Our Reading (including Phonics) Curriculum
At Chambersbury School we want encourage a lifelong love of reading so our children can reap all the benefits of being a reader. We aim to help children find purpose and meaning in reading through well-chosen class texts, well-matched independent reading texts and high quality teaching that ensures children have the skills they need to enjoy reading. We aim for all children to have the skills to feel included as readers. We recognise the importance of children seeing themselves in books: their skin colour, their family background, their lived experiences and aim to reflect in our reading the diversity in our community.
We want books to inspire children, show them a wider world and help them to aspire to be change-makers and assets to society.
At Chambersbury School we recognise and understand the importance of both word level teaching: decoding and word recognition and language comprehension, and how these work together to produce confident and fluent readers.
We aim for children to become fluent readers by age seven and to spend the rest of their time at primary school developing higher order reading skills such as inference and awareness of authorial intent.
We use a systemic synthetic phonics programme as we want to help children to learn rapidly the grapheme phoneme correspondences that enable them to decode words and to become competent at blending so they read with accuracy and pace.
We aim to build the language and oracy skills that support reading and the reading skills to support writing.
We work to make sure that all children keep up with the learning in phonics and reading and those experiencing difficulties are identified early and supported.
The teaching of early reading at Chambersbury centres around phonics.
In Nursery, children develop phonological knowledge. They learn about rhyme, syllables, words and sentences. Finally, they develop the phonemic knowledge needed to identify sounds in words. This is called “Phase 1” phonics.
Phonics is taught in Reception and Y1 using Essential Letters and Sounds. There is a daily phonics lesson. In Reception this starts at the beginning of the Autumn term and lasts 10 minutes. Over the year, phonics time increases to 1 hour a day and this is maintained in Year 1. This consists of 20-30 minutes discrete teaching using ELS and the remaining time is used for practising and applying skills. A language rich environment provides opportunities to use phonic learning throughout the day.
In Year 2 children consolidate learning from Phase 5 as needed. Phonics lessons include Phase 6 and are aligned with the National Curriculum for reading, spelling and grammar in Year 2. The phonics planning follows a Revisit/ Review – Teach – Practise – Apply format. It includes the teaching of Y1/2 high frequency words as well as phonics to enable children to extend their ‘at a glance’ reading vocabulary and become fluent readers.
Assessment is part of daily teaching practice – teachers identify in the phonics lesson the children who need more practice time. These children may spend more time with the teacher and have time later that day to work on application of knowledge. This extra time happens each day so children do not fall behind. Weekly assessment of the GPCs and words taught enables teachers to choose well-matched books for children to take home and practise decoding with. Decodable readers are sent home every Friday.
Children in R, Year 1 and Year 2 are also assessed using Phonics tracker every half term until they are working securely at Phase 6 and beyond to support teachers’ monitoring and planning. Teachers also assess the application of phonics skills in reading and writing in order to make a half-termly judgement of children’s learning.
This ongoing assessment enables teachers to identify children experiencing difficulties early. They then provide the necessary support. This includes adjustments in class, including additional practise time, scaffolds and adult dialogue. It may also include interventions. ELS provides three intervention programmes and teachers will monitor children using these interventions. Continuing difficulties requiring teaching that is different from or additional to our usual provision are discussed with the SENCo so appropriate individualised learning can take place.
In Year 1 there is a statutory phonics screening check in June. Any children who do not pass retake in Year 2. The phonics screening is designed to give teachers and parents’ information about children’s progress in phonics and help identify children who need extra support. Phonics Leads assess data from this to identify common areas of difficulty and gaps and plan accordingly.
Guided reading lessons from Y1 to Y6 teach reading skills beyond decoding and encoding. Alongside reading within English lessons and other curriculum areas, guised reading provides the explicit teaching needed to embed early reading skills and ensure progression through higher order reading skills. Lessons focus on the skills children need to continue to develop their comprehension and ability to analyse text, in preparation for Secondary School. Guided reading builds on the firm foundations of phonics teaching to improve fluency, expression, comprehension and discussion of texts.
Guided Reading takes place alongside English lessons as discrete 20-30 minute lessons five times a week. The sessions are whole class, with the children working in mixed ability pairs and groups, to enable high quality discussions for all children. The chosen text is at an appropriate level for most children, with elements that challenge. Lexile scores as well as teacher assessment of children’s skill level inform text choices. A basic weekly structure follows this sequence:
Reading the text – building motivation to read through successful experiences
Interrogating the text
Skills development activities:
Preparation to read the text
Learning new words in context
Vocab Builder activity sheet
Oral questioning and discussion
Find and retrieve
Understanding of character
Identify messages and themes
Develop motivation to read through links with other media
Links may be made to other subjects relevant to the text
Adjustments and support
Scaffolded activity sheet
Recap on Tuesday
Adult support to engage and follow
1:1 reading with adult
Small group reading
Scaffolded support for activities
Activities in guided reading might take a number of forms including, but not limited to:
Teachers appropriate assessment notes based on the whole class teaching. These are supplemented by the work in books which are self/peer marked or quick marked in lessons.
Guided Reading sessions are also supplemented throughout the week with 1:1 reading to support decoding skills. Lower attainers/PPG children should be the main focus, but all children should be heard at least once a week by teacher or TA.
