St James C of E Primary School prioritises language and literacy, promoting a strong command of spoken and written language to foster a love of literature through extensive reading. Recognising the importance of broad English skills for academic progress and adult life, we develop teachers who are skilled at supporting children to learn to read well.
We believe that reading is fundamental to education, it allows children to access learning across the curriculum. Regular reading, both in school and at home, enhances the likelihood of pupils fulfilling their potential. Instilling a passion for reading is an essential part of this and teachers are encouraged to model a love of reading whilst sharing class novels.
We strive to ensure all children become fluent readers and writers. To support reading we use the systematic phonics program, Little Wandle - Letters and Sounds Revised, starting in Reception. This progressive program ensures proficiency in reading and spelling throughout their academic journey.
The development of reading skills progress as they move from Key Stage one to Key Stage two – children are taught how to discuss and understand texts more deeply using a range of comprehension enquiry skills.
Exploring more complex texts in class allows pupils’ understanding of how writers write and the special relationship between author and reader develops. Through critical engagement with various texts, pupils make sense of what they read and can access more opportunities.
Key Stage One Early Reading
At St James Church of England Primary School, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, we want them to read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose. Using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’s reading guide, the children are taught and exposed to verbal comprehension on a weekly basis. We use a familiar book so that their focus is no longer about segmenting and blending but on the meaning behind what they are reading. Once our children are fluent readers, we begin the transition from verbally answering comprehension questions to responding in writing. Once taught, this skill allows children to have a better understanding of any text they read.
Once a day, preselected novels are shared with the children as we believe it is imperative that our children be read to. The novels selected are above the reading age of the year group, providing the right amount of challenge for the children. The teacher models the reading process as an expert reader. This allows the children to ask questions to clarify meaning and understanding.
At St James Church of England Primary School, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, we want to equip them with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary but also understand it. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
Vocabulary is addressed every day through the preselected class novel. As the teacher models being an expert reader, it also allows them to introduce and explain new vocabulary and share different contexts that it can be used in.
We us the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised phonics planning which ensures children are exposed to a wide range of words and it is addressed through the prosody adult led reading sessions through decodable and familiar books.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day.
- In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception where teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
- We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
- Children in Receptin are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phases 3 and 4 and are taught t read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
- Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
- We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 and above who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Rapid Catch-up assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Rapid Catch-up resources – at pace.
- These short, sharp lessons last 15-20 minutes daily and have been designed to ensure our children are given the best opportunity to quickly catch up to age-related expectations in reading.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions four times a week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions four times a week. These:
- are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
- use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids.
- are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
- 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 four key reading skills:
- prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
- the reading domains; Prediction, Retrieval, Inference, Vocabulary, Sequencing (one domain once a week)
- In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
- In Year 2, the children begin the new academic year revisiting Phase 5 sounds before moving onto the Phase 6 spelling rules. Any children who require more fluency practice, whether or not they passed the Phonics Screening Test will continue to be taught reading in this way. They will be reading decodable books to improve fluency and comprehensive skills.
- In the Autumn term, Year 3 transition into Lower Key Stage 2 by following the same reading practice sessions above. We believe it is essential that they still have a focus on fluency as the texts become more challenging. This is also the case for the Year 3 children who require extra support in becoming fluent readers and not solely for those who did not pass the Phonics Screening Test.
- The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
- Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.
- We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.
Additional reading support for children
- Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.
- Ensuring consistency and pace of progress, every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
- Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
- Lesson templates, Prompt cards and ‘How to’ videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
- The Reading Leader and SLT use the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.
- St James also uses the Fisher Family Trust (FFT) to accelerate children’s fluency and comprehension skills. This takes place for selected Year 1 children in the Summer term and selected Year 2 children from the Autumn term.
Ensuring reading for pleasure
‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002)
‘The will influences the skill and vice versa.’ (OECD 2010)
We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.
- We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at St James Church of England Primary School and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
- Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
- In Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
- Children from Reception onwards have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a weekly basis to ensure communication between home and school.
- As the children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.
- Each class visits the local library every half term.
- The school library is made available for classes to use throughout the day. Each class has a timetabled slot but can go at other times when available. Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, national events etc).
