At Richard Lee, we promote a love of reading through rich texts, which develop their emotional and cultural awareness as well as their comprehension skills. We recognise that these essential skills will allow them to access other parts of the curriculum as well as developing their own passions and following their own interests in later life.
English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it.
Across both writing and reading, we place a heavy emphasis on developing a child’s vocabulary. By the time children leave Richard Lee in Year 6, the limited word hoard they arrived with in Reception will have expanded enormously, giving them the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts.
We aim for excellence in English achievement throughout the school. We aim to develop each child’s abilities within an integrated programme of Speaking & Listening, Reading and Writing. Children are given opportunities to develop their use, knowledge and understanding of spoken and written English within a broad and balanced curriculum, with opportunities to consolidate and reinforce taught literacy skills.
Reading is a vital skill that will support children’s learning across the whole curriculum. As a school, we ensure that our children are taught to read with fluency, accuracy and understanding through a variety of discreet and cross-curricular learning opportunities.
Developing enthusiastic and fluent readers through an inspiring curriculum and high quality teaching is of the highest priority. We aim:
At Richard Lee, our focus is both the explicit teaching of reading skills and the enjoyment of a wide range of literature, enabling the children to become life-long, enthusiastic, independent, reflective and confident readers.
Essentially, we want children to enjoy reading!
Nursery, Reception and Year 1
At Richard Lee, we strive to teach children to read effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme (RWI) which includes teaching synthetic phonics, sight vocabulary, decoding and encoding words as well as spelling and accurate letter formation.
We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently, as quickly as possible, is one of the core purposes of a primary school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances. Using the RWI phonics program we teach children to:
In practice, children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and are taught how to blend these sounds to decode (read) words. We start by teaching children to read and blend the first thirty Set 1 sounds. Once they have conquered this skill, they start reading stories and texts that have words made up of the sounds they know. This means that they can embed and apply their phonic knowledge and start to build their reading fluency. Once secure, children learn Set 2 and Set 3 sounds and then read texts with increasingly more complex sounds and graphemes. Throughout this process, there is a focus on comprehension, reading with expression and reading for enjoyment.
Children are taught in small groups which reflect their phonic knowledge and reading fluency. We regularly assess children so that they are taught in a RWI group which matches their phonic knowledge. We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ability to read ‘tricky words’ so they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers.
Year 1 Phonics Screening Check
During the Summer term in Year 1, children nationwide are tested on their phonic knowledge. This test helps us to identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and may need further support in Year 2. The test is low-key and we endeavour to make it stress-free for the children. Essentially, the children are asked to read 40 words from a list, using their phonics to ‘sound out’ the word and then blend it if they need to. Parents are informed as to whether their child has achieved the national expectation within the child’s end-of-year report.
Year 2 - Year 6 Reading Study
From Year 2, daily ‘Reading Study’ sessions focus on the skills of comprehension, first through unpicking vocabulary, then moving on to unlocking the meaning of whole texts and critical appreciation. Teachers use the ‘Readers’ Toolkit’ to support the teaching of National Curriculum objective in Reading Study sessions.
Teachers read a huge variety of written material regularly with the children, including fiction and non-fiction, stories, reports, diaries and poems. Each year group has access to a ‘Top 100 Books’ for their respective phase containing challenging and interesting novels for teachers to read to their classes, exposing children to language and classic stories which they may find too challenging to read independently.
Lessons are based around the study of extracts of high-quality, age-appropriate texts. All teachers have access to the ‘recommended 100 books’ and use these as a guide for selecting texts to use. Rather than study a book in its entirety, teachers may choose to focus on the first chapter or a well-chosen extract from one of these books. It is possible for teachers to plan multiple weeks of reading sessions using nothing more than the first chapter of a book. This approach also mirrors the way children are assessed in their end of Key Stage reading tests. The learning intention should be the basis for text selection and teachers have access to a range of resources including Literacy Shed +.
Children who are still unable to read fluently may access Read Write Inc. phonics lessons instead of taking part in Reading Study lessons. These may be led by a trained teaching assistant and could continue until children are able to access whole-class reading. Where possible, children should have access to both the Reading Study sessions and phonics lessons.
All activities are clearly focused on the children improving the reading skill addressed in the National Curriculum. Activities are fun, varied and engaging and do not simply rely on children answering comprehension questions about a text.
Teachers are expected to incorporate the ‘Reader’s Toolkit’ in to sessions, and actively refer to them to model how to be an active reader. The intention of the ‘Reader’s Toolkit’ is to develop reading strategies to help children meet learning objectives taken from the National Curriculum.
Home - School Reading
In order for our children to fulfil their potential in reading, we try to develop close links with parents as we recognise the important part they play in developing children into lifelong readers. We have a home-school reading system (up to Year 6), which requests that children read a book at the appropriate level for them, for at least ten minutes three times per week.
In Reception and Key Stage 1, children follow Read Write Inc. giving them a thorough grounding in the fundamentals. Moving up into Key Stage 2, children follow ‘book bandings’ including the range of Collins Big Cat reading books.
We have a fantastic new library where children go once a week to take out books and read with their teachers and each other. The library is also open after school for children to change their books and read with their parents. This approach ensures children have access to both a ‘levelled’ book as well as a ‘free choice’ (or ‘personal choice’) book to enjoy at home.
Children are encouraged to read as many of the ‘Top 100’ books for their phase which they can borrow from the school library. These books are recorded in their library passports once they have read them.
How to help at home
There are many quick and easy ways to help your child with their reading learning at home. Talking to your child about books and reading is one of the most important things that you can do to support their progress in reading.
Take a look at the links here to find more specific ideas, depending on what reading stage your child is at.
At the end of KS2, in Year 6, pupils will sit national SATs tests to measure their progress at primary school. One of these SATs tests will be in reading. You can find examples KS2 SATs papers here.
Helping your child with Early Reading: Phonics!
Practice makes perfect! Encourage your child to notice the letters and words all around them - this could be in books, on shopping list or street signs. Talk to your child about which sounds they have been learning in Read, Write, Inc. lessons at school.
Watch the video below to understand more about phonics.
Helping your child with Wider Reading!
Practice makes perfect! Encourage your child to read as often as possible - it could be to you, to a relative or even to their toys! Words are all around us - look out for new words in shops, in recipes or in instructions to make reading relevant to real life. Enjoy reading time and all the adventures that books can take you on!
Try to read to your child as well as hearing them read. Here are some handy hints and tips:
Please be aware that although all of these links have been checked at the time of publishing, the internet is constantly changing. If you find any problems with the links, then please let the school know.