Reading and Phonics at Thornhill Primary School
Reading and Comprehension
‘Pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose (both fiction and non-fiction) and be encouraged to read for pleasure. Schools should do everything to promote wider reading. They should provide library facilities and set ambitious expectations for reading at home.
(2014 National Curriculum Programs of Study)
Reading is a very important life skill as well as being a source of pleasure, enjoyment and enrichment. At Thornhill Primary School we aim to equip children with skills that will enable them to access the curriculum and foster an interest in reading to enrich their personal and working lives.
We encourage a love of reading from the minute our pupils start our school. In EYFS, all of our children have their ‘5 a day’ stories as well as a nursery rhyme a week and can take home story bags to share with adults at home. We hold regular visits to the library and school reading activities for parents/carers.
In Year 1 and 2, pupils take home ‘Story Crates’ with stories to read as well as a treat of hot chocolate! From Year 3 – 6, pupils enjoy magazine subscriptions. We have also developed our ‘Inside Out’ book lists, which gives our pupils the opportunity to become familiar with a wide range of texts. Our aim is to immerse our pupils in reading and to develop that real excitement about books. We have created some fabulous spaces within school to look at books both indoors and outdoors and are currently planning a new library!
In learning to read, children need to use a range of cues. We actively encourage our children to become enthusiastic and independent readers by providing them initially with a range of decodable books, matched to their phonic ability and then they progress onto a wide variety of quality graded texts, ‘real’ books, electronic texts, comics and magazines.
The 2014 National Curriculum splits reading into two clear sections in the programme of study for reading;
Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. That is why phonics is emphasised in the early teaching of reading to our children when they start school.
When children start our school in Nursery or Reception class they begin a structured and rigorous programme of systematic phonics teaching. We utilize the Jolly Phonics systematic synthetic phonics programme where children are taught the correspondences between sounds (phonemes) and letters (graphemes) using a multisensory approach. They are taught the phoneme and the graphemes simultaneously, together with an action and this helps our children to identify and blend different letter sounds and letter combinations together to make a word – for example, pronouncing each phoneme in shop /sh/o/p/ and then blending those phonemes to produce the word. Through this, children take the first important steps in learning to read. They can also use this knowledge to begin to spell new words they hear, this is called segmenting.
A systematic approach to teaching synthetic phonics means teachers take a planned, thorough approach, teaching children the simplest sounds first and progressing all the way through to the most complex combinations of letters. The sequence of letters taught can be found in our document titled, ‘Progression in Reading Sequence of Phonemes.’
Using a systematic synthetic phonics approach, almost all children quickly become confident independent readers. They soon move away from the mechanics of identifying and blending letter sounds (or ‘decoding’ words) and start reading fluently, even when they come across words they have never heard or seen before. Once the process of reading becomes automatic and easy, they can devote all their attention to understanding the meaning of what they have read and are then able to read to learn.
In Reception class, after the whole class taught input, the children are split up into three groups for adult led phonics sessions.
In Years One and Two all children should have a 15 minute daily phonics input and then additional time, in the form of structured interventions, should also be given to children who are not secure with the sounds already taught.
It is important that phonics teaching does not stop in Key Stage One and that any children who have gaps in their knowledge continue to receive this high quality phonics teaching and assessment into Key Stage Two. Our Phonics Assessment grids help us to identify any children who need extra support with their phonic knowledge throughout the school.
Assessment of Phonics
Assessment tracking grids for children’s phonic knowledge are set up in the Early Years Foundation Stage and then follow the children throughout the school until they leave at the end of Key Stage Two. These grids are completed by the class teacher for individual children at the end of each half term and provide a detailed analysis of which stage (Jolly Phonics) the children are working at, indicating which letter sounds are secure and which are not. These grids track the children as they progress through their phonics in both reading and writing. They also assess decodable and tricky word recognition.
Alongside this phonics assessment teachers should also assess children’s sight vocabulary using the high frequency word lists. Children must be able to read these words quickly from memory without the need for word building.
Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge and an understanding of the world. Comprehension skills develop through children’s experience of high quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction texts. All children must be encouraged to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading and to gain knowledge across the curriculum.
In all Key Stage Two classes the children have a weekly comprehension lesson using a range of quality texts and extracts from the Nelson Comprehension Scheme. They have a fortnightly ‘comprehension test’ using a Schofield and Simms age appropriate text, with the alternative week being used for skills development. Also, all Key Stage Two children have weekly guided comprehension sessions based around the Project X reading scheme which requires some pre reading homework tasks to be completed. In addition to this, Year Four, Five and Six complete an intensive ten week comprehension skills taught programme called Comprehension Express. Children from Year Three to Year Six also use Oxford Reading Buddy, an online platform, to develop reading comprehension by completing quizzes. While, Oxford Reading Buddy can be accessed by all classes for learning at home.