Each classroom provides a language-rich environment. High levels of English should be promoted across all displays and modelled correctly. There should be a focus on teaching children new words, as well as applying them in context. There should also be age appropriate displays modelling key learning, relevant to the phonics stage they are studying, along with other reading strategies they have been taught. Consistency in displays of key learning from class to class prevent confusion that can delay learning.
All classrooms have an engaging reading corner/class library to encourage reading for pleasure, and children should be given regular opportunities to use these areas and to read books of their choosing for pleasure. In EYFS/KS1 classrooms this includes age-appropriate role play areas, supplemented with relevant books, to help develop children’s speaking and listening skills, whilst again promoting reading in a different context, often linked to topics being studied in class.
Displays around the school promote reading and writing by presenting information that invites children to read and showcasing examples of reading and writing by children.
Love of reading is also developed through enrichment activities. Within school we promote the winter and summer reading challenges from the Library Service and celebrate children’s success in them. Each year we also take part in World Book Day celebrations, planning in activities across the week based around a particular theme. We bring in visitors to promote reading, from author visits to exciting experience days which then then be capitalised to encourage curiosity and the application of reading skills.
To help model a love of learning, every class has 15 minutes of story time where the teacher reads a class text, which should be at an appropriate level above that which could be read independently. This time is very relaxed and enables the children to enjoy time spent around books. Teachers should use this time to model good use of expression and help communicate to children the power of reading; with its ability to transport you to new worlds and make new friends in the characters you meet. This time should be cherished within the class.
Reading at Home
It is our expectation that EYFS/KS1 children read at home out loud to an adult daily for 10 minutes, discussing what they have read to ensure understanding. Parents/carers are expected to sign their child’s reading record each time and make any relevant notes, which is then checked by a TA or class teacher in school daily to identity any children not reading, as well as communicate with home as necessary.
In Key Stage 2 children are encouraged to read for longer periods to develop reading stamina and improve comprehension. The aim is regular reading for:
Year 3: 10 minutes
Year 4: 15 minutes
Year 5: 20-25 minutes
Year 6: 30 minutes.
As part of the ELS phonics scheme, children in KS1 take home 2 books each week. The first is a decodable reader, which has been carefully matched to the phonics that has been taught in school. These decodable texts only use the sounds the children have been taught and aim to build fluency and help completely secure what has been taught in lessons. This is especially important as they begin to learn that the sounds within our language can be spelled in different ways. Children have a week to practise the sounds in this decodable reader and increase their pace and fluency in decoding.
The second book is a sharing book that the children are able to choose, to help promote reading for pleasure. These books are sent home for adults to read with the children, helping to instil a love of reading from the very beginning of their reading journey. These can be read together with children reading the words they are able to decode or could be read to the child.
In Year 2, your child’s decodable reader is linked to the stage of phonics they are working at. Regular assessment of reading skills enable the children to progress through increasingly challenging texts. Children have access to a range of books consolidating previously taught sounds, as well as alternative spellings studied. With adult support and guidance, children choose from this selection, enabling them to read for pleasure at a decodable level. This boosts confidence and enable children to make progress in their reading independently.
Teacher assessment is based predominantly on phonics assessments to ensure each child is reading at a level which matches the phonics they are currently studying to ensure children are reading for meaning and developing their use of expression.
Children will continue to bring home a sharing book as well. Some children may need to continue to secure their phonic knowledge from the previous years, and will carry on using decodable readers as before, until these sounds are secure.
Where children are reading at a greater depth standard in Year 2, they may be moved to ‘Engaging Reading KS1: Level 1’. These books enable skilled readers to broaden their vocabulary, develop their stamina for reading over longer texts and deepen their comprehension.
In KS2, children begin to move onto the ‘Accelerated Reader’ programme.
The Accelerated Reader programme (by Renaissance) is designed to continue developing children’s reading skills at an appropriate level, alongside engaging quizzes that the children complete to check their comprehension. The quizzes enable teacher to monitor and set goals for children based on how they have done with regard to their comprehension, reading speed, and reading level to enable good progress. This programme helps promote and celebrate reading, as well enables accurate tracking. Several of the secondary schools our Year 6 children move on to also use this system, helping provide consistency across their learning.
If towards the end of Year 4/once in UKS2, children are still working significantly below age related expectation and cannot access accelerated reader, they may be moved the ‘Engaging Reading KS2’ Levels of the book band system. Level 2 is for children still reading at a Year 1/2 level, and Level 3 is for children reading at a Year 2/3 level. These bands are made up of books from the main reading scheme, but have more appropriate and engaging contexts and stories to continue promoting an interest and love of reading. This will be continually monitored and assessed by the class teacher to see when they children are move on. Where areas of weakness are identified, teachers should raise concerns regarding learning needs with the SENCo, who can suggest possible strategies and interventions that can be put in place to support children in achieving their full potential. These will be detailed on individual learning plans as appropriate or whole class provision maps.
Children have access to the school library to choose books from to read at school. Teachers also have access to this to update and refresh class room libraries as well as select relevant books to support learning across the curriculum.
Children will read for pleasure, not just as a life skill or because it is an English lesson.
Children will gain skills beyond basic reading including analysis, empathy and tolerance.
Children should have translated early reading skills into fluency by the end of KS1 and developed higher order reading skills by the end of KS2.
Children will have been exposed to a wide range of diverse texts that both reflect their lived experiences and take them beyond their personal worlds.
Children will make good progress in their reading across the school, leaving Chambersbury with the skills they need to continue their learning journey.