In the Classroom: Meredith Infant School, Portsmouth

Reading recovery teacher Ruth Cole with, from left, Isabelle Veals, six, Cruz Hill, six, and Sam Prior, six. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150395-1)
Reading recovery teacher Ruth Cole with, from left, Isabelle Veals, six, Cruz Hill, six, and Sam Prior, six. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150395-1)

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At Meredith Infant School, we have been taking part in an event called ‘Read on. Get on’ as a part of the Reading Recovery Programme taking place in Portsmouth Schools and elsewhere, writes reading recovery teacher Ruth Cole.

Throughout this special programme the children will read with their headteacher Lucy Carroll.

Mrs Carroll has found time to hear five children read in her busy week. The aim of the event is to accelerate progress in reading and writing in children who have not learnt to read after a year in school.

The children have 30 minutes of one-to-one reading and writing lessons daily for 20 weeks.

The programme’s strengths are that the lessons are taught by an experienced teacher who is able to tailor the lessons exactly to the child’s needs and cater for their interests in a personal way.

The books used are designed to help children make progress in reading.

Publishers such as PM Nelson Thornes and Engage Literacy are included as they are some of the best available.

Other reading schemes get too difficult too quickly and this discourages early readers who start to think ‘reading is hard’ and then they don’t want to do it or they keep asking for help and their brains don’t engage sufficiently to process the text.

At our school we have the policy to encourage children to be independent learners.

For the children this is referred to as being a ‘tough turtle’ – trying hard – or a ‘reflective ray’ – thinking carefully.

This fits well with the Reading Recovery principles where children learn to read but are not told the words they don’t know but are asked to try to work them out by themselves using different strategies.

We believe that phonics is an important part of learning to read but using the meaning, the structure of our language and learning to understand the way some words look like other words are just as important.

Another significant element of reading recovery is that no stickers are given out.

The reward is the reading and the children when interviewed 10 weeks into the programme were very proud of how their reading had improved.

The parents of children at Meredith have supported their children to read every day.

For a treat at the end of the programme the children went to the ice cream parlour Wicked Waffle with me and their parents. On the way there the children found it easy to read road and shop signs.

What the pupils say...

Isabelle Veals, six, Year 3

I’ve got better at reading now because it’s easy. I go back and fix it if I’m stuck.

‘I blend the sounds. I’m a tough turtle because I read all the book now. I felt happy when I was reading to Mrs Carroll because I liked that book: Ten Apples up on Top.

Cruz Hill, six, Year 3

‘I have to be a tough turtle because the words are really long sometimes.

‘I have to chop the words up. I’m a good reader because I read lots of books. I think about the story now. I read every day at home to my mum.’

Sam Prior, six, Year 3

‘I am better at reading now because I am on level 16. I do it smoothly now. I use my brain so I read a lot better.

‘It asks me if it makes sense. When it’s got speech marks, I make it sound exciting. I was proud of myself when I read all of the book to Mrs Carroll.’