Success in reading underpins success across the curriculum. Strong and established readers have access to more of the world than their peers and develop a love of reading that lasts with them a lifetime. Therefore, it is paramount that we have a clear and robust method of teaching reading to all children at Ryecroft.
“A library is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you—and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.”
– Isaac Asimov
Why do we place such emphasis on reading? Researchers found that pupils who frequently read newspapers, magazines, comics and non-fiction books did not achieve significantly higher Pisa scores in reading than those who did not. However, pupils who read fiction almost every day scored approximately 26 points more in their reading tests than those who never read such books – the equivalent of around 10 months’ additional schooling, according to the OECD.
Whole Class Teaching (Y1-6):
Reading is taught discretely in a daily, thirty-minute reading lesson. In years one to six, the key skills of reading are developed through guided access to beautiful, rich and authentic texts. Across the course of the school year, children systematically access a wide range of texts. Some of these texts may link to the children’s creative theme work; many may not.
Teachers introduce a whole text, pivotal moments or challenging content by activating schema: creating links between what the child already knows and the text they are about to access. Lessons may also involve pre-teaching vocabulary that children need to understand first to be able to access their reading. In nearly all guided reading lessons, children practice reading with fluency and expression. This can involve any number of key reading strategies:
- cloze reading, in which pupils follow text read by the teacher and fill in ‘gaps’ that they leave;
- choral reading, where pupils and staff read a passage aloud together;
- echo reading, in which key tricky sentences are modelled by the teacher and repeated by the children with similar intonation and rhythm.
- paired or group reading, with children reading to each other in small groups.
Teachers then model and explicitly teach a key skill or concept to the class, such as making judgements about a character’s personality, empathising with a character in a dilemma or predicting what might happen next. Children are shown the process of being a reader before they work independently.
Systematic Synthetic Phonics (R-Y2)
A robust programme of systematic synthetic phonics (SSP, or just ‘phonics’) is followed from the moment children enter school to the point at which they can read and spell fluently. Children learn about the link between letters and letter patterns, and the sounds they make. At Ryecroft, we follow the phonic progression in ‘Letters and Sounds’, which moves methodically through six phases and develops key reading and spelling skills: building links between written words and sound, blending, segmenting, identifying words that do not follow common patterns and ‘morphing’ words.
For further details concerning our phonics strategy, please see the phonics document below.
Developing Fluency In Reading
Children read often, giving them the practice that they need to decode, recognise words at sight and read with expression. Reading is integrated into all areas of the curriculum as a method of presenting information. Those who need extra fluency practice (identified by teacher assessment and aspects of our Reading Jigsaw) read more often with their class teachers, non-teaching professionals or visiting readers such as those from The Beanstalk Charity or Let Leeds Read.
All children are supplied with a school reading book that offers appropriate challenge for them to read independently. In EYFS, those children ready for reading books work through a selection of books published by Bug Club. In KS1, most children read books that link to our phonics strategy, also supplied by Bug Club. In KS2, children read from the Project X Series, supplemented by Big Cat Readers. At all ages, children who are able to read at or above the standard expected for their age may be designated ‘free readers’ who choose books from their class selection or the library in consultation with their teacher. It is an expectation in our homework policy that all children read a minimum of four times per week for twenty minutes to develop and maintain the fluency that they need to succeed.
Reading For Pleasure And Enjoyment
A love of reading lasts a lifetime. We want to ensure that all children become confident readers who engage with texts for enjoyment, develop personal tastes and grow with a repertoire of key texts. As a school, we have developed many strategies to promote reading for pleasure:
- Author visits promote an understanding of the exciting processes that lead to a book being born. Our children are captivated by local visitors who share their work with us.
- BugClub is an interactive, online programme that can be accessed at school or at home. Children read high-quality texts on a tablet or computer, and answer questions on their reading to earn coins and go onto the leaderboard.
- Raving Reader points are awarded every time a child reads at home. The points total and earn reading prizes, the biggest of which is a trip to Waterstones to buy a book and enjoy a drink at the café at the end of the year!
- Roving Book Company visits once a year, and we invest significant funding each time they come to school and take over the sports hall! Children are able to choose fantastic literature for their classrooms from each class’s budget and many parents visit the store after school to make purchases for home.