‘Learning to read transforms lives.’ (World Literacy Foundation 2015)
For children to exceed in education and grow to be successful adults, reading is given high priority at Eastfield. We have two main goals, each with equal weighting:
To teach all children how to read
To teach all children why to read
These goals shape the Eastfield style of reading instruction to ensure that regardless of background, needs or abilities:
- Pupils are taught to read fluently and with understanding.
- Pupils understand the benefits of reading – as a crucial life-skill necessary for accessing and achieving academic success in all areas of the curriculum and beyond.
- Pupils leave Eastfield as confident, independent readers with a life-long passion to explore books for pleasure in order to be able to lead a culturally enlightened and fulfilled life.
In reading, we look for opportunities to make links across the curriculum, to look at a topic from a range of subject perspectives and immerse ourselves in appropriate texts that complement our understanding and experiences of the world, develop our vocabulary and are accessible to all but challenging enough for even our most gifted readers.
Direct reading instruction at Eastfield begins in the early years through daily systematic and synthetic phonics. A recent review of research (Castles, Rastle and Nation 2018) collated over 300 studies to highlight best practice in early reading instruction: a phonics based approach. Therefore, following the Letters and Sounds Programme, we provide a synthetic approach to the teaching of phonics, from Foundation Stage, through KS1 and into KS2 if appropriate. The programme focuses on securing word recognition skills, essential for children to decode (read) and encode (spell) words accurately and language comprehension. The program is complimented with purposeful talk and the use of shared reading experiences which expose children to a wider range of vocabulary and genre. Phonics is taught discretely daily in sets as well as in smaller group work. Each session follows a four part structure for children to revisit their previous experience, be taught new skills, practise together and apply what they have learned. Children are heard read on a one-one basis once per week with either an ASA or teacher. Teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged, and to identify those children who may need additional support.
In KS1 (and year 3) phonics continues to progress through Letters and sounds with daily lessons until children are secure with decoding. Children identified as needing extra support are given suitable intervention in the form of additional daily phonics lessons. Children’s fluency and comprehension is developed through a combination of ‘guided carousel’ reading, which sees children read 3 times per week in small groups with an adult, and whole class reading. All children in all year groups take home a reading book carefully matched to the sounds or content they have learnt, ensuring that they can access suitable material. We also provide all children with log-ins to Active Learn Bug Club: an online library of suitable books tailored to their needs. By KS2 we expect all children to be ready for whole class reading sessions which are undertaken daily.
Whole class reading
The focus is on vocabulary development, the development of specific reading skills as outlined in the national curriculum and immersion in a wide range of texts. These lessons use class texts (which are often, but not always, linked to the class topic) as a stimulus. Pupils will study at least one novel each term and their reading lessons are supplemented with a variety of other genres including picture books, poetry, song, film and non-fiction as well as ‘cold’ texts, which are extracts that allow the children to apply their new reading skills independently. The reading subject leaders, in collaboration with teaching staff, choose the key texts to ensure that reading challenge is both progressive throughout the age range and provides a broad range of genre, themes, cultural experience and gives consideration to gender equality.
We have high expectations for our pupils so we choose texts that are challenging – with vocabulary that even our most gifted readers will not have experienced. We do this so that children are exposed to more ambitious vocabulary – safe in the context of whole class reading where concepts are explained by the teacher through ‘book talk’. Tier 2 words (usually from the key text) are planned and explicitly taught during reading lessons and across the curriculum – often preloaded in order to scaffold and help all children access age-related class reads.
Lessons are planned weekly giving consideration to the following key areas:
We pre-teach context and themes (where relevant) to allow all children without prior knowledge to access the text. We use techniques to help children to live and breathe stories and their contexts – feel emotions, discover themes and visit places they might never have experienced for themselves. We use Royal Shakespeare Company ‘rehearsal room techniques’, drama and preloading of knowledge required to fully enjoy a text.
