Curriculum - Reading and Phonics

Reading and Phonics Intent

At St. Stephen’s C.E. Primary, we aspire for all children to establish an appreciation and love of reading, at all stages of their learning journey. We are committed to sharing high quality, vocabulary rich texts, across the curriculum, so that children may develop knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live. We encourage our pupils to discover new information and develop their comprehension skills by reading widely using both fiction and non-fiction texts which (where possible) are linked to their topics across the curriculum. By the time our pupils leave St. Stephen’s C.E. Primary, we envisage that they will be competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, seek out books from a range of different genres including poetry and engage in discussion about authorial choices or impact on the reader. Once our pupils have unlocked the key to reading here with us at St. Stephen’s C.E. Primary, it is our intention that they will be able to apply their reading skills in order to access any subject in their secondary education and beyond.

Reading and Phonics Implementation

We will support all children to learn to read through clear leadership; consistent teaching and learning approaches; regular monitoring and assessment along with a joint commitment between school and home. Reading teachers, with support from the Reading Lead, English Lead and Senior Leadership Team, draw upon careful observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Timely intervention is planned for those children working below expected levels as soon as their needs are identified. All children read aloud during phonics or whole class reading. In addition, some pupils may read at least once more per week with a teacher, teaching assistant or reading volunteer; the focus being on the lowest 20%. Furthermore, Pupil Premium children and those pupils not reading regularly at home, have additional opportunities to read aloud.

At St. Stephen’s C.E. Primary, the systematic teaching of phonics has high priority in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. We use a synthetic phonics teaching programme produced by Ruth Miskin called Read Write Inc. (RWI) Phonics as a basis to teach our pupils to read and write. Pupils usually complete the programme by Year 2; some may even finish towards the end of Year 1. Pupils in Lower Key Stage 2 who need extra support with decoding may also follow the programme.

How do we teach Early Reading?

Pupils start Read Write Inc. Phonics when they enter Nursery. From Reception, we group children by their reading progress during RWI sessions. The sessions last up to one hour per day (20 to 45 minutes in Reception). We re-assess children every half term so we can place them in a group where they will make the most progress. One to one or small group sessions may be provided for some children. Staff may also use ‘Pinny Time’ to revisit key sounds/words at incidental points throughout the day in Reception and Key Stage 1. RWI Phonics is presented in a simple but exciting format so that pupils can learn how to read and write sounds effortlessly. First we teach pupils the different pictures that relate to the sounds in the programme. This is introduced in Nursery so that pupils are familiar with the images in preparation for further learning in Reception. This is followed by learning one way to read and write the first 40+ sounds in English, using the pictures to help identify the different sounds. We use a Frog called Fred to play ‘Fred Talk’ games to help with oral blending and to assist pupils when reading words by sound-blending. Fred says the sound and children help him blend the sounds to read each word. Then we teach the children different spellings of the same sounds and use phrases to help them remember each sound, for example, ‘may I play?’ accompanies the ay sound. We refer to speed sounds charts so that pupils can begin to make connections between the different graphemes they are learning to represent the sounds.

We want pupils to work together so teamwork is a key part of the RWI sessions. Partner work is very important; the teacher observes and checks what they know and only moves on when pupils are ready. Pupils are introduced to new characters and words along with the tricky ‘red words’ prior to reading a RWI text. We want them to get excited about the story. They then read the book at least three times before taking a book home; where they should then be able to share the story confidently with some expression or a ‘storyteller’ voice. Within each colour block of RWI phonics, storybooks and two additional non-fiction books are provided with plans to use in sessions. Other linked story books or additional texts may be shared with the pupils in school and at home but we would not expect pupils to read these independently. Some pupils may require some additional revision of the sounds or blending these together to read words and will take part in additional support sessions following the RWI programme.

What happens when pupils complete RWI?

Once pupils have secured their phonics knowledge they are empowered to embrace a blended reading package, which aims to meet the needs of all of our pupils and aims to inspire them to develop a love of reading. Reading Plus, whole class reading, guided reading, discrete reading comprehension and protected story time, all form part of the KS2 reading package, along with engaging reading areas and rich, inviting home reading books.

