The Reading Curriculum
At Spinney Hill Primary School, reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Our intention is to develop confident readers who read accurately for meaning, purpose and pleasure. This is why synthetic phonics is the first formal method for the teaching of reading that we use as it provides the foundations required to become a fluent reader who can decode any unfamiliar words confidently and accurately. Once children are able to decode fluently, it allows them to understand what they are reading more easily, and they are therefore more likely to read for pleasure.
We know that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. We teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in nursery and reception, following the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
Children in the nursery are taught phonics following the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for Phonics’ guidance. This focuses on the following:
We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
The Daily Phonics Lesson
At Spinney Hill Primary School phonics lessons are taught whole class in Reception and Year 1. All children are exposed to the phase the year group are currently working on. Children who require additional support in previously taught phases will be identified so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. They receive group or 1:1 ‘keep-up’ sessions using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Keep-up resources.
Teaching assistants in the class will support the children who have been identified as significantly at risk of falling behind during daily phonics sessions. These children are given extra support during the lesson through the following:
Phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day in Reception and Year 1. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible.
Children make a strong start in Reception and teaching begins in Week 2 of the autumn term.
Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs in the Autumn and Spring, then move onto words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) in the final summer term.
Four new phonemes and their corresponding graphemes will be taught over the week. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers. They are also taught how to read tricky words in these sessions.
Children in Year 1 begin by reviewing Phase 3 and 4 in the first 3 weeks of the autumn term, and are then taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy by the end of year.
Please click below for an overview of progression in phonics in reception and Year 1
Any child who needs additional practice has daily, ‘keep-up’ support. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
Phonics in Year 2
We timetable daily phonics lessons for every child in Year 2. In the Autumn term, children who have not passed the phonics screening will review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy. They are also taught the tricky words within these phases.
For children who have passed the phonics screening test, gaps in learning will be identified from the year 1 assessment and these will be taught during the autumn term.
Any child who needs additional practice has daily keep-up support. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller groups with smaller steps and more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
Phonics in Years 3-6
Any child in Years 3 to 6 who is reading below age-related expectations will be assessed using the rapid catch-up assessment. Gaps in the children’s learning will be identified, and any child who has large gaps in their phonics knowledge will receive small group, rapid catch-up sessions to teach the relevant phase or phases.
Children who have smaller gaps in their phonics knowledge will receive 1:1 rapid catch-up sessions to close the gaps. These sessions mirror the main Little Wandle phonics programme but are taught at a faster pace to help children catch up quickly.
Teaching Early Reading
We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These sessions are structured in the following way:
Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
If children are not reading a book fluently (with 90% accuracy), reading sessions will continue focusing on decoding
and not move onto prosody or comprehension.
In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books. In Year 2 we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books. In addition to this, they will still receive their daily guided reading sessions.
Children will have a home reading book that is matched to their phonics ability and only contains GPCs they are secure with. These books are changed twice weekly (Monday and Thursday) to ensure the child is given ample opportunity to read the book at least three times. This helps to build their fluency. The decodable reading practice book from their reading session is accessed at home via Collins online eBooks to ensure success is shared with the family. Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.
Parents are invited to daily, ‘early-bird’ session in EYFS and the weekly Friday morning reading session in Key Stage 1. These engage our families and enable us to share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend, accessing books online and other aspects of our phonics and reading provision.
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress
Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. All teacher and teaching assistants use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
Lesson templates, prompt cards and ‘how to’ videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
The phonics leads deliver regular CPD to staff through whole-school CPD, phase and year group meetings, video coaching, coaching walkthroughs and lesson studies to monitor and observe teaching. These ensure best practice is continuously developed and shared.
Teachers use the outcomes from summative assessments at the end of unit to identify children who need additional support in order to close gaps.
Use of On-going and Summative Assessment
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
Assessment for learning is ongoing within class to identify children needing keep-up support and features prominently in the weekly review lesson to assess gaps and address these immediately in order to secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
Summative assessments take place every six weeks to assess progress, identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed and children needing additional support, and to plan the keep-up support. Teachers and the phonics leads regularly update and scrutinise the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker to identify attainment gaps between different groups of children and, from this, plan how these can be closed. The Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised placement assessment is used with any child new to the school; gaps in their phonic knowledge are identified quickly and the support necessary to close these put in place.
Rapid Catch-up Assessment in Key Stage 2
Children in Years 3 to 6 are assessed through the Rapid Catch-up initial assessment. These assess progress and quickly identify any gaps in children’s phonic knowledge from which the appropriate support and focus for teaching are planned.
