At Swalecliffe, we are passionate about reading! We value reading as a lifelong skill and are dedicated in our aim to ensure that our children become readers for life who read for pleasure. We encourage every opportunity to read, continually developing reading skills and vocabulary whilst fostering a love of books. Reading permeates our day: from the moment our pupils come through the door as part of Early Morning Work, through story time, class assemblies, library time, quality texts in connected learning, time in the book corner as well as during Book Talk and guided reading sessions. We believe that reading is key to academic success and take a holistic approach to reading at our school. By the time children leave Swalecliffe School, they are competent 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.
From the earliest stages, we believe in building the vital foundations for our children with the teaching of systematic, synthetic phonics. At our school, we follow the Letters and Sounds programme. From Year R, the children are taught discrete phonics every day with their class teacher with smaller groups for those who need more support. In Year 1, we group the pupils by ability for phonics in order for our children to become more confident, fluent readers. We closely measure progress with teachers drawing upon observations and continuous assessments to ensure children are stretched and challenged, as well as identifying children who may need additional support. Additionally, teachers carry out our individual phonics assessments formally three times a year in Year R and 1 to ensure that the children are ready for the Year 1 Phonics Screening. Children who do not pass the screening in Year 1 have focused intervention in Year 2 and staff continue to use our phonics assessment with these pupils. Further up the school, phonics continues for those who still need additional help. This is done through continued teaching according to Letters and Sounds and through the Toe-by-Toe with skilled teaching assistants in small groups or on a 1:1 basis.
The teaching of other reading skills such as retrieval and inference is taught through Book Talk across the school with additional guided reading in the Infants. In these sessions and with all texts used in class, stories, poems and non-fiction are chosen to develop pupils’ vocabulary, language comprehension and love of reading. Pupils enjoy reading and listening to a wide range of texts. Our teacher reading group is essential to staff in finding out about new releases. At Swalecliffe School, we have two separate libraries: one in the infants and one in the juniors which offer a wide variety of texts for a range of genres. During these weekly sessions, the children select a book to share at home, read for pleasure or to use to help with homework in addition to their ‘banded’ individual reader which they change as and when needed. There is a lunchtime library club for every year group once a week in addition to this.
We aim to ensure that children read a broad range of materials. Individual readers come from a number of sources. They are accurately grouped according to phonics progression within Letters and Sounds, age and National Curriculum expectations into coloured bands. These coloured bands have smaller structured steps within reading levels which really help to develop a child’s reading skills. We have combined a range of different schemes including: Big Cat, Oxford Reading Tree and Bug Club alongside carefully selected ‘real’ books as the children become more fluent readers in order that the children experience a wide range of genre, interests and author.
To ensure good communication between school and home about children’s reading, each child has a reading record which should be taken home every evening and returned every morning. Teachers will write comments in these books and where a child reads as part of a group during Book Talk or in a focus guided reading group, the teacher will stamp the child’s reading record. Every child will read with an adult at least once a week either individually or during Book Talk. In KS1, where early reading skills are being developed, this is considerably more. Toe-by Toe, Stride Ahead and other focused reading group work will also be recorded in these books for parents. The English Team also offer workshops for parents in phonics and supporting their children to read at home. We also offer before school times where parents can visit the Infant Library with their child.
We aim to create a culture that nutures a love of reading for pleasure which includes enrichment opportunities like the celebration of World Book Day bi-annually, author visits, the Bedtime stories event in Year R and CACoT (our coastal schools alliance) events for our PP children. We also participate in the Buster Book Club scheme. It is our aim that staff are skilled in subject knowledge and their teaching of phonics and reading skills, consequently CPD is provided termly in English as well as individual CPD where required.