At Mount Pleasant Primary School, we recognise that every child has the right to an education (Article 28 UNICEF Rights of the Child) and within that education, we understand the crucial importance of studying the English language. The English language is the basic language of communication within our society and is the foundation for almost all the learning which takes place in our school. We believe that a mastery of language can empower the learner and allow children to express their thoughts and ideas more fluently, accurately and, ultimately, to their greater satisfaction. Improved performance at reading, writing and spoken language is essential for independent learning and allows children to deal more successfully with other curriculum subjects, while enriching their lives beyond school.
We intend to encourage all pupils to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction texts to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, to gain knowledge across the curriculum and develop their comprehension skills. It is our intention to ensure that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education and to develop further reading skills to support them throughout life. At Mount Pleasant, we do this by ensuring:
A range of engaging and challenging texts from a range of genres are accessed by our children which promote a love of reading and act as excellent models for language, embrace a wide range of cultures and time periods.
Children become fluent and age appropriate readers across Early Years and Key Stage 1 through a fully embedded and progressive phonic scheme as well as exposure to appropriate texts to build on further reading skills.
Children, with only a few exceptions, reach the expected standard in Year 1 phonics with word reading fluency being the most important focus on the curriculum. This will then allow our children to build on their understanding of what they have read, exposure to an increasing range of vocabulary and developed comprehension skills ready for Key Stage Two.
All children in Key Stage Two will access class novels and weekly extracts with coverage of fiction, not-fiction and poetry. All children access their own reading books as underpinned by ‘levels’ through Accelerated Reader but also read for pleasure from the class library.
Phonics at Mount Pleasant
At Mount Pleasant, we strive to ensure that almost all children learn the phonetic code, therefore, we expect our children to learn to read through the progressive and clear synthetic systematic phonics scheme Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised. Phonics begins for our children within their first two weeks of starting school. We have a ‘no time is wasted ethos’ which ensures that our children start their education immediately with the first of the phonics phases.
We use Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised as the method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words, this is completed hand in hand using Big Cat Phonics reading books. More information on the 'Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised' scheme for parents can be found here.
As part of our phonics teaching, children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven. Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school.
Approach to teaching phonics
Children across EYFS and KS1 receive at least one phonics session a day from the Little Wandle Phonic Program.
Children who need extra support to catch up are also focused upon and receive additional sessions so that gaps do not widen between them and their peers. These sessions are again based on the progression, resources and sessions produced by Little Wandle.
The responsibility of phonics planning and teaching lies with the teacher. Sessions are delivered by the teacher along with highly skilled teaching assistants.
Phonic knowledge is continually tracked using an in-house system where children’s strengths are tracked along with areas to consolidate. As a result of this tracking, home reading books are phonically appropriate.
Phonics teaching includes tricky words which are routinely practised so that the children can read these words on sight.
Appropriate displays are found across EYFS and KS1 – displays include the sound currently being taught as well as tricky words learnt so far.
Children are exposed to the correct technical language of phonics, e.g. phoneme, grapheme.
To help reduce cognitive overload and to support the children to learning of phonics we all use the same resources, phrases, mnemonics and formation phrases during the lessons.
EYFS and Key Stage One
Our children have reading practise sessions in school and have a story book shared and read to them every day. The children will have a minimum of 2 reading practise sessions a week and where possible the children will complete 3 session. They will look at decoding, prosody and comprehension during these sessions. These sessions allow the children to explore texts in detail and develop the reading skills as outlined in the Trust’s Reading Standards), and additional intervention reading sessions to further support, challenge and consolidate where required.
Each half term, the children also have a specific story that is the focus which they will know and be able to tell off by heart.
In reading practise sessions, the children have the opportunity to read books with the class teacher, which are appropriate for the level that they are working at. They also get the opportunity to complete independent reading activities such as: comprehension, character driven work, writing a blurb, sequencing and language based questions. We expect children to read at least three times per week at home, which is recorded in their individual reading records. Children are provided with two books each week, one being matched to their phonic teaching and the second the children’s own choice, a library book, to ensure reading for pleasure. Children who do not read at home or who are identified as at risk of not making their expected progress will be provided with additional reading opportunities with an adult in school. At the end of each half term Year 1 and Reception children will be given a list of the new phonemes. Words and tricky words they have learnt that half term. This is so parents/guardians can support their children at home and so they are away of what their child is learning at home.
