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Inspire The Reading Curriculum

At Spinney Hill Primary School our intention is to develop confident readers who read accurately for meaning, purpose and pleasure.  We aim to engage and motivate our pupils with a love of books and the aspiration to become story loving, book confident readers now and in their future lives. We believe that through reading, they will find out about themselves, developing a sense of their own identity as well as finding out about the world beyond their experience, empathising with and understanding the lives and beliefs of others who have a differing perspective from their own. Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. We want our children to communicate with confidence about the books they read, able to discuss and recommend books to others - talking knowledgably about the both the authors they do and not enjoy - to develop a strong reading culture at school. Throughout the school, our purpose is to equip pupils with the skill set to make progress, achieve at least expected standards and to fulfil their potential as lifelong, curious, questioning learners. Children read and explore texts independently developing reading stamina, perseverance and emotional resilience but are also supported in their reading development through shared and guided reading and reading across the wider curriculum.  In the early years our primary focus is that pupils quickly acquire and apply phonic knowledge to successfully decode texts. Once pupils have the skills to decode accurately, we teach reading comprehension skills directly and explicitly through shared reading to ensure that children read for meaning and with inference. To engage and include all children and inspire a love of reading we provide a variety of reading matter including fiction, non-fiction, picture books, magazines, newspapers, online e-books and poetry so that every child feels a sense of belonging to our reading culture. We value our partnership with parents so children select books from the book corners to read at home. We also have a well-stocked library which is open to parents where children can select can select engaging books, develop stamina and enjoy the motivation of reading for pleasure. 

Developing a Reading Culture and Children's Love of Reading


How we develop a reading culture and children's love of reading

Our school is a reading school. We take every opportunity to promote reading and develop a reading culture.

School Library

We have a thriving, purpose built school library which is staffed and open to the community before and after school so that parents and carers can visit with their children to borrow books or complete homework tasks. We subscribe to Creative Learning Services to ensure that we have an attractive, up to date range of fiction and non-fiction to support every ability and reading choice, and help promote a reading culture in school. Classes visit the library each week to allow children the opportunity to select and borrow books to read for pleasure. We aim to interest all types of readers by offering the latest range of story and picture books, popular fiction, non-fiction and a wide selection of graphic novels. Our books are carefully categorised and helpfully displayed to help children select books which are well matched to their reading ability.

Classroom Book Corner

Each classroom has a book corner containing a variety of rich, engaging reading materials which are available for reading at home. All the books in our book corners have been banded by a specialist consultant to ensure that children can select home reading books at their reading level to ensure they can read independently. In KS1, children who are working at Greater Depth act as reading ambassadors and recommend books from the book corner to motivate other children in the class to read.

Project Boxes

We use our subscription to Creative Learning Services to borrow a Project Box for each classroom. The project box contains a range of stimulating reading material related to current topic work to inspire and motivate children to read widely about their topic and undertake classroom based research.

Online Reading and eBooks

All children at Spinney Hill Primary School have online access to eBooks through our subscription to Pearson Active Learn Bug Club. Children can read attractive and engaging eBooks on iPads, providing them with the chance to combine their love of IT with reading. Bug Club also encourages reluctant readers to read at home using the online reading world.

Through our website, we also provide valuable access to an impressive cross-curricular online resource, Curriculum Visions.  This acclaimed online library and multimedia centre gives pupils and parents the ability to browse topics at school and at home. 

Magazine Subscriptions

As a school we offer to provide reading materials to cater for all reading tastes and preferences. We subscribe to National Geographic, Science magazine and a range of comics. Each class receives a copy of these magazines each month to keep in their reading corner current and up to date.

Our Best Book

At Spinney Hill Primary School we ensure that children have access to the best new authors and titles through our  subscription  to local initiatives such as Our Best Book and Our Best Picture Books. We take part in Author Week and many online 'meet the author' events. We also work with Leicester libraries to promote 'The Summer Reading Challenge.'

Content in the process of being revised and refreshed. 

Early Reading and Phonics

Synthetic phonics is the first formal method for the teaching of reading that we use as it provides the foundations required to become a fluent reader. Fluent decoding allows us to understand what we read. We know that beginner readers, however, do not have a choice about speed because they are still engaged in decoding the words on the page. ​ Children who are beginning to read are unlikely to be reading at a speed that is sufficient for them to focus on the meaning of what is written and, therefore,  it is therefore ‘neither necessary nor desirable’ (The Reading Framework 2021) to assess their reading comprehension before they are reading fluently.​ Early reading at Spinney Hill concentrates on developing all children’s ability to develop grapheme/phoneme correspondence in the knowledge that once they can blend phonemes into spoken words, children can put all their energies into understanding and comprehending what they read, and begin to developing a love of reading. At Spinney Hill we teach phonics through the Letters and Sound scheme.


