At Wheatley, we see reading as a key enabler for learning. Research evidence shows that children who learn to read fluently and with understanding are at an advantage when it comes to future learning. Therefore, our reading curriculum is based on the following intent and principles:
Starting with sharing books at every opportunity, Early Years begin teaching phonic skills through Letters and Sounds. Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right along with preparing them for learning to read by developing phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.
To find out more about Letters and Sounds, click the banner at the top of this page. On the website, there are also free resources for you to use at home with your child.
Educational research points to the crucial importance of direct instruction in phonics for developing pupils’ reading ability. However, in early literacy, a varied approach is required so at Wheatley we include activities that aim to develop letter knowledge and early phonics, storytelling and reading to the group. This builds children’s skills to begin their journey to becoming fluent independent readers.
Once children have grasped the basics of reading through our systematic synthetic phonics teaching, we focus on ensuring they have the skills required to promote a lifelong interest in reading. Real reading is about more than decoding words on a page and requires varied skills of phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
Children in Key Stage 1 and 2 have daily whole class reading sessions where these skills are taught using a range of strategies.
Reading VIPERS is a range of prompts based on the reading content domains found in the National Curriculum test framework documents. Teachers integrate explicit teaching of these skills in to each of their daily reading sessions.
To find out more about each of the VIPERS skills, please click on the document below.
Research shows that vocabulary is key when it comes to children's learning:
"It is important to recognise that the effects of any type of reading strategy instruction will be limited if pupils lack the requisite vocabulary to engage with a text." (Education Endowment Foundation)
By closing the vocabulary gaps for children in our classrooms, we offer them the vital academic tools for school success, alongside the capability to communicate with confidence in the world. To ensure reading comprehension we require 95% understanding of the words on the page. It is not about being able to decode the words - it is about understanding what they mean. Therefore, we do not leave children's learning of vocabulary to chance.
At Wheatley, reading is about much more than teaching children skills for future academic learning. We carefully consider the strategies that will encourage children to read for pleasure and experience, rather than 'because they have to'.
A reading child is, quite simply, a successful child. When you read often and with enthusiasm, you lay the foundations that last for life. You empathise and access information more easily. Almost by osmosis you internalise the essential skills of spelling, grammar and vocabulary. You learn to express yourself verbally and in writing. You learn to interpret and potentially change your world.
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Our Wheatley reading bugs are an integral part of our school
Each class has their own bug which chooses books to recommend to the class. The bug hides in the classroom and sometimes all over the school, to engage the children in finding and sharing books.
The children visit our school library regularly and are encouraged to borrow books to take home. Each time they do so they can choose a bookmark to keep. There are 25 to collect!
Children can also choose to visit the library at lunchtimes to read quietly or exchange their books.
On days such as World Book Day we set aside the timetable and really celebrate books and this year was no different. Despite remote learning, we still chose to dress up as our favourite characters and engage in all sorts of wonderful book based activities. Every class focused their learning around creating, learning and experiencing – characters were made from spoons, masks and lego. Stories were read, retold, riddled and acted out. Books became the focus for dens, book paths and secret messaging. The whole school took part in a competition to create a new front cover, and blurb for KS2, for the lovely book The Gruffulo.
These were activities for the whole family to enjoy together away from the pressure of home learning. A popular choice was the ‘Masked Reader’, the staff channeled their inner emojji and disguised themselves to give clues to a story – the children watched the clips on the school website and guessed not only the story from the clues, but also the staff member behind the mask!