Through our English Curriculum, we strive to teach the children how important their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills will be in the real world. By giving this context to their learning, the children understand the value of learning English skills now and know how they will be essential tools for their future. We aim to remove barriers to learning and inspire pupils, helping them to recognise the fundamental importance of literacy in shaping their objectives and communicating their aspirations for their adult lives. We want our children to have a positive attitude towards communication and to be emotionally literate too, expressing their feelings, thoughts, queries and ideas coherently and independently.
Teaching phonics and reading
In the Early Years and Key Stage 1, the ability to decode words is taught daily through synthetic phonics using Letters and Sounds and Jolly Phonics actions. It is taught systematically in response to ongoing assessments and the needs of individual children. Phonic awareness helps the development of reading by segmenting and blending sounds leading onto fluent reading. In KS2, phonics sessions run daily for some year 3 or year 4 pupils whose phonics remains fragile or is still developing, including those who are new to English. Typically, the pupils are grouped by ability or phonics stage and a highly qualified teaching assistant will support the delivery of the sessions. In Year 5 and Year 6, those who remain below age related expectations receive targeted phonological awareness teaching from teaching assistants with in-depth knowledge of speech, language and communication needs in very small groups or one-to-one sessions.
Between Year 1 and Year 3, guided reading sessions are supported by a highly-trained guided reading team. The ratio of staff to pupils enables small groups of pupils to be supported in reading engaging texts that are matched to their reading and phonics capabilities to build confidence and increase motivation to read. Staff ask meaningful questions that enhance and assess the children’s understanding of words, sentences and the larger context of a large variety of fiction and non-fiction texts alongside reading strategies.
In Year 4, 5 and 6, whole-class reading sessions provide opportunities for discussion and debate and draw on the children’s knowledge and engagement with a text to justify their opinions and develop the skills of fluency. Teachers model good use of intonation, movement, volume and expression which children are able to emulate. Texts chosen are aspirational and are used to develop knowledge of vocabulary, authorial intent and plot structure. Pupils are encouraged to understand the intentions of each reading domain aligned to the National Curriculum and teachers make explicit reference to the domains in their planning and questioning. This further develops meaningful written and verbal comprehension and allows teachers to track progress across a range of areas.
Reading interventions are used to support development of particular skills across an agreed period of time, offer extra sessions for pupils working towards or exceeding age-related expectations and provide same-day intervention as appropriate. Sessions are delivered by well-trained members of staff and use a range of programmes to promote engagement with and enjoyment of reading, enable pupils to make rapid progress in reading and provide detailed evidence of progress and impact.
Power of Reading
The Power of Reading scheme uses quality children’s literature and proven creative teaching approaches to support and develop a high quality literacy curriculum and a whole school love of reading and writing. At Ashbrow, a high quality text from Power of Reading has been carefully matched to a Cornerstones topic for every year group between Year 1 and Year 6. The pupils are immersed in the world of the book: studying, celebrating and being inspired by high-quality modern and classic literature. Relevant themes are explored throughout the topic whilst being linked to wider, cross-curricular learning through Cornerstones. In EYFS, Power of Reading provides the focus for activities and Cornerstones is taught throughout the provision.
Improving phonics and reading in 2019-2020
Ashbrow welcomed the involvement of the Local Authority in relation to phonics. Kirklees representatives observed phonics lessons in both Nursery and Reception. They were satisfied with the teaching practices and provided school with positive feedback. In order to further improve Ashbrow’s phonics attainment, a project called Imagination Library was created. It involved every Reception child being given a rhyming storybook linking to each half term’s Cornerstones and Power of Reading topics. Parents and carers were invited to weekly Reception phonics lessons with the view that the skills practised would feed into the family home environment and improve the children’s phonological awareness. The project was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will continue in 20-21 within the constraints of government guidance.
The categorisation of books and subsequently improving the way they are used throughout school has also provided a focus this year. Children start with picture books and progress through the reading phases that match their phonological awareness and build on their reading experience until they have gained the necessary skills to become a secure reader. With Local Authority guidance, reading books have been aligned with phonics phases and many new books have been purchased to offer variety in reading at the earlier phases. Once a child can read fluently through the phonics phrases, they become a free reader and have access to a wide range of chapter books. Time has been taken to allocate adult support to children when they are choosing books in order to ensure they are suitable, in terms of both reading ability and interest level. For pupils in Key Stage 2, a similar structure has been provided that also includes peer support from class librarians who can recommend books based on reading age and discussions about prior engagement with texts. The books being used were formerly used for guided reading and have been repurposed as targeted home readers as part of a wider rejuvenation of Ashbrow’s homework system.
Improving phonics and reading in 2020-2021
The impact of school closures (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) on pupils’ academic achievement, emotional wellbeing and mental health has been and will continue to be closely monitored across all areas and aspects of Ashbrow School’s English provision. Coherent planning, timely observations, quality-first teaching, analysis of assessments and ongoing reflective practice will ensure that learning is tailored to the needs of the children, necessary elements are recapped and revisited and learning moves forward with pace, determination and focus.
The improvements to reading and phonics that were undertaken in 2019-2020 will continue to be implemented and reviewed in 2020-2021 alongside other key actions, including:
- Planning clear opportunities to embed phonics learning throughout the school day between Nursery and Year 3
- Continuing to track pupils based on performance in phonics screening in Y1 and Y2 and considering their interventions into KS2
- Providing staff with high quality training including: EYFS phonics and developing early writing; Y1-3 guided reading for teachers (refresher) and support staff; Y4-6 whole class reading for teachers
- Providing further opportunities for pupils to regularly read a range of texts and genres with an adult
- Further engagement of parents to continue phonics learning at home
- Ensuring pupils engage in reading at home by at least weekly opportunities to change home reading books matched to their reading age
- Supporting parents to develop questioning when reading with their child and providing meaningful feedback for the teacher
- Developing parent and child reading by inviting parents to school to read with their children at agreed times within constraints of pandemic guidance
Resources for Parents/Carers
Please click on the links below
Book Recommendations for Autumn
Please see the documents below for book recommendations for each age phase