Downsview Community Primary School

Learning and Achieving Together

Early Reading

Learning to read at Downsview

Teaching children to read and write independently, as quickly as possible, is one of the core purposes of a primary school. These key skills not only unlock the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-confidence and future life chances.The National Curriculum programmes of study for reading are based on the simple view of reading. This model shows that reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading.  In all our classrooms, from Nursery to Year 6, we prioritise reading to our children because we know that listening to and talking about stories develops children’s vocabulary. 

The Reading Framework 2021

To ensure that our children are able to read and write successfully, we use the programme Success for All Phonics to teach phonics. Phonics teaches children that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. Children’s knowledge of the English alphabetic code – how letters or groups of letters represent the sounds of the language – supports their reading and spelling. 

Early Reading at Downsview

Reception

In Reception, the children work in partnerships, engaging in Partner Talk and generally extending their own thinking about decoding and comprehension. They do this by co-creating a safe and supportive environment in which to practise their burgeoning skills around working out new words and their meanings, reading fluently and understanding what they read. By Year 1, this partnership is extended to children working in teams of 4–5 children (although the children will still continue to work with a partner).

Phonics:

We introduce the sounds of letters first rather than their alphabet names as the sounds support them as they learn how to decode texts. Once our children have mastered the skill of sounding out and blending, they start reading stories and texts that have words made up of the sounds they know. This means that they can embed and apply their phonic knowledge and start to build their reading fluency. At the same time, we teach them to write the sounds and use this knowledge to spell, leading to writing short sentences.

As their confidence and fluency grows, the children read texts with increasingly more complex sounds and graphemes (different ways of spelling the sounds, e.g. /igh/, /ie/ or /ay/, /ai/). They learn that a sound can be written using 2 or 3 or even 4 letters. We call this a grapheme (e.g. igh represent the /i/ sound in the word night). 

To support both teachers and children, phonics lessons follow a consistent daily structure. This consistent approach enables lessons to be taught with pace as everybody understands the routine and what is expected.

The 25-minute lesson plan follows the same basic sequence each day:

  • Review previously learnt GPCs (10 minutes).

  • Teach, practise and apply the new GPC (15 minutes).

Progression is built in throughout the programme with an increase in the level of challenge in the skills taught at each phase:

Phase 2 (Reception Term 1)

Children learn short sound GPCs and use these to read CVC words. A limited number of Common Exception Words (CEWs) are introduced in the context of the Shared Readers, and children practise writing new and previously learnt GPCs in upper- and lower-case letters.

Phase 3 (Reception Terms 2–3)

Children learn long vowel digraphs and read CCVC and CVCC words. Children are introduced to two-syllable words. Spelling and sentence writing with known GPCs are introduced. Common alternative spellings / pronunciations are introduced.

Phase 4 (Reception Term 3)

Focuses on reviewing and consolidating all Reception-level content in preparation for Year 1. Decoding skills are applied to more challenging word structures.

Shared Reading:

In Reception, the Shared Reader lessons are 15 minutes long in Term 1, increase to 20 minutes in Term 2, and 25 minutes in Term 3. In addition, the five-day schedule also provides opportunities to develop comprehension, fluent reading and to consolidate letter formation, spelling and sentence writing.

During their reading sessions, children are introduced to conventions for grammar and punctuation in order to learn how they have an impact on reading. Understanding these conventions also aids comprehension and children’s ability, eventually, to write with meaning.

Example Shared Reader Timetable – Reception

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Explore (2m) Word Time (3m) Choral Read (8m)

Discussion Time (2m)

Remember (2m) Word Time (3m) Partner Read (8m)

Discussion Time (2m)

Review (2m) Word Time (3m) Partner Read (8m)

Discussion Time (2m)

Echo Read (5m) Writing Time (5m)

Partner Question Time (5m)

Reading Celebration (5m)

Writing Time (5m)

Reflection Time (5m)

Year One

As the children progress into Key Stage 1, they continue to develop and consolidate their growing knowledge of sounds or phonemes and their associated graphemes.  Within a group, children are taught sounds in a lively and engaging lesson.  They continue to read phonics books which contain the sounds they know so that they can read with increasing fluency. Children’s comprehension or understanding of the story is developed through multiple readings, making predictions, book discussions, retelling events and answering questions. 

