Learning to read is one of the most important skills children will develop and as such, is given a high priority in school. Reading is an essential tool for children to learn, progress and understand the world around them with growing independence. In addition to expanding their vocabulary as children encounter new words, resulting in more highly developed language skills, reading supports understanding of writing and grammar as children see how authors compose sentences and use punctuation. Imagination can be enhanced as they picture what a character or scene may actually look like. Just as importantly, reading is also enjoyable!
What experiences do children have of reading in school?
Reading in many different forms takes place throughout the school day and beyond
Each classroom has an attractive reading area and children enjoy selecting favourite texts to read. The School Library Service (SLS) provides an excellent range of books linked to topics each term for each class as well as sets of fiction and guided reading books at age-appropriate levels. We have a well-stocked library from which children are encouraged to borrow books regularly to take home. We also have comprehensive, progressive reading schemes organised into colour bands, to meet the needs of our children including an online reading scheme (Bug Club).
The teaching of phonics is prioritised in EYFS and KS1 to enable children to develop skills to read with increased fluency (see Phonics at St Peter’s information). As children progress through school, higher order reading skills such as inference and deduction, are developed using strategies such as OWI (Observe, Wonder, Infer) and VIPERS (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explains, Retrieve, Summarise) sessions. Story time sessions take place regularly to promote a love of books (daily in EYFS) and a weekly Lunchtime Reading Club takes place which children enjoy. ERIC time (Everyone Reading in Class) is enjoyed by several classes.
Children experience a wide range of texts through weekly guided reading sessions, individual reading, library sessions and class texts linked to English lessons and topics (see Key Texts). Texts will be read in a variety of ways e.g. by the teacher to the class, shared reading with the teacher and the class or individuals chosen to read to the class, depending on the activity and learning objectives.
Texts may be linked to topics e.g. ‘Oliver Twist’ links to the Victorians topic in Year 5, trips e.g. ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ links to a trip to Skelton Grange outdoor Learning Centre and we enjoy visits from published authors.
Reading reward systems are in place across school to encourage children to read at home and books are regularly awarded as prizes. Book sales are organised and run by the school council on Parents Evening and children are often rewarded with a book following a good report from their teacher.
Parents are encouraged to support their child’s development in reading through shared reading sessions in nursery, reading workshops, meetings for parents and information sent home.
We have a very popular, annual Poetry Recital competition which encourages children to read a range of poems and recite on by heart.
How often do children read to an adult in school?
Reading of many kinds takes place throughout each day, however we value the opportunities given to children to read individually to an adult.
Children read individually to adults regularly in school. Individual reading sessions take place at least twice per week for children in Reception and Year 1 and once per week for children in Years 2 to 6.
Some children are targeted to read more frequently depending on their individual needs e.g. if they are working below age-expected, need additional support with decoding or comprehension skills or they don’t get the opportunity to read at home as often as other children.
Support staff predominantly listen to children read and they have had training from our English Subject Leader to ensure the experience is positive and meaningful. Class teachers listen to children read as often as possible to ensure books are appropriately matched to ability and that pupils are making progress.
We are lucky to have a number of reading volunteers who visit each week to listen to children read. They are given guidance strategies about how to make the sessions successful.
Guided reading takes place once a week across school. Children work in small ability groups with a member of staff focussing on a particular learning objective or aspect of the reading curriculum e.g. a particular phonics aspect, making predictions, deciding between fact and opinion, summarising a text, justifying a view point etc. Groups are rotated to enable the class teacher to regularly work with all abilities.
Which reading schemes are used?
We have a variety of reading schemes available in school to enable us to meet the needs of all our children. Books are colour banded to ensure they match appropriately to the ability of each child.
‘Collins Big Cats’ is our main progressive scheme which is used from Reception to Year 6, beginning with picture books with no words, (Lilac Colour Band Level 0) to challenging texts (Pearl Colour Band Level 18) to extend even the more able readers in Year 6. The scheme provides a high quality, enjoyable, interesting range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and classic texts.
We focus on the Jelly and Bean Scheme in Reception and Year 1 which is phonics based and provides the foundations for the sequence of letter sounds taught in Phase 2 Phonics. Individual reading books are given once the first 9 sounds are secure and children are beginning to blend and segment.
We have additional boxes of books organised using colour bands which include texts from a variety of schemes such as Oxford Reading Tree, Rigby Stars and Rigby Rockets, Project X (particularly developed to motivate and engage boys) and also a range of non-reading scheme books. This provides access to a wide range of reading material within each colour band and is particularly useful to support children who may not be ready to move up to the next colour.
