CE First School

Inspiring Learning for Life

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Approach to Reading & Phonics

Reading is a vital aspect of the curriculum. We actively encourage children to enjoy reading and derive pleasure from sharing their thoughts about books throughout the school. There are a wide variety of quality books within the school; the children are encouraged to make full use of these, both at home and at school. Children can choose books from within a wide range within the classrooms, appropriate to their reading level (Accelerated reading scheme from approximately Year 2 onwards). We aim to get children to read fluently with comprehension and enjoyment, so that not only can they access the rest of the curriculum but also they can develop a lifelong pleasure of reading.


Phonics – The actual skills of reading commence in Reception with a systematic teaching of synthetic phonics alongside numerous opportunities for language rich exposure through interactive and regular story reading and storytelling. Discrete daily phonics sessions take place using Little Wandle. As a team, we differentiate the children into ability groups so that the planning can be individualised for each group. We regularly assess the children on their knowledge of the phonics taught and adjust the groups on a regular basis, at least once every half term. We also rotate the leader of each phonics group on a regular basis. We send the sounds that the Reception children learn home so that they can practise them at home. In Year 1, the children undertake the ‘Year 1 phonics screening check’ during the summer term and those who do not meet the required standard will receive additional support in Year 2 and will have their progress closely monitored and retake the test in Year 2. At Key Stage 2, the emphasis moves towards learning the spelling strategies from the government’s statutory appendices although phonics is still taught through intervention groups.


Guided/Shared Reading – Guided/shared reading is part of the English curriculum within each class. The children both read and carry out book related tasks enabling them to understand and engage with the text at more complex levels than that which they might achieve in other reading circumstances. The children are actively encouraged to talk about books during both these reading sessions and ‘buddy’ reading; here there is both an opportunity for the older children to hear the younger children read and for the older children to make a story interesting for the younger child.


Home/school reading – Parents are invited to a ‘ Reading/Phonics and your child’ session during their first term at school where the phonics approach, reading scheme and use of the home/school link reading record is explained. Parents are encouraged to give their support by reading with their child on a regular basis and making a note in the home/school liaison record and as the child progresses through school, they are encouraged to add comments of their own.


Accelerated Reader (AR) – AR is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice once they have consistently demonstrated an ability to read independently and answer questions orally on a book as assessed by the class teacher. AR is not designed to teach reading but to support and enhance reading practice. The motivation and enjoyment of completing the quizzes will lead to a greater acquisition of reading skills. The pupil’s reading level is determined and monitored by undertaking a ten-minute ‘star reading test’ at various intervals during the school year (minimum half termly). The star reading test is a computer based reading assessment programme that uses computer adaptive technology to generate a ‘Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The ZPD is the range of books that will challenge a child without causing frustration or loss of motivation. Teachers will guide pupils to books within their ZPD range and according to their interests. Each pupil will pick a book at their appropriate level and complete a short quiz on the computer at school after reading the book (within 12 hours of completing the book). The book may be read either at school as part of a guided reading session, as a whole class book or as home reading. A range of books within each class are clearly labelled with ZPD levels and colour coded for child to independently access. Every book, which has an AR reading practice quiz, also has a point’s value. AR points are based on the length of the book and pupils earn a percentage of points according to how well they pass the quiz. There are both comprehension and vocabulary practice quizzes available and teachers will guide children to undertake the appropriate quiz. The vocabulary and literacy skills quizzes are not available on all the books but are available as a tool to extend readers and encourage higher order thinking. Teachers monitor quiz results by careful analysis of the TOPS1 report for each individual pupil and adjust ZPDs as needed. The class teacher prints out regular summaries of pupils’ reading quiz results and these are placed in reading journals to enable both the children and the class teacher to monitor their success. A target of 85% on quizzes demonstrates a good level of comprehension and regular reports will highlight which children are not achieving this level. These reports also provide regular evidence to confirm teacher-assessed levels for reading as part of the assessment process.


Regular incentives will be in place to encourage and reward children who demonstrate good progress with their reading through certificates, trophies, ‘star’ reader awards etc. and these can be monitored and adjusted, for example, number of words read, percentage of quizzes completed and number of AR points achieved. Many opportunities are taken within the academic year across the curriculum to celebrate reading and promote a lifelong enjoyment of reading including - Foundation/KS1 visits to Pershore and Evesham local libraries, KS2 trip to Hive in Worcester, poet, author and story teller visits to school, World Book Day participation, encouragement of reading at break and lunch time in quiet areas, buddy reading across the school, timetabled afternoon ‘silent’ reading in classes ( including staff participation), regular individual and group reading support from parent/community helpers, published pupil work and celebration of reading success in achievement assembly.


Children are identified for reading support through regular termly pupil progress meetings with the Head Teacher and appropriate strategies are introduced. For example, precision teaching or increased frequency of individual reading