Using our knowledge of the needs of our children, we plan and teach each of the following curriculum elements using the Literacy Shed VIPERS acronym:
V – vocabulary
I – Infer
P – Predict
E – Explain
R – Retrieve
S –Sequence (KS1) and Summarise (KS2)
Teachers use the key text to identify opportunities to practise each of the skills in a variety of ways to keep reading lessons engaging. Each week, lessons are focused on one of the VIPERS strands and children are taught strategies specific to that area through ‘active reading’ and teacher modelling. We provide vocabulary instruction every week in a variety of ways to keep reading interesting and includes experiencing the word in different contexts and playing games for reinforcement.
Teachers plan lessons for children to practise responding to a text in a variety of ways to demonstrate their understanding and appreciation. This includes providing opportunities to share what a word or text means to them through regular book talk; annotating texts with ideas, predictions, discoveries and questions; visualising and performing; relating their experiences and expressing what they like and don’t like. Children are taught to compose written responses to answer questions of varying cognitive demand and posed in a variety of different ways (multiple choice, extended response) to assess their ability.
We continue to develop fluency, speed and stamina in a variety of ways to ensure reading is not formulaic and disengaging to the children. These include read alouds, choral reads, echo reads, partner reads, group reads. This enables teachers to hear every child read at least weekly and make an assessment using Rasinski’s Fluency Rubric as a guide. All teachers read to the children every day; both during reading lessons and as ‘class read for pleasure’ which is often a story chosen by the children themselves. They show pupils that they enjoy reading and model fluency (tone, expression, pace, volume) and comprehension by explaining the process of active reading.
At Eastfield, we understand the importance of developing a collaborative approach to reading with parents. Children who read and are read to in the home are more likely to read for pleasure, achieve academic success and lead fulfilled adult lives. To this end, we involve parents at every step of the journey by holding yearly reading information evenings – explaining how to help children read at home at each key stage; modelled phonics lessons in EYFS; family stay and read sessions for KS1; phonics education workshops and Bug Club drop-ins. We encourage parents to read with their child at least 4 times per week as part of our ‘Regular Readers’ program. Children who read at home receive ‘Book Bucks’ to spend in our enterprise shop at the end of each half term giving them an exciting incentive as well as weekly regular reader class champions certificates, which are celebrated weekly in whole school assembly.
Reading for Pleasure
We provide many opportunities for children to develop a love of reading throughout the school year and we work hard to ensure reading is celebrated as a highly regarded subject at Eastfield. On top of daily story-times for pleasure, a welcoming and bright library, classroom reading areas and displays, quality key texts and lessons that are creative and engaging and our very own reading dog, we hold many reading celebrations and extra-curricular activities. Children receive a yearly visit to the local library where they spend the morning enjoying books and listening to stories. We hold an exciting World Book Day event each year which sees children dressing up and enjoying a carefully chosen book for the whole school and fun and exciting activities arranged for the day. We work with local and national authors to visit the school and talk to them about their work and some children take part in the regional book awards challenge.
Through careful monitoring and tracking, teachers identify children who are not making the expected progress and therefore need intervention to catch up. Depending on the needs of individuals, this may include additional individual or small group work. It is important that children who are struggling to learn to read not only need to catch up with their peers, but also to continue to make progress. To complement our judgements, we use Active Learn Bug Club assessment tools to help teacher assess progress and gaps in learning. We also use the program to ensure children are allocated the correct home reading books which match the sounds and content they are learning. We pay careful attention to children who are non-regular readers and provide these children with additional opportunity to read with our reading PAT (Pets as Therapy) dog, Pru and with our volunteers from Ready Steady Read.
Our overall aim is for our pupils to read fluently and with understanding. We strive for pupils to understand the benefits of reading – as a crucial life-skill necessary for accessing and achieving academic success in all areas of the curriculum and beyond. We endeavour for our pupils leave Eastfield as confident, independent readers with a life-long passion to explore books for pleasure in order to be able to lead a culturally enlightened and fulfilled life. We firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We give all children the opportunity to enter the magical worlds that books open up to them. We promote reading for pleasure as part of our reading curriculum and our children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors and to review their books. This enhances a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles.