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Reading at Valentine Primary School

Teaching of reading in Year R

When children start school they come with a wide variety of experiences of books and reading. In Year R we start teaching reading as soon as the children walk through the door, teaching them how to listen to sounds around them and tune into different types of sounds. This is called Phase 1 and is the beginning of a programme that runs to the end of Year 2. Alongside this we also teach children how to use pictures to tell a story, looking in detail at what is going on in the picture. These are the stepping-stones to becoming a good reader.


Following on from this, children are taught their letters sounds, or phonemes. We teach them through the Jolly Phonics programme, which introduces sounds through a picture clue, song, action and story. Children practise their new sounds through word building or blending of sounds to make words. They are also introduced to tricky words (words we cannot sound out) and a variety of high frequency words. By the end of Year R children will have been introduced to all 44 phonemes in the English language and be able to use them in their reading.


Children take part in individual reading every week to apply their skills learnt in phonics. They have reading activities in their child-initiated time as well. Once sounds have been introduced, teachers spend time embedding the sounds in different contexts. In addition to this, they are taught to understand what they are reading, being questioned about characters and settings, and making simple predictions based on what they have already read. This can be completed through role-play activities and drama, where children have to be a character and understand how the character relates to others.


Reading in Years 1 and 2

Reading in KS1 is taught through phonics which is a method of teaching reading by letter sounds, which builds up to blending these sounds together to achieve full pronunciation of whole words. Phonics is taught through 'Letters and Sounds' and throughout KS1 the children learn phase 4-6, with hopefully a prior secure knowledge of phase 2 and 3, which is covered in year R. During phase 4-6 the children learn phonemes, graphemes, split digraphs, prefixes and suffixes and tenses. They are also taught a range of words by sight; these are called tricky words and cannot be sounded out phonetically. Children complete a 20-minute phonics session daily.


Children are taught a range of strategies when reading and they are encouraged to use the illustrations for support, to break the word down- sounding out, and to read on and identify which word would support the sentence to make it make sense. The children also develop their comprehension skills, prediction of the text, how the story relates to their own experiences and how they can identify the difference between fiction and non-fiction texts. Every child in KS1 has an individual reading session at least weekly either through one to one reading sessions or through guided reading.


Reading in Years 3 and 4

In Years 3 and 4 we teach reading in two ways. Firstly through guided reading groups.  Guided Reading takes place for between 20 and 30 minutes per day in every class.  The children are grouped depending on their decoding and comprehension skills.  They are set tasks, which aim to improve the areas of reading that they are not so confident at and maintain their skills in their more confident areas.  This regular practice enables the children to develop their skills with the support of their teachers and teaching assistants as well as that of their classmates.  The five daily sessions that the children take part in include reading with their teacher and teaching assistant at least once a week as well as a range of different independent, pair and group activities.  The children develop their comprehension, decoding and inference & deduction skills during their guided reading sessions as well as comparing texts to one another and considering how and why particular books fit into their social and historical contexts.


In addition to this, children experience reading through their termly projects. They are immersed in the genre, which they are studying, by reading good quality texts and books to inspire, motivate and engage them. This allows them to understand the structure of the text (eg how a story is written), the type of vocabulary, which is successful and effective in that genre, and to emulate and imitate that style when they write in the similar style.


Reading in Years 5 and 6

In Years 5 and 6, we focus on developing children's understanding of the aspects of being a successful reader and how writers use a range of features for effect. Understanding how great writers can control how a reader feels, or what they picture in their mind, is really important for us, as writers ourselves. Children develop their reading skills by accessing more complex texts and are asked to respond to these in a range of ways including answering questions about what has happened, making predictions, adding their own ideas to improve the story and commenting on the features they can find. We read for pleasure in class, share books as a class and spend time in the library each week. We are also honing our skimming and scanning skills, which we will use throughout our lives. Wherever possible we link our reading activities to our projects so we can immerse the children in their learning.


In addition, as in the previous years, Years 5 and 6 follow a guided reading programme, which is a carefully crafted learning session in small groups. Children are grouped according to decoding and comprehension skills and during a 30 minute, daily session, they hone their reading and comprehension skills through a range of targeted activities to support and challenge their progress in reading.