"Reading is fundamental to education. Proficiency in reading, writing and spoken language is vital for pupils' success." (DfE Reading Framework 2021)
At St Barnabas', we value reading as a life long skill. We want our children to be able to confidently decode and comprehend texts from across the entire curriculum, so that by the time they reach the end of KS2, they are able to access any curriculum subject at secondary school and beyond.
We want all our children to enjoy reading and to do so for pleasure, as well as for information.
We want our children to read widely so they can gain a deep understanding of the world around us and the perspectives of others, share in cultural experiences, deepen their level of emotional intelligence and empathy and develop the vocabulary they need to express themselves effectively.
In order for our pupils to become confident readers, we recognise the importance of teaching both decoding and comprehension skills.
Where parents are not able to support their children's reading at home, we provide extra opportunities for these children to read with adults at school.
Following evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation, phonics is considered to be one of the most secure and best evidenced areas of pedagogy and is the most effective approach for teaching pupils to decode and learn to read. Our reading curriculum (including phonics) is based on developing language comprehension and decoding (word reading) and spelling (encoding).
We use a systematic, synthetic phonics programme called GES Simply Letters and Sounds. This programme begins in the first week of Reception, while Nursery begin learning Phase 1 phonics.
EYFS, Year 1, Year 2 and any KS2 pupils on the programme have a phonics lesson at least once a day. Blending and segmenting are taught alongside each other as reversible processes, at both word and sentence level. All pupils are included in the phonics programme in a way that suits their individual needs. We have clear expectations of pupils’ phonics progress term by term, which is laid out in our phonics progression map.
We aim for all children to keep up with our phonics programme. Where children need additional support with phonics, they are part of additional phonics intervention sessions on the same day as their class phonics lessons. This additional same day intervention takes place in a small group or as 1:1 support.
To support the teaching of phonics, we use Ransom Reading Stars decodable books, which match exactly to the progression of the programme and include a diverse range of genres, characters and attitudes. Pupils take home a decodable book that matches what they have been taught in phonics. We give pupils the opportunity to read each book three times to allow them to develop the automaticity to read books ‘at a glance’. This gives pupils the cognitive capacity to focus on comprehension rather than decoding.
We continually assess pupils’ progress in phonics in order to immediately put strategies into place to offer extra support or challenge where necessary.
Each day, pupils in KS1 and KS2 take part in a whole-class Guided Reading lesson. This promotes pupil engagement and productivity as all pupils receive the expertise of the teacher. One text is studied for the week to allow children to read with automaticity and comprehend the text at a deeper level. The text is chosen based on the learning needs of the class and sets high expectations for our pupils. Over the course of the year, a wide range of genres will be studied, making cross-curricular links wherever possible. This provides increased exposure to challenging texts, increased time for deep exploration of a text and the opportunity for class discussion. Listening to texts and using open questions to prompt discussions ensures that the focus is on language development in a way that is not restricted by poor decoding.
We structure our guided reading lessons in the following way:
On Mondays, we take an in-depth look at vocabulary from the focus text, keeping in mind that background knowledge is the most important component of language comprehension (NFER). We make this as visual as possible (images, diagrams, word mats) to support pupils with aphantasia (the inability to form mental images). Depending on the age and ability of the pupils, we use pictionaries, pictures with labels, child-friendly definitions, pupils’ own sentence using the words, ‘would you rather?’ answers, target words in a sentence with conjunctions, synonyms/antonyms and word wizards.
Tuesday: Reading aloud
On Tuesdays, the class teacher reads the text aloud while pupils follow along with their own copy. This enables children to engage with a text they may not be able to decode themselves and hear intonation and expression used correctly. Pupils raise their hands whenever they hear a word from Monday. We keep the text short enough to read twice in succession; the first read focuses on modelling fluency and expression, and allows the children to develop an initial response. The second read then focuses on comprehension. During the second reading, pupils may be asked to read aloud, either individually or through choral reading. Pupils may compose answers to comprehension questions through paired discussion before feeding back to the class. This is reinforced by teaching the pupils how to find the answer and modelling answering such questions.
On Wednesdays, pupils write a summary of what was read on Tuesday. The pupils are supported and challenged through the use of picture prompts, adult support, sentence starters, scaffolds, word banks, collaborative pairs, drawing comparisons or writing a summary in another style e.g. as part of an advert.
Thursday: Comprehension questions based on the content domains from the National Curriculum
KS1 (Very Smart Rhinos In Pyjamas)
- 1a) draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts
- 1b) identify / explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction texts, such as characters, events, titles and information
- 1c) identify and explain the sequence of events in texts
- 1d) make inferences from the text
- 1e) predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far
KS2 (AV CRISP)
- 2a) give / explain the meaning of words in context
- 2b) retrieve and record information / identify key details from fiction and non-fiction
- 2c) summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph
- 2d) make inferences from the text / explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text
- 2e) predict what might happen from details stated and implied
- 2f) identify / explain how information / narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole
- 2g) identify / explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases
- 2h) make comparisons within the text
Friday: Reading for Pleasure
On Fridays, pupils are given time to read a text of their choice for pleasure.
