Our approach to the teaching of reading
The school believes that encouraging children to read for enjoyment is key to their success as a reader. Teachers choose potent texts that will excite the children and motivate them to want to read more. As a school we use the Collins Big Cat Phonics scheme.
In order for children in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage One to become successful, independent readers, they need to process a variety of reading skills and knowledge. These include:
- familiarity with syntax (sentence structure and grammatical arrangement)
- good familiarity with the genre of stories
- good auditory memory
- recognition of letters and their sounds
- knowledge of the grapho-phonic construction of words
Teachers in the school provide the children with a good model of spoken English, with lots of discussion related to the children’s personal experiences. All children listen to stories in class on a regular basis. The school adopts a multi-strand approach to the teaching of reading, balancing the daily systematic teaching of synthetic phonics (defined as teaching letter-sound relationships in an explicit, organised and sequenced fashion where the child sounds out and blends sounds of printed words to produce a spoken word which they can then hopefully recognise), with integrated teaching during the literacy hour encompassing the ‘whole word’ approach.
Every teacher provides opportunities for children to develop their reading skills. All classrooms have a quiet reading area where children can select and read books individually or in pairs.
Each class timetables English daily where teaching is focused on reading a shared text with the whole class. Children take part in whole class shared reading and/or writing every day and guided reading session during a timetables ‘Reading Workshop.’ For guided reading, where children’s ability enables them to, children read the same text in small groups with each child reading in their heads. The teacher spends time with each child in the group listening to them read and discussing the text. Children support each other very well in this non-threatening environment.
In addition to these planned reading opportunities, Infant staff listen to less-able readers individually every day, or at least three times a week (Daily Readers). All children are heard reading independently at least once per week. Children also take home a reading book to share with their parents. There are also activities in the back of the reading books to check children’s understanding of their reading. Once signed off by the parent as ‘completed’ in the Home Contact Book, and after the teaching assistant has checked the child’s understanding of the text, the book is changed. Book changes, 1-1 reading and movement through the reading scheme are always recorded in the child’s ‘Home Contact Book’. Teachers encourage parents to listen to their child reading 3 times each week and reading books are changed on completion. Parent helpers are encouraged to support reading in all classrooms.
The school uses the Collins Big Cat is the main reading scheme running throughout the school. The books follow a progression in phonics approach as well as different text types and difficulties of text. Reading books begin in Early Years with Lilac band, consisting of picture books, to encourage children to talk about stories and ignite their interest in reading. Children are given reading books according to their ability. Staff and parents use the contact book to communicate on children’s progress and interests. The school follows Letters and Sounds Phonics’ Scheme.
As children progress through Key Stage Two, children read progressively challenging texts with improved accuracy, fluency and understanding. Children are able to respond critically and sensitively to the texts they read. They use reference materials with confidence for a range of purposes. Most children become ‘Free Readers’ during Year 5 or 6. In Year 6, children are encouraged to bring their own reading material to school. Suitability is always checked by the teacher. Children read a variety of genres including: novels, poetry, comics, letters, short stories and non-fiction texts.