How phonics and early reading are taught

Content in the process of being revised and refreshed. 


How we assess phonics and early reading

At Spinney Hill, pupils are taught to read using the Letters and Sounds approach to systematic and synthetic phonics.

When children begin to read there are two crucial things to learn:

  • the sounds  (phonemes) represented by written letters (graphemes)
  • how to blend the sounds together to make words

Synthetic Phonics is a way of teaching reading. Children are taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound(s) they represent – so, they are taught what the letter sounds like when we say it.

Children can then start to read words by blending (synthesising) the sounds together to make a word. Blending can also be referred to as “sounding out.” Children use the mantra: 'Look at the word. Say the sounds. Blend the sounds together.'

All these terms focus on the same point – synthesising sounds .

Phonics in EYFS and KS1 is taught as daily whole class lessons in a 20 minute session with effective provisions for all abilities. Lessons are direct, focussed and have a rigorous and systematic approach following the four part lesson – Review, Teach, Practise and Apply.

Early Reading

Children are taught to read using the synthetic phonics approach. 'Learning to read' books are matched to the child’s level of phonic knowledge.  Books are fully decodable at the child’s current level. They include a controlled, small number of ‘tricky words’ which are taught using the mantra, ‘See it. Say it.’

Children take home one decodable book matched to their phonics knowledge.

Shared and Guided Reading

Shared and guided at Spinney Hill 

We know that in order to become readers, children have to be able to both decode words and comprehend what they read, and these skills are taught simultaneously in the appropriate manner and in line with the Reading Framework 2021 to prevent readers from becoming demotivated and to ensure a developing love of reading. Therefore, shared and guided reading sessions at Spinney Hill Primary School are systematically planned and sequenced in order to ensure that pupils are able to read fluently and comprehend.  We recognise the importance of pitching and planning for texts appropriately:  the reading curriculum covers a broad range of texts and planning is seamlessly adapted to meet the needs of children with SEND, who are EAL or new to English, and those children who show the potential or are working at greater depth. Our reading lessons explicitly teach children specific strategies of how to comprehend what they read, using Hollis Scarborough’s ‘reading rope’ research.  At Spinney Hill, teachers know that reading comprehension consists of the many different pieces to a puzzle, and all pieces need to fit together correctly if children are to be ready for the next stage of their learning and develop a love of reading.

Reading Comprehension Skills 

In shared reading children are taught a range of comprehension skills to help them understand what they read.

To understand the meaning of vocabulary

Children are taught a range of skills to understand the meaning of vocabulary. They learn:

  • To use developing knowledge of root words, suffixes and prefixes to understand the meaning of new vocabulary-to look at the word within a word: usefully
  • To use background knowledge: Have you heard this word before in a different context? What might it mean in this context?
  • To read around the word and look for clues: what do I already know from what I have already read?
  • To cross check with the picture

Asking questions or wondering

Children are taught that good readers are active readers. As they read they ask their own questions or predict…. and read on to find out. Comprehension difficulties will not be solved by always asking students to answer someone else's questions. Good readers ask their own questions.

Making predictions

Children learn that good reader asks their own questions then reads on to watch out for answers.

“A prediction is a forward inference” Gunning 

Making Inferences

Good comprehension involves going beyond the literal meaning of text. We make links between sentences, use knowledge of books and background knowledge to generate INFERENCES.

  • Local inference is understanding at a sentence level
  • Global inferences is assimilating several sources of information to understand THE GIST 


Good readers think in pictures while reading. Children learn to make images as they read which helps them to picture characters and scenes in fiction and determine importance in non-fiction


  Good readers can explain what has happened in their own words across a sentence, paragraph or a longer piece of text.     Children might refer to what, when, where, who and why.


Children are taught to give the gist which is an explanation of what has happened in their own words including what they have inferred. It can be taught on a sentence by sentence or chunk by chunk basis. We activate background knowledge... link adjacent sentences, working memory and inference to get gist.


Pupils are taught to:

Skim: look through the text very quickly to get an idea of what it is about by looking at titles, subtitles, illustrations, captions and the first and last sentences of paragraphs.

Scan: They are taught to search the text to find information using key words and close reading.

Background Knowledge

Good comprehenders make use of background knowledge as they read to generate inferences and therefore improve their memory of the text. They draw on what they have experienced, seen or read about relating their reading to their own experience. Teachers model how to “bring” plenty of things to the process of reading.  Accessing background knowledge is crucial to making inferences.

