Reading is “the master skill of a school unlocking the academic curriculum for pupils….It profoundly affects our lives, offering us a vehicle to store and share essential knowledge of our culture” Alex Quigley
At Bishop Alexander Academy, the teaching of reading is at the very core of our curriculum. Our main aim is to ensure that every child becomes a confident, fluent reader who enjoys reading for pleasure. We aim for every child to be able to ‘read to learn’. All children will be exposed to a variety of literature, genres and authors. We want to make a difference in the lives of our children and ensure that they have a life-long love of reading. Good literacy skills provide us with the building blocks not just for academic success, but for fulfilling careers and rewarding lives.
Reading is the gateway through which to access the wider curriculum. We want our children to pass through the reading gate as soon as possible. Reading requires both decoding (the ability to translate written words into the sounds of spoken language) and comprehension (an understanding of the language being read). Comprehension is a complex skill, composed of many parts. Both decoding and comprehension are necessary to develop confident and competent readers. In order to progress in literacy it is important that our pupils are motivated and engaged, developing persistence and resilience as well as enjoyment and satisfaction in their reading.
We aim to create a whole school approach to reading and recognise the importance and value of our teachers as readers. The English subject leader will provide staff with regular updates on recommended reads for children. Teachers and teaching assistants are expected to regularly recommend books and to share a passion for reading with the children.
As children begin to read, we focus purely on word reading skills which include phonological awareness, decoding and sight recognition. Phonics is taught directly through the Read Write Inc programme which has a clear progression of skills and a consistent approach to its teaching.
We then use the Accelerated Reader Programme once the pupils have acquired enough reading skills to be independently accessing texts. The aim of our school is for all of our pupils to be on the Accelerated Reader Programme by the end of Year 2.
SPELLING, PUNCTUATION AND GRAMMAR (SPAG)
Grammar and punctuation is taught explicitly, in conjunction with sentence construction and punctuation so that a solid foundation of knowledge can be formed which in turn supports the development of writing, speaking, listening and reading. Our Writing Framework (progression tool) ensures that children’s knowledge and skills build, year on year. Grammar and punctuation lessons are taught daily through the model of Active English and linked to the main learning of the English lesson where appropriate. It uses the principles of mnemonics to embed the learning in an active and engaging way, providing pupils with a deeper grasp of language that serves as a foundation for their future.
For spelling, we use the Active Spelling model which is based on a four stage approach to allow the children to really study words in terms of their composition, structure and meaning. At Bishop Alexander we aim to develop learners who are excited by words and are confident to use unfamiliar or newly acquired words when speaking and writing. We believe through a comprehensive spelling programme we can broaden the children’s vocabulary and give them the confidence to make good spelling choices when writing independently. We want the children to aspire to use new vocabulary, be resilient enough to try a range of spelling strategies and show independence when applying the rules they have learnt.
‘Man has two great gifts: ‘words’ to give sounds to thoughts, and ‘writing’ to give thoughts meaning forever.’ Gianfranco Lovino.
At Bishop Alexander L.E.A.D. Academy, we believe that the ability to write with confidence and accuracy is an essential life skill. It is a formal and/or informal way to capture factual information or creative imagination. ‘It is a means to communicate to an audience the full spectrum of human emotions and intent. Words, if viewed as a commodity, are a powerful exchange of thinking between writer and reader. They drive forward our understanding of one another and ourselves.’ (Considine, J., 2016). Writing well, is the ability to communicate ideas, information and opinions across a wide range of contexts. As a successful writer, a child will understand how to use different genres appropriately, matching them to the audience and purpose whilst at the same time accurately using and applying conventions of syntax, spelling and punctuation. Our writing provision at Bishop Alexander aims to equip children with the skills necessary to achieve this throughout the curriculum.
The structure of our teaching follows our Teaching and Learning Policy, focusing initially on the 3 P’s.
Our purpose in writing is split into four main areas:
This is shown on our long term plan where genres have been planned out accordingly. As our topics are on a 2 year cycle, a two year writing cycle has been created so that genres fit topic and anchor texts. The medium term plan then shows how the learning objectives have been progressively allocated from our Writing Framework. Once the Purpose and Product is identified we then move onto the Process. Our process integrates some aspects of the Talk for Writing approach as well as the Gradual Release Model with regards to effective teaching and learning.
‘Even before we know we will be writers, our reading is a part of our preparation for writing…Every book, story, every sentence we read is a part of our preparation.’ (Joyce Carol Oates)
Unit Teaching Progression Model