Reading plays a central role in all learning at William Murdoch Primary School as it is fundamental to pupils’ overall development as learners, both in and out of school. There is a strong correlation between being a successful reader and achieving overall academic success and we therefore place great emphasis on the importance of reading and dedicate a generous amount of our curriculum time to it.Our pupils’ reading journey starts in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 through the development of their phonic knowledge using the Read Write Inc. (RWI) scheme. The programme teaches pupils to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension, whilst also developing the skills of letter formation and spelling. Pupils begin their phonics sessions by learning to read the 40+ sounds and blending these sounds into words, before learning to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. As pupils work their way through the RWI scheme they read lively phonic books which are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and tricky words, with fluency improving as a result. At the end of Year 1, all pupils will take the Phonics Screening Check which gives a good indication of how they have progressed in terms of early reading.
The teaching of phonics is supported and enhanced by our text-based approach to the teaching of English. High-quality, challenging stories and novels are the foundation of our English curriculum with pupils exposed to different genres and authors throughout their time in school. Some of the texts most enjoyed by pupils are Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo (studied in Year 5), Supertato by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet (studied in Year 1) and Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden (studied in Year 6). Through these texts pupils develop their fluency and comprehension and are introduced to a wide-range of vocabulary, which is crucial to becoming a more successful reader. The texts also allow pupils to generate imaginative and creative pieces of writing based on the plot, characters and settings they have explored. Class Reader sessions are timetabled in the Upper School to ensure there is enough time for pupils to read the entire story or novel, whilst in the Lower School Story Time sessions led by the class teachers are an opportunity for pupils to discover the joy of reading the stories and novels on our reading spine.
To further develop our pupils’ reading, two sessions have been timetabled each week which focus on non-fiction texts. One of these sessions is an opportunity for pupils to do some background reading into the humanities unit they are studying, which gives them a deeper knowledge of what they are learning about. The other non-fiction session is dedicated to reading shorter extracts around a wide-range of topics and completing comprehension exercises based on what they have read. The school has a subscription to First News, a weekly newspaper for young people, which supports these sessions and ensures our pupils have a good knowledge of what is going on in the world.
All of our pupils have access to a well-resourced library which has been developed with the support of Peters, an organisation with decades of experience helping schools with their reading provision. Each class is timetabled a session in the library each week where pupils explore the books on offer and choose one to take home and read. Pupils also read a home reader book each week which is taken from our home reading scheme; they are heard reading at home and in school, with their reading record signed each time by parents or staff. Pupils move up a book band once the teacher is happy that they can read with 90% fluency and comprehension. When a pupil moves up a book band they are awarded a special certificate in the next appropriate Good Work Assembly.