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Reading Fluency and Comprehension

‘Reading is to the mind is what is exercise to the body.’ Sir Richard Steele

We are proud.

 ‘Leaders have carefully selected the books that pupils read across the school to ensure that pupils read rich texts from a range of genres. Pupils in all classes are supported to talk about books and stories and share their reading experiences. These discussions help to further broaden all pupils’ reading horizons and encourage those who may have previously been more reluctant to read. Pupils that we spoke with were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the books they had read, and confident in sharing their own reading preferences. Pupils appreciated the wide range of reading opportunities on offer at school. For example, older pupils talked with enthusiasm about the audio-book club.’ Ofsted July 2021

We are incredibly proud of our growing ethos around a love, excitement and enjoyment of Reading at Balfour Primary. We work hard as a team to ensure that all children have positive experiences of reading and that those who are reluctant or have barriers to developing their reading skills are supported and nurtured in making progress.

We place the importance of learning to read and reading for pleasure at the forefront of our curriculum and recognise its value in enabling our children to access the rest of the curriculum.  To that end, we have ensured that we have a clear and progressive curriculum, which takes into account knowledge, skills and genre coverage. Most recently, we have adapted and challenged our reading curriculum to ensure that it offers our children opportunities to explore diversity, cultures and themes beyond their own experiences. In addition to this, we have placed great emphasis on developing whole school and individual year group reading routines. This is to enable our children to recognise as a school that we value reading and have specific times set aside to engage with it on various levels.

Our growing opportunities to explore and engage with reading at Balfour

  • School library- we are in the process of updating our school library to offer our children high quality texts and a range of genres.
  • Book Corners- every class has a book corner, with texts suitable for the children’s reading ages and a variety of genres.
  • Reading competitions and participation in World Book Day- we take part in national events, as well as creating our own school reading competitions.
  • Reading journals – every child has a reading journal. We ask children and families to complete these a minimum of three times a week. Teacher’s use the reader journals to generate conversations in school around books being enjoyed at home.
  • Audio Book Club- children in KS2 are able to access an audiobook club at lunchtime.
  • Year 4, 5 and 6  Class BookFlix- 30 Books that children can access in their classroom. When a child reads 5 out of the 30 books, they receive a special book pin to where. The more they read, the more pins they earn! The books have a range of genres and are current and diverse texts.

How is reading taught beyond the Read Write Inc programme?

From Reception we use the Read Write Inc phonics programme to teach children to become confident and fluent readers. The programme is designed to support children up until aged 7. However, we recognised that due to two academic years of partial education lockdowns some children will continue to receive this programme beyond aged 7 to ensure they have no phonic gaps and have become confident and fluent readers.

Once children have mastered phonics, and are no longer reliant on it for phonic decoding and blending, they will continue to develop their reading skills of fluency, stamina and comprehension. In Year 3 and Year 4 (dependent on phonic knowledge, often as early as Year 2), children will move away from phonic decodable books and will be able to access a range of story books. The books that we use beyond RWI are called Rigby Stars. These books are book banded and children will be assessed by their teacher to ensure they have a book that matches their reading level.

When children have progressed to the top book band of Rigby Star books, they will be showing sound levels of reading comprehension, stamina and fluency. From here, children are encouraged and invited to read a range of high quality texts, covering a range of genres and authors.

Reading lessons beyond the Read Write Inc programme

From the summer term of Year 2 and beyond, children are taught reading using two teaching structures- Guided Reading and Shared Reading.

Guided Reading is an approach which allows the teacher to work with a small group or individual and work through a book pitched to their reading level. During these sessions the teacher will listen to the children read, to gain an understanding of their reading fluency, accuracy and stamina. It also allows them to note how well the children are progressing with regards to reading for an audience and purpose, checking in on their developing intonation and tone. Through these small group or individual sessions, teachers can also facilitate comprehension discussions to ascertain the children’s knowledge and understanding of what they are reading, and their ability to make wider links to other known texts and themes.

Shared Reading is a pedagogical approach which carefully allows a whole class of children, regardless of their reading age and ability, to explore the same text at the same pace. We have found that this approach has had a fantastic impact on our less confident readers in enabling them to see themselves as readers in line with their peers. It has allowed children to explore texts beyond their initial reading ability by having purposeful and in-depth discussions with the teacher and their peers to enable them to access the vocabulary, themes and content. Each Shared Reading session is aimed to focus on key vocabulary, a teacher or child/children modelling reading aloud, discussions around comprehension and a small task to show their understanding. For our reluctant readers or those will less experience of reading outside of school, it opens to doors to texts, vocabulary and cultural themes which they would probably not have otherwise had the opportunity to access.

Reading assessment

Regardless of any reading scheme which children may or may not be following, we ensure that we regularly assess children against the National Curriculum reading criteria. The assessments enable teachers to plan sessions to target key reading knowledge and skills, to ensure all children make excellent reading progress. Reading data is recorded for all children three times a year.

Our reading assessment document is available below.

What do we do if a child is not on track or making sufficient progress?

From the very beginning of a child’s journey in learning to read at Balfour our aim is to ensure that they make expected progress and that no child falls behind. As a school, we carefully monitor all RWI data and put in targeted support to those who are not in line with age related expectations.

For any child who is struggling with learning phonics, we will always look to identify additional barriers which may be stopping a child from making progress. If this is the case, we will have conversations with the family to discuss what additional support can be put in place to overcome the barriers. These might include:

  • RWI 1:1 Fast Track Phonic support
  • Literacy Screening assessments to try and identify any dyslexic tendencies
  • EMAS support if there are potential English as an Additional Language (EAL) barriers
  • 1:1 daily phonics and reading, especially for our disadvantaged children
  • Home-learning packs with keywords and sounds