Reading in Upper School at Freemantle Academy
At Freemantle, we recognise the enduring power of reading in the classroom, and beyond it, which is why we have placed reading at the core of our curriculum, our day and the very building we learn in. All subjects depend upon rigorous reading ability and excellence across the curriculum depends upon it; we therefore prioritise the teaching, learning and development of a genuine love of reading in every Freemantle pupil.
Our reading curriculum has been designed with the intent that every Freemantle child develop the skills and knowledge required to be confident, fluent and insightful readers with the background knowledge, vocabulary and understanding to tackle the increasingly challenging texts both at Freemantle and beyond.
Intent for Developing Upper School Readers
Prioritise the teaching of phonics for pupils who still require it
Some pupils in Key Stage 2 require further phonics support and we prioritise this with daily phonics teaching using the Little Wandle Rapid Catch Up Programme, building on the work that began in Key Stage 1.
Prioritise the development of reading fluency
All Upper School pupils are read to daily multiple times and for multiple purposes. Our teachers model reading fluency and we build in opportunities in our reading journeys to develop our pupils' oracy and reading fluency through active, exciting Reading Theatre sessions.
Develop a deep working vocabulary in every pupil
Freemantle pupils speak over 50 languages and come to us with a wealth of experiences and knowledge. We teach vocabulary explicitly across the curriculum. In English, thematically linked vocabulary is taught through precise and explicit sessions within each lesson where pupils have opportunities to speak and write using new language.
Develop a deep knowledge of literature - genre, conventions, themes, our literary heritage
Our reading spine is supported by individual class texts for every pupil; we read together daily, and every pupil reads along with the teacher making them an active reader in every session. We read complete books at every opportunity and embed non-fiction into our reading journeys to explicitly develop Freemantle pupils’ understanding of their world, local and beyond, and build a stronger foundation of knowledge to support their understanding of the texts they read.
Develop a genuine love and respect for reading that remains with our pupils for life
We share with all upper school pupils our own passion and love for reading, prioritising reading in the timetable through explicit daily reading lessons, library sessions, book clubs within the school day, and independent reading opportunities so all pupils develop their identity as readers. We are determined to expose all of our pupils to the wonders of quality, exciting books read as a community, through our reading spine.
Implementation for Developing Upper School Readers
- Pupils in Key Stage 2 are taught explicit reading lessons 4-5 times a week; these lessons follow a typical format and classes have a single class text that they read each half term in its entirety – we do not read extracts from books. All pupils read the class text in a shared-reading approach to learning, derived from the research Reading Reconsidered and the Education Endowment Foundation.
- Our texts have been purposefully and thoughtfully chosen carefully chosen to provide engaging, culturally-rich texts incorporating a balance of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, all of which is designed to inspire a love of reading within our pupils and expose pupils to rich and challenging texts they may not choose to read themselves. Our texts link to our thematic curriculum map wherever possible, and texts are used widely across the curriculum to support learning.
Each Key Stage 2 reading lesson follows a clear lessons structure:
- Quickfire Retrieval Quiz: Having read some or all of a book, the goal of the retrieval quiz is to activate and reinforce carefully chosen prior knowledge through a range of simple questions that provide the teacher with an opportunity to check for understanding and to ensure a base level of understanding to build upon moving forwards, guarding against “gist reads”.
- Explicit Vocabulary Instruction: At the start of each lesson pupils take part in an explicit vocabulary teaching period during which they learn and apply new language. Teachers carefully choose tier-2 vocabulary either from the text or thematically linked to it. Pupils in KS2 use this time to develop their understanding of new vocabulary and demonstrate this through written application, providing opportunities to write early in each session. This section of the lesson is used to support pupils in developing their word meaning and skills associated with this so that they are able to become more independent and fluent readers and gain greater understanding of the text they are reading, which is often more challenging than those they can read themselves. This language is placed on each class’s vocabulary wall to be referred to regularly.
- Shared Reading: During this stage of the lesson, teachers model reading fluency and prosody to the class while the pupils actively follow the same text. Pupils will engage in shared reading through techniques such as choral, paired or echo reading. By using shared reading in every lesson, teachers model to pupils how to use tone and expression as well as building phonemic connections. Reading Theatre lessons focus on developing fluency whilst providing opportunities for pupils to develop their speaking and listening skills through activities linked to the book.
- Close Reads: During key parts of a text, teachers may use close reads to explore in depth meaning and provide pupils with opportunities to determine authorial intent.
- Comprehension/skill modelling/discussion: The teacher will usually draw on close reads to model or teach comprehension skills following a shared read. This skill will be drawn from the reading progression of skills and knowledge document.
- Independent Application Task: This time is an opportunity for pupils to apply their reading skills and make connections between reading, oracy and writing. This activity can take many forms such as drama, hot seating, written responses and theme maps.
Implementation Beyond the Classroom:
- We recognise the vital role parents and carers play in developing positive reading habits and nurturing a love of reading.
- Pupils take books home from our library; we encourage parents and carers to either read at home with these pupils or support daily independent reading at home, which we track in school. Pupils who are engaging in the Little Wandle Phonics Rapid Catch Up programme take home fully-decodable Big Cat books every day, where we expect parents and carers to read with their children at home.
- Every child has a home reading diary to record their home reading. We set homework and expect children to read at least 6 times a week, but we target 7. On Fridays, teachers acknowledge the reading diaries and use this as an opportunity to track home reading and follow up with parents and carers when necessary. We also track Key Stage 2 pupils’ reading habits using Accelerated Reader reports and share these with parents and carers at key moments throughout the year.
- Every class has a reading area and pupils across school have daily opportunities to explore, change and read books from our book corners as well as the library. KS2 pupils also have access to the online library ePlatform, providing another means of accessing over 1500 books from home.
We sequence texts to develop pupils' knowledge and understanding of the themes and conventions of genres that they may not choose to read themselves.
Key threads and genres are woven through the spine to help meet the above design and allow pupils time to explore texts in great depth, leading them to know more and remember more. This planned building upon prior knowledge allows our pupils to develop a deep and broad understanding of quality fiction and enables them to analyse, explore, connect and extract deeper meaning owing to their understanding.
Skills are taught as part of the journey and regularly spiralled back to; reading skills are not ‘learned’ but constantly being deepened based on knowledge of text type and genre so the skills element is a spiral and never finished.
- Take Year 3 as an example and you will see pupils read Cakes in Space and The Iron Man during the Autumn term. This extended introduction to the world of science-fiction and fantasy allows them to develop deep knowledge of the genre over the course of a full term. That knowledge is then built on in Year 4 when they read The House With Chicken Legs, developed further in Year 5 with Malamander and Brightstorm, and then again in Year 6 with The Knife of Never Letting Go.
- We have Key Threads and Key Genres woven through our spine to build our pupils' cultural capital linked to our school's values and ethos.
- This constant building upon prior knowledge allows our pupils to develop a deep and broad understanding of quality fiction and enables them to analyse, explore and extract deeper meaning owing to their understanding. Look further down the page for evidence of some of this in our reading journals.
- You will also see in our spine our skills coverage and sequencing; pupils do not simply acquire 'inference skills' for example. A pupil may be able to infer in their favourite book series because they have the knowledge to do so, but may yet struggle to do so in an unfamiliar text. We revisit skills regularly throughout every year group and build on them over time.
More information about our reading provision can be found here: