At St Thomas', we aim to develop a love of reading in all our children. We provide them with the reading skills they need to read a broad range of texts. Children will leave St Thomas’ as competent readers, who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a wide range of high-quality texts across the genres, participate in discussions about books and have an established love of reading for life.
Every child will experience a full range of reading experiences during their time in school from reading with an adult 1:1, reading in small groups of similar ability children and as part of a whole class lesson. Our younger children in Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 will read routinely as individuals with an adult in a 1:1 session. Some children in Key Stage 2 will also continue to have this support. Small group sessions will focus on reading a text suited to the children in the group which allows them to develop decoding and comprehension skills. ‘Story time’ also happens in every class throughout the school, with staff and children modelling reading.
We use Letters and Sounds at St Thomas' to support the systematic teaching of phonics. Children begin the Letters and Sounds programme in Nursery and continue across Key Stage 1. If deemed necessary, then this will continue into KS2. Every child from Nursery to Year 2 has a 15-20-minute Phonics session four times per week. Children are streamed according to their developmental stage.
Staff use reading assessment records when reading 1:1 with children and for guided reading activities. These records allow teachers to see where gaps are and what to focus on with children. The children all know which colour book band they are on and can clearly see their own progression when moving between the books bands. We use the Letters and Sounds Phonics programme to move the children through the taught sounds. We split the children into phonics according to their ability across Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 to help children make rapid progression at their level.
Children are given reading targets each term which are shared with parents at meetings.
We expect that children will enjoy reading across a range of genres and children of all abilities will be able to succeed in all reading lessons. Children are exposed to and will therefore have a good knowledge of a range of authors.
Writing is a crucial part of our curriculum at St Thomas’. By the end of Key Stage 2, we intend for our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to communicate effectively in a wide range of writing styles. We also intend to create writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, and enable pupils to be able to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling. At St Thomas’, we set high expectations for all our children to take pride in their work and have a fluent, cursive handwriting style alongside allowing their imaginations to flourish.
We provide purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. Through the Power of Reading, we use quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. The more children can read and explore an author’s choice of vocabulary and sentence structure, the more they are able to apply it to their own writing. As they prepare for writing, children analyse a high-quality example (a WAGOLL) to help them understand the purpose and audience for their writing. They also explore a grammatical focus as this helps them not only understand the structure of a grammatical feature but its purpose in writing as well. The children are provided with opportunities for collaborative and independent writing. All writing is marked in line with the school’s Marking and Feedback Policy and then time is built into lessons to allow children to respond to this marking and edit, improve and re-draft their work. Our teaching of writing is often cross curricular, which provides our children with regular opportunities to write for a range of purposes and audiences.
All children make progress from their starting points, becoming more confident writers, and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
Teachers moderate writing across the school’s year groups to ensure consistency and accuracy of judgement. Writing targets are established with the teacher and child so that children have autonomy over their personal goals.