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Reading and Phonics

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read’. Mark Twain

Intent

The teaching of reading is of paramount importance on entry to school. It begins with a love of books through shared reading and storytelling and utilises the skills learnt through phonics and sight-reading. In Early Years and Key Stage 1, the children follow the newly-introduced Monster Phonics programme. After considering many schemes, Monster Phonics was carefully chosen because of it’s child-centred, interactive, multi-sensory and highly engaging nature. The Academy uses a broad range of texts and technologies, including computers, iPads and even Kindles, as a medium for children to engage with quality literature. We continue to seek innovative ways to promote a life-long love of reading and a positive relationship with literature. The school also has a well-used and extensive library. Every child will have at least one reading book at any time. Children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 read decodable books from the Monster Phonics reading scheme. We have invested in these books as they have been ‘carefully structured in cumulative steps for children learning to read, so that they can decode every word as their knowledge of the alphabetic code increases.’ (DfE 2022). Alongside these decodable books, pupils are exposed to a range of texts to promote reading for pleasure. As pupils move through into Key Stage 1 they continue to read decodable books until they have sound phonic knowledge. From Key Stage 2, children read colour banded books and are assessed using PM Benchmark.

The Reading Curriculum 2014 contains two interlinked elements – word reading and comprehension. The word-reading element of the curriculum is based on phonics. Progression in comprehension is provided primarily through the increasing challenge of the texts that children read. In addition to the difficulty of the text, the level of challenge also comes from the complexity of the questioning, the tasks set, and the quality of the answers that staff are willing to accept. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher and their peers, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction.

Discrete comprehension lessons in the form of guided reading are taught at least in every class so that children can learn the skills of retrieval, inference and deduction. It is imperative within the Lowbrook curriculum that children are exposed to an extensive range of authors and genre reflecting the classics right through to the popular culture of modern day authors. Kipling, Dickens, Shakespeare and Morpurgo are to name but a few authors that the children at Lowbrook will be introduced to. Free reading literature will also be studied in context across all the domains. For example, historical perspectives could be studied during the Place and Time domain, when a class is investigating the events of World War 2.  The Diary of Anne Frank would be an obvious choice here.

Each classroom has a class library of age-appropriate literature from a variety of respected authors. Children are actively encouraged to read books from this carefully chosen selection. Monitoring of reading logs ensures that children sample a broad and balanced variety of genre. Staff include a wide variety of genre by new and established authors within their teaching. Guided and shared reading is an integral part of the learning experience for our children.

It is our aim for all children who have attended Lowbrook to be fully literate and have a love of books and reading.

Oracy

‘’Our research shows that when students learn how to use talk to reason together, they become better at reasoning on their own.’’ Neil Mercer, Professor of Education, University of Cambridge.

Psychological research encourages the view that human intelligence is distinctively collective, and that language has evolved to enable collective thinking: not only do we use language to interact, but we also use it to interthink. Oracy is integral to many key areas of children’s development; and we continue to ensure that our pupils have ample opportunity to learn to use language well.

For many years Oracy been a great strength at Lowbrook with outstanding oral skills evidenced across the curriculum at both key stages. It is our intent that pupil’s receive a wide variety of opportunities to use language skills through the use of technology, performance, teamwork, role play, drama, reading aloud and exploratory talk where children are encouraged to present their ideas and to take part in reasoned discussion.

Implementation

The allocation of time set out below is the starting point for planning, however, the art of teaching is not determined by time and it is expected that teachers will act professionally within these guidelines to allocate appropriate and effective amounts of time to Reading.  Reading can and should be also taught across other domain areas, therefore the weekly figure is nominal only.  In the Foundation Stage, the overlap of Areas of Learning makes hourly time allocation inappropriate. Pupils at Key Stage 1 have opportunities for child initiated or directed play. It is expected, however, that the teaching of reading and the use of Literature to enhance lessons and improve understanding is a daily activity.

The objectives and outcomes from the National Curriculum 2014 can be used to initiate and inform planning and to act as a prompt for comprehension questions:

RF 1 Decode

Use a range of strategies, including accurate decoding of text to read for meaning. Consistently apply phonic knowledge until automation occurs.  Read exception words fluently with confidence.  Apply knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes. Read aloud with fluency and confidence.

RF 2 Inference and Deduction

Make a judgement based on the evidence (clues) given.  KS1 make judgements based on what is said and done. KS2 infer characters’ feelings’ through thoughts and motives from their actions. Justify inferences with evidence

Form opinions and hypothesis that is something is probably true because of other information that we already know.  For example, we may deduce that a child in a lion’s cage is in danger because we know lions are dangerous.

RF 3 Prediction

Predict what might happen based on what has been read so far. Predict what may happen from events, actual and implied.

RF 4 Authorial Intent

Discuss how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning. Think about the choices the author has made.

