We prioritise teaching our children how to read – and how to love reading - from their first day at KSA. We immerse children in a book rich and word rich environment throughout nursery and then systematically teach phonics every day through the Read Write Inc Phonics programme, teaching children their sounds, then how to blend and then building their fluency and comprehension from there. Pupils are carefully organised into streamed groups in phonics for as long as they need them.
We know early intervention is best and invest time, energy and expertise into catching pupils up as rapidly as possible – wherever they are in the school. All teachers across the school are teachers of reading and are trained in strategies they can use to develop confidence in their subject specialisms, for example ‘partner reading’ in primary and ‘Inside, Outside, Beyond’ in in secondary.
Engaging every day with a range of high-quality texts is a fundamental part of our curriculum. This begins in our primary reading curriculum where we have mapped the whole curriculum around a carefully selected, age-appropriate and suitably challenging reading spine. Each year group has an over-arching big question to answer over the course of the year to frame big thinking: for example “what does it mean to belong?” in Year 1, to “what is trust?” in Year 6. We have daily reading lessons which follow a robust model using the simple view of reading as well as the five pillars of reading as our guiding principles. We focus on reading shared texts as a whole class, allowing time to practise partner reading to promote fluency, explicitly pre-teaching highest leverage vocabulary to expand our pupils’ lexicon as well as equipping pupils with the skills they need to retrieve evidence and make inferences.
In Secondary, we have selected a diverse range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction texts that build upon the literary, contextual and empowering knowledge we want our pupils to develop. These are used as stimuli to teach pupils to write creative and opinion texts that express their own ideas that link to the theme. In Key Stage 3, each year of study is also centred on a big thematic question that links all the units studied across a year. After studying a range of literature, including modern novels, 19th century fiction, poetry and a Shakespeare play, pupils synthesise their improved understanding of belonging, heroism, growing up and family relationships. Studied texts are deeply rooted in context and building the pupils ‘empowering knowledge’, for example, pupils study the triggers to World War 1 in their war poetry unit, and crime and poverty in Victorian London in A Christmas Carol and use this context to understand writers’ messages and their impact on today’s society.
In Key Stage 4, pupils become increasingly evaluative in literature; they develop their understanding of writers’ intentions and learn to critique the societies that caused characters’ repression. Units are designed to build upon the contexts and empowering knowledge taught in KS3, as pupils grapple with notions of power and leadership, gender expectations, love and relationships. In language lessons, pupils are taught to read and think actively and critically through exposure to texts from a wealth of writers from different backgrounds and experiences.
At Key Stage 5, English Literature is designed to develop the criticality and evaluative skills required for study at university. Students study novels, plays and poetry that offer representations of gender and alterity from the 18th century to the present day and learn to become experts in their contexts and themes. Students direct their own learning through their coursework, demonstrating their passion for reading and eloquence as writers to produce their own evaluative arguments, in preparation for further study at university.
Pupils read for pleasure every day
From enjoying five stories and songs a day for every child in EYFS through whole class story times moving into DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) from Year 4 through to Year 9 building the habit of independent and sustained reading for pleasure and developing their ability to tackle an ever more challenging repertoire of texts via non-fiction DEAR and class reading. Until Year 9, all pupils are also expected to build their reading skills at home every night through carefully monitored homework routines and throughout Key Stage 4 pupils continue to read regularly through non-fiction DEAR. Pupils are increasingly encouraged to read for pleasure on the subjects they enjoy. In Sixth Form, we support wider reading through the use of structured preparatory reading integrated into the curriculum and supporting extended reading through the Extended Qualification Project.
We celebrate reading successes at every opportunity, in class libraries and displays, through Reading Ambassador leadership roles in Primary, in reading competitions and events and through partnership with as many external reading organisations as we can maintain. We are in the process of investing in a new Older Years Site library and have a dedicated full-time librarian.