A key element of our key stage two reading provision is the use of Reading Plus. Reading Plus creates a personalised programme for all learners following a diagnostic assessment. This focuses on the specific skills that pupils need to develop to reach age-related expected standards. Pupils’ aspirations are set high on Reading Plus, and they receive regular extrinsic rewards to encourage, motivate and recognise achievement. Disadvantaged pupils, EAL, and SEN pupils benefit significantly from the ambitious, knowledgeable, and cultural texts on Reading Plus.

Reading Plus adapts the scheme of work accordingly to support an individual’s learning needs. Reading Plus tracks pupil progress and predicts pupil growth over time. Summative baseline data, formative assessments and bespoke interventions, informs curriculum and teaching methods. Teacher workload is reduced as resources are provided with intervention materials such as lesson plans and worksheets. If used as recommended, Reading Plus develops learners’ confidence and enjoyment of reading.

Reading Plus can be used at home, meaning students have access to over 1,000 informative, non-fiction, and fiction texts outside of the classroom. Through the wide range of complex texts available on Reading Plus, pupils are frequently made aware of connectedness within the curriculum and the relevance of reading across subject areas. Pupils are exposed to unfamiliar texts from topics outside their cultural context, with more challenging vocabulary. The Reading Plus programme includes visual-perceptual skill-building and vocabulary development components encouraging pupils to build knowledge and mastery of general academic vocabulary. Reading Plus improves pupils’ fluency, stamina, and comprehension. When used as recommended, pupils can achieve up to 2.6 years’ average comprehension gains.

In addition to Reading Plus, all KS2 pupils enjoy at least one high quality guided reading session with an adult each week. The main goal of guided reading is to help students use reading strategies whilst reading for meaning independently. Guided reading is informed by Vygotsky’s (1978) Zone of Proximal Development and Bruner’s (1986) notion of scaffolding, informed by Vygotsky’s research. The practice of guided reading is based on the belief that the optimal learning for a reader occurs when they are assisted by an educator, or expert ‘other’, to read and understand a text with clear but limited guidance. Guided reading allows students to practise and consolidate effective reading strategies. Guided reading helps students develop greater control over the reading process through the development of reading strategies which assist decoding and construct meaning. The teacher guides or ‘scaffolds’ their students as they read, talk and think their way through a text (Department of Education, 1997).

In addition, children hear, share and discuss a range of high quality texts through our whole class Literary Curriculum teaching, both in terms of fiction and non-fiction. All genres are covered across a year group to ensure progression and breadth of coverage. Protected story time (in every class, everyday) enables our pupils to develop a lifelong love of language and literature. We know that future success is linked directly to a broad vocabulary, love of reading and ability to communicate effectively through text. Therefore, our primary aim is to light a spark for literature through the teaching and reading together of quality texts. We know that story time is a vital part of this process and this is highly prized part of our school day.

Explicit teaching of reading comprehension takes place every week.  We ensure children of all ages learn comprehension strategies and are able to respond to texts. The level of challenge increases throughout the year groups through the complexity of texts being read. It is recognised that reading comprehension relies heavily on knowledge. Our broad curriculum aides reading comprehension by ensuring that children gain the knowledge of the world in which they live and bring such knowledge to their reading.

Engaging reading areas, in all classrooms, provide an opportunity for children to select and read books of their own choice. In addition, home reading books support the pupil’s reading progress and develop their vocabulary and understanding of text.

Reading and Phonics Impact

As we believe that reading is key to all learning, the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the result of statutory assessments. Children have the opportunity to enter the wide and varied magical worlds that reading opens up to them. As they develop their own interest in books, a deep love of literature across a range of genres cultures and styles is enhanced.

Through the teaching of systematic phonics and reading enquiry, our aim is for children to become fluent and confident readers who can apply their knowledge and experience to a range of texts through the Key Stage 2 curriculum.

As a Year 6 reader, transitioning into secondary school, we aspire that children are fluent, confident and able readers, who can access a range of texts for pleasure and enjoyment, as well as use their reading skills to unlock learning and all areas of the curriculum. We firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments.

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