Reading at St Thomas
Reading at St Thomas
We love reading!
At St Thomas’, we want to inspire a love of reading for all children, whatever their age or ability. Children are supported to make S=P+A+C+E for their learning, which encourages a growth mind-set. Our aim is to ensure our children are confident to have a go, choose books that excite them and most importantly, reach their potential. We recognise that each child is unique and will have different starting points so we track progress carefully and provide support and opportunities to ‘Rediscover’ their learning when needed before providing opportunities for ‘Going Deeper’.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum, not just our English curriculum. As well as explicitly teaching the skills of reading and comprehension, our creative curriculum means that there are many discreet opportunities to share texts and appeal to different children’s interests. Children are exposed to a wide variety of high-quality texts and reading is a part of the school day, each day.
Watch our Masked Readers and see if you can work out who they are BEFORE you open the reveals!
Reading for pleasure
Reading is a part of daily teaching and learning from the moment children start at St Thomas’ in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Story time is special and exciting where discussion is encouraged and every opinion is valued. This ethos continues throughout the school and we make sure that time is given to share a story as a whole class whatever the age group. This time is so important as children have the opportunity to sit back, listen and ‘get lost’ in a book. Every child can access and enjoy the content and rich vocabulary. They can listen to a book that they might not choose themselves or have the opportunity to otherwise read. This dedicated time is so important to inspire children to have the confidence to ‘Go Deeper’ and choose more challenging books to read for pleasure. Reception and Year 1 take home a reading for pleasure Story Sack each week to enjoy with their family.
In each year group, teachers select ‘class readers’ which the children can take home as their own copy to keep and treasure. We believe that having this ownership is important as it makes books special and children can then build up their own library of books at home starting in Reception. These texts are carefully chosen to encourage children to ‘Go Deeper’ and explore titles outside their comfort zone, exposing them to new, ambitious vocabulary in an environment where they are supported to do so. We want to encourage discussion around language and a genuine interest in books.
Promoting a love of reading
To further develop a love of reading, teachers read to their classes, for 10 minutes, during or at the end of each day.
High quality Texts
We promote the reading of high quality texts across our curriculum so that children develop a love of reading. For help choosing high quality text to read at home, please look at the recommended book lists for each year group which are linked from this page.
Our school environment celebrates reading and in each classroom there is a clear, designated space for a book corner/area with further titles to explore. Our vibrant and well stocked library offers another opportunity to find books and extend children’s choice of texts. Each year, we take part in activities during Book Week and use this opportunity to further ignite children’s passion for reading and also to share our staff’s passion as well.
One of the sought after roles for our Year 6 School Council is that of Reading ambassador. This dedicated group of pupil leaders encourage a love of reading right across the school working in clazssrooms and the school library to promote reading.
We teach early reading through the systematic, synthetic phonics programme Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. From the start of Reception children have a daily phonics lesson which follows the progression for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds and this continues in Year 1 to ensure children become fluent readers.
Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term. We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress (please click here for the progression).
Four new phonemes and their corresponding graphemes are taught (GPCs) each week and they are then used in the final lesson of the week to review the week’s learning. Children will also learn tricky words during these sessions.
In the Autumn and Spring term, Reception learn phase 2 and phase 3 GPCs and then will spend the final term learning phase 4.
Year 1 begin the Autumn term with 3 weeks of revision of phases 2, 3 and 4 before learning phase 5, which will be completed by the end of the year. Year 2 children will begin the year by revisiting phase 5 and other previously taught phases to ensure all children are completely confident with applying these GPCs in both their reading and also their writing.
Half termly assessments take place through Reception and Year 1 to help inform future teaching and help identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and need additional practice. Daily assessment of learning also takes place within the classroom so staff can quickly identify any children who are in vulnerable to falling behind and provide the appropriate daily ‘Keep Up’ intervention.
Children in Reception and Year 1, read fully decodable books with an adult at least 3 times per week during our ‘Reading Practice’ sessions. These books are then taken home for children to build their reading fluency and showcase their developing skills and phonetic knowledge to their parents/carers. These 3 reading practice sessions each have a different focus; decoding, prosody and comprehension. In Reception and Year 1, the children read the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Big Cat fully decodable books. They also take-home extra books from various reading schemes and our school library to share with their family and develop a love of reading.
Once the children have completed the Little Wandle programme and their phonic decoding skills have become automatic and fluent reading is established, they will continue their reading journey reading books from the coloured reading bands. From this point onwards reading is taught using the Master Readers programme.
Teaching reading beyond phonics
Children are heard read regularly in Reception and KS1 as these early years are so formative for reading. Children learn to read at their own pace, starting with picture books that allow for meaningful talk before moving onto books with words. It is crucial to make sure that children are adequately challenged but also that if reading is more challenging for them that they receive extra support. If this is the case, then specific provision is put in place so children can ‘Rediscover’ their learning. Class teachers monitor progress continuously and the English team look at progress half termly to make sure the correct provision is in place and that adequate challenge is also provided.
Our reading books are systematically ordered to ensure that children are set up to succeed, only reading phonically decodable books which reflect their learning and match the curriculum. Every child has a reading record book that documents their reading journey and parents and children are asked to sign a reading promise which recognises the importance of the home-school partnership. Parents and staff use the reading record books to comment on children’s progress in reading and give regular feedback. When staff hear children read, they share the child’s next step with them. This in-the-moment feedback makes reading purposeful and the next step meaningful for the child.
From year 2 upwards children are taught reading using the Master Readers programme. By using this programme teachers are able to:
- Become experts in the use of a mastery approach to the teaching of reading, embracing the belief that every pupil can meet National Curriculum expectations.
- Help pupils successfully transition out of a phonics programme into the world of books.
- Plan a whole book approach when teaching reading so that pupils learn to enjoy reading a wide variety of genres written by a variety of authors.
- Ensure regular opportunities for pupils to be read to and with.
- Providing pupils with opportunity to discuss and share ideas so that they speak themselves into understanding.
- Develop pupils’ vocabulary so that they become masters at selecting words for impact.
- Help pupils acquire the skills needed to show their understanding when answering questions in discussion and when writing answers.
At St Thomas’ reading is prioritised to allow pupils to access the full curriculum offer. With a strong start in Reception and Year 1, pupils’ word reading and spelling reading become more accurate and automatic as fluency develops. Reading comprehension strategies focus on the learners’ understanding of written text. According to the EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit, Reading comprehension strategies are high impact on average +6 months. Alongside phonics, it is a crucial component of early reading instruction. A wide range of strategies and approaches can be successful, but for many pupils they need to be taught explicitly and consistently. This is why we use Master Readers.
Children at St Thomas of Canterbury make excellent progress in reading. Our use of the Little Wandle programme and structured and progressive reading books throughout the school allows us to track the progress of each child and provide timely support ensuring that each child can reach their potential. From interviews with children from each year group it is clear that they all enjoy reading if exposed to the right texts. This is why we provide so many different opportunities to read and ensure a variety of texts and genres is available. We are confident that all children leaving our school at the end of Year 6 enjoy reading and have the skills needed to tackle new and challenging texts.
Help with reading
These websites also have lots of suggestions which we highly recommend:
The Oxford reading Owl website also has some good suggestions on how to support reading at home. https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk/
They also have a free eBook library to help children develop their reading skills at home. Registration is free! https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk/reading/free-ebooks/
If you are worried about your child’s interest in reading, then always talk to their class teacher.
Early Reading Help
Helping your child to read – early reading with your child. A short video with great tips.
Supporting your child with -saying their sounds and writing their letters – parent resources directly from Little Wandle