Learning to Read at East Sheen Primary School
Early Years Foundation Stage* and Key Stage One**
(Phonics Programme: Read, Write, Inc.)
Learning to read is one of the most important educational steps for our children - reading underpins almost all aspects of the curriculum and research shows it is the most accurate prediction of future success in education. As a result, at East Sheen Primary School, we focus lots of energy, time and enthusiasm to help all our pupils become successful readers who love reading and to continue to do so throughout their lives.
Learning to read and write depends on first having a sound basis in the spoken language, so the journey towards becoming a reader starts from birth. Being part of a ‘talk-a-lot’ family and sharing books from the earliest age will equip your child well for learning to decode texts as they start school.
‘’Reading and writing floats on a sea of talk” (James Britton, 1983)
Children begin to learn to read in the first term of Reception through the teaching of letter sounds (phonics). We deliver our phonics teaching through a scheme called, ‘Read Write Inc’. Lesson by lesson children learn a new sound in a quick-paced interactive session. They also develop the skill of blending the sounds together to read or say words. Each session is resourced to support the visual, aural and kinaesthetic (or active) learner.
Children are regularly assessed to check their progress in learning sounds and after a few weeks of teaching, are placed into small groups according to progress, so that ongoing teaching can be paced and focused to their needs. Ongoing assessment ensures groups are fluid and children continue to develop their reading skills at their own pace.
Alongside the phonics programme, children are introduced to a bank of ‘high frequency’ words, learning a number of words each week e.g.
look at me mum
Children are encouraged to read these words by sight, rather than sound out (indeed many will be phonetically irregular and cannot be sounded out) to encourage more fluent decoding of books and support children who learn more readily by this method.
Once the phonics programme has begun, children will bring home books to read with parents or carers. At first, these may be very simple, containing few words. Children should be encouraged to ‘read’ the book, telling the story mostly by using the illustrations and employing reading skills such as prediction and interpretation. The complexity of the books, fiction and non-fiction, will be matched to the growing phonic knowledge and reading skills of the child. We use Read, Write, Inc. books to ensure children have books that match their phonetic knowledge, whilst using a range of other texts to allow children to explore a wide range of topics and text types.
Focused reading opportunities at school will be supported through in a number of ways: reading activities during phonics lessons, guided reading sessions (a small, teacher-led reading group), and individual reading to a teacher or parent helper. Independent reading is also encouraged by activities accessed throughout the day.
Phonic lessons and the reading opportunities described above are continued throughout Key Stage One. Teaching of the reading process doesn’t stop when children can successfully decode! Reading is much more than that. Children continue to develop comprehension skills, demonstrating an understanding of the texts they read and expressing opinions. They also learn the art of reading for an audience, using appropriate expression as they respond to punctuation in the text.
In Key Stage Two***, children continue to use high quality texts as the basis for their learning in English lessons. In addition, they have guided reading sessions, comprehension skills lessons and time for independent reading. Every half term, children complete on online assessment of their reading comprehension (Star Reading) and are given a score; this score helps children ensure they chose books that match their interest level and comprehension ability. Children then complete online quizzes on books they have read to check understanding (Accelerated Reader), earning themselves points and working towards becoming ‘Word Millionaires’. Again, children are encouraged to read a variety of texts and do so for pleasure as well as to help with their learning.
* Early Years Foundation Stage: Reception class 4-5 years
** Key Stage One: Years One and Two 5-7 years
*** Key Stage Two: Years Three to Six 7-11 years