‘English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.’ (National Curriculum, 2013)
Our Curriculum Intent for Reading
Our overarching aim for English and, in this case specifically reading, is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
Through the teaching of reading, we aim to enable children to:
- Enjoy English and to study it with a sense of achievement and an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage
- Read easily, fluently and with good understanding – for pleasure and for information, using phonics initially, as well as graphic, syntactic and contextual cues, to monitor their reading and to correct their mistakes
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- Be able to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, and to think critically
How is reading for pleasure promoted?
Studies have shown that reading for pleasure is the biggest single indicator of a child’s future success. We develop pleasure in reading by sharing with children a wide-range of stories, poems, plays and non-fiction. A 'Reading Spine’, influenced by Pie Corbett, ensures that all children have access to some of the great works of authors and poets such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl, Clive King, Andy Mulligan, Wilfred Owen, John McCrae, Grace Nichols and Malorie Blackman.
Reading for pleasure is encouraged throughout the school. Our school library is central to our provision and all children have the opportunity to borrow books each week, guided by our volunteer librarians. The library is open to parents, as well as parents of pre-school children, once a week.
During guided reading sessions, we facilitate ‘Reading Buddy’ sessions, where children from Key Stage 1 are paired with children from Years 5 and 6. Together the pairs choose books from the library for the older child to read, or the younger child practises their reading to their older buddy. Recent pupil conferencing and parent questionnaires highlight how much this provision is valued by the children.
A highlight of the Avening School calendar is World Book Day when we take a text and transform the school into the fictional setting, aiming to create a sense of awe and wonder around the extent of an author’s imagination and human creativity. In recent years, texts have included Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with children being sorted by the Sorting Hat and escorted into lessons including Potions and Care of Magical Creatures. We have seen the corridors adorned with giant sweets, when Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was our theme. The children completed a series of challenges to earn pieces of a Golden Ticket. We have focused on the Jungle Book, with music and art; and Peter Pan with fencing lessons by the Lost Boys!
Each year, we also take part in ‘Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils’, facilitated by the Cheltenham Literacy Festival: a project designed to ignite a love of reading in teachers and children. A selection of the best recently published and classic children’s literature is selected by a panel of experts from academic, publishing and journalistic backgrounds. Authors sign the books, send messages of support and get involved in book talk via Twitter. Teachers from across the county, including our English lead, Miss Smith, meet throughout the year to discuss the books before taking them back to school to share with children. Children from the Owls class are selected to be part of a special book club which culminates in them presenting work to a panel of authors at the Sharing Day.
In addition, in Key Stage 2, children have access to First News which develops their knowledge of current affairs and understanding of the world. Independent comprehension tasks (What’s in the News) are a purposeful activity sometimes used in Key Stage to develop cultural capital, as well as reading skills.
How is Reading Taught?
In the early stages of reading, the children’s phonic knowledge is developed (see the ‘Phonics’ page for detailed information on how we teach phonics at our school). As their confidence and fluency grows, we begin to focus on developing the children’s comprehension of texts.
Literal, inferential and evaluative comprehension skills are developed through whole class teaching as part of our writing learning journey, as well as in smaller guided groups in reading sessions.
Across the school, teachers ensure that a range of comprehension questions are discussed and taught:
- Inference – 'Think about the clues in the text': requiring children to think about what the author is trying to show-not-tell. In KS2, these will often require a Point, Evidence, Explain structured answer where children are expected to justify their answers with evidence from within the text. In Key Stage 2, we encourage the children to use the word ‘because’.
- Retrieval – 'Sniff out the answer in the text': requiring children to find specific information from within the text. We teach the children to skim and scan for key words.
- Vocabulary Choice – 'What was the author thinking?': requiring children to think about why the author has chosen to use a particular word or phrase and how meaning is enhanced though this choice.
- Grammar –'Spot your grammar skills in action': requiring children to find particular grammatical aspects or to think about why these are used within the text.
- Structure –'How has the text been put together?': requiring children to think about how information / narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole.
- Summarise – 'What happened in the text?': requiring children to identify key information from a text in order to summarise paragraph(s).
- Predict – 'What will happen next?': requiring children to think about what might happen next using details stated or implied within the text.
These questions may be presented under these subtitles, or with pictorial cues, to ensure children know the type of answer expected.
In EYFS, children are introduced to reading and discussing stories in a small group when they are ready – for most children usually from the Spring term. Daily story time is an important part of our provision in EYFS.
In Key Stage 1 and 2, guided reading sessions usually take place four times a week for approximately 30 minutes. Guided reading sessions and comprehension include a mix of fiction and non-fiction across each term.
Each week, the children will usually have:
- One guided reading session with an adult where texts are read and discussed
- One follow-up task based on this text
- One purposeful independent task which may involve responding to marking, a ‘What’s in the News’ comprehension task, an additional comprehension task such as a drawing based on a descriptive passage or exploring the meaning of words and phrases, or a spelling task
- One reading for pleasure session, which may involve reading with a ‘Reading Buddy’
In addition to regular guided reading sessions, in Key Stage 1 and 2, class comprehension tasks are planned. These questions will also fit into the previously mentioned categories, with clear expectations of the answer required. These are linked to the immersion stage of the writing learning journey. Through this method, all children get to experience rich and challenging texts, and the children are able to encourage, challenge and inspire one another.
Where children are not making progress, intervention is planned. This may involve additional reading with a volunteer, additional guided sessions with a member of staff, or more intensive one-to-one intervention, such as ‘Better Reading Partners’ in which support staff had had training.
Parents are expected to listen to their child read aloud at least four times a week.