English - Reading
Rationale for how we approach the teaching of reading
EYFS / KS1
We believe that every child should leave our primary schools with the ability to read with fluency in order to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the world and with an appreciation of rich and wonderful literature that is both lyrical and emotionally powerful.
Phonics: At Minerva Primary School, we use the Read, Write Inc. scheme for teaching our children to read using a synthetic phonics approach to reading. The scheme is introduced in Early Years and carried on into Years 1 and 2. Discrete phonics are taught alongside a range of engaging and high quality texts in daily, small group sessions. Progress in understanding is reviewed every six weeks and children are supported or challenged further accordingly.
Talk Through Stories: As children increasingly learn the mechanics of reading, we want children to develop a love of stories and, when they know it well, we teach them to use the ‘Tier Two’ words from the story in everyday contexts. (Tier Two words are words that children are unlikely to hear in everyday conversation, but will encounter in stories and teaching as they progress through school.) Some of the books are more challenging than others. If you love the story and think your children will enjoy it, then it’s the right one for them. It is not a cumulative programme. The teaching sequence below has been researched over many years and has proven to be successful in increasing children’s vocabulary.
- Read the story.
- Contextualise the word within the story.
- Have children say the word.
- Provide a student-friendly explanation of the word.
- Present examples of the word used in contexts different from the story context.
- Engage children in activities that get them to interact with the words.
- Have children say the word.
The principles here provide a framework for daily reading lessons that support learning in other subjects. These lessons should be accessible to all children, regardless of prior attainment and any child in KS2 who is still not yet able to decode accurately or read with fluency, should have daily access to high quality 1:1 or very small group tutoring in addition to these sessions. In KS2, reading should be used as a vehicle for helping children to ‘know more and remember more’ in other curriculum areas - a child with a wide experience of our world’s diverse cultures and history, scientific discoveries and use of language will be a great reader. A child who has some background knowledge of the content of a piece of text will be able to read it more effectively than if it is brought to them ‘cold’.
The aim for KS2 teachers is to create a synergy between reading lessons and other areas of the curriculum which creates a ‘crescendo of knowledge absorption’ (Doug Lemov, ‘Reading Reconsidered’). Background knowledge can be gleaned through fiction and non-fiction texts. It is equally as important to ensure that our children are exposed to a deep and rich collection of high quality fiction that encourages children to explore complex ideas and that develops empathy for others in situations that they perhaps won’t experience themselves.
Our framework for the teaching of writing sets quality text (predominantly fiction) at its heart. Sometimes it will be appropriate to synergise the work in English writing lessons with the focus of the reading lessons. Where fiction novels are used as the basis of a guided reading unit, there should be extracts of non-fiction explored which add a deeper understanding to the novel. It is the responsibility of teachers, in conjunction with their English leadership teams, to determine the balance of fiction and non-fiction, novel and extracts within their school’s wider curriculum. Regardless of the balance decided upon, every child should be engaged with a class reader novel at all times and be developing their own reading choices simultaneously with the teacher. One of the main drivers for improving children’s reading is in hearing adults modelling ‘how to read’ specific text types and then having the opportunity to practise this themselves, through the use of strategies such as ‘echo reading’. Another method for supporting children’s understanding of texts, is the providing of recordings of the texts being read aloud by an adult: these can be accessed independently with the right technology as and when children need them. The benefits of this cannot be overemphasised.