Reading Leaflet - Parents' Information

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  • Literacy

    and the

    Reading Experience

    in Gullane Primary School

    March 2013

    Parent Leaflet

  • Literacy and the Reading Experience in Gullane Primary School

    In a recent Parent Carer Council Meeting we held a discussion on the reading

    experience in our school. This came up as a result of some comments shared between

    parents out of school or in the playground.

    Comments such as:

    A smaller group of parents met in school to talk through some of these comments and

    we agreed it may be useful to discuss/answer the comments as a set of FAQs

    frequently asked questions. These appear towards the end of this booklet.

    The main focus of the comments was about the apparent pace and level of challenge.

    It was also felt that it may be useful to set this leaflet within a context of what has

    happened previously.

    Reading is key to learning. Accessing and understanding text in its various forms are

    important skills. These skills take time to build and develop.

    A variety of assessment strategies are employed in order to plan for learning.

    Assessments used are:

    diagnostic where the results give guidance on next steps for pupils

    standardised where the results show where pupils in one school are in relation

    to the whole of Scotland

    formative where staff keep details on skills across a range of subjects and

    guide next steps in learning and teaching

    We dont bother much

    about the school books

    because they are too


    My other children

    were much further

    on at the same

    age but their

    capabilities are


    What my child is reading

    at school does not

    match what they are

    capable of reading at


    "my child can read the school books fluently, with

    expression and he/she

    understands what they are

    reading so why are they not

    being more challenged","

    My child says

    heres another

    book with all the

    same words as


    Other schools seem to

    take a different

    approach to


  • East Lothian Council ask that each school carry out PIPS assessments in P1, 3, 5 and

    7. PIPS stands for Performance in Primary Schools and is a set of standardised

    assessments set by Durham University. The assessments are carried out in school and

    are marked by Durham University. This has been a feature in East Lothian primary

    schools for about 6 years now.

    We use a standardised spelling assessment in each stage from P3-7. A standardised

    assessment in reading and maths was introduced in session 2011-2012 to allow us to

    gather more information on progress. This will be used again and we will review how

    and if this is useful for us.

    Using the results of these assessments we found that although pupils made sound

    progress at an early age the level of attainment and skill tapered away by the middle

    of the school. Pupils were able to read fairly challenging texts but understanding was

    limited. In other words the pupils were very good decoders but the understanding

    was superficial. There are weak comprehenders and strong comprehenders and they

    read in different ways. Weak comprehenders are focusing on decoding text.

    (decoding is reading without understanding). Strong comprehenders are able to

    activate their background knowledge and build an understanding of the piece and able

    to make inferences.

    We have spent a good deal of time in past years examining research into the

    development of reading from the pre reader to the accomplished and skilled reader.

    We have based our approaches on the research. The research has been taken from

    recognised and approved sources. This research has shown us that children make

    more sound and sustained progress if they are given depth and breadth in reading. It

    is important that children are functionally literate.

    Research indicates that the skills that contribute most to childrens success in

    becoming literate are:

    Communication - Mastery of key knowledge and skills and how fluently and

    automatically they are applied. Reads a wide range of text confidently

    Reads aloud with accuracy, assurance and fluency

    Identifies key ideas in independent reading concepts, plots, characters, causes & can

    infer, summarise, apply, evaluate & analyse

    Is confident to navigate through different kinds of text (including multi-modal and digital

    texts), using organisational structures and retrieval devices to locate information

    Has developed strategies for understanding the meaning of unfamiliar words

    Is confident to initiate and sustain discussion about specific books with adults and peers

    in an informed and reasoned way

  • Engagement and creativity - Willingness to engage wholeheartedly in formal and

    informal literacy opportunities, and does so frequently; displays enjoyment, a have a

    go attitude, persistence and ability to link and draw on different areas of

    experience; enjoys talking about literacy endeavours. Can engage in sustained reading for a reasonable length of time (30 mins)

    Can engage with a range of fiction genre and with a variety of non-fiction texts

    Engages with ideas in texts imaginatively, and can discuss concepts, plots, characters,

    causes and consequences that arise in independent reading

    Speculates about characters and outcomes

    Is taking control of own reading what, when and how to read

    Identity, Reflection and Confidence -View of self as a literate person; aspirations;

    confidence; personal/social networks; willingness to review and explain work. Has developed preferences in reading and uses social networks to feed and extend these.

    Regards him/herself as a competent reader

    Monitors comprehension in independent reading

    Reflects purposefully on reading, testing what has been read against other information,

    ideas, assumptions, and viewpoints

    The research indicated above mainly relates to pupils in P5-7 but the journey starts

    at home with you and travels all the way through nursery and into early years and


    We spent time examining the level of skill in spelling, handwriting, research reading

    and use of non-fiction, story writing, writing of factual reports, writing of personal

    reflections, vocabulary knowledge, grammar, punctuation in other words, the full

    range of skills and competencies.