In Key Stage One all children have a daily guided reading session in a small group. This is lead once a week by their class teacher and then adult led by a teaching assistant on the remaining days. Here the children focus primarily on phonics, word recognition and reading fluently, but undertake early comprehension tasks as appropriate also.
While class texts are also used as an opportunity to further develop comprehension skills as they focus on reading text aloud, questioning, discussion and the identification and extension of vocabulary.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage children have up to five stories read to them each day. This develops early comprehension skills as well as ensuring that all children are able to share a daily story with an adult as some do not get this opportunity at home.
In Years One and Two children always have a story read to them at least once a day, from a range of genres and quality authors. These texts will often be at a level beyond that which the children can read themselves.
All children from Year One onwards have a termly vocabulary section in their personal planner in which they are encouraged to collect good words that they come across during their reading. They also record definitions of new words here to support their comprehension. Teacher’s should always discuss the meaning of new vocabulary and encourage the children to ask if they are unsure of the meaning of a word. This section of the planner should be monitored periodically to ensure children are collecting new vocabulary.
Vocabulary is also taught specifically in each class using graded lists. Teachers focus on up to four new words each week in context. Charts displayed in each classroom indicate the focus words.
Children from Year Three to Year Six use on online vocabulary development programme called Bedrock Learning two times per week to develop specific Tier Two vocabulary.
Once children are able to blend and segment some CVC words orally and they can recognise some of the first set of tricky words they will receive their first reading book along with a certificate of their achievement.
We use the Oxford Reading Tree and Rigby Star schemes supplemented with Usbourne books. We extend our most able children with a range of quality ‘real’ books and support our less able readers with books which are carefully matched to both their reading age and their interest level.
All pupils have a protective plastic reading bag in which to keep their reading books and planner. Children are expected to read for between 20 to 30 minutes each night to parents (dependent upon age) who are asked to sign and comment in the reading diary section of the planner. Reading books are changed regularly and planners are monitored at least three times per week, with targets from guided sessions added, to ensure that children are reading at home.
Guided Reading / Comprehension
Across school there is a daily timetabled 30 minute session for reading in each class.
In Key Stage One children read every day, with at least one focused session with their class teacher per week. During these daily sessions the children are split into four or five groups of similar ability and reading age so that tasks can be tailored to individual needs. In Year One the main focus is furthering phonic ability, developing word decoding, word recognition and reading fluency, together with very early comprehension. While in Year Two there is still a focus on phonics and word reading with greater development of comprehension skills such as information retrieval and simple inference.
In Key Stage One we use OUP Project X as the core reading scheme alongside Rigby Star and Oxford Reading Tree.
In Key Stage Two the children also have a 30 minute timetabled session where a range of learning opportunities are facilitated e.g teacher led guided comprehension sessions based on OUP Project X, Oxford Reading Buddy online comprehension quizzes, class texts and in Years 4, 5 and 6, a ten week Comprehension Express programme to develop specific comprehension skills.
Reading Scheme Stages
Children progress through the reading scheme up to a predetermined point in each year group and then they move onto quality free choice books matched to their year group and Lexile level, which are stored within each classroom in Free Choice Box A.
For lower achieving readers there is also a Free Choice Box B which contains books which are of high interest but low reading ability. These books are also often printed on dyslexia friendly yellow paper.
|Year Group||Read on the scheme up to the end of level|
- Formative assessment is made during each teacher led guided session and recorded on the guided comprehension planning form. This informs planning and enables the teacher to write weekly reading targets in each child’s personal planner.
- Staff use the Durham LA reading assessment grids to record evidence to facilitate the updating on the NC statements on the Simms tracking system.
- From Year 1 to Year 6 children complete termly Cornerstone reading tests to track reading development and progression. This data is also used to update the NC statements on the Simms tracking system each term and to help set individual pupil termly targets.
- Year Three to Six complete Star Reader (Accelerated Reader) tests each term. Star reader is also used in Year One and Year Two to provide a reading age.
- CEM InCas are used in September to give a baseline reading age for each child from Year 1 to Year 6. While CEM Base is used on entry and on exit as a baseline indicator in Reception Class.
Stage 1 – Reception
Stage 2 – Year 1
Stage 3 – Year 2