Phonics and Early Reading

In Shankhill, we highly value reading as both an enjoyable and social habit, and as life-long skill that is key to unlocking all learning. Therefore, we actively encourage reading for pleasure across our whole school community so that everyone, young and old, develops and maintains a love of reading through their own volition. We understand reading is an essential part of education, with reading for pleasure providing wide and significant educational advantages. Initially, at Shankhill, we teach reading through the Read, Write, Inc. reading books where phonically decodable texts are matched to the child’s stage of development. From Early Years to Year 6, we utilise the CUSP reading curriculum that based on aspirational, sequential learning. This ensures daily teaching of reading skills based on and rich and engaging texts that challenge and support learning for all children. Reading for Fluency is encouraged through a range of reading practices in each lesson, building up knowledge, expression, prosody and ultimately comprehension. Reading is resourced and enhanced through highly skilled and motivated staff who enrich and complement curriculum learning with a wealth of books - new, familiar and cherished texts - which are accessible in classes and our school library. As with every area of our curriculum, vocabulary is a vital and fundamental element, as is the regular revisiting and retrieval of knowledge and skills to make sure they are embedded.

Two types of reading books are selected by children and brought home daily: 

  • Learning to Read Book – a phonically matched decodable book from either Read, Write, Inc. or our Accelerated Reader library.
  • Reading for Pleasure Book – selected from a wide range of books from class or our whole school library. These can include familiar previously read books, new texts, fiction, poetry, non-fiction, magazines, comics and/or any texts chosen from home. 


All of our staff are trained and experienced in teaching phonics using the Read, Write, Inc. system of synthetic phonics as approved by the DfE. The Read Write Inc. phonics scheme teaches children the sounds in the English language; the letters that represent them; and how to form the letters when writing. All children, from Reception have a daily Speed Sounds lesson where they learn to hear, recognise, say and write the sounds (phonemes) and letters (graphemes) required to communicate in the English language. We also use the Read, Write, Inc. reading books which are written using only the sounds learnt at each level of reading development (and a small number of separately taught red ‘tricky’ words). Children read these phonically decodable books in lessons and can select a book bag book from the same colour box to practice their reading at home. Children will read each book several times to build up fluency, confidence and expression through reading this familiar text. In using this system of teaching and learning consistently, our children soon feel confident and go on to become very successful readers. Click for further information 

Learning to Read and Reading for Pleasure in combination with Accelerated Reader

We use Accelerated Reader in our school to carefully match reading texts to each child's decoding and comprehension ability to challenge and raise the expectations, progress and attainment in reading. Regular STAR reading tests are taken to closely monitor our children's progress and to make sure their ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) level is accurate. This level gives the children a range in which to choose their reading books, empowering them to know what will be a challenge for them or what will be an appropriate level for them to access the texts with fluency and understanding.

All children enhance these ‘learning to read’ skills alongside deepening their reading for pleasure by selecting from a wide range of texts for all ages, both from school libraries and county library resources (book bus visits and book boxes). We encourage our children to re-read texts to develop fluency and enjoyment and form a deeper understanding. Our children regularly change their reading books, following AR quizzes, and are guided by their ZPD level. We have a well-stocked library- full of fiction, poetry and non-fiction- which children can access throughout the day for a wide range of reading experiences.