At Hexham First we strongly believe that learning to read and the development of a love of reading is vital to a child's success as a lifelong learner. We aim to inspire our children to read everyday either at home or at school with the aim of developing their reading skills and a love of books and reading which will last a lifetime.
Reading Aims

  • To build on the children’s language experiences and early reading skills that they have already acquired.
  • For pupils to emerge from inexperienced readers to independent readers who read a variety of texts for different purposes.
  • To look for higher standards because we have high expectations of our children.
  • For children to develop as readers and to be able to enjoy reading for pleasure, alone or as a shared experience with an adult or their peers. We want children to be able to read independently and be able to follow personal interests, use their research skills to extend their knowledge and understanding.
  • To recognise that reading plays an important part of education and life.

We encourage a love of books and of reading by providing a rich reading environment in our classrooms and in our school library. Throughout the school, teachers read aloud to children on a regular basis. We read a wide range of good quality fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

We teach the word recognition skills needed to decode text and the language comprehension skills needed to understand what they read. Word recognition skills are developed systematically in the early years through the teaching of RWI. We teach phonics daily in Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1, using the Read, Write Inc material.

Language comprehension skills are developed and deepened through VIPERS 

What are Vipers?

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.

VIPERS stands for






Sequence or Summarise

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.

More information about VIPERS can be found on


In Key Stage 2 we assess children’s reading levels using end of term reading comprehension tests from Pearsons’ Bug Club.

We use Read Write Inc as our primary phonics programme in school. Read Write Inc is a literacy programme that helps children learn synthetic phonics. The scheme includes both a phonics and reading focus. The sessions happen every day as the continuity and pace of the programme is essential to increasing the speed of children’s reading development.


In Key stage 1, pupils take part in guided reading session once a week and a RWI every day., where they read a Story Book a day. All pupils are provided with a reading diary which they are expected to bring to school every day along with their RWI Book Bag Book. This diary allows on-going communication between home and school on your child’s reading progress.
In Key stage 2, pupils take part in a VIPERS whole class reading comprehension session 5 x a week in addition to this pupils have the opportunity to read their 'accellerated reading book' independently every day.
The 'ARB' is a book that is matched to their reading ability, very finely graded to provide increasing challenge. 
Drop everything and read is a ten minute reading session that you will see in Hexham First at different times of the day. The children read a book of their choice, fiction, non-fiction and once a week a poem is chosen from the Pie Corbett Poetry Spine books. 

There are a number of reading interventions in school which support those who are finding reading difficult. RWI one-to-one tuition is used in Key Stage 1. Staff are allocated individual children who have been hi-lighted as underachieving in reading.

Reading schemes

in Key Stage 1 the RWI Book Bag books are used as our principal reading scheme. Children are sent home with a Book Bag Book at the end of the week that matches their phonic knowledge.
In addition to this some children want to read more than 1 book a week, for these children we give them a 'grapple book' This a reading book that has been correlated and levelled to the book bands, Oxford Reading levels and the National Curriculum expectations. The 'grapple book' is a book that your child should be able to read independently and contain sounds that they know. This should be a comfortable read, but still with an element of stretch. The teachers are responsible for choosing the 'grapple book' to make sure the book correlates to their phonic ability.  
In Key Stage 2, pupils have access to a number of fiction and non-fiction books from Oxford University Press. These books are then levelled using Accellerted Reader, which matches the books exactly to the reading level of the child. 

Developing a love of reading
To develop a love of reading throughout the school these are some of the things that we do throughout the school year 
  • In Early Years and Key Stage 1 - children are read a quality text daily. 

  • In Key stage 2 the class novel is shared daily

  • A library slot is offered to all children weekly with the opportunity to change books

  • Children make an annual visit to Hexham Library

  • Every classroom has a reading area

  • World Book Day is celebrated across the whole school

  • Author visits and trips to local book shops are incorporated into the school calendar

  • Key Stage 1 and 2 – children choose a ‘grapple’ book as a book of choice, which is kept in their trays and is read for pleasure

  • Key stage 2 – as a class, children read 6 quality novels from the Pie Corbett core list.

  • Whole school core books – in 6 years at Hexham First pupils are read to, discuss, and work with around 82 core books These books are the Pie Corbett ‘reading spine,’ which are central to our book stock but which is supplemented by many other great books.

  • Poetry Spine - The Works Key Stage 1 (which includes Reception) and The Works Key Stage 2 provide banks of poems for enjoying, performing and discussing, and some may be used as models for writing. Poems are organised by year group to create a poetry spine. Core poems are woven into the curriculum each term.

  • Non-fiction – children are given the opportunity to choose non-fiction from the library and quality texts are selected in relation to topics being studied.

  • Range of authors – staff are encouraged to select books by local authors, new authors as well as key authors. We visit Cogito book shop in Hexham to spend our World Book Day voucher.

  • Reading Buddies - We will re-introduce Reading Buddies when the Covid restrictions are lifted fully
  • Bedtime reading - We look forward to inviting pupils and parents back into school so that we can enjoy the bedtime reading event which we all enjoy.
  • Library challenge - Pupils take part in the annual reading challenge set by Hexham Library. Pupils are encouraged to read a certain amounts of books each week and they will receive a certificate and prize.
  • ‘Book swap’

Reading at home
Reading with your child at home is vital in order to help stimulate your child’s imagination and expand their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. Reading books open your child’s mind to a whole new world of vocabulary. Books showcase a wide range of words that your child may not use or hear every day. When you include reading into your child’s daily life, it helps them develop a higher level of words to use in their everyday conversations. As you read, your child may ask what words mean, take time to explain the definitions and talk about what your child is reading.
Read Write Inc
We use Read Write Inc as our main phonics programme in school. Read Write Inc is a literacy programme that helps children learn synthetic phonics. The scheme includes both a phonics and reading focus. The sessions happen every day as the continuity and pace of the programme is essential to increasing the speed of children’s reading development. Have a look at the information leaflet for parents below.
Oxford Owl for Home

At Hexham First School, we use resources from Oxford Owl, so I thought I would signpost you to their website.

On the website, you’ll find lots of information about the national curriculum and what to expect each year at school, videos to help with homework and tips on supporting your child at home, along with free eBooks and activity sheets – all in line with how we teach your child at school.

Click on the website links below for more information

FREE tablet-friendly eBooks and activities to help you support your child’s learning.

Expert advice, top tips and activity ideas to help your child with reading

Oxford Owl's Phonics Made Easy guide gives you a simple introduction to how your child is learning to read at school and how you can support them at home, including how to say the phonics sounds.

Free eBook library
The Oxford Owl website has free eBooks to help your child practise reading, including Biff, Chip and Kipper and Read Write Inc. stories.

Free games and activity sheets
Oxford Owl has hundreds of free games and activities to support your child with the English skills they need at primary school.

Each class has an individual log in and password that is 'hfsyear(reception,1,2,3,4)' 'year(reception,1,2,3,4)' depending on their year group.

If you’d like to find out more, visit, follow them on Facebook at or subscribe to the YouTube Channel at

Mrs Beveridge
English Lead