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For pupils to succeed in education, reading has got to be a priority. The World Literacy Foundation states that pupils’ reading ability and knowledge acquisition are of great importance, with the associated costs to the lives of individuals and wider society being enormous (2015). A recent review of research (Castles, Rastle and Nation, 2018) looked at over 300 studies to highlight best practice: a phonics-based approach to help young children crack the ‘alphabetic code’; immersion in text to develop word-recognition skills and reading fluency; vocabulary development; and the influence of knowledge, processing and cognition on wider comprehension. We have aimed to embed this practice within our reading approaches and resources.

We aim for all pupils – irrespective of their needs, abilities or background – to learn to read fluently and with understanding. We aim to meet – and where possible exceed – the expectations laid out in the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum. We want to develop secure, confident, independent readers who enjoy and understand the benefits that reading brings.

The direct teaching of reading starts with oracy and phonics. We follow the Read Write Inc. phonics programme, with this being complemented by purposeful talk and the use of shared reading experiences that expose pupils to a wider range of vocabulary, syntax and sentence structure. Our children receive a daily phonics lesson in which they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their developmental needs. 

Teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure that children are stretched and challenged, and to identify those children who may need additional support. We aim for all pupils to finish the programme by the end of KS1. If their decoding skills are secure before this time, they undertake structured comprehension lessons. If they are not secure by the end of KS1, they will continue to access the RWI programme in Year 3.

By KS2, our aim is for all pupils to be ready for our daily, whole-class reading lessons. The focus here is on the development of vocabulary, fluency, reading stamina, specific reading skills and knowledge through immersion into a wide range of texts. For each year group, these lessons are based on a series of themed texts and class novels, with these acting as a stimulus for skill development and deep thinking. These texts cover a range of fiction and non-fiction genres that aim to develop pupils’ cultural capital, general knowledge and wider understanding. 

In addition, geography and history lessons in KS2 are based on a series of text-based booklets, with these being used as part of an ‘everybody reads’ approach across the curriculum. Furthermore, writing lessons focus on word- and sentence-level understanding, with many of the activities making use of skills that will enhance pupils’ comprehension of written language. 

Reading for pleasure is also a focus throughout our schools, with school and class libraries providing books for home reading, and initiatives being undertaken to promote reading as a positive past-time. According to research, this plays a major role in reading development, while also providing pupils with an alternative to the digital distractions that can affect their personal wellbeing.