At St Gregory's we believe that reading should be at the heart of the entire curriculum. Reading is a pillar of our civilization, present in every facet of society, and pupils who read well will ultimately have greater access to our textually rich world. With this in mind, we have adopted a rigorous Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme to support the teaching of early reading, with progression to a carefully chosen ‘Text-Based Curriculum’, where all aspects of English teaching and learning revolve around a chosen text, in order to fulfil the requirements of the National Curriculum.
Nothing is more important than learning how to read and at St Gregory's we read every day in school. Children in EYFS and in KS1 learn through a robust programme of systematic synthetic phonics called Read, Write Inc. This programme is one of the programmes validated by the DfE. Once they have mastered their phonics, children gradually transition from the programme towards a more traditional style of text.
To find out about Read, Write Inc in more detail please visit our page here
“Teach a child to read and keep that child reading and we will change everything. And I mean everything”. This quote epitomises the intent of the Read Write Inc. programme at St Gregory’s. We want children to learn to read quickly and accurately and to then keep on reading. We want children to see reading not only as a task set by teachers in school but as an activity which provides pleasure and escape from the modern world.
We passionately believe that with the right support that all children can and will learn to read. In order for all children to be successful we assess them in phonics each half term (every 6-8 weeks) and place them in a group that is matched to their ability. We are constantly informally assessing the children to make sure that they are at the “Goldilocks spot” where the books they read are neither to easy nor too hard. If needed children receive additional support to help them on their journey to becoming a confident reader with our phonics tutor.
Within the daily RWI, sessions children will be encouraged and supported to not only develop their decoding skills but also their comprehension and fluency skills. Children will practise reading with a partner everyday and will also hear an adult read the same text with expression and intonation to support them in these reading skills.
Our Reception and Year 1 children follow the writing aspect of the programme, which teaches the children how to use key skills to record their ideas. They will be encouraged to formulate their sentences orally before writing these on paper. The writing stems from their storybook and covers a range of genres from captions, letter writing and short narratives. As these link directly to the story books the children already have a wealth of vocabulary that they can use to support them.
Reading does not stop at the end of the Read Write Inc. session. A love of literature will be at the heart of all learning at St Gregory’s, whether it is escaping into Narnia through a wardrobe or going on a walk through a deep dark wood in search of the Gruffalo. Books open up a whole host of learning opportunities and are the basis of wider curriculum opportunities.
The RWI programme has been proven to be a very successful method of teaching every child to read and write using phonics. All children in Years R to 2 follow the programme. They are assessed regularly, this then allows them to be put into groups and given the appropriate RW1 reading and workbooks to follow.
Children will read their RWI books every morning with a trained member of staff. The children will then bring home three different books, all to support a different aspect of their reading development.
1. Black and white copy of their storybook – this is the familiar text that they have learnt to read in school. The purpose of bringing this home is to develop their fluency and expression as they do not have to decode new words.
2. RWI book bag book – this is a new text for the children which links to the level that they are currently working it. The purpose of this book is to practise decoding unfamiliar words. These books only contain known sounds and so are fully decodable.
3. Library books – these are books for parents to read to and share with the children. The purpose of these books is to encourage a love of reading. The children are encouraged to change these at least twice week.
At St Gregory's we use the Read, Write Inc phonics programme to teach phonics. Read Write Inc (RWI) is a consistent, rigorous and dynamic literacy programme to teach EVERY child to read by the age of six. Using synthetic phonics, children quickly learn to blend letter sounds together following a fun and effective programme.
Learning Sounds through Read Write Inc.
Children from Reception to Year 2 learn sounds through Read Write Inc. Speed sounds sessions take place daily within the RWI session. Children will learn to read and write a new sound as well as reviewing known sounds in new words.
The sounds that children learn are split into three sets. These become progressively more complex as the children move through the programme.
Speed Sounds – Set 1
In Reception, children begin their learning of Phonics with Speed Sounds – Set 1.
See the sound mat below to learn more about these letter sounds.
Click on the link below to see a demonstration, which will support your child’s pronunciation of each sound.
Set 1 - https://youtu.be/TkXcabDUg7Q
Reading digraphs - https://youtu.be/0pGuwcr08LE
Nonsense Words (Alien Words)
As well as learning to read and blend real words, children will have plenty of opportunities to apply their sound recognition skills on reading ‘Nonsense Words’ like those shown in the example below.
Red words are words that cannot be sounded out as they do not follow the phonics language patterns. Their letters make uncommon sounds. The only way to learn these words is from memory. Red words are taught alongside new sounds, once some simple 3 sound words can be re
ad e.g. c-a-t.
See below for Red Words for Set 1 and Set 2.
Phonics Screening Check
Children undertake the National Phonics Screening Check in Year 1. Any child not reaching the required standard in this check will be given targeted support throughout Year 2 and will re-sit the Screening Check at the end of Year 2.
For more information on this check, please click the link below.
Reading Across KS2
1) Progression of Reading: As children move through the school, the texts that they read should get gradually more difficult as they become better readers. while this wouldn't be the case for every single book in the sequence, it does happen between year groups. The school use accelerated Reader, a computer-based programme that helps monitor and progress reading. The programme assigns all books a difficulty level. The level is a measure of the complexity of the text and is determined by the characteristics that most heavily influence readability: average sentence length, average word length and word difficulty level. This difficulty level comes from analysis of the world's largest database of words from actual books (more than 170, 000 books comprising of nearly 2.5 billion words).As pupils move up through the school we choose books to ensure that this level increases.
