At St. Paul’s, we want all our children to develop a lifelong love of reading because we know that it has a dramatic impact on their educational outcomes, wellbeing and social mobility and it is also a huge pleasure in itself. In order to do this, we are determined that all children will learn to read from the very start of their journey with us. The children are taught to use phonic knowledge as the route to decode words. Through practice, they build fluency in reading these words so that they can gain meaning from what they are reading. From this, they then gain pleasure, interest and enjoyment which motivates them to read more.
The children are grouped according to their phonics phase and they learn to read in groups. Each group has three 30-minute lessons each week lead by a teacher or teaching assistant. This is called guided reading.
At St. Paul’s, our approach to guided reading is carefully structured into progressive steps to support all children to learn to read using phonics as their prime approach to decoding.
Steps 1, 2 and 3
In order to prepare the children to read their first Floppy’s Phonics books, the children will progress through three steps. In these first steps, the children will practise all the Phase 2 phonics skills across each of their three lessons to build confidence and fluency in first reading words and then captions. In these steps, the children will use flashcards, blending cards and Jelly and Bean books. Following these lessons in school, the children will take these home to practise to gain confidence and fluency (being able to read them without sounding them out).
In step 4, the children are ready to read whole sentences in Floppy’s Phonics books. They are fully decodable and matched to the children’s phonics phase. There will not be any words in the books that they cannot read as they have already learnt to read them in phonics lessons or Common Exception Word lessons. They are also matched to the children’s reading fluency. The children should only need to slow down and decode one word out of every ten when they first read the book. If they are decoding more words than this, the book is not correctly matched to the child’s fluency skills.
The content of the three weekly lessons is planned to provide the children with:
- the background knowledge that they need to understand what the book is about or where it is set
- the phonics skills and Common Exception Words that they need to be able to decode the text
- the time to practise reading the book independently to build up fluency
- the focus on developing understanding of what they are reading
- the model of using and practising expression that shows that they understand what they are reading.
Following these lessons in school, the children will take home their book to share and celebrate their reading with their families, practise further to build fluency and talk about the book to continue to build on their understanding of it.
Key Stage 1
This model and lesson structure is carried across Year 1 and Year 2 (lesson 1 – background knowledge and decoding, lesson 2 – fluency and prosody, lesson 3 – comprehension) as the difficulty of the texts increase. After completing Floppy’s Phonics Phase 6, the children move onto Collins Big Cat banded books. By the end of year 2, they read gold, white and lime in line with the KS1 assessments and begin to record their comprehension tasks in line with KS2 Guided Reading structure and practice.