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Our Curriculum

Our aim at Jesse Gray is to make every child a reader.

Reading for pleasure is at the heart of our Reading Curriculum and we pride ourselves on being reading teachers. We know that a teacher with a rich, up to date understanding of children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction, is far more skilled at recommending the right book to the right child.

We ensure that all children love reading by taking the time to know them as people and as readers. By marrying their interests with their reading level, we are able to select the best book for them and we know that it only takes one book to hook a child into becoming a reader. We are strong believers that there is no such thing as a reluctant reader, only a child who has not yet found the right book.

Our joint mission is to ensure every child finds that book.

Every class has a class book which is read by the teacher to help foster a love for reading and to also model the skills of intonation and tone through effective reading aloud. We hold regular book World Cups which allow the children to select their next class text and have ownership over it. We ensure that ‘book blether’ is part of our curriculum by making time to chat about books and give peer to peer recommendations.

To ensure our children have the best diet possible when it comes to reading, our talented librarians, children in Year 6, help the subject leader to select the texts that they believe should adorn our shelves. This, paired with our teachers’ well established knowledge of rich texts, has ensured that we have invested in the best texts to fill our library and classroom bookshelves. 

Our children’s reading journey begins in Foundation Stage 2, where the enjoyment of texts is the heart of the curriculum. They begin their love of reading through a wide variety of new books that have been carefully selected to engage and inspire them.

All children begin with frequent 1:1 reading sessions with their teacher who is able to gain a thorough assessment of them. Story sacks are used as homework and are filled with props that inspire rich book talk. This moves on to structured Guided Reading sessions facilitated by our Foundation Stage teachers and highly skilled Teaching Assistants, where groups of children are explicitly taught how to decode and how express their understanding.

Key Stage One continues with Guided Reading, where the emphasis is not just on decoding but those crucial comprehension skills. By teaching reading in small groups, the teacher is able to make a thorough assessment of each child and can ensure that any gaps, when it comes to phonics and decoding, can be plugged if necessary.

To support this at home, children are given a phonics phase book (linked to the phonics phase they are on) and a reading for pleasure book that we encourage them to read with their family. These are changed weekly.

In the summer term of Year 2, we change our methodology. Rather than teaching reading skills through Guided Reading, we teach them through Whole Class Reading. This methodology has been chosen following research carried out by the subject lead and a trial which found that it raised standards across school. By teaching in a whole class forum, all children have access to the richness of talk from all of their peers, therefore improving their depth of understanding and ensuring that there is no glass ceiling to their progress. We teach the skills that they need, based on our progression map, and adapt our teaching based on the assessments we make. Children are then set differentiated tasks that they select based on our Challenge by Choice methodology.

Our reading lessons enthuse and challenge our children through the rich texts that we use. These texts are bespoke to Jesse Gray and have been selected by us to ensure effective progression in terms of text type, variety and text length. Our Reading Spine has been developed by the subject leader, alongside the year group specialists, to ensure variety and progression, as well as access to different cultures and backgrounds linking to our SMSC curriculum.

The children are all assessed formatively using our OTrack system to ensure all children are achieving our objectives. We use termly summative assessments (STAR reading assessments) to ensure all children are on track and use these to confirm our teacher assessments. The subject leader can then see whole school trends and base future CPD needs on this.

We use Accelerated Reader and each child knows their own ZPD (an accurate reading level) they use this to independently select their own texts from our Accelerated Reader library. Once they finish reading their chosen text they take the accelerated reader quiz. Teachers can see how well they do on these quizzes and use this data to help them select the next best text for them. Please see the Accelerated Reader part of our website for more details.

The subject leader ensures that all staff are up to date on the best new books, and the best new research, when it comes to texts and reading pedagogy. Every teacher has had high quality CPD, delivered by the subject lead, through team teaching, where we have focussed on how to engage the children with texts and how to explicitly teach inference skills. Learning walks take place, alongside planning and book scrutiny to ensure that the children are receiving top quality education.

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum at Jesse Gray. Not only do we want all our children to be functioning readers who can access the whole curriculum, we also want them to love reading and become readers for life.  

For 3 to 5 yrs: Read and write together

Learning to read

Children learn a lot about reading long before they go to school. They learn from the world around them from seeing labels and notices in the supermarket, or road signs. They are interested in print.

Children are natural learners. As parents, you don't have to teach them. The most important thing you can do is to let them see that you enjoy learning. If they see you reading, they will want to copy you. 