    We decided that, in order to address all of the key elements in the literacy

    outcomes, we are required to give the pupils more depth and challenge within the

    literacy agenda. To this end we revised the learning and teaching in the area of

    literacy. The new P1 intake parents have been given clear information on our plans and

    there is a hand out which supports this- start of sessions 2011 and 2012- also this

    current session. A copy of this is available on request.

  • Question: What is the purpose of my child's school reading book?

    The reading books that come home with your child provide a link between home and

    school. The work in class is often linked to the familiarity of this book and is used as

    a springboard to develop and teach skills e.g. spelling, grammar, punctuation,

    comprehension, handwriting, vocabulary knowledge, common and tricky words and so

    on. Reading books are one of a range of tools employed to teach some of the complex

    reading skills. It is helpful if your child practises reading the school book with you at

    home. The school texts are set within a wider range of reading material that is used

    in school.

    Question: Which reading scheme does Gullane PS use?

    The key scheme that we work within is called Oxford Reading Tree. The scheme

    offers a core trunk of reading material and branches to ensure depth, breadth and

    exposure to a range of texts and styles (genres). We use other materials in addition

    to the main scheme to support and develop reading skills. As the children move on

    through school there is a wide range of varied texts used in order to develop their

    reading skills. The texts are age/content appropriate.

    A reading scheme will not be able to address all of the areas we are required to cover

    and develop but it does offer some structure and it is a recognised and widely used


    Question: What is the structure of the reading scheme?

    The Oxford Reading Tree scheme is structured to ensure that we are able to

    offer/cover the skills that a reader requires to be taught at key stages. These skills

    are outlined in an earlier paragraph. A booklet will be provided on request or see

    school website for further information.

    Question: Does Gullane Primary take a different approach to reading

    compared to other schools?

    Gullane Primary structures reading very much the same as other schools and we

    follow national and local guidance.

    Question: What if I feel that my child is not being challenged by the

    content of the school texts?

    The purpose of the school text is not just about your child being able to read the

    words but also to ensure that your child has a sound understanding of the content

  • and develop fluency, expression, spelling and grammar. It may be worth considering a

    variety of extension activities rather than just reading the text. It may be

    appropriate that a reading book is used to encourage practise of a specific skill e.g.

    reading with expression/fluency/accuracy, extend the story with your child e.g.

    prediction, change the outcome, focus on learning specific key words.

    If you wish further explanation or guidance you should discuss the matter with your

    child's teacher.

    If your child is an interested reader at home and is reading other texts that have a

    more challenging content then that is to be encouraged. A love and enjoyment of

    reading is what we aim for.

    Why do the books appear to repetitive in terms of language?

    The books do repeat language, particularly in the early years, to consolidate learning.

    How are reading groups arranged - is it by age or ability?

    There are a wide variety of ways to manage learning in a class. It may be mixed

    ability, similar ability, focus, interest or any number of other reasons.

    Do teachers try to keep children at certain levels to manage the

    whole class more easily?


    My child can now read should I stop reading aloud to him/her?

    Reading aloud to children is one of the best ways to help them discover the joy of

    reading. All children, even teenagers, benefit from listening to you reading aloud. By

    reading aloud with your child you are helping him/her to become better readers and

    better listeners. You are also helping to build vocabulary and language skills.

    Supporting your child at home

    Occasionally, it may appear to parents that the texts we send home are not as

    challenging as a child or a parent would like them to be. It may seem to some that the

    texts are too easy. Please trust that we do challenge and develop the childs abilities

    using not only the reading book but a variety of other resources to develop security

    in literacy.

  • There may be things parents would like to work on at home and are unsure about

    appropriateness. If a parent is an interested and engaged participant in their childs

    reading then it is a win/win situation all round.

    Please feel free to consider some of the following ideas to enhance and encourage


    If a book is on a particular subject find another book on the same subject on a trip to

    the library or bookshop, visit a museum, make a model, draw a detailed picture, make

    a poster, add a chapter to the story, find tricky words in other texts or in the

    general environment, ask what if.. questions, write a review, retell the story in your

    own words, turn part of the story into a newspaper report, develop a character

    profile, alternative ending, use the characters in a story of your own, make a game

    using key words

    Again, speaking to the childs class teacher may offer parents some other ideas.

    We hope that the information in this leaflet is useful and supportive.

    GPS (MT/JD/KMcG) April 2013


    Sue Ellis. B.A. (Honours) Class 1, Linguistics and Language Pathology, University of Essex

    M.Sc. Human Communication (Medical Research Council funded), Guy's Hospital Medical

    School, London

    P.G.C.E. Primary/Middle School Education (3-14) years specialising in Literacy, Science and

    Mathematics, University of Sussex

    Curriculum for Excellence Scottish Government

    Jolly Phonics

    Oxford Reading Tree

    Yellow Door

    Durham University

    GL Assessment