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At Birchwood, we believe that a high-quality English curriculum is the gateway to accessing all areas of the wider curriculum. We value language and vocabulary as essential to children’s future participation in society. We value high-quality, rich texts and place them at the heart of our teaching and learning. Across the children’s time at Birchwood, they will experience a wealth of high-quality fiction and non-fiction texts (as well as poetry). Each theme is accompanied by well-chosen, engaging texts (often chosen from our Recommended Reading List), which expose children to a range of genres, authors and experiences of the wider world. This immerses them in a high-quality education which supports them to read fluently from a young age.

We want all children to be fluent, confident readers who have developed a breadth of vocabulary within their spoken language and have a lifelong love of reading. The substantive and disciplinary knowledge within reading are taught together which equips children with the ability to read, comprehend and enjoy a variety of genres. Reading for pleasure enhances levels of text comprehension and increases knowledge of grammar and breadth of vocabulary, which contributes to a better awareness of the world.

Across school we have developed an approach to Guided Reading that allows all children from EYFS to Year 5, to read with an adult as part of a small group, three times a week. Year 6 take on a similar approach at various points throughout the year as well. By providing all staff across school with regular professional development, this ensures that our teaching and learning approaches are consistent to enable children to make excellent progress as well as develop a love of reading. From the time our children start at Birchwood, they are provided with two reading books - one which is matched to their current reading attainment; the second text is a high-quality reading for pleasure book from our well-resources school library, which we encourage them to share with adults at home.

Once children are secure with phonics, they further develop their reading skills through our three guided reading sessions with an adult. These are oral sessions, focussing on reading fluency, understanding of skills linking to the VIPERS and developing a wide breadth of vocabulary. The texts read as part of the Guided Reading group are chosen to support and challenge children as readers. In addition to this, children in KS2 also have an additional session each week focussing on a written task linking to the VIPERS. Children are also immersed in a love of reading through: gifted winter books; opportunities to visit our school book fair; participation in National Poetry Day and World Book Day; celebration of achievement by visiting our reading vending machine; and visits from authors and poets.

‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002) ‘The will influences the skill and vice versa.’ (OECD 2010)

We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy. We read to children every day as part of our daily story time session. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Birchwood and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books. In Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed. Children from Reception onwards have a home reading diary. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will check this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school. Every child is expected to read 4 times a week at home to meet their school reading target.

We measure the impact of the curriculum through: pupil discussion and interviews about their learning; regular, robust monitoring of teaching and assessment and standardised tests at the end of each term as well as national statutory testing.
As a result of high-quality English teaching and learning at Birchwood and the importance we place on reading across the whole school,, our children leave as confident, fluent and enthusiastic readers. They are able to talk about their own reading as well as a wide range of texts and authors/poets that have been shared with them throughout their learning journey.
By the age of 11, we aim for children to be able to:
- Read with confidence, fluency and good understanding, drawing upon a range of independent strategies to self-monitor and correct;
- Have an interest in a wide range of reading materials and read spontaneously for enjoyment and pleasure;
- Read confidently to acquire information;
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading;
- Meet age related expectations for reading, with the aspiration to exceed them.