Learning to read so we can read to learn and gain pleasure is at the heart of all areas of the curriculum. Early reading is therefore our first, foremost and central priority in school so all children are readers. Books are enjoyed and used across all curriculum areas as highly valued hooks, tools and a way of escaping in to other worlds, times, places and situations.
We are determined that all children will learn to read, regardless of any barriers to and levels of learning. We place a strong focus on reading and believe that all children need to learn how to read by the end of KS1- marrying both strong phonic knowledge and fluency for comprehension. Our teaching of phonics across school is fundamental to the progress of all children, regardless of their starting points. We believe that it is important that all children become fluent readers and as a result, reading is always our first, foremost and central ongoing priority. Because of this, children will have the skills and knowledge to access the wider curriculum. A crucial part of this is to inspire a love of reading. A range of texts and genres are shared and used daily as part of functional reading lessons but also as part of timetabled ‘story time’ across school- this is integral to our approach to whole school reading. We foster a love of reading across the curriculum as it is our upmost priority. Our teachers read to children every day, sometimes to challenge and often purely for pleasure. Reading aloud and storytelling are skills we develop and value highly amongst our body of staff.
Staff and children love our spelling lessons thanks to the introduction of a rigorous spelling programme:
Children begin to learn phonics in EYFS through our adaptation of a synthetic phonics programme (RWI Phonics).Phonics sessions are organised according to ability and need and take place daily for 20 minutes- they are a crucial stage in children learning to read and write. In addition to this, children learn high frequency words and develop an understanding of subject specific vocabulary across the curriculum. In Year 2, alongside and taking over from RWI Phonics is our adaptation of the RWI Spelling programme where children learn spelling patterns and rules- this too is taught for 20 minutes on a daily basis through to the end of Year 6. The daily, repetitive nature of these approaches aid retention and accuracy in independent work. Both programmes have been adapted to suit our needs as a school. Both approaches are prescriptive but use lively, engaging strategies to support effective learning and children work independently and with their peers to learn sounds and spelling patterns. From Year 2- Year 6, work books are used daily which provide activities to rehearse rules and patterns- focussing on word building but also word meaning. The strategies used in EYFS and KS1 carry through to KS2 so that children are familiar and confident with methods used. Other retention ideas are used to aid memory work such as anagrams and word searches. Spelling tests are given weekly after intensive work on certain patterns in Year 2-6.
In line with spelling directives from the 2014 curriculum, a balanced programme of learning would include five main components:
- understanding the principles underpinning word construction (phonemic, morphemic and etymological);
- recognising how (and how far) these principles apply to each word, in order to learn to spell words;
- practising and assessing spelling;
- applying spelling strategies and proofreading;
- building pupils’ self-images as spellers.
Here are the aliens we meet every day in our spelling lessons, they help us to learn new words and rules and talk us through any weird word warnings and vocabulary checks:
Spellodrome to support our RWI spelling approach.