Key Stage Two
In Key Stage Two, we teach reading through two different approaches: whole class reading and through access of a daily novel. The daily novel is read for at least fifteen minutes to the class by the teacher in order to model good reading through fluency and expression and to expose the children to different language and to develop of love of reading, to enjoy a whole book without analysing the word choices or chapters. Some examples of our class novels are: Viking Boy, Cogheart, Skellig or Who Let the Gods Out.
Whole class reading takes place each day for at least thirty minutes based on either the class novel (Monday’s and Friday’s) or three linked texts (Tuesday – Thursday.) Each lesson focuses on one of the key reading domains with a greater focus on retrieval and inference (the two largest weighted areas in KS2 assessments).
Throughout the year staff also plan for, and include each half term, a ‘plague text,’ one of the more complex examples of literature to teach in their reading sessions. In his book ‘Reading Reconsidered’, Doug Lemov points out that there are five types of texts that children should have access to in order to successfully navigate reading with confidence. These are complex beyond a lexical level and demand more from the reader than other types of books. These are split into five categories:
Archaic texts – with old fashioned language such as the works of Beatrix Potter. The vocabulary, usage, syntax and context for cultural reference of texts over 50 or 100 years old are vastly different and typically more complex than texts written today.
Non-linear time sequences – parallel plots, flashbacks, flash forwards.
Complexity of narrator - books which are sometimes narrated by an unreliable narrator- Scout, for example, who doesn’t understand and misperceives some of what happened to her.
Figurative/Symbolic texts – often through figurative poetry.
Resistant texts - texts written to deliberately resist easy meaning-making by readers. You have to assemble meaning around nuances, hints, uncertainties and clues.
In addition to whole class reading, children have access to two reading books of their own choosing. One is a class or library based book selected by the child, the second is underpinned by Accelerated Reader which is ran across Key Stage Two. Children are tested on Accelerated Reader the start of each term and are given a baseline level. Once the children have read the book and taken the quiz, they must score 80% or higher three times before progressing to the next level. This ensures that the children are reading a book of the correct ability for them, but given the choice of which book on this level to choose from. Accelerated Reader books are regularly bought and updated, stamped and maintained by the school.
How can I support my child’s reading?
We always aim for parents to be partners in the learning that our children undertake at school - particularly in early reading... because reading at home, well, makes such a difference to how quickly children learn to read confidently and fluently. Our home early reading scheme books are Big Cat Collins - which fully align to our teaching of the LIttle Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised scheme- and offer additional support and challenge when children may need it, whilst remaining faithful to the sounds the children have been taught. Here are some helpful tips to help you support your children’s reading at home.
1. Build reading into your child’s daily routine: Find a regular time for reading in your child’s day, so that they can begin to expect it as part of their routine. This can be any time of day. Some children enjoy reading before bed, but others can just be too exhausted at night. It might be better for some children to read just after dinner, or in the morning after breakfast, when they have more energy.
2. Take a break while reading: Your child doesn’t have to read an entire book in one go! Any time spent sharing or talking about a book is beneficial, even if it’s just a couple of minutes at a time. Reading can take a lot of mental energy and taking breaks gives children a chance to slowly build the mental stamina they need.
3.Have a chat: Research shows that children who engage regularly in conversational turn-taking with an adult learn faster when they’re older. Taking every opportunity to chat with your child will help them build the language and vocabulary skills they need for school.
4. Play with letters, sounds and words: Engage children in games and activities that help them learn new words. All of these activities build your child’s vocabulary and understanding of how words work. This will help them understand words when reading books, making reading easier and more enjoyable!
Below are some key sources of support that parents can use to ensure that home learning most effectively reinforces school learning - because the way many adults learned to read is not how it is taught today! Most importantly, however, our door is always open at Mount Pleasant - so any questions, please just ask!
How we teach blending
Explanation of tricky words
Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception AUT 1
Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception AUT 2
Phase 3 sounds taught in Reception SPR 1