Phonics:

The 25-minute lesson plan follows the same basic sequence each day:

  • Review previously learnt GPCs (10 minutes).

  • Teach, practise and apply the new GPC (15 minutes).

Progression is built in throughout the programme with an increase in the level of challenge in the skills taught at each phase:

Phase 5 (Year 1 Terms 1-3)

Teaches remaining long vowels, including split digraphs. Children learn to read nonsense words along with CCVCC, CCCVC and CCCVCC words. All Key Stage 1 CEWs are taught and reviewed, and children learn the spelling and grammar conventions from the Year 1 NC.

Phase 6 (Year 1 Term 3)

Focuses on reviewing and consolidating all Year 1-level content.

Shared Reading:

The weekly five-day teaching schedule for Shared Readers continues in Year 1 with 30-minute lessons. As the Shared Readers get longer, the texts will be read over multiple days with clear guidelines for each day’s reading allocation.

As in Reception lessons, the five-day schedule also provides opportunities to develop comprehension, fluent reading and to consolidate spelling and sentence-writing skills. Grammar conventions and punctuation skills also continue to be introduced in an appropriate progression.

Example Shared Reader Timetable – Year 1

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Explore (2m) Word Time (3m) Choral Read (8m)

Discussion Time (2m)

Remember (2m) Word Time (3m) Partner Read (8m)

Discussion Time (2m)

Review (2m) Word Time (3m) Partner Read (8m)

Discussion Time (2m)

Echo Read (5m) Writing Time (5m)

Partner Question Time (5m)

Reading Celebration (5m)

Writing Time (5m)

Reflection Time (5m)

Whole-class reading – Years 2-6

At Downsview, we teach reading whole-class from the point in Year 2 when the majority of children have successfully mastered the phonics programme. Once children can securely, confidently and fluently apply their phonic knowledge, reading lessons are designed to provide children with both breadth and depth in their reading experience and to ensure children are taught to comprehend a diverse range of appropriately and aspirationally pitched fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts written for a range of purposes.

Supporting ‘fledgling’ readers

Children who are reading below the level expected for their age are identified through assessment and rigorously supported to make rapid progress. Children in KS2 who are new to English attend daily phonics lessons until they are able to decode texts accurately and read fluently. Regular phonics assessments track their progress through the different sets of sounds in Success for All Phonics.  

Once published in Summer 2022, we plan to also utilise Tutoring with the Lightning Squad, which is a reading tutoring programme where pupils work in small groups with a tutor to improve their reading skills. The tutoring is a blended approach with face-to-face tutoring supported by an online tutoring platform. The tutoring activities are designed and structured to improve reading skills, fluency, comprehension, spelling and phonics. Pupils work through 65 specially written, engaging and illustrated stories. 

For the National Tutoring Programme, pupils will work with an adult for 6 weeks to catch-up their reading skills, with daily 30-minute tutoring sessions in school. Research has demonstrated that pupils using Tutoring with the Lightning Squad make learning gains of between 3 and 5 months in reading attainment.

How can parents and carers help at home?

There is much you can do to support your child at home.

  • Talk to your children! The most important thing you can do is to talk to your child and listen to them when they are talking to you. Try to extend their vocabulary range and their skill at talking in increasingly more complex sentences. For example, try to teach them alternative words for ideas, or nouns they already know.
  • Read to them and always discuss the story you are reading to try to build your child’s comprehension skills and understanding.
  • Practise the sounds they know at home. The sounds the children know are in the front of their home reading books.
  • Listen to your child read every night. Find a quiet time to hear your child read and use lots and lots of praise to encourage them.

Look out for our Reading Workshops for parents and carers, where you can find out more details of how to help at home.

Click here for some further ideas.