Reading is given very high priority within school. All classes have their own inviting reading areas and children have many opportunities to read within the school day. All Key Stage 1 and 2 classes have daily, dedicated 20 minute reading sessions where all children complete purposeful reading activities. The teacher assesses the reading of each child, asking appropriate questions linked to the reading assessment focuses and then keeps records to build up a picture of each child’s reading. Children have the opportunity to have stories read to them each day. All Key Stage 2 classes have a class novel.
Phonics is also taught for approximately 20 minutes each day in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 classes. It also extends into Key Stage 2 where children have not gained a sound phonological understanding. The school phonics programme follows the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document with the introduction this year (2018) of ‘Storytime phonics’ scheme, using real books to teach phonics and comprehension skills combined. It is vital that children do not have gaps in their understanding and for that reason a whole school phonics assessment is completed. This follows the children throughout school so that any gaps in their understanding can be targeted and rectified. A whole school assessment of common words is also used by staff in the same way as the phonics record. This enables staff to ensure that children learn to spell basic common words, some of which are phonetically irregular.
All children are encouraged to take books home to share. Foundation Stage is rich in quality books in all areas of learning. All Key Stage 1 books are banded so that children have an opportunity to choose books for themselves that are at the right level of difficulty. The main schemes used are Oxford Reading Tree, Rigby Star and Usbourne. Each child’s reading book level is carefully cross checked with their National Curriculum Level and Reading Age to ensure that it corresponds appropriately. The ‘Accelerated Reader’ programme is used in Key Stage 2 for home reading. This has a great motivational effect on children as it introduces an element of competition. Following an online quiz, children are given an appropriate book level. They can then choose a book of their interest which will be at an appropriate level of difficulty. Following completion of the book, an online comprehension quiz enables the child and teacher to assess understanding. All children keep a total word count for all books read during the year. This is linked to the school reward system.
The school follows the English Curriculum as described in the National Curriculum 2014
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the written and spoken word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
The programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:
- word reading
- comprehension (both listening and reading).
Teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are needed for each.
Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics is so improtant in the early teaching of reading to beginners and provides part of the daily routine from Nursery and Reception and across Key Stage 1.
Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills are developed through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.