Reading and Phonics
At Penpol School we recognise that reading is a vital life skill and we aim to foster a love of reading for all our pupils. We encourage the children to read a diverse range of books – fiction and non-fiction – by a wide variety of authors.
We seek to develop a strong reading culture through planned activities, which promote reading as a positive experience. Each class observes dedicated reading time and we offer an extensive variety of books in our school library, which is a vital resource. Our support staff and helpers are on hand during the week to listen to readers and help our pupils to grow in confidence and enjoyment of books.
Twice a year we host week-long Book Fairs. During these weeks, staff stay after school to run stalls that offer an enormous selection of newly-published paperbacks and other reading-related items. These events often draw crowds of pupils and parents, promoting enthusiasm for literacy and raising funds for our library.
In school we use the National Curriculum phonics programme: Letters and Sounds. This scheme is based on the teaching of the 44 phonemes that make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling.
When children start school, it is crucial that they develop phonic skills that allow them to accurately say the sound which each letter (or group of letters) makes. Therefore, the teaching of phonics is a high priority for all teachers; enabling pupils to ‘blend’ sounds for reading and ‘segment’ for spelling. Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 have daily phonics sessions, during which they are introduced to new phonemes and revise previous learning: review – new – try – apply.
A Pupil-Centric Approach
Pupils in Years 1 and 2 are streamed for phonics intervention. This allows pupils to brush up on their reading skills at a level that is appropriate and offers a good degree of challenge. Our Key Stage 1 teachers lead these short, intensive sessions to great effect.
To support our early readers, we use reading materials from various publishers and structure these multiple schemes in order to ensure progression and maintain the interest of each child.
The Reading Scheme materials that we use in school include:
- Oxford Reading Tree
- Project X
- Bug Club
- Song Birds
As pupils move into Key Stage 2, they are introduced to the Accelerated Reader system, which involves taking a short comprehension quiz on the school iPads after each book. This system has proven very popular with the pupils, who enjoy the instant feedback of the quiz, and we are seeing fantastic reading results since introducing the scheme.
Given that the breadth of learning in Key Stage 2 is more comprehensive and there is minimal time for one-to-one reading, Accelerated Reader provides teachers with fantastic insight into each pupil’s depth of understanding.
In addition, this system includes nearly all popular published material (most of our library books), which means that pupils can select books by favourite authors or on favourite themes and use the levelling system to gauge how challenging the book will be.
In some cases, pupils in Key Stage 1 may be introduced to Accelerated Reader – this is to engage children with comprehension tests and encourage them to use the library. Please note: Accelerated Reader is just one small aspect of the breadth of reading that takes place in Years 1 and 2, therefore it is not as rigorously structured as it is in Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6). Some teachers may use it more frequently than others and this is not an indication of the ability of the pupils; it is a resource.
Children learn best when home and school work together. Parents are encouraged to hear their children read regularly at home. Parents and children can spend time enjoying a book together; not simply decoding words but discussing the text and checking understanding. This will enhance the child’s love of reading and improve their writing in turn.