Reading and Phonics
At Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School, we aim to provide all children with a rich reading curriculum that develops a lifelong love of reading, thereby building their Reading Capital and offering a broad, wide-ranging reading experience. We have high expectations both of the children and of ourselves so that we can enable our children to be confident and competent 21st Century readers.
Children will be exposed to a language-rich learning environment and practise skills in decoding to enable them to gain a proficient understanding of reading comprehension so that they are able to read with confidence and fluency. Children will have a broad understanding of vocabulary across a wide range of subjects and topics, as well as a thirst for reading a range of genres, including poetry. They will be able to participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on a reader.
Reading opens up a new world for children and gives them the opportunity to explore new ideas, visit new places and meet new characters. Research shows that children who can read are overwhelmingly more likely to succeed at school, achieve good qualifications and subsequently enjoy a fulfilling and rewarding career. Those who cannot read will find themselves at a constant disadvantage.
At Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School, we place a high priority on developing strong language comprehension skills and a secure understanding of synthetic phonics which will enable our children to become competent and fluent readers, and promote a lifelong love of reading for pleasure.
Early Assessment for Speech and Language
The reading process begins with the development of language. Our children arrive from a number of different Early Years settings and we work closely with these settings to ensure any concerns are identified and plans put in place.
On-entry assessments show that many children join Reception at Our Lady’s lower than expected communication skills. Therefore, we are committed to the early assessment of children using the Language Link programme to ascertain children’s baseline vocabulary, listening and narrative skills. Target children are then identified and a Talk Boost intervention programme is put in place to support their early communication skills. Talk Boost is a structured programme that boosts children’s progress in language and communication by an average of 9 - 18 months after a ten week intervention.
It is these early assessments and subsequent interventions in language and communication that allow our children to successfully access our systematic synthetic phonics scheme, ‘Floppy’s Phonics’, and develop children’s decoding.
All children in Reception and Key Stage One are taught Phonics daily as a whole class, starting at Level 1 upon entry. This learning is supplemented by phonics activities in continuous provision or the classroom.
Our bespoke Reading assessment system means that all children in the Infants are assessed on their phonic knowledge and reading fluency by their class teacher on a weekly basis. The assessment is heavily based on children being able to read words fluently and not simply on children’s ability to segment and blend. Children are given books which accurately match their phonics ability and are moved up through the scheme as soon as they are ready. At the end of each half term, a tracker is completed and those children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 who are not making the expected progress are given thirty minutes of extra daily tuition to help close the gap.
Once children have completed the Floppy Phonics Reading books, they will then be assessed using Reading Recovery. Children will then be given a specific levelled reading book which has the appropriate Lexile content and level of comprehension.
Interventions are put in place for those children who still have gaps in their phonic knowledge at the end of Key Stage One. Teaching Assistants lead interventions for these children, based on the Floppy’s Phonics scheme. All children take home a decodable book twice a week that will further enhance their understanding.
Phonics continues to be taught throughout the school as a whole class activity and where children have had gaps within their knowledge, a trained Teaching Assistant carries out interventions in partnership with the Class Teacher. Strategies to support at home are also shared with parents and carers.
In addition, parents and carers of Reception children are invited to a Reading Meeting in the Autumn Term to explain the school's approach to reading within school and to offer support and advice on how to help their child at home.
Reading at Our Lady’s is taught using various teaching strategies, such as Shared Reading, Guided Reading and Individual Reading. A rolling programme of Continuous Professional Development ensures that all staff at Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School are fully equipped to know and understand children’s reading levels and their next steps in learning.
The Reading Scheme books that we use at Our Lady’s School are carefully selected to provide opportunities for reading interesting and engaging texts from a wide range of genres. They are carefully structured into Reading Recovery Levels which are organised according to Lexile content. Our Reading Scheme books are drawn from a range of sources, such as Oxford Reading Tree, Treetops (Oxford University Press), Project X, Sunshine Spirals, PM and Collins Big Cat. These are used for reading at home, but are also for individual reading in school, particularly where a child is working below the expected level for their age. This may be read with the Class Teacher, a Teaching Assistant or a parent volunteer.
