Humberstone Junior Academy


The Reading Curriculum at Humberstone Junior Academy

At Humberstone Junior Academy, we are determined that every child will become a fluent reader regardless of background, needs or abilities. Reading is at the very heart of the whole curriculum, underpinning every subject area and forming a key part of the school’s ethos. We want all our children to be fluent, confident readers and to develop a genuine love of reading.

The school provides a rich curriculum of reading experiences and a language rich environment which supports and challenges children to read widely. Research shows that children who read more often and hear more stories become better readers and achieve well throughout the curriculum. Reading is therefore one of the most important ways we can positively influence the life chances of our children and build cultural capital. 

“Making sure that children become engaged with reading from the beginning is therefore one of the most important ways to make a difference to their life chances, whatever their socio-economic background. For this to happen, however, children need to learn to read as fluently as possible and be motivated to continue reading.” Dfe Reading Framework 2021

By the end of KS2, we aim for all children to: 

  • read a wide range of texts and genres independently and fluently and demonstrate a  good understanding of what they have read
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, demonstrate an excellent understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • read and appreciate carefully chosen, increasingly complex texts which reflect a  diverse and rich  literary heritage 
  • meet age related expectations for reading, with the aspiration to exceed them for many children. 

Building on Early Reading 

The vast majority of children will be fluent and confident readers who have secure phonic knowledge by the time they start year 3. However there may be a small group of children who have not mastered phonic knowledge and application yet and need further support in order to do so. It is our expectation that every child can and will become a fluent reader with the right support and practice. 

When children are not yet secure in their knowledge and application of the  phonic code, we use the synthetic phonics programme, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to address gaps in knowledge. This builds on the excellent foundations laid in our Infant school and provides a consistent approach across the two schools. Where children need phonics support in year 3 and beyond this will be through the Little Wandle Catch Up Programme and where appropriate, the Little Wandle SEND Support Programme.  Catch up includes direct teaching of letter sounds and three reading practice sessions a week in a small group. Children may also benefit from 1-1 support in order to address specific gaps in learning. The aim will always be to accelerate children back to age related expectations through early intervention and targeted support from well trained and experienced adults.  Half termly assessments take place for children receiving phonics support to help inform future teaching and assess progress. All our teachers and support staff are trained in the Little Wandle Phonics scheme.

Our Reading Scheme

The school uses the Big Cat Collins Reading Scheme which is organised into progressively more challenging bands as children progress and become more fluent and confident readers. Children will start year 3 with assessment information including which book band they are currently assessed as reading at the end of year 2 and their end of key stage reading and phonics assessment information. Children have regular opportunities to practise their reading with their class teacher and in small groups. We aim to hear the children who are finding reading the most difficult (lowest 20% and vulnerable readers) read each day in order to develop fluency and accuracy. Teachers have strong expertise in making decisions about whether a child is ready to move up a book band based on their level of accuracy, speed and understanding of meaning. We expect all our children to read at home with a parent, older sibling or other family member every night in order to build confidence and fluency. 

Whole Class Reading 

Children will read regularly in class through their daily English lesson. This will include the teacher modelling reading, children reading together and independent reading. The texts have been very carefully chosen to provide gradually increasing levels of challenge and complexity as children move through key stage 2 and to consider the reading experiences that children will need in order to meaningfully access complex and classic fiction and poetry, archaic texts and the challenging vocabulary and range of literary devices they will meet by the end of year 6.  Texts are taught through well sequenced units of work which draw reading objectives from the termly progression map for each year group and build towards well defined outcomes. A unit of work may last for 2 weeks or up to 8 weeks depending on the length and challenge of the text and the age and stage of the children.

“It is important to recognise that the books students read and study in school are finite – a scarce and valuable resource… these few books form the foundation of their knowledge of how literature works within and interacts with society, so teachers must select them like the precious resource they are.” Ofsted curriculum review of English 2022

Guided Reading 

Children are directly taught the knowledge and skills they need to improve in their reading through small guided reading groups of up to 6 children. Groups are ability banded so that teaching can address specific next steps and gaps in learning and so that books can be matched to the group reading ability.  A typical guided reading session will last for up to half an hour depending on the age and stage of children and will be led by the class teacher or a teaching assistant. The teacher will directly teach knowledge and skills from the termly reading progression map which breaks the national curriculum objectives into small steps in learning. These sessions provide an opportunity for children to build reading fluency, for the teacher to assess reading and for children to develop understanding and meaning through questioning and shared discussions. All children will have at least one session with their teacher each week although they may have additional practice sessions with a teaching assistant depending on their level of reading ability. 

Reading Intervention and Further Support. 

Whilst it is the aim of the school for all children to keep up with age related reading expectations, we recognise that some children might need additional support and different resources in order to achieve this. Children who are finding reading the most difficult (the lowest 20% of readers and those that are vulnerable) will be heard reading every day by a trained adult. In addition they may be part of a phonics catch up group using the Little Wandle Phonics Scheme which provides targeted support for gaps in phonics knowledge for children in key stage 2. The school also benefits from reading mentors who are qualified teachers and reading experts who work with children who are vulnerable to falling behind, are not regular home readers or have additional needs. Reading mentors work in 10 week blocks with individual children, providing 3 sessions a week for up to 30 minutes. We know from the careful analysis of data that children make highly accelerated progress when they work with a reading mentor. They also develop highly positive attitudes to reading and read more widely and more regularly outside of the mentoring program. 

Whole School Reading Culture

The belief that every child will learn to read fluently and leave key stage 2 with a love of reading is one of the curriculum cornerstones and central to the school’s ethos. A strong whole school reading culture underpins the approaches described above and can be seen, heard and experienced in all corners of the school. This includes beautiful book corners in every classroom which are well stocked with a range of styles and genres and provides opportunities for children to take a non scheme reading book home and to develop a love of reading regularly and widely. Teachers model a love of reading. They talk passionately about what they are reading and are experts in children’s literature. They make recommendations to children , discuss their likes and dislikes and encourage children to share what they are reading with other pupils.  The end of day story time is an essential part of the school day. For the last 10 – 15 mins of the day – everyone gathers excitedly to listen to the whole class story. Story time is precious and books are carefully chosen by class teachers to extend author knowledge, genre knowledge and pupils’ experiences of the world. The school has invested in a newly refurbished and stocked library that provides an inspiring place for children to choose books, carry out research and hear stories read aloud.  Children and staff talk knowledgeably about authors and how they write, they read for pleasure and they value reading as an important life skill. Reading is at the very heart of our school and our curriculum.