In Reception and Y1, children practice reading the words on the page by reading texts that are fully aligned to our phonics programme. These are different to what you might read at home because they are phonically controlled to ensure children are practising previously taught sound-spelling correspondences. It is vital that children develop their code knowledge to automaticity, so they will practice reading from the same decodable text for several days until they are completely fluent. In addition, they listen to texts read to them from our reading canon and beyond, to ensure they experience a rich reading diet that develops their vocabulary and background knowledge. As their code knowledge increases, children begin to read aloud texts from the reading canon. When learning to decode, children will take home a phonically controlled text to practise the mechanics of reading, and they will also take home a language-rich text to share with a family member. Once children have learnt sufficient code, the texts they take home will be selected by them, with support from their class teacher.
Being able to read quickly and fluently unlocks comprehension of the written texts. Anything that occupies our attention limits our ability to think; if we have to spend too much time thinking about how to decode the words on the page, we will have reduced capacity to consider the meaning of those words. In order to optimise reading fluency, all children read aloud in whole class reading lessons. This may be individually, through echo reading or repeated reading. All children read the text as secondary readers while the primary reader is reading aloud, to maximise the amount of reading done by every child in every lesson. We pitch the texts above the national reading level for each age group, in order to develop children’s ability to read effortlessly over large sections of academic text as they progress through the school. We set our expectations high and anticipate that children will meet those expectations.
Reading is more than lifting the words from the page; children need a rich vocabulary and background knowledge to help them understand the words they are reading. Our reading canon has been carefully selected to ensure all children develop a broad and deep vocabulary and background knowledge to develop their reading comprehension. We also read in other curriculum areas to further develop this.
Across the whole school, specific reading techniques are used to ensure that all children join in with reading aloud. These include repeated reading and close reading of sections of text. Additional scaffolding may be required for the slower graspers, for example, the teacher may inform the child in advance which part they are expected to read, and children may pre-read the text with an adult ahead of the whole class lesson. Teachers plan in advance which child reads which part of the text in order to push the faster graspers with more complex vocabulary or allowing opportunities for fluency for the slower graspers. As well as whole class reading aloud, there are regular opportunities for ‘close reading’ and ‘art of the sentence’ where children are expected to answer questions and write specific sentences about the passage of text they have just read. After writing, the class then have an in-depth discussion about the passage they have just read. Teachers also carefully select vocabulary to teach explicitly and implicitly from the text and children are given plentiful opportunities to pronounce the word and use it orally in a variety of contexts. We give children child-friendly definitions and do not promote guessing definitions. We run our reading lessons in this way in order to expose children to high-quality literature, develop their fluency and prosody, and increase their vocabulary breadth and depth.