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Reading at Hiltingbury 

At Hiltingbury Infant School, we are determined that every child will learn to read. We recognise the importance of children learning to read fluently; as inevitably, fluent readers will learn more because they can gain more knowledge for themselves and access the curriculum easily. Reading underpins our whole school curriculum, as a core life skill, that will enable our children to flourish. Reading a wide range of texts for pleasure enables our children to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Our rigorous approach to the teaching of reading develops our children’s confidence and enjoyment in reading; thus, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to succeed in life.

Characteristics of a Hiltingbury Reader:

For each of our children to become good readers, they should have opportunities to develop and use:

  • Excellent phonic knowledge and skills
  • Fluency and accuracy in reading across a wide range of contexts throughout the curriculum
  • Knowledge of an extensive and rich vocabulary
  • An excellent comprehension (understanding) of texts
  • The motivation to read for both study and pleasure
  • Extensive knowledge through having read a rich and varied range of texts

Reading has two components:

  • Word recognition (decoding) - The ability to recognise words presented in and out of context. The ability to apply phonic rules – blending phonemes to decode (c-a-t).
  • Comprehension - The process by which word information, sentences and discourse are interpreted. The same processes underlie comprehension of both oral and written language. This continues to develop throughout life.


We follow the Little Wandle programme. The Little Wandle programme is devised into phases and is taught on a daily basis. Children start phonics straight away when they start in Reception. We have devised a phonics glossary to support you as parents in using the terminology at home with your child when reading, sharing and discussing books. We also use cued articulation which is a system that shows where and how the sounds are made within the mouth. You can find the video which demonstrates this by clicking here: Cued Articulation Video

Love of Reading

Alongside our systematic teaching of phonics, we also instil a love of reading. This is developed through the sharing of high-quality texts which are carefully mapped out across the school. This enables us to develop children’s cultural capital. We do this through talking about texts, making connections with children’s experiences and broadening children’s horizons through the use of carefully chosen high quality texts.

Phonics Matched Books

In following a systematic approach to teaching phonics, we then transfer this by exposing children to books which match their phonic level. Reading books are graded by difficulty of reading level, depending on the phonics level of your child. Please encourage your child to re-read their book; as reading familiar text develops their fluency and confidence. You may notice periods of growth followed by periods of consolidation when their progress seems to pause for a while.  Although the periods where you don’t see rapid progress may be worrying, this is common. This time is important as your child develops confidence in using and applying their newly acquired skills. If you are ever worried about your child’s progress, please talk to their class teacher.

High Frequency and Common Exception Words (Tricky Words)

High Frequency words are quite simply those words which occur most frequently in texts. They are often words that have little meaning on their own, but they do contribute a great deal to the meaning of a sentence. Some of the high frequency words can be sounded out using basic phonic rules e.g., ‘it’ is an easy to read word using phonics. However, many of the high frequency words are not phonetically regular and are therefore hard to read in the early stages. These words are called ‘tricky words’ in the Early Years Foundation Stage and ‘common exception words’ in key stage one. You can find a copy of the tricky words and common exception words below to support your child at home. Learning to read these words quickly by sight will greatly support your child’s fluency when reading and allow them to focus on the comprehension elements of reading. We have also developed a set of word mats to enable children to practise reading by sight the high frequency and common exception words commonly found in the different coloured book banded books.  These word mats cover the coloured bands from pink to purple books. It is expected that by the time children read purple banded books, they will be fluent in reading these words by sight.

Phonics Documents

Reading Comprehension (Understanding) Documents

Word Recognition - Fluency