Reading is at the heart of Ark Blacklands. We place huge importance on learning the skills of reading, developing both decoding and comprehension in partnership, and recognise that success in reading is vital for success across the curriculum, and for life after education.
We have a two-pronged approach to reading: to instil in our pupils a deep and lifelong love of books and language, whilst also providing them with the practical skills to read. All pupils should leave our school with the ability to read, write and speak in the academic language that they will need to be successful in secondary school and beyond.
Approach to reading
At Blacklands Primary School, we use the Read Write Inc. phonics program to deliver robust, targeted phonics teaching so that our children have the best possible start to their reading journey. Our team of RWI Practitioners are relentless in their dedication to ensuring each and every child at Ark Blacklands masters phonics as as early as possible.
In phonics lessons, children learn one thing at a time, then keep practising it until they are ready to move onto the next skill. The RWI approach ensures that everything connects: children connect sounds with mnemonic pictures, words with their meanings, stories with the sounds they know, and children connect their own experiences to the stories they read.
From the very first week, we teach phonics every single day. Children are grouped according to their phonic ability so that every child makes rapid progress and any children falling behind are quickly identified. We employ a dedicated RWI professional to deliver interventions for our most vulnerable children.
We invest in the development of our Read Write Inc teachers through an ongoing relationship with the RWI team and regular coaching from our experienced Phonics Lead. We understand the importance of engaging parents: the Phonics Lead holds parent workshops and maintains an ongoing dialogue with parents regarding their children’s reading.
Read to Succeed
From year 1 upwards, every child participates in "Read to Succeed" lessons. These lessons use high-quality fiction books as their basis, supplemented by related non-fiction texts and poetry. This exposure to a wide range of literature enhances comprehension skills and supports the acquisition of knowledge and complex vocabulary. Our reading curriculum is designed around the “Five Pillars of Reading”, which forms the basic components of our lessons.
Ongoing phonics instruction
Phonics does not end after the pupils have taken their phonics screening test. We continue to utilise the phonics programme in reading lessons across the school to help pupils decode unfamiliar words.
At Ark Blacklands, we use implicit and explicit vocabulary instruction so that the children can build their ability to embed new words into their writing and speech. We integrate explicit instruction in our Read to Succeed lessons, as well as delivering separate vocabulary lessons. We promote independent vocabulary acquisition by teaching pupils how to construct meaning from the structure of words, context and using reference guides.
In order to comprehend a text, pupils must be able to read quickly and accurately, with a firm knowledge of how to respond to punctuation and sentence structures of varying complexity. Throughout the week, pupils regularly read texts out loud, with the chance to receive feedback from their teacher and hear their teacher model reading aloud correctly. Doing this regularly ultimately frees ‘cognitive space’ for comprehension.
Within the Read to Succeed lessons, children learn the necessary comprehension skills of retrieval, inference, paraphrasing and sequencing. They also learn to make connections between texts, to discuss and evaluate ideas and to express opinions. We teach pupils how to construct meaning in a text and a range of strategies to aid comprehension, including predicting, clarifying, questioning, and summarising.
Reading for Pleasure
Reading for pleasure is an integral part of our reading curriculum. All pupils participate in daily reading for pleasure sessions, where the pupils engage in rich discussions about books and are exposed to a wide range of high quality texts, both fiction and non-fiction. All children also have daily story time where they read a story together with their teacher and class.
Reading at Home
At Ark Blacklands we recognise children need constant practice to become confident readers, and so place a strong emphasis on reading at home in addition to school. Every child from early years to year 6 is expected to read at least five times a week and record their reading in a reading record book. We encourage parents to support children in this. Teaching staff monitor children’s reading habits and book choices, working with parents to inspire pupils to become enthusiastic readers. In parallel, we celebrate children’s reading through sharing stories, partner classes, assemblies, awards and World Book Day.