Children become readers from the moment they learn to love stories and books from an early age. At The Dales School, we promote a love of reading and actively encourage this across school on a daily basis. Reading is shared or independent depending on the ages and needs of the pupil.

Pre-Reading Skills

It is vital to develop the pre-reading skills of our youngest learners and those older pupils with more complex needs. We emphasise developing communication, language attention and understanding through a range of activities and pupils regularly take part in sensory stories, book exploration, songs, playing and therapies.

Early Reading

Early reading is prioritised throughout school as a ‘Basic Skill’. Our curriculum design ensures all pupils have access to learning opportunities at an appropriate level for their ability, regardless of age. Each child works at a personalised pace to ensure breadth and depth of learning. Books are available in every classroom and teachers regularly share stories with pupils in order to model skills, develop and extend vocabulary and improve speaking and listening.


Due to the varying needs of our pupils, phonics is taught at a time and in a way that is right for the child. We follow the Read, Write Inc. & Rocket Phonics programmes; a systematic approach to the teaching of phonics and use the associated resources to support and strengthen pupils’ decoding skills. Pupils learning phonics will access differentiated, well-paced and engaging sessions that build their skills and understanding.

Pupils continue to learn phonics until they are able to read fluently. There are some children, however, who may never learn to read through a phonics-based approach. We appreciate that all children need a range of experiences and therefore we ensure all children have access to a range of approaches to ensure that progress is maximised. These include using approaches such as, Colourful Semantics and Power of Reading to support pupils to make progress in reading.

Beyond Phonics

Once pupils are secure in their phonic knowledge, they will begin to read a greater range of texts, including non-fiction, poetry and a wider range of fiction. Those working within the Key Stage 2 curriculum (iASEND N) may access online reading programmes which can develop improved reading fluency. As children grow in independence, the books become more complex in terms of content, vocabulary and sentence structure.

Pupils are encouraged to talk about what they are reading, share their ideas, voice their own opinions and develop informed responses to texts. The skills of Speaking and Listening and the ability to respond, voice thoughts and opinions is vitally important for our pupils.


iASEND is used to monitor and analyse pupil progress from their individual starting points. Assessment data is used to inform future planning and to indicate necessary interventions for those pupils who may not have made the expected progress.