Reading Recovery Assessments of children are administered by Class Teachers and Teaching Assistants to ascertain children’s reading level. These rigorous assessments allow all children to access the Reading for Pleasure books that are sent home (twice a week across the school) and along with this, children are targeted for ‘extra’ reading by the Class Teacher, Teaching Assistant and Volunteers ensuring gaps in Reading are kept to a minimum. The Reading Recovery books are pitched at the appropriate Lexile level so that all children can access the reading but also challenged on their reading content.
During Shared Reading, the teacher will demonstrate how to use a range of comprehension strategies (for example, model active engagement with the text; rehearsing prior knowledge; demonstrate how fluent readers monitor and clarify their understanding; plan opportunities to interpret and respond to the text; teach strategies for using inference and deduction).
From Year 2 to Year 6, Guided Reading is taught to the whole class four times a week on Key Stage specific ‘domains.’ These are taught in ‘layers’ three times a week (prediction and retrieval, vocabulary and meaning, and inference). On the fourth day, fluency is explicitly taught where children will focus on the 6 P's which develop prosody: Pitch, Power, Pace, Passion, Punctuation and Pause.
All staff listen to children read regularly. Children who may be less confident readers or who do not get the opportunity to be heard reading at home are targeted and heard by the Class Teacher or Teaching Assistant on a more regular basis so that we can closely assess and track their understanding of the texts and ask the appropriate questions to elicit the child’s reading comprehension. Due to the rigour of Reading Recovery and because all children are heard read on a regular basis, staff are constantly assessing children’s accuracy, automaticity, prosody and reading comprehension.
As a school we are lucky to have a dedicated team of volunteers who come into school on a weekly basis to boost children’s reading across the school.
Reading for Pleasure with Parents and Carers
In Reception and Key Stage One, a library book is sent home every week aimed at Parents and Carers to read to their child.
Annually, each class nominates two children to be Reading Ambassadors for their class. These children actively promote a love of reading and are involved in organising events across the school, such as The Performance Poetry Competition and World Book Day.
Opportunities for Wider Reading
Our curriculum also ensures that each class has the opportunity to visit our School Library once a week, and children are able to borrow books using the ‘Junior Librarian’ system, an interactive software package which tracks reading progress. Our Library is a valued reading environment, which is maintained by our Year 6 Librarians. Our well-resourced Library also houses a range of story sacks and puppets, which are used to develop oral story-telling alongside the teaching of reading.
We have links with our local library in Edgeley, and our children visit throughout the year. Many children also participate in the annual Summer Reading Challenge.
We work with Book Trust, an organisation which provides book packs and teaching resources to encourage wider reading, and support creative thinking and development to inspire a love of books. Time to Read is one such initiative. Time to Read provides every four-year old with a free book to enjoy and share at home.
We also train a group of our Year 6 children to be Storytellers, who share a range of well-chosen picture books, story sacks and puppets with children in the Infants on a weekly basis.
At Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School, we participate in many activities to promote the enjoyment of reading. These include dressing up for World Book Day and Roald Dahl Day, and class swap sessions where staff share a favourite story with different groups of children. We invite different theatre companies into school so that children can experience a live performance linked to popular fiction. Recent performances have included ‘Dick Whittington’ and ‘The Snow Queen’. In past years, during the Year 6 children’s residential visit to London, we have taken the children to watch a show, and Year 4 have been to Manchester Opera House to see a performance of ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’.
As soon as children step inside Our Lady’s Catholic Primary School, a love of reading is developed and nurtured as we believe reading is the key to all learning. The reading skills that are developed at our school allow children to make at least good progress in reading, allowing them to access our wider, bespoke curriculum.
The percentage of children working at Age-Related Expectations (ARE) within each year group will be at least in line with national averages. The percentage of children 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 children, such as disadvantaged, SEND, EAL. However, the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of statutory assessments - our approach to reading means children know more, remember more and understand more so that they are equipped for the next steps in their education.