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Reading is fundamental to every child’s educational development and we ensure that it is at the forefront of our curriculum and celebrated from Early Years through to Year 6. High quality texts that cover a range of themes, topics and cultures are part of our daily routine throughout the school. Our experience has proven that a multi-layered approach is the most effective means of achieving high standards in reading. Therefore we use a combination of shared, guided, whole-class and independent reading and aim for all children to leave Nicholas Hawksmoor as confident and competent readers, reading for pleasure at an age-appropriate level.

In Early Years, children are exposed to a word-rich environment, daily stories and picture books to encourage them to ‘read’ pictures, infer, and predict from the very start of their time with us. As a child’s phonic knowledge develops, they become more and more vocal in shared reading and will take great pride and pleasure in joining in with these sessions. Children are issued with the first 100 high frequency words to learn at their own pace. Another 200 are given at the start of Year 1 to learn by the end of Key Stage 1. Guided reading sessions also begin in Reception. This is where children read with an adult in small groups of similar ability to decode texts by using their phonic knowledge and inference skills; these sessions continue throughout Key Stage 1 and into Lower Key Stage 2. The children receive a progressive and structured approach to reading that both works alongside, and further develops their phonic knowledge. Interventions are a vital aspect of our reading provision and we endeavour to enable all children to keep up with their peers through additional 1:1, small group and inference training sessions.

The Book Talk approach is a key principal to our teaching of reading. This system encourages the children to look at reading through a wide variety of ‘lenses’ to help understand different aspects of texts, their purpose and the impact on the reader. Some of the basic lenses are introduced in Early Years and Key Stage 1 during shared reading sessions to develop the children’s familiarity with them. In Key Stage 2, the lenses form the structure of our guided reading sessions; here the children develop their independence and their collaborative skills to find specific evidence from texts and share this with their group and the class.

Whole-class reading and sharing a story is a vital part of our daily routines at Nicholas Hawksmoor. The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education states: ‘Reading aloud is probably the most important thing that teachers can do and needs to be a frequent and regular part of each school day.’ We firmly believe that this is a fundamental aspect in developing children’s passion for reading and the daily ‘class read’ is one of the highlights of the school day for our children; this ensures that all pupils experience high-quality literature on a daily basis.