- We use the Everybody read! resources to grow our teachers’ knowledge of current books, the most recent research and to grow our own Reading for Pleasure practice.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
Assessment for learning is used:
- daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
- weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
Summative assessment for Reception and Year 1 is used:
- every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.
- by SLT and scrutinised through the St James Church of England Primary School assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
- Fluency assessments measure children’s accuracy and reading speed in short one-minute assessments.
- .A placement assessment is used with any child new to the school in Reception and Year 1 to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan and provide appropriate extra teaching.
- The Rapid Catch-up assessment is used with any child new to the school in Year 2 and above to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan and provide appropriate extra teaching.
- Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.
Ongoing assessment for Rapid Catch-up in Years 2 to 6
- Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the half-termly Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments.
Key Stage Two Reading
Presubscribed novels are shared with the children every afternoon just after lunchtime; it is imperative that the children are read to every day for 15 minutes. The reason we value this immensely at our school is because data shows only 32% of British children are read to daily by an adult; most parents stop reading to their children by the age of eight; and only 19% of 8-10 year olds have a book read to them daily by an adult.
The class novels that have been picked for every Year group are challenging. The children are able to access them, but it is a text that many of the class could not sit and read cover to cover independently. The teacher models the reading process to whole class as an expert reader. By every class having a class novel we aim to promote a love of books and reading within the children. When teachers are reading the novel out to the class, they will ask questions to clarify the children’s understanding of the text; introduce new vocabulary, explain what it means and even share contexts in which it may be used in; discuss authors choice of language and writing structures; and encourage prediction and questioning of what they might learn in the next few lines, next page or even the next chapter.
By the end of Year 6, children will have come across a plethora of expert readers, authors and writing styles, which in the future will help them in choosing books they want to read, and even help them to improve their writing by using structures/styles which they will magpie from different authors. Subsequently, evolving their own style of writing.
We have made reading to our children a priority in our school this is because of the research on this topic. Poorer adolescent readers are often regarded by teachers as unable to read whole narratives and given short, simplified texts, yet are expected to analyse every part in a slow laborious read‐through. This article reports on a mixed methods study in which 20 English teachers in the South of England changed their current practice to read two whole challenging novels at a faster pace than usual in 12 weeks with their average and poorer readers. The research found that simply reading aloud ensures children make progress as poorer readers made a surprising 16 months’ progress. The best progress is made when sticking points are addressed, which teachers do when they are reading to the class. Skilled teacher input and guidance will further improve students’ reading abilities, which we encourage our teachers to do when they are reading and also during our novel study lessons on a Monday and Friday. If you would like to have a more in-depth look at the research, the link is below.
‘Just reading’: the impact of a faster pace of reading narratives on the comprehension of poorer adolescent readers in English classrooms__smbhome.uscs.susx.ac.uk_dm50_Desktop_Westbrook et al.pdf (sussex.ac.uk)
At St James, to combat children’s understanding of what they’re reading we use a reading skills based approach called ‘in the moment of reading’. We explain to children that when they are reading, their brain will use the skills to help them to understand what is happening in the text. We ask the children to think out aloud and jot down what they’re thinking when they’re reading next to the line in the text. Once taught, these skills allow children to have a better understanding of any text by the time they are done reading it, as the teaching of skills is not specific to a single text. The teaching is aimed to improve the children’s ability to comprehend texts using the skills.
Using background knowledge - Good readers use their background knowledge to connect with what they read. The background knowledge can come from various place. For example, book to self (own experience), book to world knowledge and book to book knowledge.
Predict or ask questions – When reading children will ask questions about the text to help them understand it. They may also predict what may happen a few lines down, in the next paragraph, next page or even in the next chapter.
Visualise – Children use this skill to imagine the text as if it were playing out in front of them. They can even jot this down with a small picture.
Use inference – We teach children that inference is required in texts otherwise texts would be tedious as you’re told everything. Children are taught to think like detectives. We explain to them that writers leave clues behind for you to find. They need to find these clues and form meaning.
Notice meaning breakdown… - As they read, good readers check things make sense and notice when they have a meaning or understanding ‘breakdown’. We teach children to be careful when the text stops making sense to them. When they notice a ‘breakdown’, this is when they require a repair strategy.
