“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea.” Roald Dahl, Matilda
Reading is the key to the entire curriculum. Our aim at Old Moat is to develop skilled readers with a love of reading. We seek to develop readers who can decode and understand a wide range of texts written for different purposes and think critically about what they are reading. At Old Moat we not only teach the fundamental skills of reading but also nurture children’s reading attitudes and behaviour with the aim that all children have a love of reading that will feed their development in every area of life. Our curriculum is carefully designed for the children we serve to address vocabulary gaps and help them to understand new words in context. Where children are not reading and understanding at an appropriate level, we provide different levels of intervention: we want all our pupils to become young people who can navigate the rest of the education system successfully and understand the world around them. We are a Read Manchester School Champion and part of Read for Good’s Readathon Focus Group because we like to share good practice in spreading the love of reading.
Reading takes many guises at Old Moat: children are read to by teachers and we have a "reading spine" of exciting books by divserse authors that the teachers read from; classes enjoy shared reading during English lessons; guided reading takes place in smaller groups according to ability and children read individually in school and at home.
“The best reading environment is one where there is an expectation of pleasure in reading, where there is an excitement in talking about books and enjoyment in being read to.” Reading Connects Handbook. 2008:5
Our school is awash with books of all shapes, sizes and descriptions: children have access to books from phonics schemes, levelled readers, classrooms, our library and our reading sheds on the playgrounds. Our reading culture is strong and children love to seek out something special to read. We have regular reading assemblies to celebrate books, reading and readers.
Reading is a partnership and we value all the parental support children receive: it is very important that children read at home to an adult, and that they are sent into school with their reading book each day.
We use the BR@P (Better Reading at Primary) intervention as a catch-up programme for children who have fallen behind in their reading. We offer intensive one-to-one support to children identified for the programme, and the programme is specifically tailored to each individual child. We use well-researched methods to find the precise level of text needed for the child to be able to read successfully, then to find the level of text needed for the child to be in the "learning zone" - learning new skills and words, but not working at a level that is too hard. The children begin to view themselves as successful readers, and build on this to make accelerated progress.
Our writing curriculum uses great texts as anchors for units of writing. The children study books by diverse authors with one thing in common: their quality and appeal to the children. We have a writing cycle that helps the children build the skills they need to write for different purposes, with an emphasis on shared writing that allows children to see their teachers as writers. Children take responsibility for their writing, with peer-editing and individual editing forming an important element of their work.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) are taught as integral parts of the writing units covered, though occasionally we will have stand-alone SPAG sessions.
We use Nelson Font as our model for handwriting, and our scheme of work is informed by Nelson and by the National Handwriting Association. Children have regular handwriting lessons so that handwriting becomes fluent and the brain is able to engage fully in composition rather than the physical act of writing.
Phonics is all about sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which we put together to form words. Some sounds are represented by 1 letter, like ‘t’ and some by two or more, like ‘ck’ in duck. Children are taught these sounds and how to match them to letters. Phonics lessons are the building blocks of reading and writing and equip children with the skills needed to become independent readers and writers.
Old Moat is transitioning to using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised scheme. This is a fully-resourced programme and all staff teaching phonics will undertake full training through the scheme. There will also be materials available for parents.