Understanding theme

Children learn that theme can be the ‘big idea’ of a piece of writing or an idea that reoccurs. Common themes include: friendship, family, loneliness, loss, hope, bravery, survival, forgiveness, good versus evil, faith, trust, justice, perseverance, etc.

Working memory

Developing working memory enables a reader to store and integrate meaning across a single sentence or adjacent sentences. Children learn to integrate meaning across text to build meaning. We say how each sentence links and gives more information to previous sentences.

Pronoun tracking

Pupil profiling has shown us that poor knowledge of pronouns and the nouns they refer to, is a barrier to comprehension. Teachers demonstrate what pronouns refer to and how they know by linking pronouns back to the nouns.

Understanding Grammar

Understanding grammar is crucial for reading comprehension. Lessons focus on the meaning of expanded noun phrases, conjunctions and determiners.





How shared and guided reading are taught

Shared reading sessions introduce the reading skill of the week, during which teachers explicitly model their thoughts aloud as they read to demonstrate how the skill enables one to comprehend what is being read.  Skills are taught progressively, using the Parks Progression Milestones. For example, visualisation can be defined as being a point when you picture what you read in your mind and then this can be modelled by drawing a quick image of the picture in the mind. Rosenshine’s ‘I, We, You’ model is used to ensure explicit modelling, practice and independent application of skills, using specific sentence stems for each skill to scaffold the learning. This process allows pupils to engage in scaffolded and structured talk and questioning, exploring each of the reading skills in depth. 

The reading skill is then applied through daily guided reading sessions where children read a text matched to their reading ability to help them comprehend what they read, as well as building on previous skills taught.  Where they are becoming more fluent readers, children demonstrate their comprehension through answering an appropriate set of questions that teachers have carefully planned to assess the pupils’ understanding against. Children think critically and develop their responses to the text, broaden their vocabulary, listen and build on the ideas of others and are challenged appropriately.  For example, when pupils infer, they will ensure their inferences are based on clues within the text and are justified with evidence from the text. 

The spine of texts used within guided and shared lessons are selected carefully. These include texts aimed at engaging disengaged readers, particularly boys, such as Skellig; literature in which children at Spinney Hill can see their own lives and experiences reflected, such as Displaced by Malala Yousafzai; classic texts that increase cultural capital such as The Secret Garden; non-fiction texts that encourage children to think critically and question what they read about; and, very importantly, a range of both classic and modern poetry.    


How we assess reading


Reading is assessed through a triangulation of evidence.

  1. Teacher Assessment

 During guided reading, teacher assessment is used to ascertain the fluency, skills and comprehension of readers within the group through the teacher’s use of questioning.

2. Benchmarking

Every term, each child in the class is benchmarked by the class teacher using the PM Benchmarking materials, to assess their reading level.

3. PIRA Reading Assessment 

Each term the children are assessed using the PIRA interactive reading tests.


After their guided reading session, children complete follow on tasks in Guided Reading Journals. Journals are a valuable source of evidence for teachers to demonstrate what pupils are able to independently do.  They will include evidence of pupils’ ability to apply their reading skills and comprehend what they have read.

Outcomes of assessments

The outcomes of assessments are used to monitor that children across the school are making good progress. They ensure that pupils are reading at the correct level of challenge to reflect their reading and comprehension skills. Results of assessment are shared with the SENCO so that children who require further intervention are identified and allocated provision.  Each term progress data is reported to SLT during Progress Reviews so that children's progress is tracked across the school.

Reading for Pleasure and Home Reading

We know that for our children reading for pleasure must compete against the pleasures and entertainment offered by ever-advancing technology - YouTube, television streaming channels,  video games and social media – and picking up a book may not be a choice that ever child wishes to make. Reading requires perseverance, resilience and independence, and these qualities we endeavour to nurture and teach alongside the basic instructions of reading in order that all children are able to, quite simply, enter a world in which the scope of ideas, imagination and possibilities are limitless and go beyond anything an electronic interface can offer. We know we “should do everything to promote wider reading” (The Reading Framework 2021), and it is our duty to develop a genuine love of literature as reading for pleasure and widely are the bedrock for our curriculum drivers. Books provide children with the knowledge they need in order to question and to challenge ideas, whilst opening their eyes to the lives and experiences of others and enabling them to develop a sense of identity. At Spinney Hill, we know that the more opportunities pupils have to read and apply their reading skills so the fluency and comprehension that will enable them to become confident and engaged readers will develop. Therefore, reading opportunities are planned into every subject across the curriculum where possible and opportunities to read and to be read to identified.