Reading is central to every child’s development and is at the centre of our school ethos.
At The Batt School, it is our whole school ethos which puts reading – and particularly reading for pleasure – at the heart of what we do. To be a ‘reader’ is central to a child’s understanding of the school curriculum and is of vital importance in life. Fluent readers can access a full range of life experiences and can enjoy an amazing breadth of genres and writers.
We aim to develop a love and appreciation of reading which will stay with children for life. We hope to achieve this through careful planning and teaching using up-to-date research, strategies and resources. We aim to use excellent reading materials and resources which provide a breadth and range across the curriculum.
Our reading culture
It is vital that we all understand the importance of daily reading with the children. The way in which we approach reading and the priority it has, is set out from the very beginning - our school ethos is explained to parents at an induction evening before their child starts in Reception. Early on in the new school year, we hold a ‘Curriculum Evening’ for all parents where they have the chance to talk to the teachers about reading and how we can support the home-school link (a questionnaire is given out which informs us of the children’s experiences of reading at home).
We have strong expectations that parents will hear their child read (or, as their child gets older, discuss with them what they have read) every single day. We make sure there is the time in school every day to change children’s reading books, so that they receive a new one as soon as they are ready for it. This helps to develop (and maintain) reading momentum.
Reading is a big priority for us because we all want children to become lifelong readers for pleasure. As such, we give over large parts of the timetable to reading. Every child in school has a session for reading every day – either independently, to an adult, or as part of a guided group. In addition, every class shares a book read by the teacher; these aren’t read as part of the curriculum or to carry out assessments, but purely for pleasure. The WHOLE SCHOOL READ, where everybody in the school stops to enjoy a book, takes place weekly.
We believe that every teacher and support staff should be an advocate for reading. The adult’s love of reading is shared with the children and they enjoying reading texts to promote, discuss and recommend to the children. The staffroom is a place where books are discussed, recommended and swapped!
Quality reading materials
Our class and school libraries are stocked with high-quality books which give the children opportunities to read a vast range of genres at both appropriate and challenging levels. Through research, all staff are aware of the importance of ‘Cultural Capital’ texts which include the classics and texts which have complex plots, narration and time-sequences. These texts are shared and discussed as a class as well as children having the opportunity to read these books independently. This opportunity to give children the chance to understand the different structures and vocabulary used within different genres of texts is a priority for the school (see link to Cultural Capital texts – 5 Plagues of Reading).
We ensure quality texts and text analysis form part of every English unit, with time built into units for children to read the texts and discuss what their thoughts are towards them. This is before they move on to applying skills of analysis, retrieval and inference to what they have read.
Short writing activities which enable children to respond to the texts occur throughout units so that children can write in-role, ask questions of characters or explore vocabulary or inference, which provides them with opportunities to improve their comprehension skills with a text that they exploring in depth.
Another of our priorities lies in ensuring that the children study a broad curriculum using a cross-curricular approach. This includes linking English lessons and age-appropriate texts to the topics studied, which enables children to develop their knowledge of the subject while also boosting their comprehension.
Vocabulary, Vocabulary, Vocabulary
There are many elements to reading identified in the scientific evidence for effective teaching of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Vocabulary is a very important piece of the puzzle and we have a school culture where ‘words’ and their meanings are discussed throughout the school day in every class. We expose the children to a large range of vocabulary and encourage the children to discuss with the class unfamiliar words that they come across in their reading books.
Every year group have English Ambassadors who meet regularly with the English Leads. During this time, they are straight to the point and give well-thought out ideas to improve and strengthen a love for reading in the school. All children having a say on the authors and genres which they would like to see on their class and the school library’s book shelves is vital for a fresh and meaningful stock of books. The English Ambassadors lead book clubs with a focus on engagement and enjoyment for reading for children across the year groups.
Every year, a wonderful team of year sixes take over the Scholastic Book Fair whereby they promote books and reading and run the Fair. Seeing their peers’ enthusiasm for reading and bringing books to life through drama excites the children across the school to read and gain as much enjoyment as they have (see link to The Book Fair Takeover 2019).
Julia Donaldson’s top reading tips
Julia Donaldson has written some of the most popular and best-loved children’s stories including The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom, The Highway Rat, Zog and Stick Man.
Watch these videos of Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson talking about some simple and fun ways you can help your child with their reading at home. Guaranteed to make reading fun and help your child develop a love of reading.
At The Batt School we wish to make children both passionate and competent life long readers. Here are some suggested reading titles that you could use when supporting your child with their reading.