised in sentences and children are exposed to the word multiple times. Pupils will then actively use the word, either in speech or writing.

‘Inside, Outside, Beyond’ is a strategy pupils learn to independently apply to understand unfamiliar vocabulary in context. Pupils look inside the word to identify structural clues 

like roots and affixes.  They look at contextual clues outside the word including understanding garnered from the rest of the extract.  They look beyond the word, for example, by drawing upon background knowledge. Having identified the meaning of the word, they substitute this meaning back into the text to check that it makes sense. 

Teachers consistently model high standards of language throughout the school day so that pupils are incidentally and implicitly exposed to new vocabulary. 

Comprehension Pupils are taught to thoughtfully interact with and interpret text so that they comprehend effectively. Teachers model comprehension strategies to pupils and lead them in guided practice. Pupils then become adept at using these strategies independently. These strategies include: question-asking, monitoring, summarising, predicting and visualising. Alongside these comprehension strategies, pupils practise skills such as retrieval and sequencing using toolkits to guide them.   

In both primary and secondary phase, pupils are trained in the use of annotation as a means to develop comprehension of a text. Through ‘Guided Annotation’ of text, pupils learn how the teacher approaches difficult barriers to comprehension and are given opportunities to practice using these strategies themselves before using them independently. 


Home Readers
Pupils in Early Years and Key Stage 1 take home a Read Write Inc. Book Bag Book each week.  These texts are phonically matched (the letter-sound correspondences in the book match those that the child has learnt in school).  This supports pupils to practise applying phonics knowledge they have learnt and encourages them to develop a love of reading.   
Ark Victoria Secondary opened a new library in September 2022 and introduced a library lesson for all pupils in Key Stage 3. Reading at home is homework for all Key Stage 3 pupils and completion of this is monitored through Accelerated Reader. 
Elsewhere, a range of books from other reading schemes such as Oxford Reading Tree are matched to children’s reading attainment, providing pupils with enjoyable opportunities to read independently at home.   
Pupils in Key Stage 2 use Accelerated Reader to select reading for pleasure books pitched at an appropriate level and to complete quizzes to assess their comprehension. Key Stage 2 pupils are also able to use their devices to access texts on SPArk.
Secondary pupils also record their reading on Accelerated Reader. This is monitored by their library teacher. The pupil in each class who has read the most words on Accelerated Reader receives a free book of their own from a special book vending machine in the library.
Parents are able to access video guides via the academy website to support them in reading with their child at home. Parent reading workshops are also held to provide additional guidance. Parents are encouraged to read regularly with their child at home and sign a reading journal to reflect this engagement.


Access to the Curriculum

We believe in the strength of our reading curriculum and therefore ensure that appropriate support is in place to enable all pupils to access it.

Immersive Reader is a text-to-speech tool built into many Microsoft Office apps which are used in school. It is used within and beyond lessons to support pupils in overcoming the barrier of decoding so that they can access texts and focus their cognitive resources upon comprehension. InPrint is another tool used to support access to text by pairing words with symbols to improve decoding and comprehension.


Reading for Pleasure

At Ark Victoria, we understand the transformational impact of reading for pleasure.

Reading widely and often for pleasure transforms lives. We encourage all our pupils to develop a love of reading, putting reading at the heart of everything that we do.

Daily story-time instils a love of reading in pupils and allows them to hear staff modelling good reading behaviours. Every classroom has a book corner with a range of quality texts to inspire and excite. These are regularly updated to reflect current children’s literature. Immersive reading areas across the school invite children to relax with a good book.

Pupils who have shown a great enthusiasm for reading are celebrated during assemblies; the ‘book vending machine’ and ‘reading shed’ also reward pupils who show an impressive commitment to reading. Pupils also regularly visit our library to browse for exciting books to read.

Staff model their passion for reading, facilitating ‘book talk’ where staff and pupils enjoy discussing books that they have read. Members of staff champion children’s literature and our primary staff book club helps staff to keep abreast of current literature so they can recommend an increasingly wide range of books and authors to children.

Parents can keep up to date with the latest reading news from the academy via our Twitter page and the academy newsletter.


Reading Interventions

Children who are reading below their chronological age are identified for appropriate interventions to support them to make accelerated progress.

Phonics Pupils identified as requiring additional phonics support receive this on a daily basis as a combination of 1:1 and small group interventions led by staff specially trained in Read Write Inc.

Pupils in secondary phase who require phonics intervention work on the Fresh Start Phonics programme. This programme is designed to catch older struggling readers up quickly with a combination of phonics and reading pitched to the interests of older readers.

Fluency Heads of Year deliver twice weekly fluency interventions to pupils for whom fluent reading acts as a barrier to their comprehension.
Lexia Lexia Core5 is an adaptive learning program used to accelerate the development of literacy skills for pupils reading behind their chronological age. Pupils taking part in Lexia interventions complete 3 sessions per week.

Lexia PowerUp is used in secondary phase for pupils who are more than 1.5 years behind their chronological age. Interventions take place after school for each year group from Years 7-10 and Key Stage 3 pupils have intervention during their library session as well. This allows their allocated intervention teacher to deliver instruction using Lexia materials where appropriate.

All pupils on Lexia intervention in secondary phase are expected to complete Lexia at home on their devices as well to ensure that they meet our target of 90 minutes per week.

Reading Progress Pupils in Key Stage 3 who have been identified as requiring interventions supplement their work on Lexia PowerUp with additional homework on Microsoft Teams Reading Progress. Reading Progress is a tool on MS Teams that allows teachers to set reading assignments. Pupils record their voice reading a text set by the teacher.

Their fluency and accuracy can then be assessed by a combination of software and teacher assessment.

At Ark Victoria, we have recognised that this offers an opportunity to enhance curriculum understanding so all selected texts are derived from an area of curriculum study.



At Ark Victoria Academy, assessment supports us to know our children as readers and to ensure all pupils make excellent progress. Alongside statutory assessments, we use the following:

NGRT All pupils in year 2 and above complete NGRT assessments to measure reading age. Leaders and teachers use this assessment information to identify pupils reading below their chronological age who require further assessment. They also use this information to identify strengths and areas for development within pupils’ reading.

Pupils who are below their chronological age in Autumn are retested in Spring term to assess how effective their interventions are.

PM Benchmark All pupils in year 1 are assessed using PM Benchmark. Pupils from year 2 and above who are reading below their chronological age are assessed using PM Benchmark. This allows leaders and teachers to identify pupils requiring intervention to support them to catch up. Alongside other assessment data, it also allows staff to ensure pupils have an accurately pitched home reader.
YARC YARC assessments are used for pupils whose reading is below PM Benchmark level 1. They assess a child’s phonological skills, alphabetic knowledge and word reading.
RWI Assessments Read Write Inc. phonics assessments allow teachers to assess the phonics knowledge that children have. Pupils in Early Years and Key Stage 1 are then grouped accordingly so that they can benefit from targeted teaching alongside pupils with similar phonics knowledge. Pupils in Key Stage 2 who receive phonics interventions have their progress tracked using these assessments.
HeadStart HeadStart reading comprehension scaled score tests are used in Key Stage 1 and 2 to measure progress and attainment against curriculum objectives.

Please click here to read our approach to reading across the academy:  Approach to Reading.pdf