St Columba’s Catholic Primary School is situated on the outskirts of Birmingham. The school serves a community which faces considerable social and economic challenges. It is within one of the most disadvantaged wards in the UK. In spite of this children have good attitudes to learning and enjoy the involvement in school life. The school is slightly smaller than the average sized primary school and is above the national average in terms of Free School Meals.
The school has seen an upward trend in terms of children’s reading attainment over the past years showing although many children arrive at the school below age appropriate, more are leaving at age appropriate and many making better than expected progress
We believe that children need to use a range of skills to become a competent reader. As a school we use Oxford Reading Tree books, poetry books and Project X which include phonically decodable books, as well as ‘real’ books, which are banded, using the book bands scheme.
The provision for children’s reading is meticulously organised, from when children start in Reception through to becoming literate 11-year-olds. Teachers read good quality texts to children as part of English lessons and there is time just before lunch dedicated just to reading. All year groups have story time during the week where the children listen to a variety of stories read by the class teacher.
Each class has a reading area with a variety of non-fiction and fiction books.
Early Years and Key Stage 1
In Reception and Key Stage 1 there is a structured phonic scheme, Floppy Phonics, that is systematic in the way it allows the pupils to develop their reading skills. Pupils are taught at their levels across the three classes each day for 20 minutes. To allow targeted work at the correct level some pupils are taught within smaller groups.
Across KS1 pupils continue to read books from the Oxford reading scheme so that their familiarity with characters and themes within the texts deepen and develop. The children's reading experiences are widened through the use of class texts and through the use of other age appropriate texts from supplementary schemes and from 'real' books.
Key Stage 2
In Key Stage 2 (and for the better readers towards the end of Key Stage 1) we begin to move from the Oxford Reading Tree scheme into real books. Our books are banded according to the complexity involved in reading. Pupils are able to choose books from the different levels that will enhance their reading abilities. There are Project X books which appeal to many children, but are designed to engage boys more in their reading than others.
Daily reading sessions are designed to develop a love of reading and pupils are encouraged to bring in their own books or choose from their class libraries. Parental support is also prevalent within Key Stage 2 and they allow pupils to practice their reading and comprehension skills.
Years 5 & 6 begin to look at more complex texts and develop deeper reading skills by utilising extracts from classic books or other longer books broken into chapters. Teachers plan lessons that allow them to question pupils about what they are reading and probe the children about what authors styles indicate about the characters and story lines.