English and Reading

English plays a key role in pupils’ social, emotional, cultural and spiritual development. We teach our pupils to speak and write fluently, encouraging them to communicate their ideas and emotions. Through reading and listening others can communicate to them, enabling our pupils to become informed confident members of society.  Our aim as a trust is to introduce our children to our rich and varied literary heritage, help them to become fluent and confident readers and to move on to the next stage of their education with the key skills they need.

In our schools, we place reading at the very heart of our curriculum.  We value it by organising all of our learning around our “Core Stories.”  Each class has their learning linked to a key text, or core story, per half term.  These core stories are chosen for their diversity, their wide vocabulary, their ability to engage our children and because of the topics we can make links to from them to ensure we have a rich, broad and balanced curriculum.  We use a teaching resource called “The Power of Reading” to support our reading and writing lessons in school.  This scheme, created by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education uses academic research backed approaches to promote the use of high quality texts to achieve the best outcomes for children.

Our children begin their journey into literacy in our Early Year Foundation Stage (EYFS.)  In our Nursery, they are immersed in high quality stories and rhymes, songs and poems to enrich their vocabulary and start their love of reading.  Activities to develop speaking and listening and phonemic awareness are built into learning through play.  Turn taking and chat are part of everyday interactions between children and adults.

As children move through the EYFS into Reception, they have daily rigorous, high quality phonic sessions. Our schools follow the DfE backed Letters and Sounds scheme.  These fun, fast paced sessions introduce children to the letters and sounds they need in order to become emergent readers and writers.  The skills they are taught are re-enforced through independent learning activities, where children embed their new skills through absorbing independent challenges.

As children move into Key Stage One, we build on the skills we have encouraged through the EYFS.  Children practise their reading skills at home and in school using our phonetically decodable reading scheme books, which foster independence and confidence because they are so closely matched to the phonics learning children do in school.  Any children who need extra support and help with their phonics learning are given small group interventions to help them catch up. At the end of Year One, children take the Phonics Screening Check; they blend and read 40 real and nonsense words using the phonics knowledge.

In Year 2 and beyond, the expectation is that children become more and more fluent and confident readers.  As the children move through the school, our skilled teachers assess to see if they are on track to meet the expected standard. Support is put in place for any children who need it through our programme of interventions and if required, our skilled SEND team.  Parents are welcome to talk to their child’s teacher at any time to ask questions or to check their child’s progress.

Home and school working in partnership produce the best outcomes for our learners. Parents are welcomed into our schools to volunteer to hear readers, to class parent reading sessions, and to take part in reading cafes linked to our core stories where they can hear a text read and take part in activities linked to it.  We hold parent curriculum information sessions throughout the year on phonics, reading, grammar and assessment to help parents support their children at home.

The children get to visit our well stocked school library weekly.   Our books are sorted by subject, and children begin to learn how to find them using the key.  Our staff help the children choose books from the wide selection.  Our books have been chosen to enhance the learning we do in class; our schools work with the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre to make sure we have interesting and up to date collections.  The bright displays celebrate reading achievements in class.

We are proud of the rich, rigorous English curriculum we provide for our children.  Ofsted said:

“Adults encourage a love of reading. Teachers use new texts and techniques effectively to develop pupils’ understanding of what they are reading. Pupils in key stage 2 discuss their favourite authors enthusiastically.” Ofsted report, Aslacton Primary School

“Leaders know what they want pupils to learn by the time they leave the school. Leaders place reading at the core of the school’s curriculum.” Ofsted report, Manor Field Infant and Nursery School

“Leaders are passionate about promoting a love of reading. Core stories are used to ignite pupils’ interest.”  Ofsted report, Watton Westfield Infant and Nursery school

For more information about our reading curriculum, please see our booklet “How we Teach Reading.”