In Reading, we aim for all of our children to see themselves as skilled readers, confident communicators and authors. We endeavour to inspire a sense of curiosity in our children and develop their enthusiasm for reading, recognising that the skills and knowledge they learn through reading can be used to have a positive impact on God’s world around them.
To be able to be a skilled reader, children will need to build up the skills, knowledge and understanding of word reading and comprehension. They will need to understand and use the language of reading and apply these reading skills and knowledge across the curriculum.
To be a reader, children need to be competent with both:
Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics is emphasised in the early teaching of reading when children start at our school.
Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and a knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday spoken language. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.
It is essential that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in readiness for their forthcoming secondary education.
The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum (2014) is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
The national curriculum for reading aims to ensure that all pupils:
The National Curriculum is the part of the St Gregory’s curriculum that maps out the knowledge and skills that we want our children to learn and experience in each subject.
How we plan for progression in reading at St Gregory’s:
The St Gregory’s Curriculum is designed around year group themes. Each has been structured and sequenced in order to engage pupils in purposeful learning by building on prior knowledge and helping connect knowledge, understanding and skills year-on-year both within reading and across other subjects too. Reading is not only a standalone subject but is also a golden thread through our curriculum.
Phonics sessions are taught discreetly, detached from the year group themes. Daily phonics sessions begin as soon as children start their Reception year and continue until Year 3 Autumn Term. Discreet sessions are 20 minutes long and follow a rigorous, systematic programme that is used with fidelity. Any resources used exactly match the grapheme phoneme correspondence (GPC) progression of our St Gregory’s systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme. In addition to this, phonics is revisited and embedded throughout all curriculum areas to consolidate previous learning, learn new content and practise and apply what has been learnt.
In EYFS and KS1, children take part in small group guided reading sessions which provide opportunities for modelling and teaching of early reading and decoding skills, to ensure that their link between the daily phonics lesson and fluency of reading is strong. Across the school, children take part in discreet whole class Guided Reading lessons once a week, where children are exposed to a range of different texts. Additionally, to this, English is taught through immersion in a high quality text, developing children who have fluency and depth of understanding in a range of reading, writing grammar, punctuation and oracy skills.
We know that children who are exposed to a wide variety of texts by being read to and reading themselves for pleasure develop a greater vocabulary and go on to have better outcomes in life. Therefore, a rich diet of reading and our encouragement of reading for pleasure are at the heart of our reading principles.
By the time children leave us they are competent, fluent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. Most importantly they have a love for reading and understand the joys it can bring to them and to the world!
Reading curriculum coverage
Coverage is based on the Statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage and the National Curriculum 2014 PoS with objectives allocated across phases and year groups, to ensure a progression of knowledge, skills and understanding.
For Phonics, we have built our very own St Gregory’s SSP programme that is divided into six phases.
Our programme ensures sufficient support for children in reception and key stage 1 to become fluent readers. It provides a structured route for most children to meet or exceed the expected standard in the year one phonics screening check and covers all national curriculum expectations for word reading through decoding by the end of key stage 1.
Our St Gregory’s SSP programme begins by introducing a defined group of grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) that enable children to read and spell many words early on. It then progresses from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills, cumulatively covering all the major GPCs in English. During the programme new skills are taught, continually building on prior learning.
Our St Gregory’s SSP programme dictates the order of which GPCs are taught, so that the GPCs generate the most words at each stage of the programme. It has been designed for daily teaching sessions which teach the main grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPC) of English (the alphabetic principle) in a clearly defined, incremental sequence.
Within each phase we have identified which common exception words will be taught. These have been selected carefully to enable children to read texts. These words are kept to a minimum in the early stages. The common exception words are fully aligned with the National Curriculum expectations for Year 1 and 2. Some of the words are repeated in several phases because we felt that it was important that children had exposure and teaching of them earlier on. The national curriculum refers to these as ‘common exception words’ (sometimes referred to as ‘tricky words’), because they contain GPCs that are unusual or have not yet been taught at the phase where they are introduced. Teaching these common exception words at these points helps a child to access a wider range of reading material as these are often words that appear in reading frequently.
Progression of skills
Our individual St Gregory’s phonics assessment sheets, alongside our class phonics tracker, maps incremental progression in phonic knowledge and skills. These documents enable teachers to conduct frequent and ongoing assessment to track and record children’s progress and to identify those children at, below or above expected levels, so that appropriate support can be provided. Children who are at risk of falling behind are placed on targeted interventions which provide extra practice so they can consolidate and master the content of the programme.
‘Decodable’ books have been carefully structured in cumulative steps using the phases and sets outlined in our St Gregory’s SSP overview of phases for children learning to read, so that they can decode every word as their knowledge of the alphabetic code increases. Use of our St Gregory’s phonics assessment sheets alongside our class phonics tracker ensures children can practise their phonic knowledge and skills by reading texts closely matched to their level of phonic attainment that do not require them to use alternative strategies to read unknown words.
Please see document for further information. e.g.
Children will continue on the St Greg’s SSP programme and ‘set’ books until they have achieved Level 5. In KS1, once children are assessed as achieving phase 5 in phonics they move onto our school reading scheme (Oxford Reading Scheme) levelled books. These are levelled books, which match the children’s current reading level. We expect families at home to read these books with their child daily and make comments in their child’s reading record.
To ensure children are on the right level of home reading book on the Oxford Reading Tree scheme, teachers plan in time to assess children. This happens on an ongoing basis and these judgements are informed by:
We use this ongoing assessment to help us quickly target children who require extra support and who are at risk of falling behind.
There will be some children who take longer to achieve phase 5 than KS1 however, their needs will be assessed alongside the inclusion department and when the time is right for each of them, they will move to levelled books too.
KS2 Reading Tracker
Oxford Reading Tree assessment sheet
See Reading and Phonics vision 2022 for more information
Parent training and support:
We see our parents as joint educators in teaching early reading/phonics and therefore train parents up, early in their child’s learning journey, to be able to support the learning at home too. Parents are invite to a phonics workshop during the first couple of weeks of EYFS.
During the Spring Term parents of EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2 are invited in to a workshop that is bespoke to their children and the year group that they are in. During this session they will work alongside the teacher and their children.