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Kingsbury Primary School
As a School we learn. As a family we grow.

Our Reading Experience

The children in our school learn in many different ways and are at many different stages of development, that being said there is a continuum of skills that are taught throughout the school. ‘The Kingsbury Way’ allows us to follow the needs of our children, children have Individual Personal Learning Outcomes, that are completely individual to them that are based upon their Educational Health Care Plan, these targets are mini steps for children in our school to be as independent as they can possibly be in their future. Alongside the children's Personal Learning Outcomes, we offer an engaging and language rich environment to promote reading and a love of learning. 

Reading may look very different in our school than to what you may expect, our school’s continuum of skill develops reading from its earliest level of communication and language to more formal subject specific teaching when the child is ready to do so. The children in our school learn best in a multi-sensory play-based environment. Even children who are able to access more subject specific learning will learn in a semi-formal way through play and encouragement to generalise their skills in real life situations. Reading and shared reading helps us to create connections and relationships in the real world. Most of all we want our children to enjoy listening to and reading stories but most of all have fun!

Our Skill Continuum 

What does reading look like at Kingsbury? 

Systematic Synthetic Phonics

At Kingsbury School our children are all unique and individual. All our children learn in different ways and at different rates. In Kingsbury our focus is the development of functional skills to ensure that children reach their full potential and become as independent as possible in the future. Part of being a functional independent adult in society is to recognise and read words and symbols in the environment. We are ambitious about developing the children’s reading skills, writing skills and communication and believe there is no limit to the children’s possibilities and potential. 

It is well known that the teaching of synthetic and systematic phonics is proven to be the best, fastest and most effective way to teach children how to read and decode unfamiliar words to be fluent readers. However, at Kingsbury we recognise that for many of our children typical phonics schemes are not appropriate for them either due to their disability, learning difficulty, developmental age, chronological age and many other factors. Under the Equality Act 2010 it is important that reasonable adjustments are made to ensure that all pupils have full access to the curriculum and be able to participate in it.

Children often come to our school with speech and language difficulties and some enter part way though their school years having been in mainstream for many years. This often means that the children have struggled to access typical phonics schemes seen in mainstream schools. As a result we have to approach reading and teaching children to read in a completely different way, that is ipsative and holistic, completely tailored to each and every child in our school.


So how do we teach reading? 


Our main focus at Kingsbury is teaching children communication skills, and even at its early stage reading is communication. Typically most of our children will be in the first stage of phonics and communication, learning to discriminate sounds within the environment and feeling vibrations for example. At this stage communication is key to all our functional skills including writing, reading and maths. With reading we follow an ‘Extended View of Reading’(Imray et al, 2021) that takes into account children’s additional needs within our school. 

We teach through song and rhyme and enjoy sharing books with the children. Reading and sharing books allows us to find a connection with the children and do something we enjoy together. We play with musical instruments and all staff are trained in how to develop this early communication and play to extend the children’s phonological knowledge and understanding. 

We ensure that the curriculum helps to teach the children phonological awareness, comprehension skills as well as being exposed to important sight words which in turn help to develop the children’s reading skills. We work on improving the children’s working memory and executive functioning skills which are so important for learning through phonics. 

Many children in our school are under Speech and Language Therapy, and this helps us to develop those first stages of communication. At Kingsbury we continuously assess the children in their phonological knowledge by assessing them against the Pre-Key Stage Standards, through interactions with the children and observing their play. Typically we would not assess the children through the phonics screening test as this is often not appropriate for the children in our school. As research shows that teaching children with learning difficulties nonsense/alien words often hinders their reading development as it overloads working memory. 

Many children particularly those who are on the Autistic Spectrum have often, by the time they have reached us, developed strategies and coping mechanisms themselves which have bypassed the trajectory of standard synthetic phonics. Many reading by sight and not phonetically, often introducing standard ‘phonics’ confuses and frustrates them causing behavioural issues and disinterest in learning. Due to this we aim to follow their path and use strategies to help them to generalise their knowledge and skills. Often if they have taught themselves to read by sight,  we teach meaning of words and recognising words in books and the environment. In addition, if a child is ready for typical phonics learning we will follow their path and ensure they reach their full potential within this. Be that through interventions or working alongside the mainstream school on site. We have access to a DFE approved phonics scheme from Twinkl which we follow, adapted to their needs to make sure they reach their full potential. 

In our pathways, when appropriate, we continuously teach what can be called ‘the alphabetic code’ teaching phonemes and graphemes throughout our provision. We introduce letters and sounds through alphabet songs and drawing the children’s attention to the phonemes in words. We follow the same letter introduction timetable as we would if we were teaching stand alone phonics however we introduce through play and other multi sensory activities. This allows the children to begin, in their own time, to decode words and recognise sounds.

Decodable Books 

When appropriate for the children, we use decodable books by ‘Jelly and Bean’ to help to generalise the skills we are teaching through play. These allow the children to become confident readers and are fun! These books have be chosen as the pictures are less stimulating than other reading schemes and this helps our children who have sensory processing disorders to access the books and gain knowledge. 


In today’s technological age it is more important than ever to have reading skills in order to use technology appropriately and safely. We make it a focus particularly with our older children to teach the children how to access the internet safely. In order to do this, specific teaching takes place to help children recognise the signs and symbols on the internet helping them to stay safe on the web and using things such as Ipads and laptops. We also have access to a range of e-books that are suitable for our children as this is often a way to really draw the children in to enjoyment of reading. We have access to audio books and high-tech speakers that allow the children to get a real multisensory feel of sounds and books. This is particularly useful for our children who are visually and sensory impaired. 


Reading in Becky's Class 

Reading in Helen's Class 

Reading in Katie's Class 

Reading in Eddie's Class 

Reading in Jess' Class 

Reading in Emma's Class 

Reading in Mel’s Class 

Get in touch

  • Headteacher: Katie Lyon
  • Deputy Headteachers: Helen Smith and Ruth Watkinson

Term dates

Autumn Term 1 Ends - Friday 20th October 2023

Autumn Term 2 Begins - Monday 30th October 2023

Autumn Term 2 Ends - Friday 22nd December 2023

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Paper copies of all documents on our website are available on request from our school office. We will provide this free of charge.