Learning to Read
It will be no surprise to you that children who read well also achieve well in all curriculum subjects. It will also be of no surprise that children who read widely go on to be outstanding communicators in both the written and spoken disciplines. Learning to read is a combination of phonetic knowledge, comprehension of combined phrases and being able to interpret contextual clues.
In EYFS and Year 1 we use the Read Write Inc. Phonics scheme. This phonics programme supports both early reading and writing. Children learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. They experience success from the very beginning. Lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases. Along with a thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice.
The children write every day, rehearsing out loud what they want to say, before spelling the words using the graphemes and ‘tricky’ words they know. They practise handwriting every day: sitting at a table comfortably, they learn correct letter formation and how to join letters speedily and legibly. Children’s composition (ideas, vocabulary and grammar) is developed by drawing on their own experiences and talking about the stories they read.
In Years 2-6 we follow the progressive Read Write Inc.Spellings Programme. Although the teaching of phoneme-grapheme correspondence underpins this programme, it also develops children’s knowledge of word families, how suffixes impact upon root words, and provides mnemonics to remember the trickiest spellings. The teaching revolves around instruction (with the help of online alien characters), partner and group practice, and competitive group challenges that help children commit new words to memory.
These schemes work alongside comprehension lessons and 1:1 reading time, in which children are encouraged to regularly choose new books for home reading.
We assess progress in reading in many ways. Teachers are continually looking for progress daily as they feedback to pupils ways to get even better. We also assess children more formally at the end of each term using some standardised testing tools.