Our school curriculum is driven and shaped by our school vision, which informs everything that we do.
St Nicholas provides a welcoming, inclusive and aspirational learning environment at the heart of its community. We nurture, encourage and support all children, adults and their families to be the best as God intended. Following God’s example of love and trust, we develop resilience and creativity in all we do.
Learning, loving and encouraging through Christ.
An uncompromising focus on pupils’ personal development has made St Nicholas Church of England Primary Academy a place where pupils always come first. Ofsted 2019
Reading and Phonics Intent
At St Nicholas Church of England Primary Academy we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is key for academic success and so to ensure we have a holistic approach to the teaching of reading, we implement the following.
Children take part in daily Guided Reading lessons, where children are exposed to a range of different texts and can demonstrate their understanding and thinking behind these. During these small group sessions, we encourage and challenge children’s thinking and understanding, setting personal and aspirational targets to help them to become the best reader they can be. By working together, encouraging and guiding, we develop children’s resilience and determination to do better. Children are given time to read, reflect and question.
We are very lucky to have a wide range of reading books in our school. All children from Reception to Year 6 choose a reading book to take home and this reading book is changed when necessary.
Each classroom will have a selection of books in their classroom which are directly linked with the class topic. This offers opportunities for the children to apply their reading skills across the curriculum. Each classroom has a reading area that is filled with books suitable for their reading age. This is a comfortable place for children to read throughout the day. This is changed based on the needs and interests of the children.
Children are read to each day by their class teacher. This could be a book that the teacher recommends to the class or a recommendation from a child.
Children have the opportunity to take part in ‘Reading Buddies’, in which children mix with other children from different year groups and share a book together.
Children who are not yet ‘free readers’, will work through our school reading scheme – these are levelled books which match the children’s current reading age and are closely linked toour Read, Write, Inc phonics program. Support is put in place to ensure that all children are able to access reading and have books that motivate and inspire them.
We expect family at home to read these books with their child daily and make comments in their child’s reading record. By the time children leave St Nicholas Church of England Primary Academy they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. Families and the community are welcomed in to support our children’s reading. In EYFS, parents are invited into the classroom to read alongside their children, to encourage and inspire them and to demonstrate that reading is a fun, valuable and life-long skill. We have many volunteer readers come into school to listen the children read; these include sixth form students, parents, grandparents and members of the local community. We recognise that for some of our parents, reading is not something that they are able to support their children with and with the guidance of our FLO many of our parents have attended reading courses to improve their own life chances.
Finally, reading is joyful and fun. We run reading clubs in the library at lunchtimes, take part fully in World Book Days, Book Weeks, have run pyjama and bedtime story sessions, have competitions to create inspiring book corners and book doors and celebrate success in our weekly celebration assemblies.
At St Nicholas Church of England Primary Academy, we use a synthetic phonics programme called ‘Read Write Inc’ produced by Ruth Miskin. Read Write Inc is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions in small groups where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge.
Teachers assess children regularly against the Reading Key Performance Indicators (in Years 1-6) and against the Reading Early Learning Goal (in EYFS). These regular assessments inform planning and allow teachers to identify any gaps in learning. Teachers also complete regular Read Write Inc. assessments and plot children onto a tracking grid, which ensures children are grouped appropriately in phonics. Pixl is used as an assessment tool in KS2 which helps to identify weaknesses and provides interventions specifically matched to the needs of the children. Pupil progress and core team meetings take place regularly to discuss the progress of all children, including those children reading at the higher end of their year group.
Teachers plan Guided Reading sessions weekly that are matched to the different needs of the children. The children are grouped and the texts are match to their reading level. Questions are purposefully planned linked to the reading content domains to ensure progression between year groups and abilities.
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1.
Phonics screening has improved rapidly over the last 4 years and our children now attain above the National average. Despite children starting St Nicholas at below average starting points, by the time they leave us in Year 6, most children achieve an expected level of reading or higher.
We firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. By creating a learning environment based in love, trust and encouragement, we give all children the opportunity to enter the magical worlds that books open up to them. We promote reading for pleasure as part of our reading curriculum. Children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors and to review their books objectively. This enhances a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and topic themes.