'When I read great literature, great drama, speeches or sermons, I feel that the human mind has not achieved anything greater than the ability to share feelings and thoughts through language.'
James Earl Jones
At St Thomas’, we are committed to developing positive attitudes to reading. Our desire is for all children to leave our school as confident, independent and enthusiastic readers. Learning to read and choosing to read is our aim for every pupil. We are aware of the impact being a confident, engaged reader has on life chances and educational success and we know that this important journey begins with us.
Teaching pupils to read through a rigorous systematic phonics programme, alongside building word recognition skills and memory, we apply these skills to the reading process daily. Children are introduced to a wide range of rhymes, poems, stories and non-fiction texts throughout their time in our school in both Writing and Reading lessons, being taught to make and discuss connections that build upon prior learning across the curriculum. Our rigorous approach to the teaching of reading, through guided reading, consists of both whole class (week A) and group reading (week B). Building fluency through a structured approach incorporating modelled, echo, joint and independent reading for the whole class. Using VIPERS to explore texts, children are taught to explore and define new vocabulary along with the skills of inference, prediction, explanation, sequencing and summarising. Pupils then ask and answer questions based upon the VIPERS to engage with texts deeper, gaining a full understanding.
Providing a rich and stimulating reading environment within classrooms, the school library and around our school, we enable children to foster an enthusiasm for and love of reading for life.
Children are encouraged to read and share books at home with their families and develop a real love of reading. Comprehension, fluency and discussion of texts and vocabulary are also at the forefront of our teaching.
Reading is key to all learning. The impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the result of statutory assessments. Children have the opportunity to enter the wide and varied magical worlds that reading opens up to them, as they develop their own interest in books, a deep love of literature across a range of genres cultures and styles is enhanced.
Parents and carers have a good understanding of how they can support reading at home, through workshops, newsletter and website support and contribute regularly to home-school records.
Our daily assessment of reading, through carefully planned lessons, enable teachers to make informed judgements on next steps and support to be tailored for individuals and groups.
Our Teaching of Reading Maps
The Rationale Behind our Reading Choices
Our Progression of VIPERS Questioning
At St Thomas', we use VIPERS as our strategy to support pupils to engage with texts fully. To ensure there is progression and support for pupils and staff, we have created our own progression document that shows how questioning builds throughout our school for each area explored by VIPERS.
Reading for Pleasure
Reading for pleasure takes on many forms at St Thomas'. On a daily basis, pupils share in reading of some form across the curriculum and opportunities to share new things are read to the children. Novels are chosen to read to classes that will engage pupils in different ways. This may be to extend their learning about a topic being covered, to allow them to make connections to prior or new learning or to enable pupils to experience something completely different! Poems, songs, rhymes, fiction and non-fiction are all covered as part of this.
Alongside daily reading for pleasure, shared with an adult, pupils also have the opportunity to read for pleasure with their peers or independently throughout the week. During our week B guided reading model, reading for pleasure features for each group enabling them to choose any reading they would like.
During the school year, we plan to have other events that engage both pupils and parents in the reading experience.
This year our first event was with Reception parents and carers. Invited in for an hour, parents were able to follow their child around a range of reading activities to see how early reading is taught and how pupils work on activities independently. Phonics and reading sessions were modelled by staff and children then worked on independent word matching games to show off their segmenting and blending skills. Adults were also treated to time in the library to look at some of the new texts we have and to see the improved space for themselves.
All pupils were treated to a reading picnic or 'booknic' on the school field. Enjoying time to sit and choose a book and just read, was welcomed by many. Pupils read independently or discussed books with their peers as they enjoyed the freedom to choose!