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Reading and Phonics

At Crossdale, we aim to promote a love of reading to all children. We prioritise reading and ensure that this skill is returned to in a cross-curricular sense so that children can enjoy and develop their skills in a meaningful way. Our school is reading rich from our engaging dress up days and book weeks, author visits, library trips to reading support meetings (phonics and early reading support) and inviting parents in to observe and understand our teaching of reading skills throughout school.

We set out a clear agreement with parents that they will read with their children regularly and we stress the importance of this at parent meetings and in our homework each week. From 2018, we have opened our doors early each morning to encourage parents to spend a quality ten minutes with their child doing just this. We also support parents with reading by use of the Reading Eggs website which is a resource we have paid for. 

Children experience reading as shared, paired, group and independent. We also use VIPERS throughout school. These whole-class lessons explicitly teach children comprehension skills using VIPERS (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieve, Summarise/Sequence) and allow all children to access a broad and balanced range of texts. The use of agree, build or challenge to given statements related to their reading stimulus allows for discussion around texts during these sessions too. The texts are deliberately chosen to relate to age appropriate expectations - or slightly more challenging - which means we are ambitious for all children.

In Reception class and Year One (with Year Two children as appropriate), children take part in a daily phonics session until they become successful readers. The sessions last 25 minutes and are in groups normally no larger than 10-15 children. Children work in mixed-age groups for phonics dependent on their confidence and stage of development in reading. Our systematic teaching of phonics is only one strand of our approach to teaching reading but this does form a central focus. We use a variety of resources and books to support the teaching of phonics, with the ‘spine’ of our phonics program being based on the Read Write Inc. scheme which provides a rigorous and sequential structure to children’s progress. Children are assessed half-termly and placed in a small group of children who are at a similar stage to themselves.

Using regular assessments of both phonics and reading (throughout the school), we are then able to plan interventions. Staff regularly meet to discuss children who are not meeting age related expectations and these discussions lead to identifying children for additional support. Staff might include teachers, TAs, SLT and management. During our pupil progress meetings we can all be clear on who the children are that we need to focus on.  We use 1:1 reading interventions to best support children to make the fastest progress possible to keep up with their peers . Parents are always ‘kept in the loop’ with where their child is at through our carefully organised Reading Roots Books (Base One) and Reading Diaries (Base Two and Three). Through our school purchased memberships, we are also able to offer parents phonics videos to watch with their children so that parents feel they can help support their children at home, too.

During EYFS and KS1, our priority is for children to use phonics books to read with but to also use swap books and book band colour books to develop other book skills. Children in Base One therefore take home a few books each week but this always includes one they can phonetically decode. We use book banding to assess and resource our libraries for KS2 and the children move through these during their time with us. For children who do not meet the year group related standards, we support them further in a way tailored to that child to focus on bringing them to National Expectations. Please see our agreed book band expectations, as advised by Oxford Owls.