Teaching of Reading
At Dedham Church of England Primary School, we understand that it is essential that the teaching of reading focuses on developing competence in both word-reading and comprehension.
As stated in the National Curriculum 2014, “skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken word.” Consequently, phonics is emphasised throughout EYFS & KS1 at Dedham, and pupils are taught to apply their phonic knowledge and skills as the route to decode words until automatic decoding has become embedded and reading is fluent.
Within the first weeks of starting in EYFS, children begin to receive daily phonics and handwriting lessons using Read Write Inc phonics approaches and resources. Through regular, systematic teaching, our children quickly learn to link sounds and letters and they work towards learning to recognise at speed single-letter sounds and ‘special friends’ (two or more letters which when put together make one sound). They also learn to blend these sounds into words, and then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. Children also learn to read ‘red words’ (tricky/non-decodable words), for example ‘the’ and ‘they’.
Staff ensure that Read Write Inc sessions are engaging, pacey, structured and carefully matched to ability so that all children are able to make excellent progress. As part of the daily thirty-five minute sessions, children read and re-read books from the Read Write Inc scheme which are closely matched to their increasing phonic knowledge and children are supported to read with a storyteller voice. Children are assessed and re-grouped half-termly by the English Subject Leader to ensure that they are in a group best matched to their ability. The Subject Leader is also able to monitor children’s progress, to suggest support for individuals, and to identify areas of CPD for staff.
For those children who find developing language and literacy skills more difficult, we quickly put in place support to help them to make rapid progress. This support will usually be provided by the class teacher and/or teaching assistant in one-to-one or group activities. We use the speech and language toolkit, WellComm, as a screening and diagnostic tool for all pupils entering EYFS and as a result of this, speech and language sessions are also timetabled for individual children where required.
In KS2, those children who continue to struggle to apply their phonic knowledge when reading will continue to be supported to become confident and fluent readers through daily one-to-one or small group sessions and they continue to use the Read Write Inc approach for this.
Children in EYFS and KS1 who are on the Read Write Inc scheme usually take home two reading books each night and there is an expectation that parents regularly, ideally daily, support their child to practise reading. The books will be a Read Write Inc Core book (already read in phonics groups in school) and a corresponding Read Write Inc ‘Book Bag Book’. Children are expected to read these books at least three times in order to ensure that automaticity, prosody (expression) and comprehension have been achieved.
When children are ready to begin building a bank of high-frequency non-decodable words, teachers will start sending home sets of words for children to learn to read at sight as well as spell, for example: ‘the’, ‘they’ and ‘where’.
Children continue to be allocated books from the Read Write Inc scheme until they are reading beyond ‘Grey’ level and have moved off the programme. At this point, children will be directed to move on to our ‘short chapter books’ section of our school library. These books are identified by a red and white barcode label. These books will enable children to develop further word reading skills and to build confidence and fluency before they borrow longer chapter books.
All children are expected to read regularly at home and all children in KS2, irrespective of reading ability, are expected to read aloud regularly to someone at home. This expectation is outlined in ‘Meet the Teacher’ meetings at the beginning of the year.
Staff at Dedham understand the importance of reading fluency and the significant impact that it has upon the comprehension of a text. As a result, the repetition of a short text using the choral and paired reading approaches that are a feature of the Read Write Inc teaching sequence in EYFS and KS1, continues as a teaching strategy into KS2 when staff are supporting fluency development. This approach may be seen in 1:1 reading sessions, whole class reading, or group reading interventions.
Whole Class Reading
Children in KS2 receive a 25-30 minute reading lesson every day. Usually, the text used will be from the class book as outlined in the school’s reading spine, although sometimes teachers may use a passage from a non-fiction text or poetry. As part of the reading lesson, children will follow along with the text (usually using their own copy), they will explore new vocabulary, they will answer comprehension questions (either orally or in writing), and sometimes they will have the opportunity to read aloud.
Children need to use active strategies in the moment of reading in order to fully comprehend a text and in whole class reading sessions, teachers will model and work to develop competency in these strategies. Effective readers use a range of flexible reading comprehension strategies so quickly and automatically that they hardly notice that they are taking place. Staff therefore strive to make the ‘invisible’ visible for children by modelling and drawing attention to these ‘in the moment of reading’ skills which would otherwise be hidden from the children. This may be as simple as pausing during a text for prediction sharing, drawing upon links with similar texts, illustrating a passage of text with images/drama, or analysing a word to try to determine its meaning.
This whole class reading approach will also be taken for children in year 2, usually by the end of the autumn term. Those children who are reading beyond the RWI scheme in year 1 will also access these lessons at this point. Whilst children in years R, 1 and 2 are receiving phonics lessons, teachers will explore and discuss picture books as a whole class.
Teachers use VIPERS question stems and prompts to support questioning when analysing texts. This helps to ensure children are exposed to questioning across all of the National Curriculum Test Framework content domains. The school’s subscription to Literacy Shed+ provides staff with resources which they can draw upon.
Content Domain Reference
Content Domain Description
Give/explain the meaning of words in context
Make inference from the text/explain and justify using evidence from the text
Predict what might happen from the details stated and implied
2f, 2g, 2h
Identify/explain how information/narrative content is related and contributes to the meaning as a whole
Identify/explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases.
Make comparisons within the text
Retrieve and record key information/key details from fiction and non-fiction
Summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph
Reading for Pleasure and Enjoyment
A love of reading lasts a lifetime. We want all children to become confident readers who engage with texts for enjoyment, who develop personal tastes, and who are excited by the vast wealth of fantastic children’s literature available to them.
Our subscription to the Essex School Library Service for well over a decade has enabled us to constantly review and change the stock of books that we have in school. We have also invested money in purchasing our own stock of fiction and non-fiction books. Our school community has also been incredibly generous in donating gifts of books from our library ‘wish list’ to enhance our school library. We believe passionately that children need to be encouraged and supported to read widely so as to establish an appreciation and a love of reading.
Our school reading spine continues to be developed by the school’s team of teachers with the support of the English Subject Leader. Sometimes books are chosen to introduce children to a new author or series of books. Sometimes the book chosen may link to a class theme, or sometimes it may cover a theme prevalent to the needs of the class.
Our buddy reading system helps to foster relationships between our Class 6 and Class R children. Each child in Class R reads their book and practises their sounds with their buddy and then the children share a picture book together. This usually takes place once a week.