Abbey Road, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 1JU

01271 342579

Pilton Infants' School

Learning For Life

Welcome to our page on Reading.

Below is some brief information about how we teach reading and phonics in school.   There's some information on how we promote reading for pleasure and some guidance for parents on reading at home.  On our Parent page you can find more detailed information for parents including videos made by our teaching staff and a jargon buster to help understand phonics.

Reading and Phonics -Intent and Coverage

Here is a brief overview of how we teach reading and phonics at Pilton Infants' School.  For more detailed information, please see our Reading Policy on the Policies and Safeguarding page.  Please also visit the Parents page for more information on reading, spelling and phonics.


We want children to leave the school being able to read fluently, accurately and with enjoyment.    

By the end of Year 2 children will:

  • know a range of ways to represent the 42 phonemes in the English language;
  • understand the different purposes of reading;
  • be able to access a wide range of texts;
  • demonstrate a good understanding of what they have read and know how to find out about vocabulary they don’t understand;
  • be able to relate what they have read to their own writing and learning in other subjects;
  • choose to read and have started to develop a life-long love of reading which will help them throughout their life.

Children are taught to: 

  • Browse books.
  • Independently use a range of different strategies to read including phonic knowledge, word recognition, contextual understanding, grammatical and syntactical knowledge as well as picture clues.
  • Understand how to predict, clarify, question and summarise.
  • Understand how to infer information by making specific reference to the text.
  • Understand that they can choose the types of books they read, expressing likes and dislikes and giving recommendations to one another.
  • Understand the difference between genres and know what each one is for.
  • Read to gain information and for pleasure.

The expectations for the outcomes at the end of each year are:

  • Reception – Phase 4 books, Year 1 – Turquoise level, Year 2 – Lime Level.

This should include a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and should reflect the children’s ability to decode and comprehend the text. 

When children come into Reception, they begin with lilac books which have no text.  The children are encouraged to enjoy the pictures and, with the help of their grown ups, make a story with them.  As children start Phase 1 and then in the early stages of Phase 2, they take home a range of pink non-decodable texts.  These have repeating patterns, feature lots of the 'tricky' words and rely heavily on the pictures.  Children can share these with their parents.

Once children have started the first few weeks of Phase 2 they begin to read phonically decodable books.  Throughout the rest of the year, and into Year 1, they read books which are closely matched to the Phase they are on in their Phonics learning.  We use a range of phonic schemes and also Pocket Rockets for short phonics based texts which children take home after learning those sounds.

Implementation - Phonics

Phonics is taught in school using Phonics Planning by Nicky Byrne.  This is based on the government’s Letters and Sounds document.

In Reception and Year 1, Phonics is taught daily for 20 minutes.

During these sessions children will learn and identify Grapheme- Phoneme correspondences (GPCs), blend to read and segment to spell words.  They also learn to read and spell high frequency words.  Every lesson includes an element of Using and Applying which will either be reading or writing a sentence or caption. 

Children are taught to use ‘phonic fingers’ to help them identify and read graphs, digraphs, trigraphs and split digraphs in a range of words.

In addition to this, children are taught to apply their phonics in their guided reading and in their writing by using phonics sounds cards.

Because of the recent school lockdown, the Year 2 children are required to sit the Phonics Screening test by the end of the Autumn term 2020.  Year 2 will also be having phonics revision lessons daily until Christmas.  Those that do not pass will continue to work on phonics throughout the year, in preparation for the test re-take in June 2021.


All children are entitled to high quality, explicit teaching of reading through guided reading sessions, individual reading and shared reading using big books, picture books and websites.  Children will be taught how to blend to read and will learn to read on sight, the high frequency words / common exception words they need to access texts within and beyond their expected age related ability.

All children will experience a range of ‘texts’ and ‘stories’ through drama, roleplay, speaking and listening activities, discussions with peers and adults, and through websites such as Cbeebies.  One of our teachers has also set up a bedtime story channel on Youtube which parents can access at home safely.