- Read the sentences around the tricky bit. Go back and forward and collect clues. Use your background knowledge and think like a detective.
- Make pictures in your mind and re-read the sentences again. Your mind pictures may make things clear.
- Look at key words in the sentence. Key words will be packed with meaning.
- If it’s a single word that’s unfamiliar, ask yourself what do I know about it?
Does it have a part you know from another word? Is it a noun, verb…adjective? Try to replace it with a word you know.
Does it make sense?
Spot VIP words and put them together to build meaning– We ask children to imagine they are doing a jigsaw without a picture on the box. One jigsaw piece does not usually give enough information to tell what the whole jigsaw picture is going to be. To get the big picture you have to put several pieces together. Reading is often like doing a jigsaw. When you read, you have to be able to spot what the important things are and connect them together.
In Year 3, teachers implement guided reading sessions 5 times a week to support their students in making progress in reading. These sessions involve small groups of students with similar reading abilities, allowing the teacher to provide targeted instruction tailored to each group’s needs. The teacher selects appropriately challenging texts, introduces comprehension strategies, and facilitates discussions to enhance the children’s understanding. Guided reading fosters critical thinking, vocabulary development, and fluency, while also addressing individual learning goals. This personalised approach helps cultivate a positive and supportive reading environment, promoting literacy growth among students in Years 3. As the year progresses and children’s reading skills progress, they will gradually begin introducing texts which the class tackle collectively – similar to the learning model that takes place in the years above.
Reading lessons in Key Stage 2 (KS2) take place 5 times a week lasting between 30 to 45 minutes.
Lessons on Monday and Friday focus on the novel children are reading in class. Teachers will use extracts from the novel and address teaching points through annotations. Teacher may also give children a variety of questions based on the KS2 reading domains. During this part of the lesson, teachers will model answers to help children improve their written answers.
Lessons from Tuesday to Thursday will still instill the same comprehension skills; however, teacher have more choice over the text they pick for their children. These texts consist of satellite texts for the novel or topic (fiction and non-fiction) and extracts from a variety of genres including songs and poetry.
Bottom 20% in KS2
Fisher Family Trust (FFT) – Children are given a book in their zone of proximal development (ZPD). With an adult, children will read this book online. The books on FFT will have words sounded out for the children. They also help children to learn basic everyday vocabulary as the words have been defined for them with text, sound and pictures. Once they have finished reading the book, FFT will present questions for the children about the book. As the children progress through this programme, they become more fluent and better at comprehension as the questions increase in difficulty.
Little Wandle Catch-up Phonics – Children that are new to English take part in the catch-up scheme our school follows. We have a TA that will take children out from the junior year groups during the week to address their phonic gaps.
Interventions - In Upper Key Stage 2, targeted interventions are implemented through small group sessions to specifically support struggling readers in enhancing their comprehension skills. These interventions are crafted to address the unique challenges faced by students who may be grappling with reading difficulties. Staff employ a combination of tailored reading materials, explicit instruction, and guided discussions to focus on improving comprehension. By providing a supportive and personalised environment, these interventions aim to bolster the foundational skills necessary for understanding texts. The small group setting allows for individualised attention, enabling staff to identify and address the specific needs of struggling readers, fostering a more inclusive and effective approach to comprehension improvement in Upper KS2.
Parents and Reading at Home
St James C of E School believes that parental involvement and encouragement can play a crucial part in pupils’ reading development and we promote a home-school reading partnership in several ways:
- Communicating with parents and sharing information with them through: parent meetings, parent workshops and newsletters.
- Pupils each have a book to read at home which they select from our school library.
- Children on the phonics catch-up scheme or participating in a comprehension intervention receive a carefully selected book at their appropriate reading level, personally chosen by a staff member, for them to take home and enjoy.
Pupils are exposed to a range of summative assessment opportunities:
- Year 1 children are assessed against the Government’s Standardised Phonics Assessment in the summer term.
- Year 2 children are assessed using the Government’s standardised Reading Test.
- Year 3 to 5 are assessed using Test Base reading tests.
- Year 6 pupils are assessed using the Government’s standardised Reading Test.