We know that reading is one of the most important skills the children will ever learn. The children at William Alvey have lots of opportunities to read at school and we try and promote reading in as many ways as we can.
Every class has a variety of fiction (story) and non-fiction (fact) books readily available in their book corners. Each year group also has 6 books that they study in detail across the school year. These books were chosen for a variety of reasons including genre, ‘plague’* or by author. Teacher’s have selected and recommend books based on the year group, topic or areas of interest to their class.
We have a school library that the children can access at break and lunchtimes. We also have very good links with Sleaford Library and we are starting a rota of regular visits throughout the school year. Some children have elected to attend a storytellers lunch group, which requires them to look after the library, create books displayed based on a chosen topic or author and publish a book review in the WASP.
To get the children started in Reception we teach phonics based on the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. Our reading schemes (Rising Stars Reading Planet and Oxford Reading Tree) are matched to each phase of Letters and Sounds; these books include the key sounds and high frequency words covered within each book which enables our parents to fully support their child with their reading development. The children’s progression in phonics is assessed termly throughout Reception and KS1 and specific, individual targets are set to support pupils with any gaps in their knowledge. Phonics intervention is delivered in small groups or 1:1 depending on the needs of each child. Parents are given termly updates on their child’s assessments through teacher feedback and Reception parents are also able to keep track of their child’s reading progress on ‘Tapestry’. A phonics workshop is held for Reception parents so that a reading partnership between home and school can flourish from day one.
At the end of Year 1 all the children in the UK take a phonics assessment and this indicates where the children are compared to national expectations. The children have a chance to retake this test half way through Year 2. Our children consistently perform above the national average.
After the children move into KS2 (Year 3-6) the children follow one of two pathways; we use the Renaissance Accelerated Reading Programme for children who are at age related expectations but those children who are below where we would expect follow a different reading scheme until they are ready to move to Renaissance reader, where all books are banded into different levels. Children have to read 5 books in each level and pass a simple ‘quiz’ before moving onto the next level. Pretty much all books are banded by Renaissance and you can either visit their website or click on the link on our website (www.williamalvey.net) and check the level of almost any book you have at home. We can monitor the children’s progress throughout KS2 using the scheme’s diagnostic reporting system which can be accessed at an individual and whole class level, we can track the number of books each child has read and their level of basic comprehension.
Throughout a child’s time at William Alvey children are also given the chance to read individually to the class teacher or to the whole class in a lesson or as a preparation for an assembly or a performance. The children are encouraged to read at every opportunity.
*In his book ‘Reading Reconsidered’, Doug Lemov points out that there are five types of texts or plagues that children should have access to in order to successfully navigate reading with confidence. These are complex beyond a lexical level and demand more from the reader than other types of books:
Narratively Complex Books
All pupils are expected to complete home reading supported by their family with books that both support their reading to learn and learning to read. Home reading is tracked via teacher assessments of reading diaries and additional reading opportunities are provided for those unable to read at home, those who are struggling to progress or those who are entitled to additional support.
Talk for Reading
The Talk for Reading method enables children to gain a fantastic understanding of a text with huge emphasis on vocabulary, reading fluency and the teaching of specific comprehension foci during each unit, although all content domains are touched upon.
Phase 1: Baseline assessment and planning
Teaching is focused by initial assessment (a ‘cold’ task) The aim of this is to assess what the children already know and can do independently at the start of a unit, drawing on their prior learning. Through the assessment of their reading skills, teachers work out what to teach the whole class, different groups and adapt the model text and plan. Targets are set for individuals. which encourages pupils and helps us track the impact of teaching.
Phase 2. The Introduction phase
The teaching begins with a creative ‘hook’ which engages the pupils with a sense of enjoyment, audience and purpose and also provides context for the text they are about to study. During the early stages of the process, children are given opportunities to share their initial thoughts about the text and raise questions which can be referred back to throughout the unit. After children have been initially exposed to the text, the main focus of the Introduction phase is to ensure that children can access the key text, have a good understanding of the vocabulary used and gain a basic understanding of the key text. The teaching in this stage is influenced by the work of Aidan Chambers, Isabel Beck and Alex Quigley.
Phase 3. The Investigation phase
Once children have a basic understanding of the text, they then begin to develop understanding at a deeper level. They are taught how to answer key questions linked to each content domain through modelling and the shared writing of answers. Once confident, the children are then encouraged to answer key questions about the text independently with the support of shared writes. Drama is also used within this stage to deepen understanding, and extended writing opportunities are also incorporated with children putting themselves, for example, in the shoes of key characters or into a particular setting. At the end of this phase, the key comprehension foci are taught explicitly with the teacher modelling answering questions with the support of the children.
Phase 4. Independent application
As children move on to the third phase, they apply independently what has been taught and practised in another context. The children will be asked questions linked to the comprehension focus based on a new text with a link to the first, for example, same author, next chapter or next paragraph or a text with a similar theme.