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Reading at Valentine Primary School

At Valentine Primary School we encourage and promote the love of reading. We believe that working with parents and supporting home reading is important to ensuring children make good progress with their reading.

Every child at Valentine is given a reading log to complete at home, if completed then this is celebrated in class and their name entered into the end of half term reading raffle. It is an expectation that children read at least 3 times a week.

The introduction of reading caterpillars in Year R this year has demonstrated that the children are enthusiastic and positive about reading at home, they also love the competition of completing as many caterpillars as possible.


The celebration of reading will continue throughout the year with World Book Day and author visits. Every class is also allocated a library session a week where they can read a range of books. All classes also have a class novel that they read together daily.


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 from a programme called Letters and Sounds and is supported by the actions and songs of Jolly Phonics. 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. The children are introduced  to letter sounds, or phonemes. We introduce sounds through a picture clue, song, action and story. Children practice 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, building upon their 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 with an adult fortnightly.


Phonics Screening

In June the children in year 1 complete a government statutory test called ‘Phonics Screening’. During this test the children will read 40 words, 20 real and 20 pseudo (made up alien words). This is an opportunity for them to apply their knowledge of phonic sounds taught throughout year R and 1.

Previously the pass mark has been 32/40 and you will be informed at the end of June by the class teacher as to whether your child has passed or needs to redo the test in year 2. If you require any additional information regarding this then please do not hesitate to contact the class teachers.  


Reading in Years 3 and 4

In Years 3 and 4 we teach reading in two ways. Firstly through one to one reading with an adult when the children are taught how to continue to apply all of their phonics knowledge from year 2 and demonstrate that they are confident fluent readers, they are also challenged with a range of texts including chapter books. The children are taught how to answer a range of questions linked to the text and the skills of skimming and scanning so that they can retrieve information to support their answers.  

The children are also taught 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.