Reading at Andrews’ Endowed
Reading is a hugely complex but very enjoyable skill for children to learn and at Andrews’ Endowed, we believe that reading is vitally important for all children. Not only is reading fantastic for sparking imagination, learning to see the world from another’s point of view and finding out more about the world in which we live, but children need good reading skills to access the wider curriculum and as a spring-board for writing. Research has shown that there is a strong link between the amount children read and their success throughout their school years and later life. At Andrews’, we want every child to leave school a reader and to have the opportunity to experience a broad, varied and challenging reading diet. We aim for every child to be a reader for pleasure.
Learning to read in Acorns and KS1 – Phonics
Children at Andrews’ Endowed are first taught to read using a system of synthetic phonics. This is a system where words are broken down into their sounds (phonemes) and children learn to recognise how those sounds are written (graphemes). In this way, children can learn to sound out words and this helps them to read new words they may not have encountered before. Alongside phonics, they will learn some tricky (or high frequency) words that don’t match neatly with phonics eg ‘come’ or ‘people’.
- Our phonics teaching is based on Letters and Sounds. We use LCP to support teachers’ planning; and Floppy’s phonics resources. The children are taught phonics daily. It is generally expected that most children will have completed Phase 4 by the end of Reception (though this will be revisited in Autumn 1 of Year 1) and Phase 5 by the end of Year 1. Y2 revisits Phase 5 in the autumn and then progresses to Phase 6. Some children may need a little longer to complete the phases and we offer additional small-group support to those who require it.
- To support children’s reading in line with their developing phonics knowledge, we offer colour-banded reading books throughout Reception and KS1. Phonics phase assessments are performed at intervals and children’s reading book bands are reviewed and updated in line with these. We offer a selection of colour-banded Oxford Reading Tree books, including fiction and non-fiction. These are supplemented by others, for example Collins Big Cat, Project X and Kingfisher readers (non-fiction) to offer a greater variety (and more practice where a child may need longer on a given book band). Children are heard reading regularly in school.
Guided Reading in Key Stage 2
In Key Stage 2, the relative emphasis shifts from teaching children to decode words on the page to comprehension, including skills such as inference (reading between the lines and piecing together clues), summarising key points, identifying and classifying different types of writing, identifying the purpose of the writing and distinguishing between fact and opinion, effective layout and presentation, and the author’s use of language. In addition, we teach the children to skim and scan, in order to be able to retrieve key information quickly, and to use a dictionary to look up unfamiliar vocabulary.
These skills are taught in regular guided reading sessions throughout the week and based upon rich texts. We purposely choose texts that offer deeper meanings and may be challenging to the children in some way. Challenges in understanding may arise because:
- the text is old-fashioned, or from an unfamiliar culture;
- there may be time-shifts in the story;
- the narrator may be unreliable, for example if they are non-human, they lack understanding of their situation, or because they are dishonest;
- the plot is complicated eg if the viewpoint shifts between characters or settings; and
- the text is deliberately hard to access or has hidden meanings eg some poetry, allegories or extended metaphors. Technical or scientific language may also present challenges in non-fiction texts.
Our planning offers children the opportunity to experience a range of these reading challenges throughout their time in KS2, to ensure that they are well-prepared to progress to secondary school by the time they leave Year 6.
Some children may also continue to need support in developing their decoding skills in KS2 and they are supported through additional one-to-one reading with an adult and through structured programmes such Rapid Reading.
Assessment of reading, for example using Rising Stars reading comprehensions, takes place at regular intervals during the year to ensure that all children are on track and plan any interventions necessary. Children who are receiving additional reading support have their progress tracked using standardised Salford reading tests.
Reading at Home
- To become confident readers, children need plenty of practice at home to supplement the reading that they do in school. Reading at home is tracked through the use of a reading diary. In the diary, parents record when they have read with their child and when a new book is needed.
- Sometimes it may be thought that once a child can decode fluently, there is no longer a need for them to read at home. However, regular reading at home remains critically important throughout Key Stage 2, as well as lower down the school. Children need this practice to develop the reading stamina and vocabulary that will stand them in good stead to access all areas of the curriculum successfully. It is particularly helpful if parents discuss their children’s reading with them regularly– can they summarise what’s happened in the last chapter they read? What have they particularly enjoyed? Or what most surprised them? Which three words would best describe a character’s personality and why? Which other books does it remind them of and why?
Encouraging Reading for Pleasure
At Andrews’ Endowed, there are many important ways in which we encourage children to become readers for pleasure:
- Stories are read by the teacher and shared with the children on a daily basis from Acorns and throughout KS1. Sharing of class stories continues in KS2. This allows teacher modelling of reading and also means that children can enjoy stories that are beyond their own reading capabilities. KS1 stories include a range of traditional tales so that children may become familiar with their features and language patterns, as well as rhyming stories and those that are more modern.
- In KS2 children have daily reading time, when they can quietly read a book of their own choosing. The school has a well-stocked library as well as attractive book corners in each classroom offering a range of fiction and non-fiction. In addition to being refreshed from the school budget, the school participates in the Hampshire Schools Library Service. This means that school stock can be supplemented and also that available books can be tied into current history, geography, science and RE topics as books are refreshed 2-3x per year.
- The School runs a Family Reading Club – weekly time after school when parents and children can share a book together in school (currently Covid dependent).
- The school runs a Birthday Book scheme – children can select a book to celebrate their birthday. They take it home to read and then donate it to the school library. Children are presented with their Birthday books and these are discussed in Celebration Assembly.
- The school invites a Book Club in on Parents’ Evenings. The children may browse the books while their parents meet their teachers, and then purchase afterwards.