Pupils also have the opportunity to read one-to-one with teachers, support staff and reading volunteers.
Comprehension and Vocabulary
We recognise the impact of vocabulary knowledge on academic success and place great emphasis on communication and oracy across all areas of our whole-school curriculum. We therefore implement a language-rich curriculum, allowing pupils to make links across the curriculum to support and extend their use of vocabulary for deeper comprehension. The development of vocabulary is deliberately and carefully planned across our curriculum and includes the following strategies:
- Word of the Day (tier 2 words)
- Vocabulary banks in books (created by pupils to give them ownership over the vocabulary)
- Phase 1 books (Nursery)
- High-quality dialogue including modelling, questioning, thinking aloud and connecting ideas
- Vocabulary displayed in classrooms
- Weekly vocabulary focus in Guided Reading
Promoting a love of reading
At St Barnabas, we are passionate about promoting a life-long love of reading. We do this in the following ways:
- Story time: Every class has a daily story time where teachers read aloud to the pupils. Some of these texts are the core texts we cover as part of our curriculum, while some are chosen by the teacher to reflect the interests and needs of the class. We ensure that these texts allow pupils to see themselves represented and to understand experiences and perspectives of others; extend and reinforce vocabulary; reflect a range of genres, setting and authors and expose the children to literature they may not choose to read independently.
- Book Corners: All classrooms have an inviting book corner, with a focus on the quality and organisation of texts. Pupils are welcomed to read in their book corner and to take texts from the book corner home.
- Reader of the Week: Each week a pupil from each class is chosen for their effort in reading. These pupils are celebrated in our Celebration Collective Worship and their names are published in our newsletter.
- Reading Challenges: Each half-term holiday, pupils take part in a reading challenge, where they are asked to record the number of minutes they have spent reading. The more minutes they have spent reading, the more times they are entered into the prize raffle!
- Reading Buddies: Each day, pupils from Year 6 spend their lunchtime reading with younger pupils. They also use this time to develop vocabulary through play in EYFS.
- Adult reading displays: We display the last book read by each adult in school to allow the pupils to see us as readers.
- Weekly opportunity to read in our school library.
- Half-termly trips to Victoria library.
- World Book Day events and celebrations
- Pyjamarama events and celebrations
- Prizes for any school competition are always books
Intent – What do you want your pupils to know and be able to do, at key points and by the time they leave St Barnabas?
At St Barnabas, we believe writing is a key life skill, both within education and society in general.
We intend to equip our pupils with transferrable writing skills that can be applied to any subject, audience or purpose, at secondary school and beyond.
We want our children to appreciate the importance of grammar, punctuation and spelling and to master these skills before leaving primary school.
We want our children to be able to communicate articulately in written form and to confidently express their ideas, knowledge and emotions through writing.
At St Barnabas, we understand that the more we read, the better writers we become. Vocabulary is central to our writing curriculum and we therefore promote a literature-rich environment, using carefully selected key texts to support both our pupils’ reading and writing development. The key texts allow pupils to make links across the curriculum and therefore provide meaningful opportunities to write for a range of purposes and audiences. Our long-term plans provide pupils with the opportunity to write a broad range of fiction and non-fiction texts, which build in complexity year on year. As part of the writing process, pupils are given regular opportunities to develop their oracy in order to imitate and internalise the language and structures relevant for the piece of writing. To promote a love of writing, we run regular whole-school competitions, such as the 500 words competition and poetry competitions, which are judged by our Junior Leadership Team.
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
The National Curriculum reflects the importance of the use of Standard English; this is something we are passionate about modelling throughout the school, as the quality of language pupils hear is vital for developing their use of grammar in speaking and writing. In line with the National Curriculum, pupils are explicitly taught the grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives required for their key stage, as well as how to transfer and embed these skills in writing. The teaching of SPAG is supported through the use of Alan Peat sentences. These allow pupils to build a bank of punctuation and sentence structures that can be used a range of contexts.
We teach our pupils to write with fluidity, progressively covering the skills required to meet the aims of the National Curriculum for transcription, allowing pupils to focus on the content and accuracy of their writing. In EYFS, pupils develop their gross and fine motor skills as a precursor to handwriting. When introduced to new GPCs in phonics, pupils are taught the correct letter formation which is practised through air writing and in books sitting at tables, rather than with whiteboards on the carpet. In EYFS and Year 1, pupils are not taught to join letters or to start letters with a ‘lead-in’, because these practices cause unnecessary difficulty for beginners. When pupils move to Year 2, pre-cursive handwriting is introduced following the MSL Handwriting Rescue Scheme. As pupils progress to KS2, the focus is on joining letters, developing fluency, legibility and speed. Once this has been achieved, pupils are awarded with pen licence and a handwriting pen. Throughout the school, handwriting is taught through discrete sessions as well as throughout all areas of the curriculum. Staff model the appropriate handwriting for their pupils in books, on the board and on displays. We ensure displays include a mixture of printed and handwritten text.