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Reading and Phonics

Teaching children to read is of paramount importance at Headlands Primary School. We believe it is a life enhancing skill that is the entitlement of all children and are determined that every child will learn to read regardless of their background, needs or abilities.

At Headlands, we provide a rounded and wholesome approach to reading that promotes and encourages our children to:

  • develop a love of books and reading across a range of genres
  • value and look forward to the shared experience of being read to
  • appreciate the ‘doors’ to learning that reading can open
  • become curious and enthused about the places reading can take them to

We believe that all of our children can become fluent readers and start each child’s early reading journey in EYFS and Key Stage One using a systematic, synthetic ‘phonics first’ approach as the prime approach to word recognition and decoding.

Using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds: Revised to ensure progression, our children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code daily, mastering phonics to read (and spell) as they move through school. This systematic approach ensures all children have the skills and confidence to tackle unfamiliar words. The application of the alphabetic code is explicitly modelled during shared reading (and writing) sessions outside of the daily phonics lesson and across the breadth of the curriculum.

For older children, who need more time to practice, consolidate and apply their understanding of the alphabetic code, barriers to learning are identified quickly and support is targeted to ensure their progress in reading continues. 

Across the school, opportunities to read daily during E.R.I.C (Everybody Reading IClass) sessions are complimented by lessons in other subjects that require the activation and application of prior reading knowledge and skills. Reading is given a purpose.

Fluency and prosody are taught explicitly. Whether it’s through the use of a novel or text extract read by the whole class, reading a book as a small group or reading 1:1 with an adult, children at Headlands learn these skills through reading high quality ‘vocabulary-rich’ texts across a range of genres.

Comprehension skills such as prediction, questioning, clarifying, summarising, retrieval and inference are also explicitly taught with time given to practise them as part of regular reading response tasks within reading journals. Children are actively encouraged to ask questions about and seek clarification of new vocabulary. In their discussions about books, they are taught and expected to demonstrate their understanding of character, plot and themes, providing evidence to convince others or back up their own opinions.

We believe it is paramount that our school environment and our own behaviours reflect a positive attitude to reading. Adults read regularly to children, displays throughout the school value, promote and celebrate it, classrooms have areas within them where books can be shared and borrowed and our library is used both as a lending library and as a space where children can listen to books being read by our Reading Champion and school Librarian. We continue to invest in reading materials and are supported by our PTA, ensuring titles are current and reflect experiences and perspectives different from our children’s own.

We have a number of staff across the school, who lead on the teaching of reading and who are responsible for driving our reading culture within school. Our Phonics and Early Reading Champion alongside our English Subject Leader, lead an experienced and skilled team and together they monitor and support staff, so that all teach with fidelity and consistency. Our dedicated Reading Champion, Librarian and Upper Key Stage Two ‘Library Crew’ are passionate about enthusing and engaging readers of all ages.  Whole school themes and events, competitions, book fairs and the promotion of local and wider community reading activities are just some of the ways they ensure reading for enjoyment is always at the forefront of our minds.

We also recognise and value the huge role that parents play in their child’s reading journey and are committed to ensuring all of our families have the knowledge and tools needed to support their children at home. A wealth of information covering topics such as explaining how children are taught to read, the importance of reading aloud, top tips for reading at home and where to go for high-quality book recommendations are shared via letters, leaflets, transition pamphlets, information evenings and on year group pages on our school website. Home-school reading expectations are clearly communicated and reading records and planners provide a way of recording the ‘diet’ of reading our children are receiving both in and outside of school.

At Headlands, we are confident that our reading offer will both engage and promote a lifelong love of reading and empower all of our children to be the very best they can be.