English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
At Ashcombe, our teaching of writing is based on the work of Judith Hochman & Natalie Wexler's 'The Writing Revolution' to aim for systematic teaching of writing skills. We have supplemented this with Alan Peat's 'Exciting Sentences' approach. Using these sources alongside evidence based practice from the Education Endowment Foundation's recommendations for literacy alongside consultancy from Alex Quigley, writing at Ashcombe follows the following sequence:
We believe this gives our students the tools to become effective writers and support their reading and comprehension in turn. Please see our progression document for the teaching of writing below:
Essential Letters and Sounds
Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.
Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently. Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.
We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.
We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs ‘sh’ (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs ‘igh’ (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs ‘eigh’ (four letters spelling one sound).
We teach children to:
• Decode (read) by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently
• Encode (write) by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.
Supporting Reading at Home:
- Children will only read books that are entirely decodable, this means that they should be able to read these books as they already know the code contained within the book.
- We only use pure sounds when decoding words (no ‘uh’ after the sound)
- We want children to practise reading their book 3 times across the week working on these skills:
Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.
Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.
Expression – using intonation and expression to bring the text to life!
We must use pure sounds when we are pronouncing the sounds and supporting children in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our children. Please watch the videos below for how to accurately pronounce these sounds.
At the beginning of each academic year, we will hold an information session for parents and carers to find out more about what we do for Phonics at our school. Please do join us.
More support for parents and carers can be found here:
Our ambition is to build a nationally renowned reading programme.
Our vision is to diminish the effects of disadvantage by equipping our learners with the ‘master skill’ of school, which unlocks the academic curriculum.
Fiction Reading Canon
Our students begin Our approach to Reading at Ashcombe has been built upon the research and work of Doug Lemov, Coleen Driggs and Erica Woolway's 'Reading Reconsidered' alongside 'Closing the Vocabulary Gap' by Alex Quigley. Students are taught reading daily based on our school canon of texts which can be seen below. By systematically working our way through a rich diet of texts which deliberately build our student reading experience and vocabulary before they leave us in year 6.
Non Linear time sequence
Complexity of the narrator
Complexity of plot/symbol
Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak
The trouble with trolls by Jan Brett
Voices in the park by Anthony Brown
The chickens build a wall by Jean Francois Dumont
The colour Monster by Anna Llenas
The Magic faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
When the rain comes by Tom Pow
Hey Little Ant by Hannah and Phillip Hoose
Grandad’s island by Benji Davies
Tadpole’s promise by Jeanne Willis
Make way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
The stinky Cheese man and other fairly stupid fairy tales by Jon Sxieszka
The Little House by Virgina Lee Burton
The heart and the bottle by Oliver Jeffers
Wolves by Emily Gravett
Charlotte’s web by E.B White
The firework maker’s daughter by Phillip Pullman
Woof by Allan Ahlber
The Iron Man
By Ted Hughes
Poetry: Topsy Turvy World
Just William by Richmal Crompton
Fortunately the milk by Neil Gainman
Nim’s Island by Wendy Orrg
Love that dog by Sharon Creech
Poetry: Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field
Around the world in 80 days by Jules Verne
Time travelling with a hamster by Ross Welford
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
By Lewis Carroll
White Fang by Jack ondon
The clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine
Clockwork Phillip Pullman
Skellig by David Almond
Poetry: The Tyger by William Blake
Embedded Informational Texts
One of the main difficulties pupils encounter when starting secondary school and moving onto further education is the reading challenge. Navigating a range of complex informational texts in different subject disciplines and the associated vocabulary in those texts can be a barrier to many pupils. We are embedding non-fiction texts into our curriculum to conquer that reading challenge. We equip our pupils with broader subject knowledge, widen their vocabulary and explicitly teach how to navigate these texts.
Reading for pleasure
Every child is listened to once a week and our children who need more support to read are read with with three times per week. We are investing in new class reading resources and a new literacy hub - housing a high-quality current children's literature is being built as part of our EIS Project to provide a rich and inspiring choice of reading for pleasure books for all children.
Children who can read independently take part in accelerated reader to motivate and encourage a love of reading.