Recognising that fluency in the English language is the foundation to success in all areas of the curriculum, the key skills of literacy development are reinforced, taught and exploited through every subject area. Teachers will seek to take advantage of opportunities to make cross-curricular links. They will plan for pupils to practise and apply the skills, knowledge and understanding acquired through literacy lessons to other areas of the curriculum.
At St Bernadette, we strive to ensure that all children become successful, fluent readers by the end of key stage one and believe this is achievable through a combination of strong, high quality, discrete systematic phonics teaching combined with a whole language approach that promotes a ‘Reading for Pleasure’ culture. Being able to read is the most important skill children will learn during their early schooling and has far-reaching implications for lifelong learning and well-being.
We believe that all of our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why 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 follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme of progression which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
As a result, our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At St Bernadette, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development and vocabulary for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
We believe the importance of getting children off to a good start with reading cannot be overstated. The teaching of Early Reading starts from Nursery here at St Bernadette.
We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
sharing high-quality stories and poems
learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
attention to high-quality language.
We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
We understand that key features of a rich curriculum which are essential to Phase One and beyond are the range and depth of language experienced by the children.
Reception and Year 1
We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. We continually review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
Children make a strong start in Reception: 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, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place as often as required.
are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids on pages 11–20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’, as well as a range of texts from various other schemes, such as Songbirds, Bug Club, Oxford Reading Tree and Project X.
are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis
prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
The main objective during Whole Class Guided Reading, is establishing the requisite skills, including modelling and questioning, introducing new vocabulary and encouraging children to ‘read between the lines’. As language matures and increases, their ability to ‘create a picture’, and in some cases, fill the background knowledge required to become competent in comprehension, is key.
The more a child gains from the content of a book, the more they will develop their inference and deduction skills, transferring this knowledge to future books. If this element of reading development is nurtured and supported, the child will begin to grow the skills required to interpret an author’s intent and the ability to pick up on nuance and contextual cues.
We use the Herts For Learning Reading Platforms to ensure progression across the key stage.
Reading at Home
Decodable reading practice books and reading for pleasure books go home for parents to share and read with and to children. As the children progress through the Reading Bands, reading books are chosen to match their ability and to develop a love for reading.
Reading for Pleasure
‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002)
‘The will influences the skill and vice versa.’ (OECD 2010)
We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.
We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at St Bernadette and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
Every classroom has an inviting and diverse book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
In Nursery/Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
Children in foundation stage use ‘story sacks’ in class which include quality stories, non- fiction books and resources such as puppets to support their development of the love of reading and fire their imagination and interest.
Visits to the local library will also be arranged for children.
Developing vocabulary occurs through indirect instruction; using rich reading experiences to grow vocabulary ‘naturally', paying attention to context to work out meaning and using background knowledge. It is also taught through direct ‘robust’ instruction. Good vocabulary instruction involves asking children to make decisions about which words to use in their writing for effect.
Effective ways of teaching vocabulary include:
- explicit teaching of appropriate vocabulary words
- multiple exposures to same words in varying contexts (speaking/listening, reading, writing)
- working with a partner or small group to analyse words
- story retelling using key vocabulary from texts
- use of props or concrete objects to explain vocabulary
- explicit discussion of comprehension together with vocabulary
- ensuring vocabulary instruction is embedded across the curriculum
- 'Word of the Week' focus and the use of word walls in classrooms
It is crucial that children have explicit and robust instruction in vocabulary, to support their verbal and written communication. The explicit teaching of vocabulary allows students to access academic language and discourse, and facilitates their comprehension of increasingly complex texts.