Reading is an essential part of all areas of the curriculum and a crucial life-skill. At South Failsworth Primary, we want our children to read a variety of texts confidently and fluently, developing their range of vocabulary. We strive to develop a lifelong enjoyment of reading, where the children take genuine pleasure from what they read.
Throughout school, children are presented with many opportunities during the school day to read or listen to stories being read aloud. Reading is high priority in our book-led English curriculum. Through high quality texts, we intend to develop a love of reading and allow children to recognise the pleasure they can get from reading.
How we teach reading at South Failsworth Primary
There is a dedicated phonics leader for the school who oversees that there is a systematic, synthetic approach to the delivery of phonics throughout Foundation and Key Stage 1. Active and engaging sessions are planned for following Red Rose Letters and Sounds, which is a detailed, systematic programme for teaching phonic skills over five phases. Formative and summative assessments ensure that children are tracked and supported with interventions, to enable children to catch up where necessary. We encourage our children to apply their phonic knowledge during all reading and writing activities. Please see our Phonics tab for more information.
Reading is a fundamental part of everything we do at South Failsworth Primary. During the early stages of reading, books are selected in line with the children’s phonic ability. All of our children are exposed to high quality texts across the curriculum and reading skills are taught explicitly in all year groups. Selected texts are written by a range of authors, in order to expose the children to literature they may not naturally choose themselves.
Reception and Key Stage One children engage in small group guided reading sessions and Key Stage 2 children engage in whole class reading sessions. Within these sessions, teachers model reading for decoding, fluency, intonation and expression and children are invited to read aloud as well as independently, following modelled reading. Teachers focus on vocabulary during the teaching of reading and identify specific vocabulary for pre-teaching and exploring during reading sessions. Comprehension skills are developed through high quality discussion with teachers and applied through a range of activities. Reading domains at KS1 and KS2 are used to inform planning, teaching and assessment– both orally and written. Alongside the skills of decoding and comprehension, book talk encourages children to think as a reader and discuss their preferences, likes and dislikes.
Reading Gems is a whole school reading strategy that aims to teach children to take pleasure in reading by themselves, listening to someone else read, and sharing texts with adults and other children. Different and specific key skills are taught explicitly to the children through discussions about texts, teacher modelling and opportunities to answer questions independently or with support where needed. Each new reading skill is allocated a colour-coded ‘gem’. Every week, children focus on a certain reading gem and learn strategies to help them develop that particular skill.
Early Years and Key Stage One:
Alongside daily phonics, children in EYFS are immersed in a range of texts on a regular basis. Stories are used as a vehicle to engage children in their weekly topic sessions. Weekly reading sessions involve sharing and discussing texts with an adult in small groups, opportunities to self-select texts and look at them with a buddy or individually, and individual reading with adult support. This encourages children to enjoy a variety of texts and to practise decoding skills regularly. Reading Gems in Year 1 initially follows a similar pattern to EYFS, allowing the children to develop their decoding skills and to develop a love of reading. They continue to develop the five key skills that are introduced in EYFS. In Year 2, this strategy continues and children are gradually introduced to a weekly ‘treasure chest’, where they have an opportunity to put all their skills into practice by answering questions that require them to draw on all of their learned skills. As the children progress through Year 2, they will move away from small group guided reading sessions, to whole class reading sessions.
The diagram below shows the key skills taught in EYFS and KS1. In addition to the ‘enjoy’ and ‘decode’ umbrella skills that are taught implicitly in every reading session, five other key skills are taught:
Key Stage Two:
As the children progress into Key Stage 2, children begin to develop further reading skills that will assist their understanding of what they read: sequencing skills are developed more fully into summarising, and children learn to relate, explore and compare texts. Each week children focus on a specific reading gem. Through the weekly treasure chest (mixed skill comprehension), children have opportunities to practise all the reading gem skills they have been taught, and teachers are able to assess their progress. Certain reading gem skills are focussed on more often, such as defining vocabulary, retrieving information and making inferences from texts. This is because these skills are used more often. In addition to our teacher led reading sessions, 1:1 reading is put in place for children that need extra practice.
The teaching of vocabulary is important as it is closely connected with reading and writing. Children need to be able to understand words if they are to develop an understanding of what they read. Children learn words by hearing them and seeing them, so speaking and listening is also vital. The more times they see and hear words, the more they can learn. We use a number of practical strategies to help children to develop their vocabulary:
Reading at Home
All children take home books that are carefully chosen to match their level of fluency. We also use the Active Learn ‘Bug Club’ online reading scheme to further encourage reading at home. This platform provides the opportunity for the children to read poetry, fiction, non-fiction, comic and graphic novels at the click of a finger, whilst earning coins to spend on collecting stickers and playing games.
Reading for Pleasure
Reading for pleasure is a cornerstone of our approach and the high profile of reading in school is further enhanced by reading enrichment activities we carry out throughout the year. These include:
We also have a team of dedicated ‘Reading Champions’ from Years 5 and 6 who help lead reading in school by ensuring that pupil voice is heard and responded to. They meet weekly to discuss improving reading in school as well as upcoming reading projects and events. They also share regular newsletters with parents.
Our Reading Spine
Our 'Reading Spine' is one element of the approach we take to foster a love for reading in our children. The spine is a core of books that create a living library inside our children's minds. It is a store of classics and essential reads that help children engage at a deeper level and enter the world of the story. We have produced our very own 'Reading Spine' for every year group, consisting of fiction, non-fiction and poetry suggestions, so that children have access to these high quality texts. This is additional to the high-quality texts mapped out within our Writing curriculum. Teachers will select a text from our reading spine to read aloud and enjoy with the children throughout the week.
We aim for our children to have a love of reading and make at least good progress in reading from their last point of statutory assessment or from their starting point in EYFS. Children will use their reading skills as a key tool in helping them to learn and access the wider curriculum, and as a result, know more, remember more and understand more.
What can you do to support your child with reading?
We recognise and understand the importance of reading as a life skill. As adults, we rely on our ability to read for both work and for leisure. Reading underpins and supports everything that children do at both primary and secondary school, and in their future lives. In fact, reading is without doubt one of the most important skills they will learn in school. In light of this, any support you can give your child with reading at home is extremely valuable. In order to become a fluent reader, it is absolutely vital that children read every day. In the same way we as adults recognise the importance of regular exercise to keep fit, regular reading is a necessity for children so that they can be fluent and competent ‘fit’ readers. In order to help your child here are some things you could do at home: