English curriculum – early reading

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At Dartford Primary Academy, we support all children, regardless of their background or social disadvantage, to become confident, fluent readers. Teachers foster a love of reading and children demonstrate an understanding of what they have read as well as showing enthusiasm and excitement for it. The curriculum is planned considering the local context of the Academy and provides opportunities to become familiar with and enjoy listening to a wide range of stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction texts. Teachers deliver engaging phonics lessons, to support the National Curriculum, that are planned and sequenced to develop children’s knowledge and skills around word decoding, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. These lessons are pitched to a child’s individual needs through the use of regular assessment. All children have access to appropriately pitched, decodable books to build their confidence in the application of reading skills and teachers use these to apply the ‘3 reads’ approach: first for decoding, second for fluency and third for expression. Children are then able to share these books, and their progress, with their parents or carers through home reading too. Teachers ensure the learning environment across Dartford Primary Academy is language rich thus giving opportunities for children to develop their cultural capital and access it through the early reading skills they have learnt.

Direct, focused phonics is taught every day in Reception and Key Stage 1 

  • Phonics is taught in Reception and KS1 daily during 45 minute sessions.
  • In September, if needed, the children may have discrete phonics lessons within their own class until assessments have been completed. Children are then grouped across their key stage according to their phonic knowledge so that they have focused lessons that are suitably pitched in order to get them reading as quickly as possible.
  • Children are reassessed at the end of each term to ensure that groups are constantly adjusted. This ensures the best progress for each child.
  • If a child appears to be progressing more rapidly, they will be assessed early and moved into the next group.

The sequence of reading books shows a cumulative progression in phonics knowledge meaning that pupils have sufficient practice in reading and re-reading books that match the grapheme-phoneme correspondences they know, both at school and at home.

  • Books read during phonics sessions match the sounds taught.
  • Home reader books match and support the phonics scheme taught in school.
  • Use of Oxford Owl and MyON to encourage reading at home.
  • Accelerated Reader in KS2 and KS1 (for those who have finished the RWI programme).

Targeted support is given immediately for those who do fall behind.

  • In Reception and KS1, if required, children take part in either 1:1 or small group phonics interventions in order to plug the gaps in their knowledge.
  • The lowest 20% are heard individually read at least once during the week.
  • In KS2, children who need it continue to receive the RWI programme until they are phonetically secure and can access the KS2 English whole class reading lessons.

Teachers instil in children a love of literature: the best stories and poems

  • High quality class readers
  • DPA Reading Spine to map high quality texts
  • Library times to share stories and discuss children’s opinions of the books they have read.
  • Listening to an adult read daily during planned story times.

The school is determined that every pupil will learn to read, regardless of their background, needs or abilities. All pupils, including the weakest readers, make sufficient progress to meet or exceed age-related expectations

  • Tracking those who didn’t pass phonics screening and those still on RWI into KS2
  • Interventions for the lowest 20%
  • Speech and language screening to assess children’s listening, attention, expressive and receptive vocabulary. Small group interventions then follow to help develop a child’s speech and language skills if required.

Stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction texts are chosen for reading to develop pupils’ vocabulary, language comprehension and love of reading. Pupils are familiar with and enjoy listening to a wide range of stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction

  • DPA Reading spine provides high quality texts
  • English curriculum allows equal teaching of all genres
  • In KS2, the beginning of the week lesson of English will always focus on key vocabulary and this will be revisited during the week.
  • In KS1, key vocabulary is woven into Talk Through Stories.

The school’s phonics programme matches or exceeds the expectations of the national curriculum and the early learning goals. The school has clear expectations of pupils’ phonics progress term-by-term, from Reception to Year 2

  • The school follows the Ruth Miskin Read Write Inc Phonics programme and the progression within this.
  • Expected progress:

Term 1

  • Reception: Set 1 A/B group
  • Year 1: Green/Purple
  • Year 2: Blue

Term 2

  • Reception: Set 1 and blending C group
  • Year 1: Purple
  • Year 2: Blue

Term 3

  • Reception: Ditties
  • Year 1: Pink
  • Year 2: Grey

Term 4

  • Reception: Red Ditties
  • Year 1: Orange
  • Year 2: Whole Class Reading Sessions

Term 5

  • Reception: Green
  • Year 1: Yellow
  • Year 2: Whole Class Reading Sessions

Term 6

  • Reception: Green/Purple
  • Year 1: Blue
  • Year 2: Whole Class Reading Sessions

The sequence of reading books shows a cumulative progression in phonics knowledge that is matched closely to the school’s phonics programme. Teachers give pupils sufficient practice in reading and re-reading books that match the grapheme-phoneme correspondences they know, both at school and at home

  • Books taught in phonics sessions follow a clear progression as set out by the RWI programme and home reading books match this progression.
  • Children re-read a text 3 times during phonics lessons to develop accuracy, fluency and expression.

Reading, including the teaching of systematic, synthetic phonics, is taught from the beginning of Reception.

  • Nursery pupils begin by learning set 1 sounds during the summer term and follow phase 1 lessons before this, e.g. listening to sounds in the environment and identifying rhyming words when listening to a story.
  • Reception pupils start phonics in term 1 in their own classes, after a settling period. From Term 2 children begin splitting into groups to meet their personalised needs across the year group.
  • Regular reading checks take place in order to assess appropriate reading levels.
  • The English team complete reading spot checks – hearing children read and determining if the level of books match their current reading level.

The ongoing assessment of pupils’ phonics progress is sufficiently frequent and detailed to identify any pupil who is falling behind the programme’s pace. If they do fall behind, targeted support is given immediately

  • Phonics assessments carried out at least once a term and more frequently if needed.
  • Teachers identify immediately anyone not in the right group to be reassessed.
  • Assessments provide staff with specific gaps that pupils need to work on in order to progress.

The school has developed sufficient expertise in the teaching of phonics and reading.

  • Official RWI training completed with all staff who deliver these sessions alongside the use of in-school and Trust best practice role models.
  • CPD delivered to staff on new reading curriculum and reading for pleasure
  • Phonics CPD for those new to phonics/taking interventions – discussing the principles of RWI and how to deliver a lesson.
  • Phonics refresher CPD delivered – recap on the importance of pace and the routines during a phonics lesson.
  • Regular lesson drop ins from the reading leader and English team to provide models and support.

Through regular formative assessment and, as needed, summative assessments, pupils’ progress is closely monitored to ensure they progress to be able to read to at least an age appropriate level. By developing these skills at an early age, pupils have the confidence and skills to access all elements of the broad and balanced curriculum open to them.