Guided reading is planned using the guided reading sheets with a list of objectives drawn from the 2014 National Curriculum, the Assessment framework, the EYFS and Wave 3.  Reading is planned to provide children with explicit teaching of reading skills and with a clear progression in mind.

All children in school hear stories every day. 

In addition, in the early stages of a teaching sequence, children are given opportunities to learn and respond to a text, map and learn a story and learn new vocabulary and models for writing.

In Reception from the Autumn half term, children will have one guided reading session a week with a teacher or be heard individually.  They have a Big Book session 3 times a week where a member of staff uses a big book to model targeted reading objectives. This follows the Big Book Reading Plan agreed in school.  They also hear a range of picture books read by their teacher.  By the end of the year, they will know and be able to join in with nursery rhymes and traditional tales.

In Year 1 children have at least one half an hour guided reading session a week with their teacher.  Children are grouped by ability across year groups (and in the case of Gifted and Talented children across the Key Stage) so that groups are kept at a small size and they are given the appropriate level book to read.    Reading in class provides all children with an opportunity for developing comprehension skills.  Children learn and remember a range of texts in English but also experience a greater range of non-fiction and poetry by the end of the year.

In Year 2 children begin the year in guided reading groups but can move into whole class teaching as and when appropriate.  This might be done in the spring term to focus on specific skills linked to comprehension.  Children read longer texts to develop stamina.    Children who are working below age related expectations will continue to have extra reading in a small group or one-to-one.  We regularly review the impact of our teaching of reading to ensure all children are making progress.  Running records are used to assess reading skills and to set next steps.  Children also listen to work written by their peers.  The teachers read daily to Year 2 and begin to read a range of chapter books by authors such as Roald Dahl, D King-Smith and Swapna Haddow.  By the end of the year, they read and respond to a range of poems, non-fiction, traditional tales and a thesaurus.

Special Needs.

Children who are identified as making slower progress or who are not achieving age related expectations are given additional reading which can be in the form of one-to-one reading, additional guided reading sessions or Project X Code.  All of these are monitored to ensure progress is made.


Reading for Pleasure at Pilton Infants' School

We want all children to leave Pilton Infants' School as confident, fluent readers, but above all, we want children to enjoy books. We want them to leave with a love of reading which they can take with them all through their education and beyond.

Each class has their own Reading for Pleasure book.  This is usually sent home with a different child every night and they add to the book with a review or recommendation.  During the Covid pandemic, we won't be doing this.  However, you can work with your child at home in review books in their reading diary.  This can be in the form of writing or a picture.   You can see some examples of the reviews below.

Teachers read at least once a day to their class.  We love to read a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.   In Key Stage 1 we start to share chapter books which help develop imagination and concentration over a sustained period of time.  We also begin to introduce the Year 2s to other genres, such as comics and dictionaries.

Below is an example of some of the fun things we do when we find a book we love.  We read "You're Called What?!" by Kes Gray.  Then the children made up their own animals with silly names and chose a more sensible name for them.  You can see the results below:

How can you help at home?  We send home books for the children to practise reading.  A few pages a night makes a huge difference to the progress they make.  Reading your child more challenging stories or texts is also a great way to broaden their horizons.  Share books at bedtime, look through magazines together, read non-fiction information from the internet such as recipes or recite favourite poems together.  Talk about the reading you do on a daily basis.

Look at our Parents page for some videos made by our teaching staff about how to help with reading.

The following site has hundreds of stories for children to listen to and it's absolutely free! 

Are you part of the Pilton Infants' Community? Would you like to recommend a book you've enjoyed recently?  Could you share some pictures of you reading at home?  Would you like to share a link to a poem you've read and enjoyed? If you have something you are happy to share on this site, please get in touch at marked for the attention of Mrs Ruddick.

Here are some recommendations from our teachers...