At Abbeyfields we want all children to develop a love of reading as this means they will continue to read for pleasure and for purpose throughout their school journey and into adult life. Children also need to be able to communicate successfully, whether speaking and listening orally, demonstrating their comprehension of factual and fictional texts, writing in different styles and for different purposes, or using modern technologies to develop their digital literacy skills. English is at the core of all learning and interaction, so we devote a large proportion of curriculum time, particularly in the early years of school, to ensuring children learn to read effectively.
Recent developments in English teaching:
In 2018-19 we worked with other first schools within the Morpeth partnership to moderate assessments and share good practice in writing. We worked with our School Improvement partner and English advisor to examine our English lesson planning, and we also restocked our reading scheme books. We ensured that we provide good quality, relevant home reading materials for our children, and particularly reading materials for beginning readers that are well matched to their progress in acquiring phonic decoding skills.
In 2019-20 we are piloting our own “reading spine” which has texts in different genres e.g. traditional tales, modern classics, poetry and factual materials, carefully chosen to match to the interests and maturity of each year group, and to build on prior learning as the children progress throughout the school. We have provided good quality materials for teachers to use in class, ensuring that these excite and educate as well as representing minority groups and all sections of society in positive roles. We plan to refresh our staff training with attendance at Read Write Inc training courses which will be disseminated within the whole staff body.
What do our English lessons look like?
There are various strands to English teaching, including oracy, reading, writing, handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation. These will be addressed every week in English lessons. In Early Years and Key Stage One, our English lessons are largely based on responding to quality texts. Teachers share a book and then focus on different responses with the children, such as prediction, retelling and innovating. In Key Stage Two, children are more able to read texts themselves or within guided sessions, to respond in writing to show their comprehension, and to use their reading materials as a stimulus for their own writing.
Children are taught listening skills, sounds discrimination and phonics from Nursery, and this continues as a daily Read Write Inc session in Reception. In Key Stage One, we start the morning with a Read Write Inc session which is additional to the main English hour. Read Write Inc and reading interventions continue in Key Stage Two if needed.
Teachers also identify a daily session when they will read aloud to the class. This may be during the English lesson as a stimulus to learning, or at another time of day where a book is read to enhance learning in another curriculum area or purely for pleasure.
How do we teach reading at Abbeyfields?
Children are taught the mechanics of decoding, and also how to tackle “tricky words” which are non-decodable, through their Read Write Inc lessons each day. Children work in small groups with teaching staff to ensure they are focusing on the right instructional level to help them make best progress. They use the sounds and words learnt to remember and record short sentences, to edit sentences and develop proof reading. Children also learn weekly spellings which support their stage of phonics and whole word acquisition. One of the most important areas in which parents can help accelerate a child’s progress with individual attention is in reading. We all want our children to master the decoding of words quickly so that they are no longer “learning to read” but instead “reading to learn” and reading independently for enjoyment.
We teach wider reading skills such as comprehension through wider English lessons, with sessions focussing on developing empathy with characters, inference and deduction, or “reading between the lines.”
All children, from the first few weeks in Reception Class, have an allocated reading book or set of books, from either a conventional reading scheme, a graded early reader or a fiction or non-fiction book at their interest level. We ask parents to support their children by reading the books at home, and also practising any flash cards or reading games that are sent home to add to their learning. Children also have the opportunity to take home a shared reading book from the main library or early years library, and to read other materials such as instructions or information texts throughout their lessons each day.
We promote the importance of reading through several initiatives throughout the year, such as an annual library picture or photo competition, visits from Scholastic Book Fairs and the Book People Big Bus, visits and talks from authors, World Book day initiatives, and parents and other volunteers coming in to read to or with our pupils. We invite children to donate a book to their class library to celebrate their birthday, and have a stock of books for this purpose so that every child is able to take part.
All of our children love sharing a story with an adult, older pupil or peer. They develop their own preferences regarding subject matter, author or illustrator. Our children’s attainments at end of Foundation Stage and Year One Phonics Screening Check are broadly in line with National Expectations, and they make value added progress to attain well in the Key Stage Two SATs. We are determined to raise our Phonics Screening check performance as well as to support the minority of pupils who make a slower start with phonics and reading, so we adjust our curriculum and devote more time and resources to all aspects of reading, for example with the appointment of a dedicated “Reading Champion” teaching assistant role.