Reading at John Clifford
"Once you learn to read, you'll forever be free."
‒ Frederick Douglass
John Clifford Book Bands
Why do we teach Reading?
At John Clifford School, we place reading at the heart of our entire curriculum. We want all of our
children to be lovers of books and lifelong readers across a wide variety of subjects, genres and authors. Our children read books that are ambitious, help to explicitly promote our Equality curriculum and reflect the diverse backgrounds of our children. As well as reading a range of classic, culturally rich texts, books are used extensively to enrich our wider curriculum subjects such as history, geography and science. This reflects our belief that reading is more than simply a set of a skills to decode unfamiliar texts; rather, a fundamental tool for learning and acquiring knowledge and understanding of the wider world.
How do we teach Reading?
A key tenet of developing understanding and engaging with the world is vocabulary development which is a priority across the school. There is a strong focus on communication and language in the Foundation Stage where staff collaborate with parents to stress the importance of quality verbal interactions with adults and listening attentively to stories. Engagement with parents is maintained throughout the school through parents reading mornings, a home-school agreement focused on engagement with reading at home and use of communication diaries. Children are taught how to engage with and discuss weekly "Focus books" which link to the children's own interests and the rest of the curriculum. This book talk continues into KS1 and beyond alongside the teaching of subject specific vocabulary which the children are expected to understand and use, strengthening knowledge and understanding in a variety of contexts.
Early reading is taught through the systematic synthetic phonics programme Letters and Sounds (2.1) which is taught from the Foundation Stage, throughout KS1 and into KS2. Children are taught in focused phonics groups and their developing phonic awareness is then applied and embedded in guided reading groups where they read books which are linked directly to the phonics phases. At the end of KS1, phonic awareness is increasingly used to teach spelling and phonics continue to be used as a spelling strategy in our Sounds and Syllables programme which is used in KS2. For those children that continue to struggle with decoding, including those that arrive in our school with English as an Additional Language, phonics interventions continue to be implemented right up to Year 6.
From the end of KS1 and throughout KS2, a combination of guided group reading sessions - focusing mainly on fluency and development of reading skills – and whole-class guided reading lessons take place daily. Whole-class guided reading texts are chosen on the basis of their high degree of challenge; even for our more able readers. This helps to ensure that high ability learners continue to be challenged and progress throughout the school. The teacher's role is pivotal in scaffolding access to these texts for all children. Prior to these sessions, unfamiliar historical contexts and any new and complex vocabulary are explicitly taught to aid children's comprehension. During these reading sessions, teachers model expressive and fluent reading, establish children's comprehension through discussion and questioning and teach inference and deduction skills through modelling and questioning. Independent follow up tasks are linked to the National Curriculum content domains and provide useful assessment information for staff.
Progress in reading is assessed through a variety of methods. Children are grouped according to progress through the phonics phases. Regular running records ensure progress through book bands is maintained. Children are assessed using reading trackers linked to the National Curriculum content domains which also inform future planning. For those children who require extra support to maintain progress, extra 1:1 and group reading sessions with teachers, TAs and our team of trained Reading Volunteers are provided. We use more formal reading tests (including previous SATs papers in Year 2 and 6) to triangulate our judgements of the progress the children are making towards age-related expectations.
What are the outcomes for our children?
The overall impact of our reading curriculum is measured against and referred to as our core reading offer. This is linked directly to progress against our reading bands. We aim to ensure that children will achieve the following:
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