Background, Research and Early Reading Rationale
Bold Beginnings (The Reception curriculum in a sample of good and outstanding primary schools) November 2017 Ofsted
A good early education is the foundation for later success. For too many children, however, their Reception year is a missed opportunity that can leave them exposed to all the painful and unnecessary consequences of falling behind their peers.
Reading was at the heart of the curriculum in the most successful classes. Listening to stories, poems and rhymes fed children’s imagination, enhanced their vocabulary and developed their comprehension. Systematic phonics played a critical role in teaching children the alphabetic code and, since this knowledge is also essential for spelling, good phonics teaching supported children’s early writing.
Successful schools made sure that they gave reading, writing and mathematics in their Reception classes sufficient direct teaching time every day, with frequent opportunities for children to practise and consolidate their growing knowledge. The headteachers made sure that their curriculum was fit for purpose, so that children were equipped to meet the challenges of Year 1 and beyond.
The Rose Report 2006 Independent review of the teaching of early reading. (Although an old document, this is still very relevant to today.)
It is important for schools to offer a coherent reading programme in which ‘quality first teaching’ as defined by the Primary National Strategy and intervention work are closely linked. While interventions for children with reading difficulties will always be necessary, the need for them is likely to be much reduced by ‘quality first teaching’. This is because such teaching identifies incipient reading difficulties, and this enables appropriate support to be provided quickly, thus minimising the risk of children falling behind. It follows that investments in ‘quality first teaching’ not only brings greatest benefit to children but is also likely to yield the greatest value for money.
The Early Years Statutory Framework 2014
Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems and other written materials) to ignite their interest.
Specific areas Reading: children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.
Key Stage 1 The National Curriculum 2014
Teachers should develop pupils’ reading and writing in all subjects to support their acquisition of knowledge. Pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose (both fiction and non-fiction) and be encouraged to read for pleasure. Schools should do everything to promote wider reading. They should provide library facilities and set ambitious expectations for reading at home.
A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
It is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in word reading and comprehension; different kinds of teaching are needed for each. Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics should be emphasised in the early teaching of reading to beginners (i.e. unskilled readers) when they start school.
Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.
During year 1, teachers should build on work from the Early Years Foundation Stage, making sure that pupils can sound and blend unfamiliar printed words quickly and accurately using the phonic knowledge and skills that they have already learnt. Teachers should also ensure that pupils continue to learn new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and revise and consolidate those learnt earlier. The understanding that the letter(s) on the page represent the sounds in spoken words should underpin pupils’ reading and spelling of all words. This includes common words containing unusual GPCs. The term ‘common exception words’ is used throughout the programmes of study for such words.
Alongside this knowledge of GPCs, pupils need to develop the skill of blending the sounds into words for reading and establish the habit of applying this skill whenever they encounter new words. This will be supported by practice in reading books consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and skill and their knowledge of common exception words. At the same time, they will need to hear, share and discuss a wide range of high-quality books to develop a love of reading and broaden their vocabulary.’
By the beginning of year 2, pupils should be able to read all common graphemes. They should be able to read unfamiliar words containing these graphemes, accurately and without undue hesitation, by sounding them out in books that are matched closely to each pupil’s level of word reading knowledge. They should also be able to read many common words containing GPCs taught so far [for example, shout, hand, stop, or dream], without needing to blend the sounds out loud first. Pupils’ reading of common exception words [for example, you, could, many, or people], should be secure. Pupils will increase their fluency by being able to read these words easily and automatically. Finally, pupils should be able to retell some familiar stories that have been read to and discussed with them or that they have acted out during year 1.
During year 2, teachers should continue to focus on establishing pupils’ accurate and speedy word reading skills. They should also make sure that pupils listen to and discuss a wide range of stories, poems, plays and information books; this should include whole books. The sooner that pupils can read well and do so frequently, the sooner they will be able to increase their vocabulary, comprehension and their knowledge across the wider curriculum.
Our tracked reading data...
Our Early Reading Action Plan for 2020-2021