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).
Using the 'Little Wandle' phonics scheme, 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 daily in each class to promote a love of books. 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. Children are encouraged to complete ‘Book Bingo’ sheets of recommended reads for each year group, with a wide range of age-appropriate texts available.
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. Children in KS1 take home a phonetically decodable book to read independently. They also take home a 'bedtime story' book to share with their family.
We also have a very popular, annual Poetry Recital competition which encourages children to read a range of poems and recite 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. Reading practise sessions in Reception and Year 1 take place 3 times per week. Older children read individually to an adult at least once per week.
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.
Guided reading takes place once a week across KS2. 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.
Support staff predominantly listen to individual children read. They have had training from our English Subject Leader to ensure the experience is positive and meaningful, using the VIPERS approach to develop a range of comprehension skills. Class teachers listen to children read as often as possible to ensure books are appropriately matched to ability and that pupils are making progress. Reading levels are reviewed by class teachers after each assessment week to ensure reading books are well matched to the child's ability.
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.
Which reading schemes are used?
‘Collins Big Cats’ is our main progressive scheme which is used from Reception to Year 6, beginning with picture books with no words, to phonetically decodable books (Big Cats Little Wandle) to more challenging texts (Pearl Colour Band Level 18) to extend even the more able readers in Year 6. In addition, 'black level' books are provided for children at pre-free reader level. These are longer novels aimed at increasing reading stamina and preparing children to become confident, independent readers. The scheme provides a high quality, enjoyable, interesting range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and classic texts. When children progress to ‘free readers’, they are encouraged to choose from age-appropriate books from the ‘Recommended Reads’ list.
In Reception and KS1, books are phonically de-codable (Big Cats Little Wandle) and are closely matched to children's phonic skills, based on half-termly assessments. Children in these classes are also able to select 'bedtime reading' books for them to share with adults at home.
We have a wide range of texts for Guided Reading sessions. 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?
In Reception and Year 1, half-termly assessments using the Little Wandle Phonics Scheme helps teachers to closely match phonically de-codable books for children at an appropriate level. We use the Big Cats Little Wandle to support phonics teaching from picture books, through to Phase 5. Once children have completed the Little Wandle program and read the Big Cats Little Wandle books through to phase 5, they then progress onto Turquoise level of the Big Cats books scheme, which continues through to Pearl (Level 18) to extend and challenge the more able readers in upper KS2.
Class teachers listen to individual readers (and in guided reading/reading practice sessions) 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. Reading levels are also reviewed by the class teacher after each termly assessment week. 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 Reception (phonics), 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.
We adopt a ‘Keep up, not Catch up’ approach to teaching reading using phonics. Therefore, children who are struggling receive daily support (in groups and individually) in addition to their regular phonics teaching.
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.
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.