At West Meadows, we love reading and place it at the centre of all we do. We strive to give our young people enjoyable, interesting and appropriately challenging reading experiences that are immersive and deepen their understanding. We are passionate about promoting a love of reading from the very start of our children’s time at West Meadows and pride ourselves on engaging children with stories and books up until they leave us at the end of Year 6.
The core aims of our reading curriculum are:
- to instil a love of reading within all children;
- to equip children with the skills of reading with fluency and accuracy;
- to enable children to understand and effectively interpret what they have read;
- to develop and widen children’s vocabulary.
At West Meadows we teach a comprehensive and thorough synthetic phonics programme designed to kick start children’s reading and spelling, and give them the best possible start on their reading journey.
This year, we have been supported in the provision of our already high-quality Phonics and Reading teaching by the Jerry Clay English Hub – a Department for Education (DfE) endorsed network of schools – to ensure that the teaching of Early Reading and Phonics at West Meadows continues to reach our very high standards.
To support the provision of Early Reading and Phonics at West Meadows, we have a dedicated Early Reading and Phonics Leader, who is available on a daily basis to ensure the quality of the delivery of phonics and provide real-time, on-the-spot Continuing Professional Development as necessary to ensure the quality of Phonics teaching and learning at West Meadows.
Our approach to Phonics looks at more than just reading: it is a holistic approach which focusses on decoding, comprehension, writing, handwriting and vocabulary as an overall approach. It promotes a consistency within reading across school so that we can give our young people the best possible start and ensure that they can all become confident, fluent readers.
Our teachers deliver high-quality Guided Reading sessions with the aim of consistently improving and expanding upon all children’s reading skills. During these sessions, children read an age-appropriate text and are given tasks which allow them to independently apply the skills taught.
To do this, we use VIPERS:
Vocabulary, Inference, Predict, Explain, Retrieve and Summarise
Vocabulary: Finding and explaining word meaning in context
We provide high quality texts which include high-level vocabulary to push and expand the children’s understanding and use of a wide vocabulary.
Inference: Working things out in the text that the author doesn’t directly tell us.
We equip children with the ability to infer based upon known facts.
Prediction: Using what has already happened to say what may happen next.
We promote skills of prediction by asking children to think about what will happen next in a story based on visual or textual clues.
Explain: Saying what we think or feel about a text; saying what the purpose of the text is and how the author achieves it.
We give children opportunities to explain their thoughts and feelings about a text and promote deep thinking about the choices an author may have made when writing a text.
Retrieve: Finding information directly from the text.
We promote skills which allow the children to understand what they have read and retrieve relevant information from a text.
Summarise (Key Stage 2) / Sequencing (Key Stage 1): Identifying the key points from a text.
We promote a good understanding of texts as a whole by giving the children the skills to summarise what they have read in Key Stage Two or sequence events in Key Stage One.
Throughout our Guided Reading sessions, pupils are encouraged to talk openly and confidently about their reading and discuss the skills being applied. Through using sentence stems and talk for learning, we equip children with the language to effectively engage with texts on a deep level.
Our Guided Reading sessions are carefully structured to ensure that children are clear on the skills encompassed by the VIPERS approach.
Teachers use high-quality texts to:
- Model a skill (show the children how to do it)
- Guide children through effective application of the skill (help the children to do it for themselves)
- Encourage independence in writing or talking about a text (set tasks in which children apply the skills by themselves).
Our Guided Reading sessions comprise a range of activities – answering questions, sorting, extended writing tasks, and many more.
Other reading activities across school
Reading is a vital part of school life and we aim, in all classes, to embed reading as much as we can as part of our daily practice.
To this end, all classes have a regular half-an-hour of ‘Story Time’. During this part of the day, a high-quality text by an established author is read to the children. This allows us to:
- Promote a love of books and stories;
- Enable children to talk about their favourite books and authors;
- Expose children to a wide and ambitious vocabulary;
- Allow children access to stories and texts they may not be familiar with;
- Allow children to understand what good expression and pace sounds like when reading;
- Enthuse children about the benefits of regular reading.
As well as the above, having regular access to high quality texts also allows children to use what they have read as a model for their own writing.
As well as this, we have also launched our Reading Road to Tokyo initiative, which has been designed to enthuse children to read at home and allow us, as a school, to identify any children for whom more regular reading in school may be beneficial.
What can I do to help?
Children are expected to read out-loud to an adult at home at least three times a week, for a minimum of 15 minutes at a time.
Each time they do this, their reading records should be signed by an adult.
Children bring books home from school to read. In Key Stage One, they are asked to select books which are phonically decodable to improve their reading accuracy and fluency. In Years 2 to 6, children will bring home books that are appropriate for their age. Our library has been developed so that children can easily identify the books which are age-appropriate for them.
Children are encouraged to change their book at least once per week, but the regularity of this will depend on the length of the book. The most important thing is that your child has access to regular reading throughout the week.
This is not to limit children’s enthusiasm for reading books that they may own outside of school. You can sign your child’s reading record if they have read a book of their own, a magazine, or a library book.
Please let us know if reading at home with your child is difficult as we may be able to offer help and guidance.
We also provide opportunities for parents to attend workshops in school aimed at educating parents on the best way to help the development of their children’s reading. Please be sure to check any letters sent home so you are aware of the next opportunity to attend such a workshop.