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Chalkwell Hall

Infant School



Lifelong Literacy skills - Pupils will develop accuracy and fluency in the key skills of reading, writing and speaking and listening that can be applied to all areas of the curriculum, and provide the foundations for education and beyond.
Verbal communication - There will be a focus on nurturing and developing children’s speaking and listening skills so that pupils will be able to express themselves clearly, effectively and confidently in a variety of contexts throughout their education and beyond.
Creativity, enjoyment and enthusiasm - We will provide opportunities for our children to develop a love of literature through a wide range of vocabulary rich texts that pique their imagination and creativity. Children will understand the power of the written word and be eager to write for meaningful contexts.



At Chalkwell Hall Infant School we aim to foster a love of reading within our children. We encourage them to read both for pleasure and in order to gain information. Reading is promoted across the curriculum and occurs all of the time. All pupils are taught the skills and strategies to read and comprehend a variety of texts including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays. They are encouraged to read with confidence, fluency and understanding. Every class has story time during the school day to foster a love of the world of books and to allow for quality discussions about texts. Integral to everything we do, is ensuring that we provide an environment where children see the true value of reading and develop a love for the written word. Our shared library with the Junior School is key to this. Our library stocks a fantastic selection of themed fiction and non-fiction to entice children of all ages. School book fairs, competitions, visiting storytellers and celebrating World Book Day are just a few of the other ways we encourage children to become excited about reading! As you move around our school, you can see that reading is held in high regard. After all, reading is the foundation for learning.


How we teach reading

Children at Chalkwell Hall Infant School learn to read by being taught a combination of systematic synthetic phonics which they use to blend and segment words, and sight recognition of high frequency words. Alongside this we have adopted our own method of teaching comprehension skills called ‘Active Read’. Children read with an adult at least fortnightly and are encouraged to read regularly at home.



We use the Read Write Inc. scheme as the basis of our phonic teaching. Phonic lessons occur daily and are carefully planned to ensure progression. Children interact with a puppet, ‘Fred the Frog’, who supports them to segment and blend words. As children move into Year 2, phonics sessions are more spelling based.


Reading Schemes

We use a colour banded system of reading books so that we can closely match a child to  the correct reading material. Children move through the colour bands which are arranged in progressive steps to ensure sustained progress. We encourage the development of a wide-ranging set of reading skills within each colour band.


-We use a range of schemes such as Collins Big Cat, Read, Write Inc., Oxford Reading Tree and Bug Club
-The children choose their own books from sharing boxes in classrooms, the banded selection of books from our colour boxes and from the library, ensuring they take ownership of their own reading. They know how to choose a book to match their interests and how to treat books with care and respect
-We encourage reading at home and welcome parental feedback on their child’s reading using the Communication and Reading Record book
-All children have access to Bug Club, an online ebook resource. Teachers set colour banded reading material for each child. New reading material is allocated regularly.



Active Read and Active Story

We use a whole class approach called ‘Active Read’ to teach children comprehension skills and practice reading strategies in order for them to become accomplished readers. Children are exposed to a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts at or above their independent reading level. In EYFS ‘Active Story’ sessions encourage children to engage with a shared text through opportunities to role play, use small world and story sacks related to these texts. In KS1 ‘Active Read,’ children engage with a text through teacher modelling, choral reading and paired reading opportunities. There is also opportunity for role play, drama, writing, speaking, listening and creative activities. In both Active Read and Active Story, teachers will develop comprehension skills through planned questions using the VIPERS questions stems (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Sequencing/Summarising). Each session will have a focus on developing a specific comprehension skill. Children are able to share and discuss texts with their peers and discover what they enjoy as developing readers.


Group Reading and 1:1 reading

We ensure we read with children as often as possible, with the expectation that every child is heard by an adult at least fortnightly. This can take the form of quality 1:1 sessions with adults in the school as well as regular volunteers, or in the form of group reading sessions. In group or 1:1 reading, children will read a colour banded book appropriate to their developing phonological awareness. Reading is always a very positive experience where children are taught, supported and encouraged to use different reading strategies to understand a text. During a group read, children will read their text at their own pace and the teacher will listen to each individual reader.


Quality Storytimes

Every day, children will engage with a quality storytime session from a selection of high quality literature. We believe that it important to expose children to a wide range of rich language, stories and experiences through the books that we share together, as well as to promote reading for pleasure. Each year group has a reading list to ensure children experience a wide range of quality authors and text types; this also encourages children to further explore texts to discover their own reading likes and dislikes. During storytime sessions, children engage through shared discussions about a text with teachers facilitating the conversation through careful questioning. Children are actively encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions about the text they are reading with their peers.



We promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with a strong command of the spoken and written word and foster an environment where children are enthusiastic about writing. From the moment children enter our school, they are provided with the stepping stones and opportunities in order to become confident writers. Our Alan Peat approach to fiction and non-fiction writing is crucial to developing confidence with writing different text types successfully and consistently. Children are encouraged to write using their knowledge of phonics to spell words independently. Whilst ensuring that our children’s creativity is nurtured, children are taught how to write clearly and effectively for a variety of purposes and audiences, applying their handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammatical skills. GPS (grammar, punctuation and spelling) skills are an integral part of our English lessons and writing across the curriculum.


Speaking and listening

Children are given frequent opportunities to develop their speaking and listening skills across the curriculum. In early years and year 1, each class has a role-play area where children enjoy developing their social skills and imagination and drama is planned into our lessons regularly. Our whole-school approach of learning partners is crucial to ensuring that all children have an opportunity to discuss their thoughts and ideas and respond appropriately to others. At Chalkwell Hall Infants, we strongly believe that talk is invaluable in moving learning forward through verbalising of ideas before writing and using discussion to identify areas for improvement within their work. Our aim is to ensure that all of our children show competence and confidence when speaking in front of others.



We teach our children to form their letters using a cursive script. As a school we teach cursive writing because it is important to develop a handwriting style that is clear and legible and can be written with fluency.

The benefits of cursive writing are as follows:

-It helps children’s writing to be clear, fluent, legible and fast.
-Having a lead in and out stroke avoids confusion about where to begin letter formation.
-The pencil does not often need to be lifted from the page – this reinforces phonic and spelling patterns


During phonics lessons, we show the children the letter shapes in both print and cursive, and we model correct formation. Click here to find out more about cursive  handwriting.