At St George the Martyr, the teaching of reading aims to enable children to develop into fluent readers who gain enjoyment and pleasure from the reading of books. We use the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education to support the teachers in delivering a rich and engaging English curriculum. We are developing the role of ‘Book Talk’ across the school, which forms part of our guided reading sessions where children and adults are encouraged to share their opinions with each other.
In the Early Years and Key Stage 1, the focus is on the teaching of synthetic phonics (Letters & Sounds) and developing early readers. The books the children use are matched to the phase of phonics they are learning in order to maximise the progress made with their reading.
Guided Reading sessions take place daily. The class is split into groups, with each group having a weekly reading session with the teacher. A carousel of reading comprehension activities is organised for the children who are not reading with the teacher on that day. A guided reading session over the course of a week would comprise of; pre-reading, book talk, comprehension activities, reading fluency and finally reading for pleasure.
Teachers will explicitly model to the children the essential strategies for reading, fluency, intonation and expression through modelled reading sessions. Children throughout the school will have the opportunity to hear teachers read to them on a daily basis. Whole class texts are selected carefully to ensure variety and progression.
During English lessons, the teacher will model reading skills to the whole class and will then encourage the children to participate in shared reading. Misconceptions are addressed and children have the ownership of the text and enjoy sharing the text. They have the opportunity to apply the skills taught within a guided reading session when reading aloud.
Each classroom has a book corner and children work with adults to choose age appropriate texts to read for their own pleasure and enjoyment. We have a beautiful library, which is open daily for the children to experience a love of books. The adults who oversee the library are passionate about reading and this is evident each lunchtime.
Phonics sessions are carried out for 10-20 minutes each day in Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1. Teachers follow the five phonic phases as set out in Letters and Sounds. Children’s phonic knowledge is assessed termly. Phonics sessions are engaging and fun. The children follow a clear teaching sequence and the progress they make with reading is rapid.
Reading across the Curriculum
Teachers seek to provide children with opportunities to read in all lessons not just in English. Other subjects are a useful time to explore texts as the content has context and purpose.
Children have the opportunity to take home one free choice book of their choice and one levelled reading book each week. Children who are free readers may take home two books of their own choice. At the start of each academic year, children are given a Reading Record in which they can record their individual reading and in which parents/carers or the children themselves write comments when they have heard them read. A weekly competition is firmly embedded whereby all classes aim for a 95%+ daily return rate of Reading Records.
The school has a small bank of parents who give over some dedicated time each week to listen to children read. We also have a school dog called Dom, who listens to KS1 readers each Friday.
How can parents help?
Parents have the ability to influence their child’s attitude to reading and ensuring they have a positive attitude to reading. Talking about books and sharing them together is an enjoyable and effective activity. Reading with your child can take many forms and doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to a particular genre, or even language. At KS1 & KS2 we ask for your support in filling out a home/reading record that indicates you have heard your child read.
We believe that language is a powerful tool for learning and social development. We are committed to developing pupils’ competence in their understanding and expression of spoken and written language through careful planning, teaching and assessment.
We understand that writing is a complicated process involving the skilful orchestration of transcriptional skills (handwriting, spelling) and compositional ones (structure, grammar, vocabulary, understanding of audience). We teach the compositional aspects of writing within the context each particular genre and the transcriptional aspects. As far as possible, we separate out the skills involved in each genre of writing so that they are practiced individually before being co-ordinated in a final, extended piece of work.
All year groups have the opportunity write in an extended way at least once a week. The writing produced is marked with next steps to help each child improve their work. Although we have specific sessions devoted to writing at length, we recognise that writing occurs every day in almost all areas of the curriculum and as such, is the key to children’s ongoing practice, understanding and application of all skills, and not just those involved specifically in English.
Our planning provides a range of scaffolds to support success. These scaffolds include; talk for writing, drama and role play, writing for a range of purposes and audiences, explicit grammar teaching, exposure to high quality texts, visual and language scaffolds alongside the systematic teaching of spelling and handwriting.
How can parents help?
Parents can support children’s writing by encouraging them to write for a range of purposes and audiences at home. For example;
This can be in English or in their home language. Furthermore, parents can encourage their children’s writing achievements through supporting the homework, handwriting and spelling that have been set for them.
Spelling & Phonics
We recognise that spelling is an important skill and, for children to become confident, fluent writers, they must have a secure grasp of the building blocks of spelling: phonology (the sounds in words), morphology (how words are built) and etymology (where words come from).
In the Early Years and KS1, children learn to spell through the discrete teaching of daily phonics in 15 – 30 minute sessions. We use ‘Letters and Sounds’ – a progressive synthetic phonics programme. We also use Jolly phonics actions to help the children remember each of the 44 phonemes/sounds. What is learnt during these discrete sessions is applied through the day in speaking, reading and writing, in a language rich curriculum.
As children become more proficient writers, they move from differentiated daily phonics to weekly whole class spelling lessons. This whole class teaching focuses on the spellings and related rules listed in Appendix 1 of the New National Curriculum for English. Teaching is focused on identifying root words, prefixes and suffixes, the rules associated with these, why some words are spelt unusually and the identification of exception words.
How can parents help?
Talking about the words, letters and sounds that you see and hear around house and when you are out and about will support your child’s learning in phonics. Singing nursery rhymes and reading poems will improve their ability to distinguish between sounds. When children are learning about word roots, prefixes and suffixes, collecting words from the environment (in their own reading or when they are out and about) and identifying patterns in them will support your child’s understanding of how words are built. It is always interesting to work out which language words originate from and if you speak more than one language, you will find that it is a rich resource to draw from.
The sounds to be taught in Phonics: