At Bishop Bridgeman, we believe that reading is an important and vital life skill and we strive for all children to enjoy and value it. We recognise that enjoyment in reading arises from deriving meaning from text. It is our aim to develop and create passionate readers for life who are able to read confidently and fluently by the end of their primary school journey.
Guided reading takes place daily. Children are grouped according to ability; each group has at least one guided session per week with either the teacher or teaching assistant. Each child takes home a scheme book every day with a reading record. While children are learning to read through our phonics programme they will take home a decodable text which is closely matched to their phonic ability. The children share their books with an appropriate adult in school at least once a week. The adult asks questions relevant to the interest of the child and encourages predictions. In KS2 we use the strategy of reciprocal reading. The children are encouraged to decode unknown words using appropriate strategies. Children develop independence in reading through completing activities related to their guided reading book. A ‘Class Reader’ is also used to encourage children’s enjoyment of literature. This is read regularly.
At Bishop Bridgeman Church of England Primary School, reading is delivered through a wide variety of books and resources including Oxford Reading Tree, Project X, Collins and Rigby Star. These stories are carefully written using simple, natural-sounding language as well as subject matter children can be excited about and relate to. Key words are repeated throughout the storybooks so that children can gradually increase the number of words they can recognise and read. All texts are banded into a colour and are well matched to our phonics programme. Children progress through the bands as their phonic knowledge is developed until they are recognised as a free reader and will have access to books from our challenging reading materials.
We celebrate our love of reading at Bishop Bridgeman in many ways, including 'super learning days', 'book fairs' and through our whole school reading reward scheme.
At Bishop Bridgeman, we believe that the mastery of written language is one of the most powerful gifts that we can provide to our children. We believe that writing should be purposeful, rich and enjoyable for all. Writing at Bishop Bridgeman is delivered through an exciting and engaging curriculum which is taught from Reception to Year 6. As the National Curriculum for writing sets out, children should learn about transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
In Key Stage 1 and 2 writing is taught through the use of high quality texts and a recognised teaching sequence. Quality texts provide a stimulus for all children to develop their writing across different text types. 'Talk for writing' is used in KS1 to allow children to interact and engage with the text. Activities such as book talk, story telling, role play, drama and word and language games are an important part of the writing process. Once children have gathered ideas and planned their writing, teachers model writing to support the writing process. During and after writing, children are given an opportunity to edit and redraft their work. Whenever possible writing with a clear purpose is the priority as we find this leads to better outcomes and engagement.
The importance of legible handwriting can not be underestimated. We follow the handwriting scheme 'Pen Pals' from Cambridge University Press. This allows us to teach handwriting in a fun, interactive way. It helps the children develop a fluent, confident handwriting style. Flexible, fluent and legible handwriting allows children to write with confidence. Handwriting develops best when it is taught frequently for short periods of time which is the approach at Bishop Bridgeman. We also celebrate the quality of children’s handwriting through weekly handwriting awards.
At Bishop Bridgeman the children in EYFS and Key Stage 1 take part in a 30 minute phonics session each day. We follow the systematic, synthetic phonics approach, which we have developed based on the principles of the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. It’s an approach to teaching phonics in which individual letters or letter sounds are blended to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form complete words. The daily phonics sessions are intended to be multisensory and fun, involving lots of speaking, listening and games. The focus is on children’s active participation and providing children with the opportunity to practise and apply the skill of decoding and encoding.
Our phonics programme is split onto phases, with each phase building gradually upon previous learning. Children have time to practise and expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just learn them.
There are five phases of phonics taught up to Year 2. Many children will cover Phase 1 in pre-school settings, phases 2, 3 and 4 are taught in Reception and consolidated in Year 1. Children are then taught phase 5 in Year 1 and this is consolidated in Year 2 alongside the teaching of spelling rules as set out in the national curriculum.
Following the published core criteria for effective systematic and synthetic phonics teaching programmes from the DfE, the school is now in the process of implementing a validated phonics programme. ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ will be the chosen programme by the school.