- The school invites in Hampshire Libraries each year to launch their Summer Reading Challenge. Children who complete the challenge bring in their certificates, which are presented in Celebration Assembly. We also participate in other Hampshire events such as the Hampshire Information book awards aimed at Year 4 children and the Hampshire Picture Book award aimed at Y1 children.
- Reading Buddies – Y5 and Y6 children buddy up with Acorns and Y1 children to share stories once a week. This is popular and in the summer term, the children often read outside. (Covid dependent currently)
- Author visits and workshops – for example, Claire Barker (Picklewitch and Jack books) for year 3 and 4; and Lisa Thomson (Goldfish Boy, The Light Jar) for years 5 and 6.
- World Book Day celebrations – activities have included children having their picture taken reading in unusual places; and creating a ‘book in a jar’ scene from their favourite book.
Writing at Andrews’ Endowed
Writing is a vitally important skill of communication, whether that be for some business purpose, for social reasons or to express creative ideas. At Andrews’ Endowed, we aim for all children to become confident, clear and fluent writers and offer them opportunities to write for all of these purposes.
Writing in Acorns
Most importantly, the language of expression in Acorns is supported and encouraged through the development of oral skills. If a child cannot say what they mean, they cannot write it either. Focus is on the formation of sentences and developing precise vocabulary, as well as learning to take turns to speak and to speak confidently and respectfully.
Through phonics sessions, the children are not only taught to sound out words, but also to write the corresponding graphemes, to support their emerging spelling skills. In addition, they are taught the correct pencil grip and develop their handwriting skills initially through structured teaching of the basic patterns of writing and then moving onto letter shapes. This includes understanding the correct start and end points for letters (as a foundation for moving onto cursive handwriting).
They build on the three basic letter shapes:
l, for example the long ladder
c, for example the curly caterpillar
r, for example the one-armed robot
They learn that writing progresses from left to right across the page. The children experiment with writing large and small using many different media, for example chalk, paint, forming plasticine letters or writing with their finger in sand, as well as using software programmes. They develop the necessary manual dexterity and finger strength for successful writing through a whole range of play activities such as modelling with play-dough, cutting out, and using tweezers to manipulate small items such as beads.
A key feature of Acorns is child initiated learning and children are encouraged to integrate writing into their play, whether that be writing notices for information or warning, adding labels to their drawing, or instructions for their game. Writing may take place inside, or out.
Writing in KS1 and KS2
At Andrews’ Endowed our writing curriculum is founded upon the use of rich stimulus texts. These may be books, picture books or short film-clips. They offer a creative hook and context for our writing and are often linked to our wider curriculum, for example science, topic or PSHE, either through subject-matter or theme. The use of stimulus texts helps to create a shared sense of excitement as well as offering opportunities to explore style, features and vocabulary relevant to our writing purpose and audience, prior to writing. Writing is taught daily in ‘English lessons’, but also integrated into our teaching across all subjects.
Throughout the year, children will gain experience of writing a variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as poetry. And as they progress through Key Stage 2, they will write in a range of styles including formal and informal. Writing purposes include: to entertain, to persuade, to inform, to explain or instruct, and to discuss.
At Andrews’ we structure our planning and teaching around the Writing Rainbow, which helps to bring a consistent approach across the school. The Rainbow offers children a highly structured approach, with a clear, progressive learning journey, including explicit vocabulary development and teacher modelling of varied sentence structures and writing skills in ‘sentence stacking’ sessions, prior to an opportunity for the creation of an independent piece of writing. The visual cues of the Writing Rainbow symbols are effective in helping children to embed the features of a successful piece of writing. The rainbow symbols are structured into three tiers:
- The Fantastics – the ideas of writing (including, for example, using different senses)
- The Grammaristics – for example, different types of complex sentence and punctuation
- The Boomtastics – the techniques of writing – for example, similes, puns and controlled repetition.
The children are taught to plan and edit their independent writing.
As a school, we use the Penpals handwriting scheme to support children in the development of a fluent, cursive style of writing. Initially, children are taught to write un-joined, but with a lead-out stroke from each letter as a basis for later joining. Joins start to be taught in Year 2 and children progress from writing in pencil to writing in pen once they have gained sufficient confidence, in Year 4.
In Acorns and Year 1, spelling is taught through daily phonics sessions. In Year 2, spelling teaching starts to extend beyond phonics. From Year 2, upwards, spelling teaching is founded upon the requirements and patterns set out for Year 2, Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2 in the National Curriculum (English Appendix 1). These explore a variety of prefixes (eg unfamiliar, misbehaviour, decentralise) and suffixes (eg information, hopping, happily) added to root words, as well as words that have come into the English language from other languages (eg scholar, pyjamas, beautiful), and homophones (words that sound similar but have different meaning (eg their, there, they’re). In addition, statutory lists of tricky (or commonly misspelt) words are incorporated.
Spelling teaching each week centres around a given spelling pattern or theme, and children are taught strategies such as ‘rules’ for adding a particular prefix or suffix, segmenting into syllables, ‘looking for the tricky bit’, ‘look, say, cover, write and check’, as well as more visual strategies such as looking at the overall shape of the word. Weekly spelling lists are given for home learning and these tie into the spelling theme being taught in class that week.
In addition to low-stakes weekly spelling tests, spelling progress is monitored through twice annual SWST tests (Standard Word Spelling Tests) from which we can derive a spelling age and standardised score. Children who are identified as needing additional support in spelling will receive additional teaching, using Rapid Phonics, Wordshark or Wordwasp.
The children are taught to check and correct spelling mistakes in their own writing, both through marking and independent editing sessions.