Reading at WFJS is a top priority
We believe by instilling a joy and love of reading in all children, that all children within our community can access and thrive throughout all areas of the curriculum. We know that reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.
Firstly, we create a culture of reading for pleasure and sharing books, stories and poetry. We do this by:
- Having a class reader and designated time to read these to the children every day. These stories will be aimed at the range above the year group being read to, to allow all children to access high level texts, whilst enjoying new vocabulary, plot twists and the journey books can take us.
- Using books to introduce exciting new topics in foundation topics. For example, in science we may use a new non-fiction book to hook the children in and leave them curious and interested in the learning to come.
- Providing cross-curricular research based projects, where children have to use digital and printed text to find information and evaluate the content for useful ideas.
- Engage children through writing, in a variety of different texts, plays, poetry, fiction, non-fiction and interactive texts. This increases the children’s experience of text.
- Teachers modelling and talking about the books available in the library and their classroom book corners. Every book corner has recommendations and ‘teacher’ books to share.
- Book talk time for the children. We have one slot a week to discuss the books the children are currently reading and to recommend and add to our year group padlets.
- Additionally, in library time, we encourage ‘book talk’ between children where they can share their books.
- Padlets. Every year group will set up an online book share on padlets. This allows children to indorse the books they have enjoyed and highlight the themes, language and plot of the books.
- Using whole class reading approach to guided comprehension sessions. To increase the engagement and enjoyment of these sessions where we teach children the skills needed to understand written language, we now use a whole text as a class, so that we are going on the journey of the book together.
- We have a growing online virtual library which at the moment is to help children and families access PSHE themes through stories and books. Children can hear stories being read aloud and it advertises books with certain themes or ideas that they may be curious about or seeking guidance in.
- Embedded library time where the children can take out books and read passages of others. These are really buzzy sessions where teachers may hear children read, talk about books and discuss and recommend the next books to read.
- We have reading ambassadors, who are experts in reading for pleasure, who can recommend, discuss and show books that they are currently enjoying and reading. They assist children.
- We have a dedicated slot for reluctant readers, who are nominated by their teacher to go to visit our PAT Dog, Rufus and read to him. This is very successful because research has found that children are more likely to read to an animal as this is regarded as a less ‘judgmental’ audience for the children to read to.
- Every year we have at least one day dedicated to World Book Day and most year’s it is much more than this! We spend time really exploring and getting excited about books. We invite authors to come and speak, our most recent visitors have been Maz Evans (Who Let the God’s Out), Abbie Elphinstone (Sky Song, Dreamsnatchers etc) and Knife and Packer (Fleabag Monkeyface books) – watch this space to find out the big name for 2022!
How do we teach reading skills at WFJS?
We split reading into two strands, comprehension and fluency. Comprehension is where we teach children the skills needed to actually engage, understand, interact and make sense of a text. We do this in set guided comprehension sessions which are timetabled weekly. In these sessions we use VIPERS, which focuses on the skills of
- Vocabulary – exploring the meaning of words, the choice of words and the effectiveness of words and learning and recording new vocabulary gained
- Inference – the skill of being able to use the evidence from the text to make an opinion.
- Predicting – using the text already read or pictures, to create an idea of what might happen next
- Explanation – the skill of being able to retell and justify their ideas and the authorial intent of a text which helps them decide how an author can influence the reader.
- Retrieval – this is finding certain passages, meaning, words or phrases from the text
- Summarising – this is a challenging skill of being able ‘to take the main idea’ from a passage or to deduce a theme.
In these sessions, the children explore one text as a class, normally focussing on a few pages or a chapter, depending on their year group. They will be guided, encouraged and modelled to by our teachers, who are experts in reading. These sessions focus on the key strands above and children’s work is monitored, fed-back to and assessed half-termly. This ensures all children at Wallace Fields Junior School are able to access and enjoy age-expected texts. The books chosen are selected based on the themes, the level of vocabulary and the recommended age and also engages children to look at the structure of a text to help make sense of it. The themes studied through these books are progressively more complex as the children move through the school.
We believe that all children should be fluent readers. Fluency, is the skill of being able to decode words and access the language. As a junior school, we ensure that all children entering in year three are assessed for their ability to read fluently and we work with the feeder infant schools to identify those who may need additional support alongside this. As a result, we use the phonics scheme Read, Write, Inc., to support and give confidence to any child who may need to practise reading fluently. This will be provided in either a 1:1 session or a small group.
