Mrs S Early
RWI Lead (Early Reading & Writing)
Mrs S Wood
A Letter from the Head
At Liskeard Hillfort, we strive to not only ensure that children can read well, but also that they love reading. Reading is not only a vital skill for life, it also opens up the vast collection of human knowledge. It allows children to use their imagination, create a world and look out through other people’s eyes. Children can feel things, visit places and worlds they would never otherwise know and learn that everyone else out there is a ‘me’ as well.
We share knowledge and stories with our children with passion, carefully selecting texts to widen their experiences and grab their imagination.
We recognise that reading skill and confidence is a vital component of reading for pleasure and make sure that children who may be struggling get the best support to catch up whilst still accessing stories which they may not be able to read for themselves.
We ascribe to the 'Simple View of Reading' - the theory that links decoding of words with lingustic comprehension, resulting in reading comprehension. More can be found about the 'Simple View of Reading' at https://www.doe.mass.edu/massliteracy/skilled-reading/simple-view.html#:~:text=The%20Simple%20View%20of%20Reading%20is%20a%20theory%20that%20attempts,Gough%20%26%20Tunmer%2C1986).
As soon as children enter EYFS, we share five stories a day whilst they begin the phonics journey to becoming readers themselves. We use a systematic phonics scheme (Read Write Inc., or RWI) which places children in groups exactly at the right point in their learning journey. This ensures that children are confident from the start and retain that confidence all the way through.
Children stay on the RWI programme until they are confident, fluent readers who seek understanding in what they read. During this time, RWI is complemented with books being read aloud by our adults, ensuring development of vocabulary and enjoyment in the written word. Children not only take RWI books home to ensure they practice their own reading, but also take home bedtime story books which adults and older siblings can share at home.
Throughout this time, parents at home are also emailed brief videos to help practise those sounds at home too! In fact, having an adult at home who can support greatly aids the pace of reading development. We would expect all families to be supporting children by reading at home with children for at least 20 minutes per day - every day!
As children come to end of the RWI, they move onto a short transition scheme before the world of Accelerated Reader books is opened for them. Accelerated Reader is a scheme that matches real books to a ZPD score. Children take a short test each half term to determine their ZPD and choose books which match their ability. Once they have read their book, they complete a quiz to ensure that they have understood what they have read. Children read their AR books at home and in school. (If you want to find books within your child’s ZPD, you can go to www.arbookfind.co.uk.)
All the way through their AR journey, children are also read to by their teacher during whole class reading sessions. During these 30 minute sessions, children have a copy of the book and follow the text as the teacher models the skills of a reader, explain new words and suck children into the plot. Reading in this way gives children access to books which may be too tricky for them to read themselves, either because of tricky language, a complex plot or an unfamiliar setting. Our Whole Class Reading books are carefully chosen by experts in the school: it is one our favourite yet trickiest jobs! There are just so many good books to choose from! Our choices include books written by children’s laureates, award winners, older and modern classics as well as books which open children’s eyes to our multi-cultural world.
Some children, who excel at reading, will access our Head Teacher’s reading shelf which contain meatier books which align with their skills whilst remaining age appropriate. Our only problem is keeping it stocked with enough new books!
We are also striving to ensure that children access reading across the curriculum. We are currently in the process of carefully choosing non-fiction texts which will expand children’s vocabulary as well their understanding of the subject.
In short, Reading is Hillfort and Hillfort is Reading. Even one of our Local Governing Board owns the local bookshop! One of our children’s high points is that moment when they win a coveted Headteacher’s award because it gives them a token to our book vending machine. Similarly, every time a child successfully completes 25 ‘reads’, they are presented in assembly with a beautifully presented, child designed and professionally produced bookmark! Children can purchase any number of books in our atrium “Book Swap Shop” for 10p each – and swap them for free for ever after! And as for our library – well, even if the newly renovated Liskeard library isn’t open yet, we are still working with the smaller building – and by the end of 2022/23, with the support of the Foyle Foundation, we will have spent the equivalent of an additional £10,000 on stock!
We are absolutely determined that every child will learn to read, regardless of their background, of their needs or of their abilities. There is no greater gift than the gift of the written word.