Phonics are important

When children learn to read they have to learn to listen to the separate sounds of words. Then they learn that the sounds of words are made with letters. Next they start to work out which letter or letters stand for which sound. This is phonics. Its a very important part of reading. At Jesse Gray we follow Monster Phonics.

Reading more than phonics

But reading is much more than just matching letters and sounds. When you read a story together, your child will be finding out about how stories work. When children start to read themselves, they will use their own experience to understand what they read.

They will be able to guess which word would make sense. They will begin to learn that in English, print goes from left to right.

Sharing rhymes

Children love rhymes. You may have heard your child making up nonsense rhymes. Learning nursery rhymes will help your child to notice the separate sounds in words. This will help with reading later on.

Play rhyming games with your child. Make up your own to go with the everyday things you do, This is the way we brush our teeth. Make silly rhymes for your child's name, Bing Bang Bolly, your name's Olly.

You can find out more hint and tips on how to help your young child by going to the Basic Skills Agency.

Sharing books

Books are fun and can help your child learn lots of new skills and new words. Don’t just save them for bedtime. Take books out with you to the shops and on journeys and make time to share stories and sing songs and rhymes during the day.

Here are a few ideas on how to share books with your toddler:

  • Choose a quiet place so there are no distractions from TV and radio. 
  • Sit the child on your knee or beside you and share the book. 
  • Choose a book which you like the look of and which you’ll enjoy reading. 
  • A book which you find boring will also bore your child. 
  • You may feel nervous or silly reading aloud, but remember your child is no critic. It's spending time together with a book that counts and the more you practice, the better you'll become. 
  • First look at the front of the book and say the title. Even at this early age, your child will learn how books work that you start at the front and have to turn the pages for the story to keep on going. They may want to hold the book and turn the pages themselves. 
  • When you talk to your child about what's going on in a book, give them time to respond. And don't only ask questions to which the answer is either yes or no. 
  • Point to the pictures and relate them to something your child knows. If there's a picture of a dog, talk about a dog that you know. Your child will soon learn to do this too and this helps your child build up a stock of familiar words. 
  • Follow the words with your finger. You are not teaching your toddler to read but they will begin to understand that those black squiggly things are important because they are telling the story. 

Most of all enjoy yourself. Sharing books is great fun and it's the ideal opportunity to share a cuddle at the same time. 

For 5 to 7 years: A little reading goes a long way


Between the ages of four and seven years old, most children learn to read. Even when they can read, you should still try to read to them as often as possible. Sharing stories with a grown-up will teach them new words and encourage them to become better readers.

Children develop their reading skills in different ways. Some may want to get every word exactly right while other children will race to the end of a story. Other children may read hesitantly. Try to respond to your child's needs and let them read at their own pace.

If they get stuck, encourage them to use all the available information and everything they know to make a guess. They should look at the pictures and remember what has happened in the story. Their ability to predict and guess accurately will gradually improve.

You can also help by doing the following:   

Make the most of books your child brings home from school. Read them, or parts of them, yourself and talk about them with your child.  

Check your child is really following what they're reading by asking them to tell you the story in their own words - who's it about? What happens?  

Allow your child to re-read favourite and familiar stories, or to hear you re-read them. Knowing a familiar book will help them notice more about the words on the page and they will start to recognise the patterns in new words and stories.  

Listen to stories learned by heart and encourage your child to re-tell them in their own words, or even act them out. Encourage this.  

Buy books as presents instead of toys.  

Set up a special place for books from the library or their own books. 


Some more ideas to help your child to read when you haven't got a book. 

At breakfast time. Look at the words on cereal packets, milk and fruit juice cartons. Get them to see how many words they can make out of the letters. 

Going to the shops.  Some shops still have a sign over the door that says what they sell. Can your child put the words together with what's in the window (hairdressers, shoes, and so on)? 

Look in the papers.  If your child recognises a famous face (e.g. a footballer or a TV star) it will make them want to try to read the story.  


In the streets.  You'll see advertising posters and place names.  


In the shops.  Your child can help you find things in the supermarket by reading out what's in the aisles.  


Videos.  Video boxes usually tell you the story. Get your child to read what's on the box as well as just watching the film.  


On a bus or train trip.  Place names on the front of the bus or train, posters on the bus or tube. Even the ticket is worth reading to a child. 


Look at holiday brochures together.  Help your child read about other places.  


Unpacking the shopping.  Your child can read the words on your groceries while helping you put things away.  


Some CDs and tapes have song words printed on them.  Your child will probably find it easier to follow words if they hear them at the same time.