At St Michael’s Church of England Primary School, we endeavour to ensure that by the end of their primary education, all our children become fluent, confident and enthusiastic life-long readers, enabling them to enter secondary education equipped with the skills to succeed and reach their full potential. We believe that reading underpins many aspects of learning and therefore encourage engagement with key texts and media across our curriculum. Through books and a love of reading, children explore far more about the world they live in and learn to appreciate the wonders it offers. We therefore encourage and enable the exploration of a wide range of genres, authors and cultures, which in turn develops our readers into thoughtful, generous and caring individuals who live and breathe our Christian ethos.
At St Michael’s C of E Primary School, we have a systematic approach to reading, which endeavours to ensure that all children make sufficient, or above, progress across their time in our care. We follow the National Curriculum programme of study, to ensure that the children are achieving attainment relevant to their appropriate age, but we do not believe in putting a ceiling on a child’s ability and therefore always strive to challenge children to achieve the best that they possibly can.
Phonics: Early Years and Key Stage 1:
In Early Years and Key Stage 1, the development of reading begins with the systematic and rigorous teaching of daily phonics, using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. These 10-30 minute sessions are planned and resourced using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised approach and the connected Big Cat Phonics for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised resources, to ensure that teaching is consistent in parallel classes and that all children receive the same high quality, systematic approach to phonics. In these lessons, children quickly build a knowledge of phonemes and graphemes, as well as an increasing recognition of sight words. Summative assessments are used at least every 6 weeks, to ensure that children are working at the correct Phase, but formative assessment is applied daily by the phonics teachers and adjustments are made accordingly. Reading books at this stage are consistent with their assessed phonic stage and allow children to apply their phonic knowledge in school and at home. Children are also encouraged to take home a ‘reading for pleasure’ book. This book allows other reading strategies to be employed and children are exposed to a greater range of vocabulary and genres. It also serves to meet their interests and preferences. Reading at home is expected 5 x weekly and reading records are checked at least 3 x weekly by class teachers. Time is made in school for those children who are unable to have the relevant support at home to allow them to achieve this.
As well as Phonics teaching, as part of Early Reading practice, children are exposed to their phonetically decodable book through 3 x weekly guided reading sessions. These are carried out by trained reading teachers and assistants. Additionally in Year 2, whole class reading sessions and smaller group sessions are used to explore a text or relevant piece of media and enables the practise of key reading skills. This approach depends on the time of year and ability of the children.
For those children in Year 2 who did not pass the phonics screening test in Year 1, additional, small group interventions take place. The children are also assessed by the phonics lead teacher, to ensure progress is being made.
Reading in Key Stage 2
In Key Stage 2, the children who have not completed the schools chosen SSP programme are assessed regularly, by experienced phonics teachers, to ensure that they have Phonics teaching pitched at the appropriate level. Children who did not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Year 2 are monitored, to ensure that they have opportunities to reach the age related level of attainment.
Whole class reading forms the basis of reading teaching in Key Stage 2 and is delivered as part of ‘Writing for Purpose’, our approach to English from September 2021. These sessions have a key book, piece of text or engaging media at their core and develop key comprehension and reading skills, through exploration as a whole class. These sessions allow all children, including less confident readers, to access, discuss and understand texts etc above their reading level, building their knowledge of vocabulary, context, genre and purpose, to name a few. Differentiation within the sessions ensures that all children are planned for and challenged to get the most out of the text or key media they are studying. Teachers use their discretion to decide which children should be exposed to these sessions and which children may need tailored 1-1 or small group reading instead.
Reading from Year 2 onwards is supported using Accelerated Reader (AR). Children are assessed on this programme once they have completed our chosen SSP programme. AR assesses children on their comprehension skills on a regular basis, through the ‘Star Test', which then gives the individual a targeted ‘reading range’. This range gives children the opportunity to choose a book that interests them and that will also continue to support them in their reading progress. Pupils take reading books home from the classroom and library to practise the skills they are learning in school. These books are banded according to language and comprehension level and when children are confident with their knowledge of the book they take a ‘reading quiz’ online, which gives them instant feedback on their success. If children are consistently succeeding in these quizzes, then they are encouraged to read books that are higher within their range. The ‘Star Test’ is carried out at least termly, to ensure children are reading within their correct range.
We are very blessed to have a wonderful library area in both Key Stage buildings, which the children can access during school time. Each classroom also has an engaging and inspiring reading area, where classroom books are displayed and are accessible to children. As a school, we regularly update these areas with new/rotated books, to keep them fresh and engaging for the children. We have worked hard over the past two years to fund-raise, with the support of the PTA and our school community, to allow each year group to invest in quality texts for these areas.
As reading underpins many areas of learning, our curriculum is linked to key texts, which drive both the core and foundation curriculum. Children learn to make links, explore in depth and discuss confidently their ‘Killer Facts’ and key content through engaging with a variety of authors, illustrators, books and texts, linked to the overriding theme of the topic. This changes half-termly and is adapted to engage the interest of the children each year, especially important in ensuring interest and engagement for our reluctant readers in Key Stage 2.
We encourage a love of reading through daily whole class story time, where books are carefully selected to engage and excite our children. We also encourage the children to partake in different reading focused weeks, such as ‘Extreme Reading’, where the children are asked to complete a fun book linked activity, such as bringing in photos of themselves reading in fun and unusual places. Displays around the school inspire and express a strong and positive reading culture.
We believe in offering a wide variety of opportunities to our pupils and therefore endeavour to engage with a variety of activities throughout the year. We hold an annual Book Fair, celebrate World Book Day and celebrate a Literacy focus week, with a key author visit where possible.
The impact of Reading success in our school is measured through the following:
- Pupils will be able to decode and recognise enough sight words at the end of their Key Stage 1 programme of study to be able to confidently and fluently read a text at their level
- Pupils of all abilities will be able to succeed in all reading lessons
- Pupils will enjoy reading across a range of genres
- Once children have progressed through our chosen SSP programme, pupils will use a range of strategies for decoding words, not solely relying on phonics
- Pupils will have a good knowledge of a range of authors
- Pupils will be ready to read in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education
- Parents and carers will have a good understanding of how they can support reading at home, and contribute regularly to home-school records
- The % of pupils working at ARE within each year group will be at least in line with national averages.
- The % of pupils working at Greater Depth within each year group will be at least in line with national averages
- There will be no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of pupils (e.g. disadvantaged vs non disadvantaged)