First you learn to read, then you read to learn

At Richard Alibon, reading begins with encouraging a love of books. We have therefore chosen to place beautiful high quality texts at the heart of our curriculum. We want our children to engage with the texts they read, opening doors to other worlds yet connecting with their own lives and experiences.

We know that through reading, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Good quality literature plays a key role in this development.

Reading:

  • Expands vocabulary
  • Develops imagination
  • Promotes empathy
  • Makes the reader aware of other views and opinions
  • Teaches us about the world around us
  • Provides the chance to access the whole curriculum

Reading also enables pupils both to gain knowledge and to build on what they already know.

These are skills that essential to participating fully as a member of our society. In this way, our reading curriculum is integral to the curriculum intent for our school.

Phonics and Early Reading

Making sure that children become engaged with reading from the beginning is one of the most important ways to make a difference to their life chances.’ (Reading Framework DfE 2021)

At Richard Alibon we teach early reading through “Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised,” which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme.

We start teaching phonics in Nursery and follow the planned progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabet code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.

The letters and sounds we teach each half term to each year group can be found here: Programme-Overview_Reception-and-Year-1

Some great video resources to help parents and carers teach phonics and sounds can be found here: Littlewandle lettersandsounds resources for-parents 

Foundations for phonics in Nursery

We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:

  • sharing high-quality stories and poems
  • learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
  • activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
  • attention to high-quality language.

We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning letter to sound correspondences (e.g. s – snake, t – tiger) and blending (s-a-t – sat) in Reception.

Daily phonics and reading lessons in Reception

In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length phonics lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.

Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 sounds (e.g. s, a, t, sh, th) and words with adjacent consonants, Phase 4 (e.g. dr, st, fl) with fluency and accuracy.

We expect children to read at home every day. We ask parents and carers to log each child’s reading in their reading records. Each classroom has an inviting reading area where children can select books they would like to read and take home to share with their family.

Children in Early Years (Nursery and Reception) also take home a colour banded book that is matched to their phonics level which will support them in learning to read fluently.

Outside the taught lession, children are given many opportunities to read and write both through structured teaching and child initiated provision which is carefully planned by staff and changed regularly to meet the children’s needs.

Daily phonics and reading lessons in Year 1

We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. This consists of one 20 minute session in the morning and a 10 minute recap/revision session in the afternoon. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.

Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 sounds (e.g. ea, ey, ie) with fluency and accuracy.

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions. Three times a week these are in an adult led groups using books matched to the children’s phonic knowledge. Once a week children have the opportunity to read for pleasure, selecting from books at a phonetically decodable level. Children also spend one session a week practising their reading and comprehension skills independently.

Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

  • decoding: reading unknown words
  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.

We expect children to read at home every day. We ask parents/carers to log their reading in their reading journals. When able, we invite the children to write their own responses to the texts they have read – encouraging the children to share their thoughts and opinions. Each classroom has an inviting reading area where children can select books they would like to read and take home to share with their family.

Children in Year 1 also take home a colour banded book that is matched to their phonics level which will support them with reading fluently. There is also the opportunity to read additional books online using Bug Club.

Phonics and Guided reading in Year 2

In Year 2, we continue to teach phonics and reading as above for any child who still need to practise reading with phonetically decodable books.

Once children have completed the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds phonics programme, they join a guided reading group. These ‘guided’ sessions are used to address areas of development for small groups of children rather than the whole class. Based on assessed level of reading and knowledge of phonics the teacher groups the children (by their book band colours) and decides the focus for these sessions.

As well as looking at clues to help with reading unknown words, children’s understanding of what is being read becomes of even greater importance. What is the point of saying the words if you don’t know what they mean? The key skills of retrieval of information and inference (reading between the lines) form a key part of these reading sessions.

As in Year 1, we expect children to read every day at home. Although we continue to ask parents and carers to record this in their readings, we encourage the children to write their own responses to what they have read. There is also the opportunity to read additional books online using Bug Club. These books are also matched to their reading ability.

Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6): Destination Reader

When ready, children participate in a whole class daily reading session; this focuses on teaching children the progressive skills of becoming a confident reader. This is taught in line with the Destination Reader approach.  It involves daily sessions incorporating whole class modelling (teaching) prior to the children applying these skills through partner work and independent reading.

Destination Reader deepens children’s understanding of the texts they read through the systematic use of a series of strategies and language stems. The focus strategies are:

  • Predicting
  • Questioning
  • Clarifying
  • Summarising
  • Inferring
  • Making Links
  • Evaluating

Destination Reader is a daily 45-minute lesson:

  • 15 mins whole class teaching
  • 25 mins independent reading
  • 5 mins after reading discussion or task

Every other Friday, children participate in a ‘Big Picture’ task which includes questions linked to the strategies taught. The session teaches the children key comprehension skills using both seen and unseen texts. A range of question types are used.

In Key Stage 2 (Years 3 -6) we expect children to read at home every day. Alongside parents and carers, it is expected that children write their own responses to the texts they have read. Even more emphasise is put on the children to start recording and responding to additional books they have chosen to read at home. In the older year groups additional reading homework is often set

Each classroom has an inviting reading area where children can select books they would like to read and take home.

Did you know?

  • Starting in the Early Years, if a child reads 20 minutes a day at home, they will hear 1.8 million words per year.
  • They will have read for 851 hours by Year 6 and on SATS tests, they will likely score better than 90% of their peers.

Assessment of children’s reading skills

In Nursery and Reception, teachers continually assess children’s phonic knowledge and their reading skills and this is reported in their learning profile. At the end of the Reception year, their learning is assessed against the national early learning goals. Parents and carers receive a copy of this assessment.

At the end of Year 1, children complete a national phonic test to assess whether they have the expected phonic knowledge for a child of their age.

Throughout the year, teachers make continual assessments to ensure children are making good progress with their reading or to plan additional support for children who are not making the expected progress.

At the end of Year 2, children sit a national Reading SAT test. Parents and carers receive a copy of this assessment.

Throughout the year, teachers make continual assessments to ensure children are taking good progress with their reading or to plan additional support for children who are not making the expected progress.

In Years 3, 4 and 5, children are regularly assessed throughout the year to ensure all children are making good progress with their reading and additional support can be planned and delivered to those who are not.

At the end of Year 6, children sit 2 National Reading SAT tests. Parents and carers receive a copy of this assessment and it is passed on their secondary school.

Throughout the year, teachers make continual assessments to ensure children are making good progress with their reading and plan additional support for children who are not making the expected progress to help ensure they are secondary reading.

Children who join us part way through a school year, either from another school or from abroad are assessed in the same way and their teaching tailored to ensure they grasp this initial stage of the reading process. An initial early teacher assessment in the first week of joining our school informs the teacher of their current learning needs.