Putting reading up front
Front Lawn is an average-sized primary school situated in Leigh Park, the most deprived area of Hampshire. The children range from the ages of 2 – 11 with above the national average percentage of children on the child protection register; 50% of the children are pupil premium. The school has been on a journey of improvement since 2013, when Talk for Writing was first introduced. Reading results are greatly improved with children making accelerated progress.
Historically, our children rarely read for pleasure and boys, in particular, had a negative attitude towards reading. Reading was taught in a traditional carousel style with little opportunity to develop oral comprehension, and learning was limited to the group that had the teacher focus for that particular lesson.
In order to allow children to achieve Age-Related Expectations and to develop a positive attitude towards reading, we knew we had to change our approach. With this in mind, we introduced an English session (from 9 – 10.30) that included whole class reading and writing. The first step was to ensure that teachers and support staff were confident with the concept of teaching reading to the whole class. We used strategies such as Aiden Chamber’s ‘Book Talk’ with a ‘Tell me grid’ to develop oral comprehension. Staff meetings, literacy leads modelling in class and regular peer observations helped to develop expertise amongst all staff. Alongside this, we used planning and assessment documents to guarantee that coverage was met throughout the year. In addition, to ensure that word reading was also a focus, time was allocated in the morning so that teachers could hear children read and teach any word-reading skills required.
As a result of teaching reading to the whole class, children are now more confident in discussing a text and unpicking vocabulary in order to comprehend at the standard expected for their age and at ‘greater depth’. Children’s higher-level understanding of vocabulary allows them to participate in challenging discussions around words and phrases, make detailed predictions and justify their opinions in a mature and sensitive manner.
At Front Lawn Primary Academy, we strongly believe that each of our children has the right to experience a wide range of literature that will enable them to learn and use the vocabulary that they need to flourish in the wider world beyond Leigh Park; whole class reading has been our vehicle to bring this about. The children now love talking about their reading:
“We talk about all the pictures and what we like and don’t like. It doesn’t matter what you like as no one is wrong.” – Deanna, Year 1
“I really like talking about books like Harry Potter and Gangsta Granny as everyone listens to you and it feels good.” – Alfie, Year 3
“I like it when you have different ideas from other people because you can get into a good debate, like when we did Narnia.” – Stevie, Year 6.
To find out more about Front Lawn and the training it offers visit http://www.talk4writing.co.uk/training-centres/front-lawn/