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At Burnley Road Academy, we believe that reading is an essential life skill, and do our best to ensure pupils are given the greatest opportunities to develop this, in the hope that they will become life-long readers, who read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure, with the skill set necessary to tackle everyday situations that rely on reading. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.

We also develop our school values by encouraging pupils to have the courage and perseverance to have a go, to challenge themselves and keep trying, even when it is difficult, and they make mistakes. Our pupils show compassion and teamwork when working with partners and buddies or reading aloud in class. Compassion is further developed through carefully chosen texts.

We believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. Therefore, we have chosen to teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Nursery/Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school. We also have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.

From the start of school life, Burnley Road Academy aims to broaden pupils' experience of books, both fiction and non-fiction. This continues as our children progress through the school. As their reading skills develop, we teach pupils to consider the language and meaning of text. This change in reading from a surface approach (gathering information) to a deeper approach (understanding and interpreting) is essential to gain the most out of texts. Reading becomes not simply a way to see what is written, but to recognise and interpret what is said, considering subtleties such as bias, assumptions, and the perspectives of the author.

Burnley Road Academy:

  • Understands how a strong grounding in reading will impact the future learning and development of a pupil in all subjects and prepare them for life in modern society.
  • Provides a broad and balanced curriculum, which includes fluency in the use of phonics, reading practice, widening vocabulary, reading for different purposes, reading a variety of genres, as well as focussing on standard and non-standard pronunciation.
  • Ensures that all teachers are aware of teaching, learning and assessment requirements for the development of reading.
  • Develops children’s reading stamina, so that children can read for longer periods of time, appropriate to their age, and across a range of genres.


Early Reading is taught using the validated scheme 'Little Wandle'. Children take part in daily phonics lessons, then read books (matched to their phonic learning stage) three times within the week, before taking them home to celebrate a successful fourth read with their parents. Interventions are quickly put in place for children that need extra support. When children have successfully learned to decode they move on to our next main scheme, 'Oxford Reading Tree'. We have a good range of supplementary books that run alongside this. Children read these books with adults in class and at home. All children take library books home to share with their families and read for pleasure. 

Guided reading takes place weekly covering a broad range of genres. Comprehension skills are taught explicitly using a system called VIPERS - a series of question types that focus on different aspects of comprehension (see further information below). Reading for pleasure is seen as an essential part of learning to read well, so adults regularly read a variety of high quality books to their classes (see the Repeated Texts section below).   


Our reading results are usually in line with national standards at Ks1 and Ks2.  Phonics results are also in line with national. Our school effectiveness recently monitored early reading for children in Years 1,2 and 3. She found that “all the pupils involved said they enjoy books, they smiled with enthusiasm and talked positively about reading. Pupils readily talked about what they had been reading and they were able to use cues to predict what might happen in the books. Pupils can recall what they have read. The pupils are developing their comprehension skills and they talk about motives and feelings of characters.”



Cultural Capital in Reading

‘It is the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’

Ofsted School Inspection Handbook 2019

We ensure children have access to lots of lovely library books in our two 'free reader' libraries as well as classroom reading areas. The libraries include a wide of variety of fiction books written by well known authors, a good selection of non-fiction texts and some great poetry books. 

Guided Reading incorporates fiction and non-fiction and a broad range of genres, including amongst others, traditional tales, fables, biographies and classic children's poetry.

Our Reading Progress Spine

Each child is given a book to read from our reading scheme library. In Reception and Year 1 and those children still developing their phonic skills read books matched to their secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids.
Children then begin the colour banded reading books, starting with green. Because of the variety of books in our reading library, including Oxford Reading Tree, Tree Tops, Project X and Reading Planet, we follow a colour coded banding system adapted from other well-known schemes. The bandings enable the children to understand which level they are on it and gives them the knowledge of where to aspire to as their reading improves...silver band!




reading  vipers

VIPERS question stems

It would be excellent if, as parents, you could also refer to these VIPERS regularly when you are listening to your child read at home. VIPERS questions can be applied to any text that a child is reading as well as with pictures, picture books and films! When any adult is listening to a child read, all they have to do is think of questions about the book, picture or film that cover some of the VIPERS and there are some great examples of how you can create your own questions using the following question openers. If you have any questions or are struggling with this, please contact your child’s class teacher and they will provide some additional support materials to use at home.

Repeated texts

What are Vipers?
(Based on materials from The Literacy Shed)
VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the UK’s reading curriculum. They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts. At Burnley Road Academy we use VIPERS to help support our pupils to understand what a good reader looks like and how to approach answering reading questions. All children work on VIPERS during class reading whether this is reading as a class, in a small group or one to one with an adult.

VIPERS stands for:
Sequence (KS1) or Summarise (KS2)

The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc.  As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions.  They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning afterwards.

QUESTIONS STEMS 1questions stems 2

Our Libraries and reading areas

We are very fortunate to have two ‘free reader’ libraries that are attractive and child friendly. These are made up of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction books for children to choose. In our downstairs library, fiction books are arranged by author or genre and non-fiction books are divided into subject areas. We also have an array of beautiful picture books to borrow. Children are given the chance to choose from the libraries. Our main library has also included an ‘Author of the month’ display where we highlight an Author of a children’s book, someone they may or may not already know, and it includes a fact file about the Author as well as some of their books. We currently have our 'Kenneth Kaberry Award' books on display and have previously had books chosen by staff. Each classroom has a reading area which the children and class teacher's have ownership of. Each class have recently chosen books for our outdoor reading shed which they can access during play times. 

New additions to our library!

Every year Hebden Royd Town Council award local schools £100 for books. It comes from the legacy of Kenneth Kaberry, a former long standing town clerk from 1936 – 1986, who was also an avid reader. The School Council have chosen a selection of books to add to our library using money from the Kenneth Kaberry award. We are so excited to read them! We chose books written by some of our favourite authors including Roald Dahl, J.K Rowling and David Walliams. 


World Book Day competition! Decorate a potato as a book character.

We invited the children to decorate a potato as a character from a book. We had some fantastic entries including the tiger and Lucy from 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea', Jolly Olly Octopus, Where's Wally?, The BFG, Elmer the elephant, Hedwig and Draco from Harry Potter, Gangster Granny, SpiderMan, Aliens in Underpants, Supertato and the dragon from Room on the Broom. 
Our School Council chose the winners and they were given an Amazon voucher. Happy spending!


Book Assemblies

Regulary in asssembly, we introduce a new book or text type to all our children. These books vary in age groups and genres, fiction and non-fiction. We try to pick an appropriate book for the theme of the assemblies for the week and have found all the children enjoy listening to the stories told.

Below are some examples of books read. Ask your child which book was read this week.


We are looking forward to some virtual author visits this year too!

virtual author

Author Visits

There is nothing more inspiring than having an actual published author visit school and work with pupils. That is why (prior to the pandemic) we were dedicated to regularly inviting authors to come into school and encourage, entertain and enthuse our pupils through assemblies and workshops. Since the pandemic we have taken part in online meet the author sessions to engage and motivate our children with reading. Authors include Jacqueline Wilson, Jo Empson, Michael Rosen, Kwame Alexander, Catherine Johnson, Daniel Morden, Neal Layton, Jeff Kinney and Nick Sharratt.

We try to book a range of authors and have found these visits have led to pupils reading more and, for some, it has been a inspiration to become an author.

Teachers also try to conect with authors who are doing live talks over the internet.

Visiting authors have included poet Paul Cookson, Dr Who writer Mark Wright, sports writer Tom Palmer, poet Craig Bradley and live broadcasts from Cressida Cowell, author of 'How To Train Your Dragon.'

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