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Reading at Pirton Hill

“Reading…feeds the pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure house of wonder and joy for curious young minds”

(National Curriculum, 2014)

Pirton Hill: Approach to Developing Reading


Initially children learn to read by learning the individual sounds that letters (or groups of letters) make and then merge them together to read words.


At Pirton Hill Primary School our pupils learn to read and write using a systematic synthetic phonic approach. From January 2022 we have fully implemented 'Essential Letters and Sounds' (which we piloted a version of Summer and Autumn 2021).  This has included the introduction of fully decodable reading books, linked to ELS. 


We aim to equip children with the tools needed to decode and segment unfamiliar words so that they are able to read, write and spell with understanding, fluency, confidence and accuracy.


We aim to:

  • Teach children aural discrimination, phonemic awareness and rhyme awareness in order to encourage good spelling.
  • Encourage children to segment to spell and blend to read.
  • Encourage repetition and consolidation, so that spelling becomes automatic.

Why is it essential that children learn the pure sounds?

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Phonics and Early Reading Parent Guide Jan22

Parent Guide for Reading Support in Key Stage 2

Shared Reading

Shared reading involves the teacher modelling the reading process to the whole class as an expert reader, providing a high level of support. Our approach to English teaching at Pirton Hill provides frequent opportunities for shared reading within the English lesson to develop the children’s understanding of the text as well as practising using expression and intonation when reading aloud.


Guided Reading

The focus of guided reading is to work with a small group to develop the children’s understanding of reading through a variety of text types (such as: stories, instructions, newspapers, leaflets etc.). Guided reading also focuses on developing children’s understanding of how to read as a reader as well as a writer, modelling text selection, fostering a love of reading and ultimately aims to facilitate independent readers.


Each week the children have a whole class reading session where they are taught to apply a specific reading skill. The activities for the rest of the week are then linked to that particular skill and groups follow a carousel-style approach to guided reading, whereby the children are set into ability groups and will have at least one focused reading session with an adult per week.  When not reading with an adult, children continue their reading development through a range of activities linked to that particular skill. 


Individual Reading

Children are heard read by an adult (at home or at school) and a comment is recorded in the children’s Reading Journal.


To promote the love of reading and develop fluency, children in Reception and KS1 have the opportunity to achieve a reading keyring each half-term by reading at home 5 times a week.  In KS2, we use Accelerated Reader to promote home learning, increase fluency and develop comprehension and the children strive to achieve a Star Reader Bug (see below).

Pirton Hill Reading Spine

At Pirton Hill Primary School, we believe that all children should be immersed in high quality literature. Our philosophy encompasses building upon the children’s reading experiences each year by using this progressive reading spine to challenge and foster a love for reading. The Pirton Hill Primary School Reading Spine ensures that children are exposed to a wealth of high-quality books which champion our literary heritage yet also encompass a diverse range of author, genre, culture and length.


It is not intended that children read these books at home - we want them to enjoy hearing the story for the first time with their peers - but it does allow parents to consider other books which would compliment the spine (perhaps by the same author) to increase the diversity of books that their child reads at home.  Thank you for respecting this request and not spoiling the learning for your child.  However, if there are books in previous years that your child has missed - you can, of course, catch them up on those!


What is Accelerated Reader (AR)?

Accelerated Reader (AR) is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading.


Children using Accelerated Reader choose their own books to read (based on their level), rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them.


When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer. Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read. AR gives children and teachers feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.


In most cases, children really enjoy taking the quizzes. Since they’re reading books at their reading and interest levels, they are likely to be successful. This is satisfying for most children. Best of all, they learn and grow at their own pace.


Put simply: A child reads a book, takes an online quiz and gets immediate feedback. Pupils respond to regular feedback and are motivated to make progress with their reading skills.


Why do we use Accelerated Reader at Pirton Hill?

AR is used at Pirton Hill as it is a proven system which provides instant personalised feedback, increases the rate of progress and increases motivation to read.


Who has Accelerated Reader books?

Currently this program is used in Years 3 – 6. 


How do we know which books are the right level for each child?

Children take a Star Reader Test every half term which indicates which level of book is the most appropriate for them to read.  Every child will be given their own book level range (or ZPD).


The books are levelled according to their difficulty, the language in them and their length.  The level of the book is shown on the spine, as well as on the label inside the book.


The sticker inside (see below) shows the book level and the number of points available, if your child gets 100% in the quiz.  If 100% is not achieved, points are allocated proportionately.



   Quiz No 216587

   What’s for Dinner, Mr Gum?

   Stanton, Andy

   B.L.: 4.6

   Points: 2.0                 MY



What is a personal point’s target?

Every half term your child will be set a personal reading point target using their ZPD and the expectation that they read for a minimum of 20 minutes daily at home.


If children achieve their personal points target they can earn a bug. These are unique to every term and, once the term is over, there is never a chance to earn the same bug again. Although there is, of course, a chance to earn next term's bug.  The challenge is to collect them all and save the bugs from the evil Mr Booth...


To see what happened to the unsaved bugs in previous terms, please visit

Year Group Expectations

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