Reading and Phonics



At Pensilva Primary School we value reading as a vital life skill and therefore place it at the heart of our curriculum. We see reading as an essential skill that leads to improved life chances. Reading underpins access to the entire curriculum and impacts on all learning. It is therefore integral to our whole school programmes of study.  Children need to be confident and engaged readers to be able TO LIVE in their world and fully understanding the information around them. They need to be able to read to be able TO LOVE the worlds, stories and characters that live inside books! Being able to read helps children TO LEARN in all subjects of the curriculum.


We recognise that mastery in phonics is fundamental to children being able to access a broad range of fiction and non-fiction texts, across the curriculum. We aim to achieve this by teaching the Read, Write Inc. Phonics Programme (RWI) systematically with a relentless drive to address the needs of all learners. The key understanding and skills taught in RWI sessions are explicitly reinforced and developed across the wider curriculum.


Following the aims and objectives of the National Curriculum, the school endeavours to create a life–long love of reading. We provide children with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to enjoy reading. Children are given regular opportunities to develop their ability to read for sustained lengths of time.


Once their phonic understanding is secure, we use the ‘Accelerated Reader’ Programme (AR) to support this but we have modified it to enable the children to have opportunities to choose how they engage with reading, e.g., sharing the weekly news in a newspaper or increasing knowledge with non-fiction books as well as reading their individually chosen AR books as we believe that reading for pleasure should be paramount.


It is our Pensilva ambition that all children will leave our school as fluent, confident readers with a desire to read and enjoy a range of texts. Through our sustained approach, children become inquisitive about language and its structure and actively read for meaning. They also develop widening knowledge and use this to make connections between subjects and aspects of learning. As a result of this, children become happy, confident readers who develop enquiring minds.


In school we have a number of initiatives to support and teach your child to become a confident, enthusiastic and independent reader. There are two important elements to this process. They need to develop the skills to decode and read the words on the page fluently. Alongside this they need to develop their understanding of what they are reading.


To support children independently learning to read from Reception, they begin to learn phonics. We follow the Ruth Miskin ‘Read, Write Inc. Phonics Programme’ (RWI) to teach our early readers all the phonic sounds progressively, whilst also learning to blend and segment sounds to read words. 


Once children are assessed to have developed their phonics knowledge securely, they have daily opportunities to extend and further develop their wider reading skills, with an even greater focus on comprehension and understanding through ‘Renaissance Learning’s Accelerated Reader’ (AR) and through classroom reading activities.  


‘Accelerated Reader’ is a computer program that helps us monitor children’s independent reading practice. Each child picks a book at his/her own level and reads it at his/her own pace. When finished, each child takes a short on-line quiz in school.


As part of the Accelerated Reader Programme children complete a ‘Star Reader’ test half termly. STAR Reading is used to determine your child’s reading range (ZPD). The ZPD (Zone Proximal Development) is the range of books that will challenge a child without causing frustration or loss of motivation.  It is important for children to read with a high degree of comprehension and within his/her ZPD. 


How you can help?


Encourage and enjoy time with your child on reading related activities at home daily. This could be you reading a book to your child, your child reading to you or it could be discussing books that you have read together, asking questions about what they have read or visiting your local library together.


Listening to your child read and talking to them about their reading is essential whether they are starting their journey learning phonic sounds to decode texts in Reception through to them being an avid Year 6 reader learning to perform poetry or identify themes across long chapter books.


By working together, we can help ensure that every child at Pensilva achieves their full reading potential.



The aim of our Pensilva Core Texts Guide is to provide an extensive list of books which staff can utilize when planning and engaging in reading activities with children. These are books to use as class reads, study books for writing and whole class reading, recommendations for reading corners/nooks or for extracts (taken from them to look at in greater detail).


The intention is that by the time our children reach year 6 and beyond, they have developed a wide, rich vocabulary and broader knowledge of the world and, as a result, are able to access the more complex books expected of them in secondary school. It should be noted that book and text selection at Pensilva not only considers narratives and poems but also recognises that a good balance of topic-appropriate non-fiction should also be read to help further develop children’s background knowledge of the subject they are studying.


The books have been selected to consider three main areas: learning to read and understanding texts, access to high quality texts to enable access for all during whole class reading, English activities and class reads and to promote reading for pleasure, experiential learning of techniques and language development through fiction, poetry and non-fiction texts.

Learning to read and understanding text

These are books which are particularly supportive for children who are learning to read. They help children to behave like readers as they may be:

  •   memorable texts that feature repetition and encourage prediction making;
  •   texts which encourage children to practice and apply their phonic knowledge;
  •   texts that have rhythm and rhyme;
  •   books with strong plots and structures;
  •   texts which reflect the children’s interests and backgrounds;
  •   books that draw attention to written language and to the way books work;
  •   books with illustrations to support.


High-quality texts for all

These are books which form the basis of the English curriculum and the selection has been designed to introduce children to a wide range of texts and authors. Whilst some children in the class may not be able to read all the books independently, the selection provides them access to a wider range of titles, authors and genres that they may not otherwise meet. For more experienced readers, this collection offers an increasingly challenging range of material for individual or group reading. The selection includes:

  •   multi-layered texts – capable at being read at different levels;
  •   books that deal with important themes;
  •   books in which language is used in inventive, lively ways;
  •   books by skilful children’s writers and illustrators;
  •   traditional and contemporary ‘classics’ of children’s literature;
  •   stories from different cultural settings;
  •   stories which reflect Cornish authors/themes;
  •   texts that promote discussion and reflection.

Information/Non-fiction texts

These are high-quality texts which are interesting, informative and enjoyable. All the information books promote how the text and pictures can work together to provide comprehensive information and an enjoyable reading experience which broadening and extending knowledge, vocabulary and experience of the world.