At Richmond Hill Academy, we believe that learning to read is the key to unlock all future potential. It opens up a whole new world of understanding and comprehension and supports children to make sense of the world around them. We also feel it is one of the most powerful ways of improving academic standards in school. Our overall aim is to provide children with the appropriate skills and most importantly, attitudes towards reading, that ultimately inspire pupils. We want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to experience the delight and power of books and the written word, regardless of their first language, literacy skills, disability or culture.
All year groups enjoy daily shared reading, ensuring that all pupils are exposed to high quality story books and poetry and where adults foster a love of reading. This time is also an opportunity to develop fluency and intonation through expressive, modelled reading and to deepen understanding of new vocabulary. It is a very special time that each teacher takes great pride and pleasure in delivering. The teachers spend time reading their favourite books to other classes and year groups.
In Early Years we teach daily discrete phonics sessions, combining Letters and Sounds (Government document) and Jolly Phonics. Children progress through 5 phases, the first being phase 1 where they are taught sound discrimination and attentive listening skills in their Nursery year. Oral segmenting and blending is also cemented here. They move onto phase 2, 3 and 4 through their Reception year. They are given the opportunities to apply their sound knowledge in the context of reading and writing. They are also taught how to handle books, to understand that print carries meaning, as well as develop an understanding of story structure and characters through adults sharing and discussing books.
In Key Stage One we ensure the systematic, daily, discrete teaching continues, with opportunities to practise and apply their growing knowledge in the context of reading within an individual session and in guided reading, as well as all areas of writing. We continue to use Letters and Sounds in Year 1 and 2 alongside the Spelling Shed. Our approach to teaching common exception words is integrated into phonic and spelling time sessions.
In both Key Stage One and Key Stage Two we ensure that all children have access to a quality guided reading session on a daily basis. We use ‘real’ books with a focus on visual texts and chapter books, plus short films and animations, to motivate and excite pupils. A whole class book will be shared before or after lunchtime and at the end of the school day; this may be a longer novel in upper Key Stage 2.
We see home-school links as a vital part of the reading process and so all children across EY’s and KS1 have a reading record. We positively encourage parental involvement in the development of a child’s reading and so the parents are invited to weekly reading mornings and afternoon sessions, which models the skills of reading stories aloud or 1:1 with a child. We encourage parents to sign and comment in their child’s reading record or planner on a daily basis. All children developing fluency will be allocated a reading book via ‘Bug Club’ which can be accessed online or on the app. This provides a variety of texts for the children to practise their reading!