Phonics & Reading

At Coton in the Elms Primary School we strive to foster a love of reading from the very first moment that a child enters Reception and we work hard to instil an enthusiasm for books as every child moves through our school.  Reading is often said to be ‘the gateway’ to future success, but it is a pretty cool way to escape from time to time too! The following approaches are adopted in our school, to support each and every child’s path to success in Reading

1.Identification through Books

Book weekWhether it is our Classic Book Week or celebrating National World Book Day, we routinely encourage our children to engage with the work of authors through dressing up events, or by asking the children to bring into school their favourite story to read to the class.

Each of our 6 classes is named after an author and through our Welcome Week transition in September, the children study the works of their named author, and take part in a range of wide ranging curriculum activities around some of their famous titles.

2. Modelling Reading

We believe that everybody loves to be ‘read to’ from time to time, and having adults read aloud to our children is very important -whether they are in Key Stage 1 or  whether they are about to embark on Key Stage 3!  Children learn vital reading skills such as: fluency, expression and how the punctuation affects meaning when listen to others read to them.  It’s also really relaxing too – to switch off and let your imagination run wild!  Take a look at the videos of our teachers reading an extract of their favourite books, below.

3. Providing Time for Reading in School

Reading is a skill to be practiced, as much as it is ‘hobby’ or a activity to support the wellness of our children. A significant amount of time is dedicated to reading in school. Every class has designated independent reading time each day, lasting 15 minutes, often described as ‘ERIC’ Time.  This is the ideal time for the children to calmly read a book of their choice and to be heard reading by an adult. During this time, there is very much a focus on reading for pleasure – and supporting a child to develop their reading speed.

From Year 2 upwards, the children begin to have an additional reading session timetabled each day, reserved for Guided Reading.    Guided Reading is where children are put into ability groups within their class and the skills of reading are explicitly taught with their class teacher. The following skills are taught:

  • Fluency, expression and decoding
  • Vocabulary and the meaning of words
  • Retrieval of information
  • Inference & deduction
  • Summarising
  • Prediction
  • Comparing
  • Authorial intent

In Guided Reading, the children all read the same text during – matched to the ability of the group – and then they carry out follow up activities dependent upon the focus.  The teaching sequence of our Guided Reading lessons can be found by clicking on the link below:

Guided Reading at Coton in the Elms Primary

Every class has a designated library slot each week and from October 2021, our new and improved school library will have undergone a ‘refit’.  The children will be able to loan books from our school library and also visit it with a home adult on a designated night every week, after school.  All of our library books are catalogued using a system called Libresoft, and the children can log on at home and see which titles they wish to loan from the library.

4. Child Book Choice

We encourage children to choose an appropriate home-school reading book of their choice, in order to support their reading development at home.  Our school has a wide range of books open to all children, and they are not just limited to a set scheme of books.  We believe that it is important for our children to experience a range of authors, genres, and also books which will instil many different patterns of language.  In school, all of our books for independent reading are banded – this so that children choose a book that has a suitable ‘readability’ level for them.

Reading Bands Poster

5. Reading with an Adult

We strive to listen to children read on a regular basis and this includes the class teacher, a designated TA deployed to listen readers, and with the help of ‘volunteer readers.’  All ‘volunteer readers’ are given an induction by the school’s English Co-ordinator and they are trained in what to look for and how to support the development of reading in our school. Every child is heard at least once per week but those children who require more support with either their decoding, or their comprehension and understanding are heard more frequently.

We also have volunteer readers who come into school to support the children.  These volunteers have undergone training by our English Subject Leader to ensure a consistent and supportive approach.

Voluntary Readers Training

6. Supporting Parents

The English Leader gives all parents a chance to meet with her regularly when she holds a range of workshops to share how we teach reading, and how they, as parents, can support a child at home with reading.  She also holds Prepare Aware Sessions for Phonics – in preparation for those children who are about to embark on the National Phonics Screening Check in KS1 (and the retakes), and for any parents who wish to get a ‘head-start’ in supporting their children with this from home. Finally, each year a series of Parent-Child Phonics sessions are held for those children who require a little more support with their phonics.

7. Structured Daily Phonics

Phonics teaching is a daily part of learning in Key Stage 1, and pupils are grouped across EYFS, Y1 and Y2 according to their developmental stage – be it Phase 2 or Phase 5.  During ‘Phonics Time’ in Key Stage 1, all support staff from across the school, and the KS1 teachers, are deployed to lead a session for a small group of pupils – this means that no pupil is left behind or is able to ‘hide’ in a big whole class group. All available areas of space around school are used to ‘house’ the sessions and all sessions follow the same whole-school agreed structure.  Sessions and delivery are closely monitored to ensure that there is consistency of delivery and that the sessions have the desired impact on the children. The progress of the children is measured regularly and groups are adjusted based on need, several times a year.

We believe that phonics sessions should:

  • Have pace
  • Be multi-sensory
  • Be purposeful and focused
  • Be fun

Phonics @ Coton