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At Dovecotes Primary we love to read!

At Dovecotes Primary we teach phonics using Ruth Miskin’s Read Write Inc. programme (RWI). We begin teaching phonics in Nursery where children focus on developing careful and accurate listening skills. We have fun with ‘Fred talk’ and ‘Fred games’. The children learn the silent signals and reading behaviour strategies to ensure a successful start. Children go on to learn the rhymes and picture cards that RWI uses to support children’s understanding of Set 1 sounds. Our Early Years children are surrounded by a language rich and stimulating environment. At Dovecotes, we believe that building upon vocabulary and using rich language in conversation daily with our children, helps to create a confident reader. 

The phonics programme continues in Reception and into Key Stage 1. We begin by teaching the children to say and recognise the letters that represent the most common sounds and show them how to 'blend' these sounds together to make words. Reception begins with teaching all the Set 1 sounds and initial blending of CVC and CCVC words. Then we introduce ‘special friends’ and teach children how to blend with diagraphs. Parents are invited into school for workshops where they learn the RWI rhymes and phrases and how to support their children with reading. Links to the Virtual Classroom for RWI are also sent home so parents have the chance to practice the sounds at home with their children.

Children continue with phonics in Year 1. Phonics Screening check results remain strong each year and remain above national average. Children are assessed every six weeks by our Early Reading Leader and grouped according to their ability. Once children complete the programme in Year 2, they begin specific reading lessons where DERRIC (decode, explain, retrieve, review, infer, choice) comprehension skills are taught. However, phonics teaching remains a distinct part of all reading lessons from Year 2 onwards and throughout Key Stage 2, so that children retain taught strategies to decode unfamiliar words and comprehend effectively across a wide variety of text types. 

In Reception and Key Stage 1, children take practice words or a RWI book bag book home once they are able to decode words. This is a book that is phonetically decodable at their level and matches their reading ability. Alongside this, they take home a ‘book to love and share’. This book is for parents and children to enjoy together to ensure a love of reading is promoted. In Key Stage 2, children are given the opportunity to change their own books within their reading band. Once they have completed all reading book band levels they become a ‘free reader’ meaning that they can choose from any book in the school library. We encourage parents and families to listen to children read at home as much as possible to encourage and support them in their reading journeys. Children are rewarded for regularly reading at home and are given stickers, prizes and certificates.

We have recently introduced a new approach to whole class reading called ‘Reading Escape’. The children hear a story carefully selected based on their interests; they also listen to stories with social/moral/cultural messages as well as stories with rhyme, stories in which our children can identify themselves and non-fiction texts. Children hear the same text each week in Key Stage 1; this creates an opportunity for those children in RWI to have exposure to a text that develops their comprehension skills. We discuss text retrieval, participate in discussions about vocabulary and use a mixture of choral and echo reading to promote higher-level reading skills, such as prosody and intonation. In Key Stage 2, classes complete a whole book in their ‘Reading Escape’ sessions before moving onto the next. Children show great enthusiasm in these reading sessions; the texts are also displayed in each class to allow children to discuss them with peers and other adults in school.

As part of our Pupil Leadership Teams, a selection of children in Year 6 are given the responsibility of being Reading Buddies and read with our younger children at the end of lunch times. Our Reading Buddies are children who love to read and want to share this passion with our younger children at Dovecotes to inspire them to love reading too.

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