In ensuring that ‘Better Never Stops’, our English curriculum aims to ensure that:
- Our pupils grow to be individuals that habitually read widely, both for pleasure and for information, as a result of teaching practices that ensures ‘every child can’.
- Pupils become confident, articulate speakers, enjoying the opportunity to, and are able to, speak, perform, present and debate confidently so that they are equipped with the skills for their future careers/employment.
- Pupils appreciate our rich and varied literacy heritage.
- Pupils are engaged, confident and able writers – writing clearly, accurately and coherently for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences – so that they are equipped with the writing skills for a range of situations they may encounter in their later lives.
- Pupils are resilient writers, constantly editing and improving their work in aspiring to better themselves as learners so that they can build the skills of reflection, creativity and perseverance.
- Pupils take pride in their handwriting as a result of perseverance and stamina.
Why is reading so important?
We believe that the importance of developing reading competence cannot be overstated as it is the fundamental facilitator of much learning throughout life.Children must be encouraged to become independent, knowledgeable and reflective readers. High-quality teaching is the key factor in whether or not children learn to read.
If a child is unable to read, he/she cannot get on in life.
Teaching of reading
At Spa Academy, the teaching of reading is primarily taught through whole-class reading that link to a particular novel. These novels are carefully chosen (using a variety of tools, such as Lexile analysis) to ensure they are appropriately challenging and provide oppourtunities for high-quality debate and discussion. At the bottom of this page, you are able to access further information on our reading sequence.
Our clear progression model aims to ensure that teaching across school is sequential and progressive, building upon pupils' prior knowledge and providing appropriate challenge. Our progression model outlines the route map that pupils take in mastering each of the key reading skills (for which we use the acronym VIPERS).
For example, the images below demonstrate the core skill of retrieval and how this might look across school.
Reading is assessed on a regular basis using:
- Formative and summative assessments during lessons;
- Weekly summative assessments, with Day 5 of our reading cycle focusing on applying all VIPERS skills to an unseen text;
- Discussion with parents/carers about individual reading material at home;
- Book-banded books with each class teacher completing a half termly book band tracker;
- Discussions with pupils around the choice of their library books;
- Individual reading books;
- Termly summative assessments;
- Discussions during Learning Review meetings.
Spa's approach to Phonics
At Spa Academy Askern we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to ensure those children that still require phonics teaching make accelerated progress.
When using RWI to read the children will:
- learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts;
- learn to read words using Fred Talk;
- read lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out;
- show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions.
To deploy a rigorous approach to assessing pupils' ability to independently read.
Using our assessment system, we aim to ensure that the books pupils are given:
- are demanding and challenging yet can be read independently as a result of assessing pupils' decoding, comprehension and fluency;
- connect closely to the phonics knowledge pupils are taught where necessary.
- Staff receive regular professional learning based around the assessment of reading;
- Staff receive professional learning to develop sufficient expertise in the teaching of phonics and reading;
- Learning is sequenced so that gaps are assessed and addressed quickly;
- Senior Leaders regularly quality assure the books given to pupils, with a particular focus on our vulnerable and lower-attaining readers;
- Termly curriculum planning meetings carefully consider the challenge provided by texts used as part of the curriculum.
Developing a 'love' of reading
Spa Academy strives to ensure that our pupils leave us with a love of reading that is evident in the way they:
- regularly read for pleasure;
- are critical readers, developing personal views on authors and genres;
- understand key aspects of Britain's literary heritage;
- enjoy reading and listening to stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction.
- All classes taking part in 'Story Time' for 30 minutes at the end of each school day;
- Books are carefully selected for their contribution to pupils' cultural capital, vocabulary and potential to spark discussion in the classroom;
- Encourage reading at home through Spa's Reading Raffle, rewarding those pupils who read regularly with an invitation to a reading-themed luncheon;
- Parents are invited to join their child for reading activities at school;
- Pupils visit the library weekly to explore and select a new book.
Spa Academy is part of the community-based Doncaster Stories campaign. We are working collaboratively with schools across Doncaster to bring a love of reading to our pupils and the community of Askern and Doncaster as a whole. More information can be found here or by searching #SpaReading on our Twitter.