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Learning and caring together


At Handale we are passionate about reading and we endeavour to make sure that all our children develop a love of reading and that every child leaves us as a confident reader.

Learning to read is the most important thing your child will learn at school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.

We provide plenty of opportunities for your child to read across the curriculum.

We want your child to love reading and to want to read for themselves. Therefore, we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.

Phonics and Reading at Handale Primary School

In the early stages of reading, we teach children to decode words using phonic skills as their main approach. Here at Handale, phonics is taught daily to all children in Nursery, Reception and Year 1. It is also taught in Year 2 (Phase 6/Spelling Rules) and intervention takes place throughout the year for those children re-sitting the phonic screening test. At Handale Primary School, we use Letters and Sounds consistently and accurately to teach children the letters of the alphabet and their matching sounds.

The children are taught to read words by blending, which means merging all the sounds together to make a word.
They are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words and writing down the sounds they can hear.
It is important that children learn to say the sounds correctly. This will make it easier to blend the sounds together to make words.
The children also practise reading and spelling tricky words. These are ‘tricky’ because they cannot be phonetically sounded out.

Alongside the daily phonics session, children practise their reading with books that match the phonics and the tricky words they know.  We have ensured that our Phonics teaching informs our ‘Big Cat Collins’ reading book scheme.  ‘Big Cat Collins’ books show a culminative progression in Phonics and matches closely to our ‘Letters and Sounds’ Phonics program.  All staff are aware of the reading stage expectations for each year group and robust assessment systems are in place to ensure we accelerate learning and respond quickly to the needs of our lowest attaining pupils.

Reading sessions in all year groups take place daily for 30 minutes. Reading sessions are planned using VIPERS, reciprocal reading, comprehension activities and reading for pleasure. Each year group has a timetable which they follow to ensure that the teaching of reading is progressive and consistent across the school. Whole class reading forms part of our reading sessions and during this time, teachers focus heavily on helping children understand and pick a part a text using ‘VIPERS’ and ‘APE’. As we aim for all children to develop a love of reading, teachers and pupils understand the importance of creating time to read for pleasure.

Shared reading is a daily occurrence throughout the school and during this time, children have further opportunity to engage with high quality texts and show their understanding through a range of responses such as drama and extended writing opportunities. During reading sessions, children are taught the key skills of: vocabulary; inference; predictions; explanation; sequencing; summarising; choice; purpose/viewpoint and context. Reciprocal Reading is also used across the school and forms part of the reading carousel. During Reciprocal Reading sessions, children are expected to: predict, clarify, question and summarise. Deepening Understanding is also used to give children the opportunity to engage in discussion about images that they see and complete challenging comprehension questions. Whole class reading takes place throughout the school daily and in these sessions, pupils are exposed to a variety of different fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts.

Through prioritising budget on Early Reading and Phonics we are confident that our school is well resourced and equipped for the teaching and learning of ‘Letters and Sounds’ and the systematic reading of ‘Big Cat Collins’ books.  We work hard to ensure that all our children have access to stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction to develop their vocabulary, language comprehension and love of reading.

We currently have a ‘Read for the Stars’ programme in school to encourage children and parents to share books at home. Every term, the children are given a target of how many stars they need to achieve by reading at home. If a child reads at home three times a week, they are given a star in their reading record. If a child collects the required amount of stars, both the child and parent can attend our reading party. All teachers check reading records every Friday. Children are also given the opportunity to read to other members of staff in school or with Mrs Farrier on a Monday dinner time during reading club. Key Stage 1 pupils also take home a reading suitcase to enjoy books of their choice with their family.

All of our classrooms feature bright, stimulating and inviting books corners (which are updated termly) for children to sit and read in and we regularly invest in high quality texts for the children. In our book corners you will often find children’s recommendations and reviews of their favourite books. All classes have a specific author focus, which changes every half term, and are expected to read a wide variety of different books.

Individually, our children are involved in reading activities. Every child chooses reading books from our banded scheme (Big Cat Collins) each week to share at home.  Individual 1:1 reading takes place across the school daily with the expectation that every child reads at least once. Children read to teachers, teaching assistants, lunchtime supervisors and parent helpers and the VIPERS approach to reading is used across the school to ensure that there is a clear focus when listening to pupils read. Shared reading sessions take place every half term where children are given the opportunity to go and read with other children across the school.

At every stage of a child’s life, reading should be pleasurable and we believe that time should be devoted at school and home to ‘reading for pleasure’. During curriculum time throughout the week, children have the opportunity to read books of their own choice from their class or school library, which they take home, read and discuss. This is key to the development and enjoyment of reading.

At the end of the day, teachers and children share a class book. We believe that children should have the opportunity to hear adults read and listening to class stories and novels is a treasured time in the curriculum. During each term, children are given the opportunity to share books with children in different classes and every class visits Loftus library at least twice a year.

Why is Reading a success at Handale Primary School?

  • In 2019, we celebrated 100% of pupils achieving the expected standard or above at the end of Key Stage 2.
  • In 2019, we celebrated 46% of pupils achieving a higher score at the end of Key Stage 2.
  • At the end of Key Stage 1, children are working in line or above the National Averages in reading. This is also true for children working at Greater Depth in these subjects.
  • We have a consistent approach to the teaching of reading which is well embedded throughout the school.
  • Children are passionate about reading and we have a strong reading ethos across school.
  • Development of reading lessons using a Reading Carousel and Whole Class Reading Sessions shows the children are now making more detailed accurate written responses to comprehension questions.
  • Books are well matched to the ability of the children and their current phonic attainment.
  • Assessment of reading is now embedded and books show the evidence to support judgements made by teachers.
  • The whole school reading progression document ensures that the teaching of reading is focused and effective.
  • The phonic progression document provides a thorough approach to the teaching of phonics across EYFS and Key Stage 1 and is well matched to reading books.

To view our reading author focuses, please click here

To view the Progression of Skills for Reading, please click here

To view our Phonics Planning and Progression, please click here

To view book band colours, please click here

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