Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and our staff are passionate about sharing their love of literature with the children. We are dedicated to ensuring all our learners leave our school with the necessary English skills needed to function effectively at secondary school. We have built a reading community centered around reading for pleasure and inspiring children to read books that they may not have chosen to read without our guidance. We want our children to read broadly and engage in conversations about the books they have read, make recommendations and share their love of books with others. Through our carefully planned reading curriculum, and promotion of reading for pleasure, we encourage our children to become passionate readers too.
Alongside the clear academic benefits, we also believe reading allows children to relax their brain, calm their mind and widen their understanding of the world beyond their experiences. We know that reading helps to develop children’s imagination, vocabulary and concentration. We engage with parents and families to help share our view on the benefits of developing a culture for reading.
Reading for Pleasure
At St Peter’s, we promote a love of reading through the use of high quality texts within English lessons. We carefully choose books to inspire and motivate children to become better readers and develop a curiosity for reading and an interest in stories. We create a reading culture through the promotion of books
within classes and whole school assemblies, celebrating the reading achievements with parents and the wider community. Children have ‘Book Bingo’ reading challenges within their reading diaries to encourage and incentivise them to read a wide and diverse range of books. Teachers share a class novel with their children on a daily basis purely as an opportunity to gain enjoyment from a story. These books could be chosen as a means of enhancing a particular curriculum focus but the overall focus is to select a book to engage the children and seek enjoyment.
Our staff, with support and guidance from the Educational Library Service, have compiled a ‘Top Ten Titles’ list for each year group in order to guide both children and parents into choosing texts that are both challenging yet age appropriate. These books have been purchased to create class loaning libraries. These are not books to be taught across the school curriculum, just rich texts to be enjoyed by the children. We also endeavor to keep our class bookshelves stocked with modern, appealing books that the children are proud to take home.
Parents are involved in reading through the promotion of the Book Bingo challenge. Alongside this, there is an expectation that parents read at home with their children five times a week and sign reading diaries. These diaries are checked by teachers on a weekly basis. This opportunity for parental engagement quickly allows us to establish children who are not motivated to read at home or who are not reading five times a week. We have special reading circles operating in all year groups where children opt to listen to stories during a proportion of their lunch times. The children benefiting from this intervention are carefully selected to help engage with stories and develop a passion for reading. We also select groups of children to take to our local library in Ruddington. With parental consent, library cards are allocated and the librarians show the children around the library and help them to make suitable book selections. They also share a story during this enlightening experience.
Reading for fluency
We ensure that pupils continue to make progress in reading accuracy and fluency in Year 3 through a robust screening approach. All children are screened on entry to the school using phonicstrackeronline.com. These results enable us to group children based on the precise sounds missing from their reading phases, intervening with striking impact.
Children all undertake regular assessments in reading and children falling behind are quickly identified and support is put in place. Phonics groups are quickly established and children’s revision of the phonic phases help children to increase fluency. These children identified for phonics intervention receive daily support sessions to help rapidly reduce gaps in learning through a robust approach to the teaching of synthetic phonics using Letters and Sounds. These children will change their reading books on a weekly basis with a teaching assistant. Alongside this, a fleet of both teaching assistants and reading volunteers support children identified for ‘Switch On Reading’ to help close the gap and get children back on track. This system also helps by engaging parents and supporting them with strategies when listening to their children read at home, as well and highlighting the need and importance of this. Teachers identify ‘spotlight’ children in lessons and closely monitor the attainment and learning of all children who failed the phonics screening retake in Year 2.
The school follows the Letters and Sounds approach to the teaching of phonics, gaining expert support from staff at The English Hub. All teachers have received phonics training across school and are loyal to phonics when children are decoding words or developing in reading fluency across the school. This scheme has been supplemented by Big Cat Collins fully decodable reading books, specifically purchased to appeal to Key Stage 2 readers who are still not meeting age related expectations.
Regular monitoring and assessments rapidly identify children failing to make sufficient progress. Teachers endeavour to diagnose the root cause of the issue in order to put the best intervention in place. Whether this be reading speed, understanding, skills in decoding or potentially difficulties including dyslexia, the root cause needs identifying in order to address the concern and respond accurately. Teaching assistants are all scheduled to receive a full day of phonics letters and sounds training as well as a ‘Switch on Reading’ refresher training course. Regular CPD opportunities enable our staff to adopt a consistent approach across the Key Stage.
All whole class comprehension lessons include the opportunity for readers to read at length. Children learn to respond and read back in a choral fashion to improve fluency. They also provide opportunities to re-read extracts previously discussed with the purpose of increasing reading fluency.
Reading for Meaning and Understanding
Our approach to the teaching of reading comprehension is linked to the use of extracts in order to encourage reading at length, whilst accessing rich and challenging literature. Comprehension is explicitly taught as opposed to tested and teachers scaffold responses to model high quality responses. Teachers have developed this approach through designing a bespoke system to support the emerging needs of the pupils at St Peter’s. This system has been designed specifically to complement our writing clusters approach to the teaching of writing, encompassing elements linked to the specific teaching of vocabulary. Teachers assess understanding through analysis of children’s written responses and opportunities are regularly created for children to edit and improve their original responses in order to add greater depth and detail.