Reading & Phonics

Reading is a fundamental part of everything that we do.  Our children enjoy high quality texts across the curriculum and reading skills are taught explicitly.  Alongside skills of decoding and comprehension, book talk encourages children to think as a reader and discuss their preferences, likes and dislikes.  Reading is encouraged.  Ongoing reading challenges are implemented to encourage regular reading at home.  We realise the importance of providing children a welcoming, nurturing library environment where they can immerse themselves in reading for pleasure.  We have recently restocked and reorganised our school library which children readily have access to.

Phonics is taught using Read Write Inc (RWI) materials.  Pupils are immersed in a directed teaching approach which embeds systematic phonic skills as the core skills for reading.  Sounds are taught in a specific order and regular assessment ensures pupils are grouped according to their ability.  Daily phonics sessions are delivered in EYFS & KS1.

The Pie Corbett Reading Spine

We want our school to be a place where children are read to, enjoy, discuss and work with high quality books.

These ‘essential reads’ would be a store of classics, creating a living library inside a child’s mind. This is the ‘Reading Spine’. We have provided the Pie Corbett reading spine in our classrooms so that children have access to these high-quality texts.


Pie Corbett says…

Great books build the imagination. The more we read aloud expressively, and the more children are able to savour, discuss and reinterpret literature through the arts, the more memorable the characters, places and events become, building an inner world. A child who is read to will have an inner kingdom of unicorns, talking spiders and a knife that cuts into other worlds. The mind is like a ‘tardis’; it may seem small but inside there are many mansions. Each great book develops the imagination and equips the reader with language.

Great stories speak to us as individuals and some children will return to certain books again and again. Great stories also build our language because around 75 per cent of our vocabulary comes from our reading. Reading develops the ability to think in the abstract; to follow lines of thought. Schools that have a reading spine, build a common bank of stories that bind the community together. These are shared and deeply imagined common experiences.

Here are the spines for each age group, along with Pie Corbett's rationale behind the book choices.

We have included the nursery spine also because the repetitive and song like nature of the texts in these picture books help to give great confidence to early readers in terms of fluency when reading.


At Coverack children are taught the skills of reading (outlined in the National Curriculum and the KS1 and KS2 test domains) through the use of VIPERS which were created by Rob Smith (The Literacy Shed). 

The Reading Vipers can be used by both KS1 and KS2 with a little adaptation. The main difference being in the S. 

Sequence – KS1 

Summarise – KS2 

In KS1, ‘Explain’ is not one of the content domains, rather it asks children why they have come to a certain conclusion, to explain their preferences, thoughts and opinions about a text. 

In KS2, the Explain section covers the additional content domains of 2F, 2G and 2H which are not present in KS1. 

What are Vipers? 

VIPERS is an anagram to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the reading curriculum.  They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts. 

The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc. As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions. They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning afterwards. 

Key Stage 1 

In Key Stage One children reading skills are taught and practised using the VIPERS during whole class reading sessions. 

KS1 Content Domain Reference  [VIPER] 

1a draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts  [Vocabulary] 

1b identify/explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction, such as characters, events, titles and information  [Retrieve] 

1c identify and explain the sequences of events in texts  [Sequence] 

1d make inferences from the text  [Infer] 

1e predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far  [Predict] 

Key Stage 2 

In Key Stage Two children reading skills are taught and practised using VIPERS during whole class reading sessions. 

KS2 Content Domain Reference  [VIPER] 

2a Give/explain the meaning of words in context  [Vocabulary] 

2b retrieve and record information/ identify key details from fiction and non/fiction  [Retrieve] 

2c summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph  [Summarise] 

2d make inferences from the text/ explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text  [Infer] 

2e predict what might happen from details stated or implied  [Predict] 

2f identify/explain how information/ narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole  [Explain] 

2g identify/explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases  [Explain] 

2h make comparisons within a text  [Explain] 

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