We have a wide range of texts for Guided Reading sessions. These include ‘Floppy’s Phonics’ for Reception and KS1 which offer a range of fiction and non-fiction books with a clear phonics focus. We also use the Rigby scheme for guided reading which again provides a range of text types. In KS2 children read a variety of age-appropriate whole class texts such as The Silver Swan (Year 3), Spiderwick Chronicles (Year 4), The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (Year 5) and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Year 6) as well as an assortment of other texts.
In addition to actual books we use Bug Club which is an online reading platform. This particularly supports children in our school with comprehension skills as age-appropriate questions are asked of them within each text. It also encourages many of our children to read as they are motivated by the use of technology. Reading material in Bug Club is organised through colour bands so fits well with existing provision in school.
How are parents involved in supporting their child with reading?
Children are encouraged to read regularly with their parents at home. They all have a reading record and parents are asked to write a comment after they have listened to their child read to provide ongoing home-school communication.
To encourage children to read regularly at home, a reward system operates through school. Each time they read at home they receive a ticket which enables them to progress along the whole class initiative e.g. a reading cloud, reading rocket, reading tree, reading worm etc, accumulating various rewards as they go. When they complete the whole class initiative they visit the Head teacher or Deputy and receive a book prize.
Home-school learning is also promoted through the use Bug Club (online reading platform).
In Nursery, weekly shared reading time takes place where parents are encouraged to stay for the first 15 minutes of a session to read with their child.
In Reception and Year 1 meetings are held with parents to explain how phonics and early reading skills are taught and advice is given about ways they can support their child. Games and simple activities and word mats to support vocabulary development, are regularly sent home for children to work with their parents.
Information booklets are provided for parents to explain how to listen to children read as well as information about what children skills children should develop each year.
Our Parental Support Advisor (PSA) runs a variety of groups which support parents in helping their child with reading. Groups have run including ‘Helping your child to read’ and story sack making sessions.
Our school council organises and runs a book sale on Parent’s Evening and children are often rewarded by their parents following a positive report!
How do you match the levels of the children to the books they read?
As mentioned earlier, our reading books are organised across school using the colour band system, from Lilac (Level 0) comprising of books without words through to Pearl (Level 18) to extend and challenge the more able readers in upper KS2.
We use a combination of the Collins Big Cat scheme and the Jelly and Bean scheme in Reception and KS1.
In Reception, we begin with the Lilac Band books with no words to encourage children to talk about the pictures to explain what is happening.
As children become more secure with the first sounds phonics and are beginning to blend and segment, children progress onto the Pink Book Band using the Jelly and Bean scheme which is primarily phonics based. Where appropriate, this is supplemented with books from the Big Cat scheme to provide a wider range of reading material. Towards the end of Year 1 when children have become secure at Phase 5 phonics, they move predominantly onto the Big Cat scheme (again using the colour bands).
In Year 2, children requiring further phonics intervention continue to use the Jelly and Bean scheme whilst others will mainly use the Collins Big Cat scheme which continues right through KS2.
Class teachers listen to individual readers (and in guided reading) as often as possible, enabling them to accurately determine that all children are reading at the appropriate level. They liaise closely with adults in school who listen to the children read and intervene to determine if the level of challenge is appropriate.
If children are reading they are fluently and are able to comprehend the text they may be moved onto the next band without the need to complete all of the books available at that level.
If a child is struggling, the colour band system means that children can access a wide variety of texts at a particular level to provide more opportunity for them to become more secure before moving on.
If children are working below age-expected, how are they supported to catch up?
Children who are working at below age-expected in reading are quickly identified through our thorough assessment and tracking system as well as from ongoing formative assessments.
Detailed provision maps highlight children who require additional support and the intervention they receive in order to support them to catch up and narrow the gap with their peers.
Children are assessed using the end of year expectations statements which means that areas children are finding difficult are highlighted and targeted.
Teacher led intervention groups take place in KS1 and KS2, enabling small groups of children to receive high quality and effective support. Groups focus on a range of reading skills such as phonics, comprehension skills, tricky words / common exception words, fluency and accuracy etc.
Within classes, activities are differentiated to ensure reading materials are linked to children’s abilities.
For children working at well-below age-expected and/or those with a specific need, children are targeted for additional 1:1 support from intervention teachers. Jelly & Bean Phonics Intervention and the SENIT Phonics Programme are followed for children requiring additional intensive support. ‘Ticking Texts’ are used to support children who need intervention with early comprehension skills.
In response to the needs of the large majority of our children with EAL, other intervention strategies such as ‘Colourful Semantics’ are used to support children to develop their understanding of word types e.g. who, what, where, when language, which aids their comprehension skills. In addition, ‘Learn my word’ is used to expand vocabulary.
Provision maps also include a list of ‘Target Readers’ to support children who are working at below age-expected or who may not have the opportunity to read at home. Older children are often keen to read with some of the younger children and are paired up to provide additional reading sessions.