HOW WE TEACH READING AT SOMERFORD PRIMARY SCHOOL
Learning to read is one of the most important things your child will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.
We want your child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we work hard to make sure children develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.
We start by teaching phonics in Reception from their first day in school, using the highly successful ‘Read Write Inc’ phonics programme (RWI). Children learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well. The children also practise reading (and spelling) ‘tricky words’, such as ‘once,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’. Once children can blend sounds together to read words, they practise reading books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know. They start to believe they can read and this does wonders for their confidence.
Teachers regularly read to the children, too, so the children get to know and love all sorts of rhymes, stories, poetry and information books. This helps to extend children’s vocabulary and comprehension, as well as supporting their writing.
Up until the end of Year 2, your child will work with children who are at the same reading level in RWI groups. This is so that the teaching can be focussed on their needs. Some older children will continue to access RWI groups if they need further consolidation and development of reading skills. We check children’s reading skills regularly so we that we can ensure they are in the right group. Children will move to a different group if they are making faster progress or may have one-to-one support if we think they need some extra help. RWI takes place 3 days per week for 1 hour each day.
In Key Stage 2 the children undertake whole class reading sessions with the staff in their class. They have a wide selection of reading materials to choose from and projects linked to reading, with rewards systems for encouragement. We use the acronym DERIC (Decode, Explain, Retrieve, Interpret and Choice) within these lessons to explore all elements of the reading curriculum. At least once per week, children undertake a timed ‘RIC’ task where they have to answer retrieve, interpret and choice questions about a short text.
We believe that reading fluency holds the key to successful reading and the children are assessed each term on how many Words Per Minute (WPM) they can read. Children should be able to read approximately 90 WPM of an age appropriate text to be considered fluent readers.
At SPS we use our own Reading Spine to deliver a rich and varied reading curriculum. Each book on the Reading Spine has been carefully chosen to match the National Curriculum reading and writing requirements for each year group as well as linking in to our wider curriculum, with history, geography, science and social themes specifically covered. This structure provides the children with a deeper understanding of texts.
How long will it take to learn to read well?
Every child is different and children will learn to read at different speeds. By the end of Year 2, most children will be able to read aloud books that are at the right level for his or her age. In Year 3 and beyond, we concentrate more on helping children to understand what they are reading, although this work begins very early on.
In the summer term of Year 1, the government asks us to do a phonics check of all the children. We will let you know how your child has done. Children who do not pass the phonics check in Year 1 will receive additional support in Year 2 and will retake the assessment at the end of the year to ensure that they have made progress.
What does school offer to give my child reading incentives?
In school we have made a significant investment in a variety of reading material to encourage your child to access a range of texts suited to their own personal interests while also extending their reading ability and confidence.
Pupils also have access to a significant 'library' collection of books held within each classroom. Pupils in KS2 who are still on Reading Book Bands have access to a wide range of reading schemes including: Songbirds, Bloomsbury, Reading Champions and Tree Tops in their class Libraries. Children are encouraged to read three times weekly at home as part of their weekly homework. This is monitored by the class teacher and any children not reading at least three times weekly will be given some time to read to an adult in school. For every time a child reads at home, they receive a Star Point and a Reading Token to put into the Prize Box for a chance to win a brand new book in our Reading Assembly every week.
Each class has a Bedtime Book Bag containing several books that they can read at home for a week. The bags also include a teddy, a sachet of hot chocolate and biscuits as well as a notebook in which the children can record their thoughts and recommendations about the books in the bag.
We regularly hold Book Fairs and Book Swap Events as well as running Books at Bedtime for World Book Day. We have just started an annual ‘Sponsored Read’ through Usborne Books, which saw us raise in excess of £1500 to spend on new books in 2018-2019.
What can parents/carers do to help?
You can help your child to sound out the letters in words and then to ‘blend’ the sounds together to make a whole word. Try not to refer to the letters by their names. Help your child to focus on the sounds. You can hear how to say the sounds correctly by searching on YouTube for ‘Read Write Inc. Phonemes Pronunciation Guide’. These 'speed sounds' are used throughout school - even in upper Key Stage 2 - and also link into spelling work, a good understanding of these sounds really does make a difference!
Sometimes your child might bring home a book that they already know well. Please don’t say, ‘This is too easy,’ as they may have chosen that because they enjoy it! Instead, encourage your child to tell you the story out loud; ask them questions about things that happen or what they think about some of the characters in the story. The Read SKILLS Questioning in the Home School book shares lots of great ideas to make asking questions to deepen learning easier to manage at home.
Make reading fun! Remember to keep reading to your child. They will come across far more adventurous words than they will in their early reading books and you will be helping them to grow a vast vocabulary, develop an deeper understanding of different stories etc. It will also encourage them to love books and want to read more; if a child sees and hears an adult reading, they are inspired by them!