Phonics & Reading

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"And said to him, hear you what they say? And Jesus said, Yes; have you never read..." Matthew 21:16

What if there were no books?

This is such a deep question for us to consider, isn't it? Books inspire us, the words inside them allow us to dream of worlds beyond our comprehension, and sometimes even give us the strength to make those dreams come true...

Reading Curriculum Intent

At Wharton C of E Primary School, our intent is for all pupils to be capable readers and writers with the ability to transfer their English skills to other subjects using a wide range of purposeful vocabulary. We encourage the children as readers, who select texts for purpose and pleasure. We know and understand our children and have been listening to their voices, creating a curriculum that encourages them to become confident readers and that nurtures a love of reading; books and reading are at the heart of everything we do. Through our phonics and reading curriculum (Little Wandle for Letters & Sounds and Pathways to Read), we strive to teach the children how important their reading skills will be in the future. We can indeed ‘train up a child in the way they should go: and when they are old, they will not depart from it’.

Reading Curriculum Implementation

Phonics: Little Wandle

At Wharton C of E Primary School, Phonics is a high priority and it is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background, and that it promotes and fosters a life-long love of reading from the very beginning of their school journey. 

We teach phonics from the beginning of Reception and through Year 1, and to those in Year 2 and Key Stage 2 who have not yet passed the phonics screening check in Year 1. Children are taught to phonically decode and blend through a daily discrete phonics lesson. We follow the Little Wandle for Letters and Sounds programme. The children are taught phonics in ability groups within their year group and as children progress and become fluent and confident at identifying, decoding and blending phonemes, phonics lessons focus more on grammar, spelling and spelling rules. Continual assessment informs teachers of next steps and ensures progression.

Our early readers use Big Cat Collins phonically decodable books to practise their reading skills in school and to take home. Pupils will bring home a phonically decodable book each Friday, which they have already read in school three times with their teacher in reading practice sessions. After practising the book at home, children return the book the following Tuesday. 

Pathways to Read

'Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.' The National Curriculum on reading 

At Wharton C of E Primary School, we use a Mastery approach to reading through the Pathways to Read progressive scheme of work. The units of work are delivered using high-quality texts and children in all year groups are given varied opportunities for reading. Skills are built up through repetition within the units, and our children apply these skills in the reading activities provided. 

From years 2 to 6, we teach weekly whole class shared and guided reading lessons with related activities and questioning, as well as individual reading opportunities. There is a clear teaching focus with the opportunity to master key reading skills in each session – prediction, retrieval, clarifying vocabulary, comprehension and inference. Follow-up tasks enable pupils to evidence the skills they have mastered. For pupils still needing support with phonics from years 2-6, we provide individual reading support that uses phonically decodable texts.

Developing Cultural Capital

It is the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’ The National Curriculum on cultural capital 

In our English curriculum (Pathways to Write and Read), we aim to inspire our pupils through the books and poetry that we share with them. Our texts have been carefully chosen to cover a wide range of themes as well as creating windows (for pupils to see the wider world) and mirrors (for pupils to see themselves). These texts often allow our children to reflect on events from the past, what is happening in the world now, and their own place within it.

Here are just some examples of our texts which develop cultural capital:

  • The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth  – giving our pupils a window into museums, what they look like, what they have inside and how exciting they can be
  • Seal Surfer – observing the beauty of a British coastline alongside watching a young boy overcome his disability and learning to surf
  • Grandad’s Secret Giant – seeing how kindness and friendship can bring a community together despite their differences
  • Radiant Child – the story of the artist Jean Michel Basquiat who is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century
  • Of Thee I Sing – inspiring our pupils to be the best that they can be by looking at famous people from history who have overcome adversity, including racism and bullying 
  • Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – celebrating women who have experienced the greatest achievements, including Rosa Parks and Michelle Obama

Reading for Pleasure

'Reading for pleasure is an activity that has real emotional and social consequences. There is a growing body of evidence which illustrates the importance of reading for pleasure for both educational purposes as well as personal development. The evidence strongly supports the argument that those who read more are better readers.' The Department for Education on reading for pleasure

At Wharton C of E Primary School, we understand the importance of nurturing a love of reading at an early age. We strive to achieve this through exposing children to quality texts and giving them many opportunities to read, recommend, talk about and enjoy books.

Here are just some examples of how we encourage a reading for pleasure culture in our school:

  • Classroom reading areas developed using the most recent guidance, tempting children into books and offering a place for them to relax, browse and read for pleasure. Books are chosen for their literacy merit and our pupils' views and opinions are taken into consideration. We also work closely with our local education library to keep up-to-date with current children's literature trends and popular authors.
  • Children are encouraged to take home books from their classroom libraries to read at home at their leisure and to share with their families.
  • Regular ERIC (Everyone Reading In Class) time to provide opportunities for children to immerse themselves into texts, talk about books and recommend books to their peers.
  • Regular story time in class. Hearing stories read aloud to them enables children to access rich and challenging texts modelled in an effective and exciting way.
  • In classroom reading areas, including and actively promoting books that celebrate diversity, equality and different cultures.
  • Author visits in school and online.
  • Promoting and visiting local libraries.
  • Nurturing a group of children known as 'Reading Ambassadors' who plan and lead reading events, promote reading, and spend time reading to younger pupils in our reception class to provide them with reading role models.
  • Publishing half-termly reading newsletters promoting reading at school and helping with strategies for reading at home.
  • Reading events for children to become actively involved in, such as World Book Day, reading competitions, book fairs and 'open-door' afternoons for parents and guardians to visit classrooms and see reading in action.

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T Theology R Relationships A Attitude and Aspirations I Inspire N next Steps.

Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. Proverbs 22 v 6


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