High quality texts are central to the teaching of reading at Almondsbury. We believe that laying the foundations for a life-long love of reading is core to the happiness of our children and we therefore promote this across all curriculum areas. A reading scheme is used across the school for children to access at their own level. These books are available for children to take home, forming part of their weekly homework tasks.
Developing Early Reading
In Year 1 daily reading sessions are based around the ELS work booklets promoting pupils’ phonics knowledge and decoding at word level, developing reading stamina, and exploring texts to improve comprehension skills through teacher questioning. Children engage in reading a variety of ELS phonic books matched to the progression on a one to one basis. Comprehension and reading for pleasure are developed through reading a whole class book on a daily basis.
Whole-Class Guided Reading
From Year 2 to Year 6, the children take part in daily, whole-class reading sessions. A high-quality text extract is used for the week with a different reading focus each day. Whole-class reading sessions mean that children of all attainment bands are immersed in the same high-quality literature and the discussions that these texts promote. The whole class can share the enjoyment of a particular text and learn from one another as well as the adults in the room on a daily basis. Children are organised into mixed-ability pairs so as to allow for frequent, paired discussion and collaboration in the acquisition of new skills.
Whole-Class Reading lessons across the school follow the same weekly structure:
- On the Friday of each week children will be given the text that will be used in class the following week. They will be asked to read this text at home and complete a short vocabulary task
- On the Monday and Friday the class book will be used as the text for guided reading discussions, allowing children to immerse themselves in these (often longer) stories. Follow up tasks may be used to support the learning
- On the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the children will engage with questions/activities/tasks based on the text that was sent home the previous Friday.
Reading sessions based around the weekly extract are focused on the skills of retrieval, prediction, summarising, inference and explanation. These are known as the VIPERS skills. Lessons focus on a mix of these skills to ensure children can develop a deeper comprehension of the text they are reading, as well as supporting them to further understand and enjoy the texts they choose to read independently. Teachers use effective questioning techniques linked to the ‘Reading Hats’ theory/ PEEL so that high-quality responses with evidence and explanation can be elicited from the pupils. Opportunities are then planned for effective follow-up tasks and independent responses so that children can apply their learning. These are adapted where needed to allow support for key pupils and small groups.
The acquisition of vocabulary is central to our approach to the teaching of reading. Pupils are given the texts for the following week to prepare in advance and encouraged to explore tier two vocabulary (words that may be new to the children but can be used in many different contexts) identified by the class teacher. These words are then revisited through the term using strategies from the Word Aware scheme of work, allowing the children to learn more and remember more.
Through the year, the children will be exposed to a mix of genres and text types to ensure they gain a rich reading experience made up of texts which inspire and challenge them.
Choosing our quality texts
Staff annually review the UKLA (UK Literacy Association) shortlist of recommended books and purchase a selection for each class to enjoy. This ensures children are reading and appreciating new, relevant, high quality literature. In addition to this, children in each key phase are exposed to a wide range of traditional and classic texts (both fiction and poetry) through Guided Reading, our 'Reading Spine' for writing and whole class reading books. This selection process allows children to have access to stories involving a diverse range of characters, settings and cultures. High quality non-fiction texts are also selected and linked to topics studied in class as well as the wider interests of the children.
Using our quality texts
High quality texts are used to underpin learning across the curriculum. We have used these to create a ‘Reading Spine,’ which guarantees children experience a range of inspiring and well written texts within each key phase. The UKLA books are used as a ‘Class Book,’ which children take it in turns to take home to share with their families and then make a personal response to share with the class. This creates a real excitement about the class book over the school year. Additionally, teachers read specially chosen books to the children at the end of the day at least twice a week. Furthermore, every class has an engaging reading space where children can choose to read and enjoy a wide range of age appropriate books.
We are fortunate to have a fully functioning library at the heart of our school. The children visit it on a regular basis and it is open lunchtimes and after school to allow children to borrow and browse. We organise our library by genre to help children choose books by themselves and to aid the discovery new authors.
Promoting a love of reading
On top of the above, we have many other ways of promoting a love of reading across the school:
- Annual Book Week and Book Fair
- World Book Day
- ‘Ready, Teddy, Read!’
- Annual Book at Bedtime / Reading Breakfast
- Workshops for parents
- Termly reading challenges and rewards
- Reading buddies
- Outdoor reading areas
- Drop Everything and Read Day
- Dressing up as book characters
- Engaging reading environments
- Year 6 Reading Ambassadors