How do we close the gap for those children who may need additional support to be good readers?
We routinely assess children for both their reading fluency and their comprehension. This is done using the Hertfordshire reading test (fluency) and NFER comprehension tests. We monitor the children throughout their time at WFJS and constantly seek to enable those who may need support to progress further or feel more confident. After assessing the children, some are selected to have intervention sessions. We break fluency down into further sub groups to make this as effective as possible. If a child is unable to read fluently for their age, we then assess for whether it is
- Their decoding
- Their speed in reading aloud
Then we break down comprehension into:
- Understanding words in context
- Understanding the effect of punctuation
- Understanding some words need intonation
After assessing each child in year 3, they will be allocated an intervention if needed to help them with their reading skills. Not all children will be in a group, just those most at need or identified as needing extra support. These children will be monitored as they progress throughout the school. If a child is not making expected or accelerated progress, they too will be assessed and allocated a support intervention.
Rufus - Our Reading Dog
We are extremely fortunate to have Rufus and his lovely owner volunteer at our school. He is a specially trained therapy dog. He attends interventions for children on a 1:1 basis who need their confidence boosting in reading. He works with children at all levels of ability. We often notice a big improvement in the selected children's wellbeing, which is fundamental to optimum learning.
How can I support my child at home with their reading:
The first thing you can do, is listen to them read; this must be anything they like to read. If they like football programmes, newspapers, magazines, graphic novels, comics, annual, Guinness book of world records, novels, non-fiction. They must be enjoying the text. Not only can you discuss your child’s ‘bookish’ reading, you can also discuss your family’s ‘worldish’ reading. This can include all manner of texts, from instructions to recipes, cereal boxes to shopping lists, game reviews to emails, ingredients, and of course, books.
The second thing, is let them see you reading for pleasure, again this can be any manner of text. We will be providing your children with lots of ‘bookish’ opportunities in school, please provide your children with both book and world reading at home.
Any reading that your child does, is good reading, and can be noted in their reading or homework diaries. For example ‘This weekend, we baked brownies and *** read the recipe and understood the process.’ Would be a perfect inclusion!
My child does not like reading, what can I do?
Please try not to force the issue! We are providing lots of opportunities for your child to engage with high level texts and book talk with both peers and teachers. Try to promote ‘world’ reading rather than just book reading as an opportunity for your child to see themselves as a reader in the ‘real world’ not just as a reluctant book reader. Another option is to provide them with a log in to Borrow Box, which is a free app from the local library and will allow your child to listen to audio books – which can also be included in their reading or homework diary.
Let us know! We can try to engage them with texts that are based on their interests, hobbies and likes and can encourage them to talk to their peers about books that they may like to try during book talk time.
My child is learning English; what should I do to help?
Allow your child to read books in their own language if that is what they feel most comfortable with! Reading for pleasure means that they should be confident and comfortable and enjoying the text – trying to decode a text in a different and difficult language can impact on this. We will be providing them with opportunities and immersion in English texts while they are in school.
7 things parents can do to help?
- Encourage children to try new books by different authors (see websites below for ideas)
- Share books together
- Listen and discuss your child’s current book and also read to them
- Make sure your child has a book in school everyday
- Record when your child has finished a book in their homework diary or reading record so that they can achieve a ‘Book Bingo’ certificate
- Download the Reading Realm App which encourages thinking and talk about good books https://thereadingrealm.co.uk/
- Read our ‘Reading at Home’ handout and documents from the Year 3 reading workshop or ideas on questions that could be asked to explore texts together
Reading at home
Year 3 Reading Workshop documents
What can I read next? Can you find me a good book please? I like funny books. Where can I find more books like this one?
Whether your child is an enthusiastic reader or a reluctant reader, it is useful to have an idea of books that are available.
In our school library we provide ideas for children to try new books and they can ask our Year 6 librarians for advice or their teacher. These websites are also useful for ideas:
- Piers Torday - a fantastic children's author, is reading his book “The Wild Before” https://www.youtube.com/c/piersftorday He is so amazing to listen to. https://www.pierstorday.co.uk/