‘Reading is the gateway for children, that makes all other learning possible.’
Reading is the gateway to almost all learning. Without reading, there is little science, no history, no geography. So, we should champion reading as a vital life skill - reading to learn, reading to expand horizons, reading for pleasure...
Reading is a gateway into unfamiliar places, other people and alternative experiences. There are three aspects to reading in our school: the first is the teaching of reading which is delivered through high quality phonic lessons and the use of engaging and stimulating reading books which are closely matched to the children’s phonic knowledge. In order to understand what they read, there is a focus on fluency which is the ability to read with speed, accuracy and appropriate expression. Reading comprehension is explicitly taught through regular one to one reading, guided reading groups and daily whole class reading lessons using the reading VIPERS as a vehicle to enable children to deepen their understanding and interrogate texts. The second is reading in subjects beyond English and the third is reading for pleasure.
Research in cognitive science suggests that the brain does not make a distinction between reading about an experience and actually encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. At the Howard School we are strong believers in the ‘power of the book,’ of children building a sustained relationship with a text over time and coming to understand its perspective and modes of narration, and how they shift. Only by glimpsing these changes and variations as part of a sustained relationship between reader and text can children really learn.
We opt for books of substance. One of the strongest drivers of reading ability is prior knowledge: once pupils are fluent decoders, much of the difference among readers is not due to whether you are a good or bad reader. Much of the difference among readers is due to how much knowledge they have. At Ackworth Howard we use drama and speaking and listening activities such as hot-seating and Conscience Alley to enable the children to explore texts and deepen their knowledge and understanding of the written word whilst experience days linked to class texts allow pupils to develop and extend their knowledge and understanding of vocabulary. Teaching content is teaching reading and our curriculum is designed for this.
Opportunities and expectations for reading are high at school to ensure we are able to build knowledge and vocabulary. Reading builds knowledge and as a by-product, pupils enjoyment. Studies show that there is a high correlation between reading for enjoyment and educational success. We aim to provide a vibrant and stimulating reading environment both inside and out of the classroom which engages the children and fosters a love of reading.
Our reading ambassadors are enthusiastic readers themselves who lead by example and promote a reading culture within school, listening to children read, recommending books and taking responsibility for the running of the school library. We actively encourage children to support their peers and reading buddies across school support and encourage developing readers.
Pupils have the opportunity to read widely across the range of curriculum subjects which is fundamental to growing knowledge, vocabulary and ideas. The Howard School library, School’s Library Service and carefully selected topic boxes provide stimulating texts to develop their reading and understanding and regular book fairs and themed days encourage the children to read a wide range of literature.
Teachers take responsibility for planning and developing reading for pleasure which complements more formal approaches to the teaching of reading. The Howard School Reading Spine ensures that children have access to a wide and varied range of texts as they progress through school. Teachers effectively use their wider knowledge of children’s literature and other texts to enrich children’s experience and pleasure in reading, let children control more of their own reading and exercise their rights as leaders. They make time and space for children to explore texts in greater depth; share favourites and talk spontaneously about their reading.
Teachers engage in their own reading of children’s literature to develop their own subject knowledge and are encouraged to talk about the materials they read. They are able to make recommendations and broaden the range of what the children would normally read. Platforms such as Epic Read provide online materials and individual class lists challenge the children to read a wide range of texts and genres.
Another aspect of reading for pleasure is being read to for pleasure. Children enjoy the experience of being read to by their teachers which helps children build an emotional relationship with books.
Children on the Twinkl Phonics programme will bring home reading scheme books that are phonetically decodable and perfectly match their phonic ability. They will also have a library book to share with a grown up and reinforce reading for pleasure.
After completing the Twinkl Phonics programme, children have a choice of age appropriate books that they can take home to read. These have been carefully selected and divided up into collections to give children a wide selection of different books and to allow them to make choices in order to find their own reader identity. Some pupils will be offered explicit support to aid their reading choices where appropriate. These collections include:
- Age appropriate, interest level books.
- First chapter books (Key Stage 1).
- Groups of the same book to share reading with friends.
- Interest books – Collections.
- Celebrating the curriculum books.
The book stock is reviewed and refreshed often and includes current titles as well as more established children’s literature. Our staff and children are learning the book stock and can recommend books that they think they will enjoy – understanding each other’s reader identity. The books borrowed are recorded on the BoomRead app. Children are encouraged to look after and return promptly the books that they borrow.
- Children are encouraged to read at home with parents/carers.
- Children are encouraged to choose books that they can access and enjoy reading.
- Teachers monitor how often children read at home, rewarding in class and encouraging a reading culture in and out of school.
- Parents are given information about reading through the school newsletter, social media platforms and at parent/carer meetings.
- Staff and children are encouraged to know each other’s reader identities so that books can be recommended across school.
At Ackworth Howard School, we follow the Twinkl Phonics scheme, which is a fully comprehensive, synthetic phonics teaching programme designed to be used with children from nursery to year 2, which has been validated by the Department for Education (2021). Delivered through the stories and adventures of Kit, Sam and the Twinkl Phonics family, the scheme builds and develops the skills and understanding children need to become effective, independent readers and writers.
We use Rhino Readers to support delivery of our Phonics programme. We also use additional decodable books matched to the Rhino Readers and align with our Twinkl Phonics teaching.
We have produced a phonics resource for parents which outlines our approach to phonics teaching and offers guidance to parents who want to support their children at home.
You can download this PowerPoint document here - https://www.ackworthhowardschool.co.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/medi…
If you have any further concerns or questions please don't hesitate to speak to us.
Reading Book Amazon Wishlist:
Help us get through the Reading Gateway - Purchase a book to donate/sponsor for our school. The book will be sent straight to school where we will write inside who has sponsored the book. The book will then be read by children for years to come and they will know who donated it to our school. We know money for some can be difficult at the moment so please do not worry if you cannot purchase a book from the Wishlist - Thank you so much for considering.
Amazon Wishlist Link: https://amzn.eu/7KpIZVZ