2) Increasing Reading Stamina: As pupils move up the school, the books they engage with in English become increasingly longer, helping develop reading stamina
3) Linking to Other Learning: The vast majority of books we have chosen link to specific topics being taught at the same time in Geography, History, Science of PSHE. This allows discussion, additional time for learning in context and increased background knowledge
4) Genre Types: The books chosen are a mixture of genre types so that pupils gain experience of different writing intentions
5) Themes of the Text: As pupils become older their increased maturity means they can engage with more emotive and advanced themes.
6) Concern Citizens: we have intentionally chosen some books that involve the impact of human actions upon the environment to create awareness of these issues
7) Diversity: the books have been deliberately chosen to reflect a diversity of author ethnicity and gender. We have also ensured the gender of the leading protagonists is evenly proportioned.
8) Reading Pleasure: the books chosen have been researched and recommended for level of enjoyment
Accelerated Reader (AR)
Accelerated Reader a computer-based program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Once your child has picked their book and finished reading it, they will take a short quiz on a computer at school or at home. Passing the quiz is an indication that a child has understood what was read. Accelerated Reader gives children and teachers’ feedback based on the quiz results, which allows teachers to tailor their Guided Reading lessons.
The process is as follows:
Children take a Star Reader Assessment on a computer at school. This determines each individual child’s ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development). The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) defines the readability range within which pupils should read to best develop their reading, while avoiding frustration.
Children will take a Star Reader Assessment at the beginning of every term so teachers can adjust their ZPDs in their reading records and children can choose new books from their new ZPD.
The children’s ZPD will be written in their reading records. If a child has a reading ZPD for example of 3.4 – 5.6, it means they can read any book labelled between this. The lower the number the more comfortable it will be for the child to read; the higher the number the more challenging the books become for that child within that ZPD.
The children will then select a reading book from the book corner in their classroom. However, they can also read any book from around the school from within their ZPD.
Children then take that book home to read. Reading records should be filled in and returned to school regularly.
Once the children have read a whole book, they take a quiz at school (or at home) within 48 hours, using the test for support to improve retrieval and inference skills.
Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) and Vocabulary
Using the text as an exemplar, these areas are taught both explicitly and through writing.
The teaching of vocabulary, in particular, is essential to the development of both written and oratory skills. Key words are selected from the text studied and pupils are shown how they are used in context, progressing to using them within their own writing. From this increasing vocabulary, figurative language can be crafted to create an image in the mind of a reader.
Before we learn to read, we speak. Developing confident and eloquent speech is very important in equipping children for life, where socialisation is key to both work and leisure. As part of our teaching processes, children would be regularly using TTYP (Talk To Your Partner) to support learning engagement. They also read aloud every day. In addition, lessons encourage discussion and communication through group work, while regular poetry and drama opportunities support performance and reading aloud for audience..
English across the Curriculum
Reading takes place across the curriculum. In subjects such as History, Geography and Science, non-fiction texts support understanding of the wider world, in RE children read from the bible or about other religions, and in subjects such as DT pupils read to follow instructions.
How Parents can Help Support their Child
There are lots of ways you can help support your child at home:
Talk to them! The most important thing you can do is to talk to your child and listen to them when they are talking to you. Try to extend their vocabulary range and their skill at talking in increasingly more complex sentences. For example, try to teach them alternative words for ideas, or nouns they already know.
Read to them and always discuss the story you are reading to try to build your child’s comprehension skills and understanding.
Listen to your child read every night. Find a quiet time to hear your child read and use lots and lots of praise to encourage them.
Encourage your child to record their writing in a variety of ways. They may wish to keep a diary, write a story, a review of their favourite game, or send a postcard. Support their ideas and give plenty of encouragement!
Support your child in learning their weekly spellings.
During lessons, we take every opportunity to improve pupils spelling. This could be through teacher modelling, or through use of word banks, dictionaries and thesauruses.
Spelling is also taught explicitly. Each week, children will be acquainted with the words of the week. There will be an explanation of how the words are linked. The lists are organised by spelling patterns, sounds or affixes.
Examples of list titles:
This is the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.
Looking at the etymology of words and word parts can help children to spot patterns which are helpful when spelling. For example the word giant comes, through French, from the Latin gigas (a giant) and Greek Gigas (race of monsters) which helps explain why the word begins with a ‘g’ rather than a ‘j’ and also shows where the word ‘gigantic’ comes from.
Morphology is the study of words and their parts. Morphemes, like prefixes, suffixes and base words, are defined as the smallest meaningful units of meaning. Morphemes are important for phonics in both reading and spelling, as well as in vocabulary and comprehension.
When looking at morphology it is worth noting that we can explore the word origins of both roots and affixes. To know that the root ‘sect’ means ‘to cut’ helps when looking at words ‘bisect’, ‘dissect’ and ‘intersection’. All three involve some cutting or splitting.
Having this knowledge can help with spelling because if students know that ‘sect’ to cut is spelt with ‘-ct’ at the end and not ‘-cked’ then whenever they come across this root in a word, then they know it is spelled ‘sect’
Spelling homework is also set each week. Children should learn the spellings of words linked to the week's spelling pattern.