Cliftonville Primary and Pre-School is an excellent school the children are happy and thriving. The dedication and hard work from the entire school team is outstanding and clear to see. I am extremely happy with Daniel's progress since starting at the Pre-School. He seems to have made a lovely group of friends and enjoys coming in every day. I can't wait to see him progress further. Presence of Teachers and caretakers at pick up and drop off really help you feel safe. The well-being of the pupils is outstanding. They have gone above and beyond to make sure my children have felt safe at school. My child is happy to come to school, the staff are visible and approachable. It is a lovely school with a welcoming feel and a positive atmosphere. Highly visible leadership team. A feeling of pride in the school. Supportive school for both parents and children. As parents we feel really proud that our son comes to such a great school, which we knew was fabulous whether OFSTED told us or not!

How we teach reading across the school


We believe that every child has the right to learn to read and our aim is for them to also develop a love of reading too.  We promote enjoyment through the creative use of high quality texts and a range of engaging activities.  We also provide regular age appropriate book recommendations to children that encompass older, classic literature and key authors alongside introducing children to more recently published high quality children’s books.  We believe it is important that children are encouraged to read poetry and non-fiction as well as fiction and that they are able to access a diverse range of characters and stories that provide “windows” to the lives and experiences of others and “mirrors” that reflect their own (Emily Style, 1988).


Teachers aim to be reading role models in the way that they discuss and promote books as well as modelling reading for pleasure.  They make careful selections both in the texts that they choose to use in the teaching of English and in those that they read aloud to pupils.  Children are read aloud to daily for fifteen minutes as well as during an assembly once a week.  This not only allows them to encounter more demanding texts in a safe environment but also aids their vocabulary growth.  To further aid this, all children receive daily explicit instruction of challenging vocabulary (with a focus on academic “Tier 2 words”) in exciting ways that actively involve pupils.  Alongside this, pupils are taught strategies to independently deduce the meaning of new words they encounter such as through considering context cues and exploring the morphology of words which allows for direct links to be made with spelling and grammar.  Children also learn about the etymology of words and their relationships with other languages: this helps to promote curious learners, a respect for other cultures and consolidates long term learning.


In the early stages of reading, children’s phonic knowledge is systematically developed in a fun, multi-sensory approach through discrete daily phonics sessions that follow the “Letters and Sounds” programme.  Children are taught to decode the written word whilst building an understanding of comprehension alongside this, including in dedicated guided reading sessions.  They have access to a wide range of books from a number of publishers and phonics schemes as we believe children become excellent, motivated readers through being exposed to a rich range of authors and illustrators.  Children are allocated a phonetically decodable book at their current level of reading development which focuses on the group of sounds that they have just been taught in school.  Books are changed twice are week so that there are opportunities for multiple readings at school and at home to aid the development of fluency.   Children also have access to books online which are again matched to their phonics level and closely motioned by teachers.


We employ the Accelerated Reader programme for our Key Stage 2 pupils which ensures that each child is adequately supported and challenged at their appropriate level and allows them access to a wide range of genres and themes of books exposing them to various authors and writing styles reflecting our drive to broaden their horizons, experiences and aspirations.  Children are encouraged and – where necessary – supported, to become independent in their book choices and use of the school library.  The AR system enables staff to easily track and celebrate the children’s progress and success.


All pupils have opportunities for differentiated shared reading and independent reading throughout the school day alongside working together in guided groups or as a whole class on detailed explorations of whole books and shorter texts. 


We strive for every pupil to leave us with the necessary skills to access the reading and vocabulary demands of the secondary curriculum and for them to be successful communicators throughout their lives.  We believe that no child should be left behind or become a disenchanted reader so targeted interventions – both group and individual – are deployed appropriately, including using resources from PiXL and the Boosting Reading Potential scheme.  Older children who need additional support with their phonic knowledge and understanding are taught using the “Sounds Write” programme.

Early Years and Key Stage 1


Book Banding


The systematic and fast pace of our phonics teaching enables children to read words very soon after they start at Cliftonville Primary School.  Children who attend our nursery have covered some of the early phonics scheme, too, through rhymes, songs, ipad games, etc so have a real head start when they join their reception year.  Last year, we introduced a system called book banding which means lots of books from different schemes and 'real' books are colour coded by reading level.  Children are now reading a range of texts....not just books with, for example, Floppy and Chip (as lovely as they are!).  This also encourages our children to have an element of guided choice within a range of books so that they develop a love of reading based around their interests.  Teachers and teaching assistants work closely together to assess the children's progress through a process called 'benchmarking' and move them quickly and securely through the colour bands.


Our more able children will generally begin the Key Stage 2 reading programme (see below) once they are securely reading in Gold level.  We strongly believe in providing an individualised learning path based on ability and not solely a child's age or year group.




Accelerated Reader


What is Accelerated Reader (AR)?

AR is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Your child picks a book at his/her own level and reads it at his/her own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer

Passing the quiz is an indication that your child has understood what has been read.

Teachers may assist pupils by:

  • Guiding them to books appropriate to their ability and interests
  • Asking probing questions as your child reads and before quizzing
  • Pairing your child with others, reading with or reading to your child

Since they are reading books at their own reading and interest levels, most children are likely to be successful and enjoy the books and quizzes. Best of all they learn and grow at their own pace.


How can I help my child become a better reader?

As with anything, performance improves with practice. According to Renaissance Learning’s research, children who read at least 20 minutes a day with a 90% comprehension rate on AR quizzes see the greatest gains. Encourage your child to read at home, discuss books, ask questions about what they have read and visit your local library.

What is a STAR Reading test?

STAR Reading is used to determine your child’s reading level. It is a computer based reading assessment program that uses computer- adaptive technology. Questions continually adjust to your child’s responses. If the child’s response is correct, the difficulty level is increased. If the child cannot answer a question or answers incorrectly, the difficulty level is reduced. The test uses multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 10 minutes.

What is a Book Level?

Book Levels are reported using the ATOS™ readability formula and represent the difficulty of the text. The levels range from 0.5–13.5. Books are chosen based on the ZPD range recommended for each pupil by STAR Reading.

What is a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)?

ZPD is the range of books that will challenge a child without causing frustration or loss of motivation. Your child will receive a ZPD, or reading range after taking a STAR Reading test. It is important for children to read with a high degree of comprehension and within his/her ZPD.

What are points?

Every book that has an AR Reading Practice Quiz is given a points value. AR points are based on the length of the book (number of words). Pupils earn a percentage of points according to how well they pass the quiz.

What is Interest Level?

The Interest level indicates for which age group a book is appropriate, based on the content and themes. These are recommendations only and teachers and parents are recommended to use their best judgement when guiding pupils.