English- Reading Revolution
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”
At Great Missenden we approach reading in several different ways. As the children grow older our focus is on reading for meaning, on making comparisons between texts, asking insightful questions, making evidenced inferences and on using their passion for reading to support their writing. However, this is only possible if the children are initially comfortable with both the practical skill of decoding and possess the rich vocabulary necessary to access wide range of texts.
The Joy of Reading
The importance of reading cannot be overstated. Reading is a skill that not only unlocks what the world has to offer, it also the key to the imagination, to mindfulness, reflection and happiness. At Great Missenden we promote reading on both these levels, as a vital skill in a multitude of contexts and as one of the very best things you can do in your spare time!
We encourage reading through our own storytelling, by sharing aspirational and wonderful stories with all age groups from Early Years up to Year 6, discussing and debating class novels with children and constantly drawing on the books of great authors to inspire the children to write for themselves.
We celebrate reading throughout the school, in our classrooms and in our new and cherished library. We hold events and competitions to share and celebrate our love of reading. Throughout the toughest times of 2020 and 2021 our staff delighted in reading stories to the children, it was and always will be such a vital and enjoyable part of school life.
Phonics and Reading Scheme
When children join the school from EYFS to Year 6, our first priority is to ensure that children are comfortable and fluent with the skill of reading and able to read age-appropriate books at a good pace that supports both their understanding and their enjoyment.
In EYFS and KS1, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised is a complete system which is used as a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP). This is based on the original Letters and Sounds, but extensively revised to provide a complete teaching programme meeting all the expectations of the National Curriculum, the Ofsted Deep Dive into reading and preparing our children to go beyond the expectations of the Phonics Screening Check. Collins Big Cat books have recently been implemented which are matched perfectly to the Little Wandle progression and support all of the Letters and Sounds phases. This progression is based on the DfE's publication 'Letters and Sounds: Improving Rates of Progress 2021'. The books include an exciting mix of stories and non-fiction to foster a love of reading in all children whilst ensuring they are linked to the phonics learning being taught in school.
In KS2, where children are still in need of Phonics support, interventions take place to ensure they progress with their phonics understanding. To build on this, we use a reading scheme based on the Oxford Reading Tree. Although some schools use a single reading scheme that indicates level using either numbers or a colour band, at present in KS2, we use a combination of more than one scheme. These schemes correlate easily (see table below) and at Great Missenden, wishing to draw upon the widest range of books possible, we use both. Additionally, we assign 'un-levelled' books from a wide range of sources to different bands, again in order to provide the widest range of reading material possible.
After Band 11/Lime reading books children move onto ‘Free Reading’. However, the category of 'Free Reading' books is incredibly broad and as such we still support children in choosing suitable and appropriately challenging books throughout their time in school.
To give a rough guide of age-expected reading, we would hope for children to be reading comfortably at the following reading levels at these stages in their education:
End of Reception = Band 2/Red
End of Year 1 = Band 6/Orange
End of Year 2 = Band 10/White
(Numbers and Colours)
An ongoing target for the school is to continue investment in our reading scheme in order to provide the best range of texts possible which supports children's reading development.
Studies suggest that as much as 80% of a child’s learnt vocabulary comes from their reading. The logic behind this is that our spoken vocabulary is generally much smaller. Adults and children alike use a much smaller lexicon of conversational words in their day to interaction - it is when we read that we broaden our horizons and gain a broader and richer vocabulary. We teach vocabulary in Great Missenden, not just in discrete reading sessions, but as part of every lesson. We aim for every classroom and shared space in the school to be a language rich environment.
In both reading and writing lessons we focus on vocabulary enrichment. New vocabulary is introduced and explored in a range of contexts to ensure it is both understood and retained. As part of our Talk for Writing approach, new vocabulary is introduced in each new unit studied and further contextualised through drama and by drawing simple pictures (icons) to capture a word’s meaning.
As a child’s skill at reading, their ability to decode words of increasingly difficulty with increasing fluidity improves, our focus shifts to their deeper understanding of a text. We explore a wide range of genres looking at authorial intent and at how that intent has been achieved. We make constant links to the children’s own writing, making constant connections between the stories the children read and those that they can write. Respecting the children as authors in their own right, reading with a professional eye for structure, technique and purpose.
Our approach to this is founded on the Talk for Reading approach. Through this we utilise pedagogical techniques such as 'line by line reading' and 'thinking aloud as a reader' to model how as readers we engage with a text. The next step, through discussion, debate and questioning is to support children in their exploration of a piece of writing. The VIPERS acronym (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Summary) is displayed in each classroom to provide the language and the tools needed to support this dialogic approach. Finally, we ask the children to independently apply their inference skills learnt through discussion by analysing, responding to and discussing further texts.
Reading across the curriculum
Reading is taught in dedicated reading sessions every day but of course, reading is part of almost every lesson. Reading subject specific texts, which often involve subtly different analytical techniques as well as the learning of subject specific vocabulary is an important part of how we broaden the children’s knowledge and enjoyment of a wide range of different texts. Our WAC curriculum and Reading philosophy are entwined ensuring that a child’s ability to comprehend, for example, historical or scientific texts develops in sophistication as they progress through the school. We achieve this by ensuring that reading skills are addressed as part of our WAC curriculum coverage.
By the time children leave Great Missenden, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. They can also read books to enhance their knowledge and understanding of all subjects on the curriculum, and communicate their research to a wider audience.
Pupil Voice Analysis:
If you can read, you can write and you need both for nearly everything!
I can imagine it in my head. It gets me intrigued and my imagination runs wild.
I like it when we act out the stories to help us to understand how they work and why they’re good.
I like my teacher’s reading because her wonderful voices help me understand character and we always discuss new words to build our vocabulary.
It helps you write, it helps you understand, it helps you with EVERYTHING?
In reading lessons we learn new words, which builds our vocabulary, which means we can become better authors.
Reading gives us greater meaning it gives us characters to aspire to.
We understand the books we read more through discussion, we see more by listening to other people’s opinions.