At Upland Primary School, our staff fully understand that children’s ability to communicate both orally and using the written word, is vital to all aspects of their future learning. Furthermore, as a school, we are passionate about reading and will endeavour to make sure that all our children develop both the necessary skills to read and foster a genuine love of reading, so that when they leave us, at the end of year 6, they will be confident, enthusiastic readers, who are able to access and embrace further learning opportunities throughout their education.
‘All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.’
National Curriculum 2014
With this in mind, at Upland, literacy specific learning is planned for every day, in line with national curriculum expectations and requirements. Not only that, literacy skills are fully integrated and embedded into all areas of the curriculum, with the expectation that standards will be consistent with those expected in discrete English lessons.
Throughout Key Stage 1 and 2, we teach literacy through ‘The Power of Reading’ programme
The Power of Reading approach has raised achievement, in both reading and writing, in over 2500 schools across England and internationally.
Here at Upland, we have seen ‘The Power of Reading’ transform the way the teachers teach and the way children feel about reading and writing. Children are given the opportunity to engage with high quality picture books, novels, and poetry and non-fiction texts, through a wide range of teaching approaches. Children become immersed in the text through music, art, drama, discussion and role-play. Other approaches include responding to illustrations, ‘Book Talk’, story-mapping and book making. Children take ownership of the text and engage with it deeply and produce purposeful, meaningful writing as a result.
The carefully chosen texts are all part of Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s (CLPE) Core Book List.
In both key stages, through a whole text approach, children will be taught skills which will enable them to write in different styles and for different purposes, drawing on both their imagination and grammatical knowledge. A high standard of spelling, punctuation and grammar will be fostered through carefully planned lessons, which will also allow for reinforcement and progression as appropriate. On occasion, grammar, spelling and punctuation will need to be taught discretely, but is expected to be embedded into all future written work produced.
Central to our approach of teaching reading, is the teaching of systematic phonics using ‘Letters and Sounds’ document, produced by the DFES. This, combined with Phonics Play and teaching whole word recognition to build sight vocabulary, has worked extremely well for the pupils of Upland over the last 3 years (see table)
We use several reading schemes, carefully monitoring children’s individual reading to both develop skills and foster a love of reading. Daily, discrete high quality teaching alongside effective assessment and tracking helps to ensure that children meet the ambitious reading targets that are set for them. Pupil premium funding has been targeted effectively to support the reading skills of identified groups of children.
The school uses texts from a variety of reading schemes in KS1 and throughout the school where appropriate, to support the teaching of reading:
- Project X
- Floppy Phonics
- Oxford Reading Tree
- Dandelion Launchers
We use a variety of approaches in the initial stage of learning to read and write. Predominantly we follow the “Letters and Sounds” document produced by the DFES, combined with Phonics play and teaching whole word recognition to build sight vocabulary. We use several reading schemes, carefully monitoring children’s individual reading to both develop skills and foster a love of reading.
As well as reading a wide range of texts fluently and accurately, with understanding and enjoyment, children are encouraged discuss their reading preferences and evaluate a book’s usefulness or impact on their learning.
Phonics teaching begins in Nursery with the aim of pupils becoming fluent readers by the age of seven. We follow the detailed and systemic programme “Letters and Sounds” supported by a wide range of other resources.
Phonics teaching is divided into six phases:
Phase One – (Nursery/Reception) lays the foundations. It supports the importance of speaking and listening skills and through a range of exciting and “hands on” activities we introduce the sounds and the letter shapes, encouraging awareness of them in our environment.
Phase Two and Phase Three – (Reception – daily phonics sessions). The letters and sounds are introduced one at a time. Children will learn to pronounce sounds in response to letters and will be encouraged to use these sounds to blend, segment and read simple words and captions. Phase Three includes learning sounds represented by more than one letter and learning letter names, as well as how to read and spell some tricky words. The children are taught how to form each letter for handwriting.
Phase Four – (Reception/ Year One – daily phonics sessions). The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children’s knowledge and put the skills into practice in both reading and writing. The children are taught more tricky words and high frequency words, and how to read longer words with adjacent consonants. They should be able to form letters independently when writing.
Phase Five – (Year One – daily phonics sessions). The children will broaden their knowledge of sounds for use in reading and writing and will learn more complex phonic patterns.
As the children enter Year One they are put into phonics sets to allow teaching to be directed at specific ability levels, offering support and revision for the struggling learner and challenge for the more able. This system continues into Year Two.
In addition, it is now a statutory requirement that all children take part in a phonics screening check at the end of Year One. This is a short assessment administered by the teacher to confirm whether individual children have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. It will identify the children who need extra help so they can be given targeted intervention to improve their reading skills and track their progress.
Phase Six – (Year Two and beyond). This phase encourages children to become fluent readers and increasingly more accurate spellers. The children will be able to read many familiar words automatically and use their skills to decode unfamiliar words. There will be a shift from learning to read to reading to learn. We aim for our children to develop a love of reading, to be able to read for information and for pleasure.
Guided reading is a daily occurrence throughout the school and in this time children have further opportunity to engage with high quality texts and show their understanding through a range of responses such as drama, extended writing opportunities and reader’s theatre. We also ensure that throughout their time at school children regularly hear adults reading aloud.
All of our classrooms feature bright, stimulating and inviting books corners for children to sit and read in and we regularly invest in high quality texts for the children. In our book corners you will find children’s recommendations and reviews of their favourite books. By the time children leave us in year 6, they will have read a variety of books/ genres by many significant authors
Children’s interest and enthusiasm for reading, is further encouraged through sharing books with parents at home and with teachers and other children in school. A home reading scheme is operated from Nursery through to Year 6, whereby children bring home books to share with their families each week. As well as fostering a love of reading, this gives the school and parents a regular channel of communication about their child’s progress.
From early mark making to fluent, joined handwriting, children will be encouraged to acquire good habits in handwriting skills and to take pride in the presentation of their work. The reward for consistently legible, joined handwriting will be a pen licence.
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening is not taught explicitly but it permeates throughout every element of school life. A key strength of our curriculum is in the time dedicated across the school to performance in front of large audiences, particularly with our regular class assemblies, which parents and carers are invited to attend. Furthermore, later in the year,we will be participating in an oracy project which will further promote the development of verbal communication, using a kinaesthetic approach to learning.
Additional events to celebrate and promote literacy at Upland
At Upland, we hold regular events to raise the profile of English in our school, such as:
- A twice annual book fairs (to coincide with Parent’s evenings)
- author visits
- drama performances and workshops
- a week devoted to celebrating World Book Day (often accompanied by dressing up as a famous book character)
- Famous author inspired school sleepovers, (Harry Potter/ Roald Dahl themed)
- Spelling Bees
- Read for our School
- Poetry Slams/ recitals
- Entering national writing competitions
In addition to this, we have recently introduced the ‘Writer of the Week’ award, and children’s work will be published on our website to help celebrate and acknowledge their success.
The recent creation of a half termly Upland magazine,‘ Upzine’ written, edited and produced by the children of Upland, is further evidence of our aspirations for and confidence in, the reading and writing abilities of our children.