Making sure that we get the teaching of English right has been a focus for King Offa in our school improvement plan every year since the school joined Aurora Academies Trust (AAT). We know how important learning to read and write is so we expect it to always be a focus for us!
Phonics knowledge is an integral part of learning to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language. At King Offa Primary Academy we use the Read Write Inc. approach to teaching phonics. Every child, from Reception, receives daily differentiated phonics lesson by a reading teacher. As part of these lessons' pupils have the opportunity to learn new sounds, revise sounds that they have previously learnt, practise writing these sounds, learning to spell words containing these sounds, writing short sentences and applying their phonic and reading skills to an appropriately matched story or non-fiction text. Pupils are assessed regularly to ensure that the teaching they receive is well matched to their ability and pupils make good progress as a result of this. Tutoring is provided for pupils who are identified as requiring additional support.
‘Daily Support Reader’ (DSR) is a teaching approach that is used mainly in Year 1 but also when appropriate in other year groups; it focuses on building on pupil’s phonics knowledge and developing their reading fluency. Every day, children work in small groups with an adult and are taught the knowledge and skills they need to become confident and fluent readers. All staff receive regular training that results in them being highly skilled in helping all children learn to read.
In Year 2, pupils make the transition from Daily Support Reader to reading independently and this is when they will first be able to choose books to read from the school library. They will receive a library card and be responsible for making sure that books they borrow are returned on time. We use ‘Accelerated Reader’ to help make sure that pupils are reading books that are not too easy but not too hard. It also provides children with incentives and rewards depending on how much they have read. These are individual and for classes.
In Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6) children take part in daily reading lessons based on the ‘Destination Reader’ (DR) approach. Children continue to develop their knowledge and understanding of reading by learning seven key strategies which enable them to think more deeply about texts and gain a better understanding of what they have read. These are clarifying, predicting, questioning, summarising, inferring, evaluating and making connections. During the lesson there is a focus on talk, talking to a partner and explaining your ideas as part of a class discussion. We feel this is important to ensure children begin to read for pleasure as well as understanding. Children read independently with a partner for 25 minutes a day enabling them to increase their reading mileage. Within the daily reading lessons, we explore new vocabulary enabling children to better understand what they are reading. Children also complete comprehension activities based on seen and unseen texts. We believe it is important for children to read a range of high quality texts, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
To best meet the needs of children in Writing, our lessons are planned around a range of texts including: fiction, non-fiction and poetry. These plans interest the children and provide strong examples of writing that they can use to build their knowledge around. Our writing lessons are taught as a whole class where our class confident learners are supported effectively to access the same text/stimuli and our more confident learners are provided with the opportunities to extend and develop their skillset.
All children write daily and independence is fostered throughout each unit. A range of stimuli (considering our reading text or curriculum context) will ensure high pupil engagement and support them in generalising their learning. We have carefully constructed skills progressions that must be considered when planning, resourcing and assessing children's writing.