At Alkrington Primary School, we recognise that reading is one of the greatest gifts that we can bestow on to our pupils. Reading is a vital skill that has a significant impact on our pupils for the entirety of their education, and as a gateway to opportunity and success in life beyond. We believe that reading opens a whole new world for our children giving them the opportunity to meet new characters, visit new places, explore new ideas, and grow their understanding of other cultures and the world in which we live. Through high quality teaching, and exciting learning opportunities, we strive to develop our children to be confident, independent, and fluent readers, appreciative of our rich literary heritage with a genuine love of reading.
KS1 Reading and Phonics
Teaching phonics in Early Years and Key Stage 1 is the foundation to enabling your child to read and write and developing those skills throughout their first years at Alkrington Primary. We teach phonics using a bespoke synthetic phonics programme which incorporates a range of strategies from well-known programmes such as ‘Letters and Sounds’, but is tailored for our children who come to our school to maximise their progress and potential. Our phonics programme begins in Nursery where whole class teaching of phonics occurs daily. From Reception to Year 2, children are taught and move through the phonics phases in small groups, being taught high-quality phonics lessons tailored to the needs of the children within each group. Using frequent assessment and tracking, our staff tailor their planning and lessons to the individual needs of each group, ensuring that gaps are targeted, and progress is good. Phonics can also be present in Lower Key Stage 2 through interventions to support children who need additional support.
Furthermore, Key Stage 1 children take part in daily Guided Reading lessons where they are regularly exposed to a range of texts, completing tasks and activities aimed at demonstrating their understanding of them. Guided Reading takes place in small, targeted groups where children access high-quality texts, appropriate to age and ability expectations and work on developing reading skills beyond phonics to a greater understanding of vocabulary, authorial intent, text structure, and other domains within the reading curriculum. Each Guided Reading session has a focus on a different skill and an opportunity to ‘mix it up’ to allow for children to retrieve and practise all key skills. Again, teachers regularly assess children within Guided Reading groups for monitoring and planning. Our home reading scheme follows up on our Phonics and Guided reading sessions, where children read two appropriately levelled books within the Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cat schemes per week.
In Key Stage 2, reading continues to remain a top priority. Teachers deliver weekly high-quality lessons using the VIPERS approach (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Summarising). These weekly lessons develop children’s reading, enabling them to grow, and experience new texts and authors. Through this approach, children are taught to not only gain a greater understanding of what they read, but also to relate the text to themselves, previous reading experiences and the world around them.
An invested part of our reading approach is through Accelerated Reader – a system designed to help children choose a book tailored to their reading level and personal interests. The programme benchmarks children’s reading using a half-termly online assessment and gives the children a book band range (known as ZPD) from which they can choose texts appropriate to their age and reading level. When they finish a book, they will take a short online quiz that monitors their progress within their book band. The teacher then uses this to ensure that every child has an appropriate reading book as well as being easily able to monitor progress and identify support that maybe required.
In addition to our classroom teaching and home reading schemes, Alkrington has a very active library that is regularly accessed by our pupils with approximately 800 books loaned out per half-term. Using the Libresoft Management System, our library is open every day and operated by Year 6 Librarians who manage operate the loan system, manage stock and overdue loans, and support children in choosing age and interest appropriate books. These books are above and beyond our already extensive range of texts within our KS1 and Accelerated Reader home reading schemes.
We firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning which means that the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of statutory assessments. Children will have the opportunity to discover wide and varied lands, or relive historical events that shaped the world, or learn about new cultures and the sciences: all of this is a door unlocked by the gift of reading.
By the time our children leave Alkrington, we aspire for our pupils to be able, fluent, and confident life-long readers who can enjoy a range of texts for both pleasure, and to fulfil their curiosities. Our children will be able to discuss the texts that they read and use their skills to continue their learning beyond primary school so that they will always be able to enjoy a life-long learning journey.