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Harpenden Academy is a Reading School
At Harpenden Academy we recognise the relationship between attainment in and enjoyment of reading. We aim to develop positive attitudes towards reading and foster a love of books through the school’s enthusiastic reading culture. As a school we take specific action to ensure we are equipping pupils with the skills to become readers and to ensure reading is promoted as a high-value activity. We use the several strategies detailed in this report to organise reading for pleasure and support Harpenden Academy pupils in becoming confident, keen and capable readers.
In order to teach reading effectively, staff need to have the necessary knowledge and skills. Our monitoring cycle and staff self-review identifies areas of strength and weakness in teaching and these are addressed through whole school CPD; targeted ‘courses’ for individuals and further peer to peer support to share good practice. We use in-house expertise as much as possible to share good practice.
The structured, systematic teaching of phonics taught 4 days per week in Reception and KS1 using Read Write inc ensures staff are equipped to cover all areas of phonics successfully. We use data analysis to identify areas of need and regularly review, and where necessary adjust, class and catch-up provision.
Teaching the Reading Curriculum
Our data analysis identifies pupils who have fallen or who are at risk of falling behind in their reading and interventions are put in place. These are either small teaching groups in addition to classroom provision or specific strategies used within whole class teaching to help accelerate progress. Half termly pupil progress review meetings between Senior Leaders and class teachers judge the impact of interventions and groupings are amended or teaching support redeployed according to need. We acknowledge that reading enjoyment and reading achievement are interdependent, so identification of need is key to ensuring all our pupils can participate fully in the reading curriculum.
Vocabulary development is recognised as a priority, so teachers use all available opportunities to clarify and extend pupils’ understanding of new words. Guided reading sessions are a prime opportunity to do this but new subject vocabulary is also introduced in science, maths and topic lessons. In the early years, pupils’ vocabulary extension is planned for within focus activities.
We recognise the need to increase pupils’ reading stamina and their independence, so pupils are given opportunities to read alone, silently, and as they reach KS2 also to complete ‘read and respond’ exercises to test their comprehension. They learn to make choices about what to read using the selection of books in the class ‘book box’ and from the Library.
Throughout school, teachers read aloud to their classes several times a week. We value reading aloud and hearing books read and recognise that sharing a text is a special time which should be guarded despite the time pressures of the curriculum.
Developing the Reading Environment
Each class in Reception and KS1 has its own book corner containing a range of reading materials. Each day, time is allocated for pupils to select books read in a ‘cosy corner’ or in other shared school spaces for example the outdoor garden. Our pupils enjoy reading together and can regularly be witnessed reading play-scripts aloud or sharing a big book with a friend.
The school library is a resource used by all classes, but is currently under development due to the move. The aim is that the school library can be used as a reference library to support teaching and learning in cross-curricular topic and subjects such as science, history and food technology. The school is designed, with large areas of open areas, like the library so it can increasingly be used for independent research, particularly as pupils move into upper Key Stage 2. We want pupils be involved in running the library so once restocking and cataloguing has taken place, Junior Librarians will be nominated and trained.
Corridor and classroom displays regularly show pupils work associated with key texts or authors e.g. Horrid Henry or Roald Dahl. This not only shows and celebrates what pupils have learnt but also extends the pupils’ knowledge of authors and ‘must reads’.
Reading is promoted and utilised in all subject areas, whether this be on-screen reading as part of topic research; keeping up to date by reading child friendly websites; or using information books to extend knowledge in a range of subject areas.
Adults in school are the pupils’ role models, so we demonstrate that we are readers by sharing with pupils what we are currently reading. Teachers and other adults talk enthusiastically about reading and weave their love of reading into assemblies and presentations. Authors and poets are invited into school and work with year groups.
Classes visit the local library to encourage membership and good habits outside school time.
Our families support pupils by reading with or to them each day, either after or before school, and signing their reading diaries. They are informed about pupils’ reading levels and of course attend Parents’ Evenings and school events to find out about the reading curriculum.
We know that we can do more to inform parents about and involve parents in reading for pleasure, so we use parent workshops to help parents learn about the methods we use.
Raising pupils’ attainment in reading is a priority for every member of the school staff as is developing a love of reading. In the knowledge that excellence and enjoyment are reciprocal processes, we strive to enhance and support children’s reading, so Harpenden Academy pupils love to read because they can read.
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