At Heartwood Primary School we aim for all our children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading. Reading is at the heart of everything that we do.
Reading is not just about teaching children to decode texts, it is also teaching comprehension; giving a deep understanding of the text so that reading is enjoyable and informative; helping them grow to be life long readers, essential for school, work and life.
We are proud that our English leader, Bex Starman, is a former Specialist Leader of Education for Literacy in the county and is currently a Literacy Specialist for the Wensum English hub, supporting other school's with their implementation of early reading.
Read Write Inc. is the school’s chosen Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme and children begin learning this from the beginning of Reception. We are part of the Wensum English Hub to ensure that we are always up to date and that our children are always making the best possible progress. Through the Read Write Inc. programme, children are taught to be fluent readers by teaching the skills systematically to decode texts (accuracy), teaching the skills to become quicker when reading (automaticity) and to also read with a storyteller’s voice (prosody). The Read Write Inc. programme also teaches children comprehension skills. Read Write Inc. is taught daily to all children who are not fluent readers. Please see the phonics page for more information about Read Write Inc.
We are proud to be working in partnership with the Wensum English Hub to ensure we continually have the largest positive impact on children's learning through the Read Write Inc. phonics.
Once children have completed the Read Write Inc. programme they have daily reading lessons which focus on vocabulary, comprehension skills, fluency and prosody. At Heartwood we use VIPERS as a method to teach the 6 domains on the comprehension aspect of reading.
Once children are secure with VIPERS, our intent is to teach the reading strategies through carefully chosen texts that provoke an interest from the children. The EEF have found that this adds 6 months of progress https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/education-evidence/teaching-learning-toolkit/reading-comprehension-strategies We want our children to be curious and captivated readers who automatically question, clarify, predict, use background knowledge and summarise as they read.
Every morning, the children in each class vote for the picture book that they would like to listen to whilst they eat their toast. Two age-appropriate books are carefully chosen by the class teacher for the class to vote on. On a Monday the books are both maths books, and for certain days, the books reflect the outside world, e.g., Remembrance Day. Teachers model all aspects of fluency and a love for reading daily.
Each class has a ‘class reader’ which teachers have carefully chosen from the school’s ‘reading spine’. Time for reading the class reader is a daily non-negotiable.
Every classroom has a ‘class library’ which has a range of fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, and comics in it, that the children have mostly chosen.
Teachers plan reading into lessons across all subjects, showing its value and importance in our school, and challenge able children with reading to access and enhance the learning.
Our school library is ever growing and we work collaboratively with the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre and an independent local book shop, Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, to ensure that the books we own are inspiring, cater for our children’s interests, widen our children’s interests and are books where children can see themselves as characters. Our school library includes all the books from ‘No Outsiders’ which encourages children to explore identities, focus on diversity and embrace difference.
Link to Reading and Poetry Spine
During a half term holiday we created a reading trail for our children around Swaffham, with the help of local shops. All children who entered received a prize and one child from each class received one of the recommended books.
During the Christmas holidays staff recorded themselves reading their favourite Christmas stories and uploaded them to Heartwood's Facebook page.
Children meet with authors annually (in person or virtually) to promote reading and reading for pleasure.
If a school trip is based in Norwich, the class may also visit ‘Bookbugs and Dragon Tales’ for time to look at books and a book activity. Classes visit our local library to explore and borrow books.
We are excited to announce that have been working with the Southbank Centre, London, with a project called 'Imagine a Story'. Year 4 are visiting an author, Alexandra Sheppard, and illustrator, Allen Fatimaharan, as part of this exciting collaboration.
In response to the potential impact of the pandemic on reading, extra Read Write Inc. phonics sessions were added to the timetable. Reading Comprehension skills are being explicitly taught to ensure that children have a secure understanding of each skill when reading a text. Modelling by adults has always been important, but with the potential impact of the pandemic, it is even more of a focus.
Making a Difference
Through teaching the children to be readers we are equipping them with the knowledge, skills and vocabulary to be lifelong learners who can read to acquire knowledge, evaluate and reflect, and communicate to others.
Through the endless world of reading texts, journals, evidence and reports for example, children can learn about their impact as citizens locally and globally and how they can make a difference through social advocacy.
An excitement for reading promotes the love to find out more, learn more about specific causes and also how to read as a hobby for wellbeing whilst absorbing progressive and adventurous vocabulary!
There is a vast amount of research which supports our view to promote reading for pleasure and a true love for reading:
Sullivan and Brown (2013) found that Reading for pleasure is more important for children's cognitive development than their parents' level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.
Billington (2015) found that those who read for pleasure have higher levels of self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations.
EYFS and National Curriculum