At St. James’s we believe that reading is of central importance in enabling children to access learning, broaden their educational experiences and deepen their knowledge of the world. We aim to nurture in each child a love of books and develop a growing ability to read fluently, confidently and with understanding, not only to improve and extend each child’s skills but also for pleasure.
We believe that reading is key to academic success and therefore the teaching of early reading in EYFS is vital. Children are introduced to phonics using a systematic synthetic phonics programme using Ruth Miskin’s ‘Read Write Inc.’ programme, at the heart of which is the systematic teaching of all the common sounds in the English language. Children are taught to recognise the sounds and to put them together into words for reading. Each sound is taught in a microscopic manner and includes plenty of opportunities to retrieve and rehearse their prior learning. In addition to this, we ensure that the teaching of phonics is alongside a language and text rich environment.
Our Book Corners
Every classroom has a carefully curated book corner intended to support the children’s learning as well as nurture a love of reading. Each book corner is used to promote reading for pleasure and contain books linked to each topic. This encourages children to deepen their knowledge in the foundation subjects. These books change with each topic to ensure children are exposed to a variety of texts across the curriculum.
Our shelves are organized as follows:
Thoughtfully chosen ‘Topic’ books chosen by our school librarian. The topic books rotate each half term, depending on the Topic being covered in the Year group. The topic books are used both in lessons and for children to choose to read in independent reading time.
At St James’s we follow the Mastery approach to reading and writing. Our Core Texts drive our learning in English and relate to the Topic being studied. We select Core Texts which will engage our children, enhance our foundation subjects and expose our children to rich language and form. The planned reading curriculum is supported by access to, and carefully designed exposure to, high quality literature (core texts) these books have been chosen to reflect a rich array of cultures, backgrounds and experiences. See a selection of our core texts below.
Our ‘Must Reads’ shelf contains books that have been thoughtfully selected by the Year Team, with support from the English Leads. Our ‘Must Reads’ shelf aims to entice our children into trying award winning, rich texts that challenge and celebrate diversity. This shelf is changed weekly, much like a shop window, to keep reading options fresh and build anticipation.
Reading for Pleasure
Reading for pleasure opens up new worlds for children. It gives them the opportunity to use their imagination to explore new ideas, visit new places and meet new characters. Reading for pleasure also improves children’s well-
being and empathy. Research shows that reading for pleasure can be directly linked to children’s success throughout their time at school and even into adulthood.
Therefore, our teachers read aloud to the children for at least 20 minutes every day. Having this ritual allows our children to enjoy and access texts that are likely above their fluency level. It also gives our teachers the opportunity to model high quality reading aloud skills, an area covered in the National Curriculum. At least once a month, each class is visited by a ‘Mystery Reader.’ This can be any member of our school community. The children relish guessing who it might be and what book they will bring.
The school celebrates books and organises author and illustrator visits to school, inspiring children to become storytellers of their own. Furthermore, the school takes part in the Local Authority run competitions such as, ‘Battle of the Books’ and the ‘Spark! Book Awards’. A Book shop is run by the parents and is used to provide new books to children whilst raising money to purchase literature for the classrooms.
Author and illustrator Karin Littlewood inspired the children to become storytellers through the pictures they create.
Across the school, we follow the ‘See, Use, Apply’ approach to teaching the skills of reading. Our Guided Reading sessions take place three times a week as a whole class, with exceptions for those who are working below their age related year group. The ‘See’ element consists of the children reading and discussing the chosen text for that week, which might be fiction or non-fiction. For the ‘Use,’ our children will explore the text more deeply with guidance from the teacher. This usually involves discreetly practicing a specific reading skill taught. For the ‘apply’ the class will independently demonstrate their understanding of the text in a range of different ways.
It is written in the National Curriculum that children who have been identified as working within the lowest 20% must be monitored and tracked to close gaps. Children who have been identified as working within the lowest 20% participate in 1:1 or group interventions during the school day. This has been developed by RWI to work alongside the RWI programme. Children who are still learning to decode will take home a decodable text. Decodable texts are books that match a child’s phonic knowledge. The book progression is marked by sound knowledge linked to our RWI Scheme.
Children in Key stage 2 who are ‘learning to read’ continue to read decodable texts matched to their phonic knowledge. These children will be become ‘daily readers’ to give them the opportunity to develop fluency by reading 1:1 with a teacher. Children who require additional phonics support will continue to have group intervention using the RWI programme. Our highly skilled inclusion team provide intervention for children who need support to meet the expected reading standard for their year group, especially transitioning from KS1 to KS2. Our team offer personalised small group sessions that focus on fluency and/or comprehension skills.
How is reading assessed?
Each child has a ‘Concept Card’ in the front of their Guided Reading Book. The concepts covered relate exactly to the National Curriculum Objectives for each year group. When a Concept is not achieved, the teacher will highlight the concept, thus ensuring the learning is revisited.
In Year 1 to Year 6, children complete reading assessments, which provide standardised scores. Each term, teachers use the evidence from Guided Reading lessons, standardised scores from assessments and teacher observations of pupils to formulate a Teacher Judgement based on the year group expectations.
Our ‘Back Pages’ inform our planning- each Back Page lists the National Curriculum objectives that need to be taught each term. The objectives are mapped out for progression across the year. In reading lessons, these objectives are broken down into microscopic steps, reflecting our mastery approach. We ensure that all of our children are secure on a step before moving onto another step.