RF 5 Summarise, review, evaluate

Being able to discuss what they have read, precis it and judge its effectiveness against another text. Take turns in discussion, valuing what others say.

RF 6 Themes

Become familiar with key stories and texts such as fairy tales, sci fi etc. Identify a range of themes and conventions across a wide range of texts.

RF 7 Performance

Learning to appreciate rhyme and poem and recite some by heart. Prepare texts to be read aloud and perform to show understanding through intonation, tone, volume etc. make meaning clear to the audience.

‘Pupils should be taught to develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read, vocabulary and understanding by listening to and discussing a wide range of poems, stories and non-fiction at a level beyond that at which they can read independently.’ NC 2014

The Education Endowment Foundation guidance report in ‘Improving Literacy in Key Stage One’ states that ‘reading comprehension can be improved by teaching pupils specific strategies that they can apply both to monitor and overcome barriers to comprehension. A number of different strategies exist and some overlap’. Lowbrook Academy adopts these strategies which are:

  • Prediction – pupils predict what might happen as a text is read. This causes them to apy close attention to the text, which means they can closely monitor their own comprehension.
  • Questioning – pupils generate their own questions about a text in order to check their comprehension.
  • Clarifying – pupils identify areas of uncertainty, which may be individual words or phrases, and seek information to clarify meaning.
  • Summarising – pupils succinctly describe the meaning of sections of the text. This causes pupils to focus on the key content, which in turn supports comprehension monitoring. This can be attempted using graphic organisers that illustrate concepts and the relationships between them using diagrams.
  • Inference – pupils infer the meanings of sentences from their context, and the meanings of words from spelling patterns.
  • Activating prior knowledge – pupils think about what they already know about a topic, from reading or other experiences, and try to make links. This helps pupils to infer and elaborate, fill in missing or incomplete information and use existing mental structures to support recall.

The 2014 National Curriculum put greater emphasis on children enjoying literature; as a consequence, part of our curriculum is organised around longer text-based units of work, giving our children the chance to study a book in depth, and using this as the stimulus for a range of writing opportunities. Every class has a recommended Reading List with books from a wide range of genre and author and books linked to other domain areas are also included. Our Book Week is the perfect way to promote and celebrate a love of reading.

Technology continues to play an important part in the development of Reading and Oracy skills; children create their own iMovies; make voice-recorded animations using Tellegami; make voice-recorded presentations using the Explain Everything and create videos using Green Screen. These activities are all linked to English topics or other areas of the curriculum. This use of technology allows children to be able to self and peer-assess their skills in oracy as well as encouraging each child to identify their own strengths, areas for development and set personal targets. 

Children have plenty of opportunity to perform to audiences including their peers, the school and their parents. Each class has a class assembly once per year; a choral poem is always included and this gives the children the opportunity to showcase and extend their skills in working with dialogue, using their voice in a variety of ways and the use of gesture and eye contact.  Arts and Culture Week is also an ideal opportunity for children to improve, extend and practice their oracy skills through performance. The week involves a programme of activities linked to a chosen country where children have the opportunity to work and verbally interact with professionals; the week culminates in class performance to a large audience of family, friends and other school parents. Choral work is always included in each class’ programme.

The KS1 Christmas performance provides a wonderful platform for the younger children to present and perform and extend their oracy skills. In the early years and KS1, time is given to allow the children to practice communicating effectively with each other, and listen to a variety of adults and children. Their speaking and listening skills are developed by regular Show and Tell sessions, singing and language play through stories.  During our ‘Book Week’, children’s authors and storytellers perform in assemblies and work with classes to model the spoken word and to help children to further develop their oral and storytelling skills.

The Academy introduced Philosophy for Children (P4C) into the weekly timetable during the Academic Year 2018-19. P4C has long been valued by teachers as a method for developing critical and creative thinking skills through dialogue about issues that matter to children. The use of ‘Talk Partners’ is well embedded into all lessons and has been an integral part of our teaching for many years; P4C extends skills learnt during Talk Partner work  and further facilitates opportunities to listen and respect each other, to be clear in their thinking and to make responsible and more deliberate judgement and to be more thoughtful by basing their decisions and actions on reasons. During P4C sessions children learn to ask questions in response to a variety of stimuli, each other and the teacher; to give reasons for their opinions, examine their own values and tease out their own and others’ assumptions about an issue.

Monster phonics

At Lowbrook Academy, we follow ‘Monster Phonics’ to support the teaching of early reading. Monster Phonics is a multi-sensory scheme which supports children when learning the most common sounds in the English Language. Monster Phonics uses colour-coding to promote understanding, which leads to children becoming confident, independent learners. Confidence builds their passion for school and for life.

How Monster Phonics Works

Monster Phonics Flashcards

Ideas for Learning Spellings