The Rapid Catch-up summative assessments are used to assess progress and inform teaching. These take place every 4 weeks or when the phonics phase has been completed (phase 5 has been broken into different sets and children are assessed every 4 weeks or when they have completed a set)
Rapid Catch-up fluency assessments take place when children are reading the Phase 5, set 3, 4 and 5 books, for age 7+. These measure the fluency of children in the final stages of phase 5.
Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child who does not pass the check re-sits it in Year 2.
Shared reading sessions introduce the reading skill of the week, during which teachers explicitly model their thoughts aloud as they read to demonstrate how the skill enables one to comprehend what is being read. Skills are taught progressively, using the Parks Progressions Statements. For example, visualisation can be defined as being a point when you picture what you read in your mind and then this can be modelled by drawing a quick image of the picture in the mind. Evidence based research by Rosenshine’s ‘I, We, You’ model is used to ensure explicit modelling, practice and independent application, using a sentence stem for each skill to scaffold the learning. This lesson allows pupils to engage in talk, exploring the reading skills in depth, embedding our drive to develop oracy for pupils at Spinney Hill, much of whom have English as an additional language.
The reading skill is then applied through daily guided reading sessions where pupils read a text at their ability to help them comprehend what they read, as well as building on previous skills taught. Where pupils are becoming more fluent readers, pupils demonstrate their comprehension through answering an appropriate set of questions that teachers have carefully planned to assess the pupils’ understanding. Pupils will think critically and develop their responses to texts, broaden their vocabulary, listen and build on the ideas of others - and challenge these. For example, when pupils infer, they will ensure their inferences are based on clues within the text and are justified with evidence from the text.
The spine of texts used within guided and shared lessons are selected carefully, including texts that engage the disengaged readers, particularly boys such as Skellig; literature where pupils at Spinney Hill can see themselves reflected in such as Displaced by Malala Yousafzai; texts that increase cultural capital for instance, classic fiction such as Peter Pan; non-fiction texts that probe pupils to critically think and question what they read about eg: Harriet Tubman; and poetry for example The Tyger by William Blake.
Teachers at Spinney Hill know how well their pupils can read and comprehend what they read, and they know what their next steps are. This knowledge is clearly informed by constant discussion with the pupils in the ‘ping pong’ discussion points within lessons. Live Marking enables teachers, at the point of learning, to keep track of the progress of pupils and identify what areas need to be tackled in future lessons. Teachers can assess pupils’ progress through their responses within reading journals. More formal assessment is used such as termly PIRA tests, as well past SATs papers in years 2 and 6, to gauge where pupils’ gaps in comprehension are. For children with special educational needs, pupils are assessed by using single word tests. PM benchmarking is an invaluable tool used that both teaching assistants and teachers use to assess the progress of pupils reading age and comprehension. While Learning Ladders allows teachers to personalise the needs of children.
How we have developed a reading culture and children's love of reading
We know that for our children reading for pleasure must compete against the pleasures and entertainment offered by ever-advancing technology - YouTube, television streaming channels, video games and social media – and picking up a book may not be a choice that ever child wishes to make. Reading requires perseverance, resilience and independence, and these qualities we endeavour to nurture and teach alongside the basic instructions of reading in order that all children are able to, quite simply, enter a world in which the scope of ideas, imagination and possibilities are limitless and go beyond anything an electronic interface can offer. We know we “should do everything to promote wider reading” and it is our duty to develop a genuine love of literature as reading for pleasure and widely are the bedrock for our curriculum drivers. It is our duty to develop a genuine love for a balanced diet of literature.
Books provide children with the knowledge they need in order to question and to challenge ideas, whilst opening their eyes to the lives and experiences of others and enabling them to develop a sense of identity.
Teachers at Spinney Hill read at least once daily to their class, knowing that reading aloud to children has the greatest impact on developing a love for books. Teachers model, with great effort, to use intonation, volume and stamina – ensuring that they project their passion for reading to their audience.
Children at Spinney Hill, have weekly access to the library. This is well resourced, with a wide range of genres, for all ages and abilities. Teachers support the children to ensure that they select a book well matched to their reading level, as they understand the importance of this in maintaining a child's interest in reading. At Spinney Hill, we understand the importance of diversity within the books children read, and have ensured the range of books that are stocked reflect the diversity of the school and beyond.
Creating a love of reading does not come from books alone. We understand, that to develop the enjoyment of reading, children must be familiar with a range of authors, and relate to the experiences that inspired them to write. Through regular online, and in person visits from popular authors, the children are able to deepen their understanding of how books are developed, where ideas come from and what it takes to entertain the reader.