Reading is our most important gateway to knowledge and ideas. It is therefore at the centre of everything we do. We nurture fluent and confident readers who, from the very start, learn to think as they read. We encourage children to read for pleasure and purpose, to discover the world and lives beyond their own, and thereby to make sense of themselves.
We teach readers individually, in guided groups and as a whole class to appreciate texts, develop opinions and preferences about reading and use these across the curriculum. We encourage our pupils to see themselves as discerning readers and to be confident in discussing not only whether they enjoy a text but also the extent to which they agree with it.
The teaching of reading starts with systematic synthetic phonics. We teach children to blend sounds, decode text and gradually develop fluency. Our main tool is Michelle Larbey's fabulous Story Time Phonics Programme (based upon DfE Letters and Sounds) which helps us to make phonics fun and empowering.
In our guided reading groups we use a ‘reciprocal reading’ approach, explicitly learning the skills of questioning, summarising, clarifying and predicting whilst reading. In time, these skills become automatic to the child. We use an impressive collection of Collins Big Cat books, fully funded by the PtFA, to ensure that every child in the school has an appropriate book to help their development, whether they are moving on to a new phonemeor delving into the world of Shakespeare. All children take a book home regularly and keep a record of their progress.
‘Dialogic Literary Gatherings’ are a well-tested tool for building reader’s powers of independent thought. In them, the teacher facilitates discussion of a text that is led by the children. This approach helps ensure that all children develop a strong voice, are able to interpret the written word, create arguments and respect the views of others equally. As adults, we read for pleasure, and we want our school children to do likewise. All staff read to their class daily, bringing to life the amazing characters and settings that might be just beyond their reach.