Reading is an integral part of daily life at The Dawnay. From high quality targeted phonics lessons in Reception through to ERIC (Everyone Reads In Class) sessions in Year 6 children are both taught to read and taught the value and rewards of reading for pleasure.
At The Dawnay we believe in ‘stage not age’ when teaching. Across the Infants children are taught to read in mixed age groups and are encouraged to move from group to group as quickly as they are able to. By using the whole of the expertise in the Infant team we can keep groups small enough to ensure all children make good progress. With no limit on how fast a child can learn it is not unusual to find Reception, Year 1 and 2 children tackling the same book!
Staff work hard to foster a love of reading in a variety of ways. Reception and Year 1 children were invited to the annual Candlelight Story Evening in February. Staff and children returned to school in their pyjamas at 5pm. They enjoyed hot chocolate, biscuits and fruit and a variety of bedtime stories were shared. The children had a lovely time and even accommodated some enthusiastic attendees from Year 2 who didn’t want to miss out!
The new national curriculum makes a strong link between reading and speaking and listening. At The Dawnay we work hard to make sure that children are confident to talk about what they read and to give their opinions. Children are encouraged to listen and take turns in discussions. In the Infants children discuss what they notice in a book, what they think the characters are feeling and what will happen next. In the Juniors children will give their opinions on stories and texts of all types.
As well as talking about what they have read children at The Dawnay are encouraged to learn and perform poetry. For some children this could be a daunting prospect so in true ‘Team Dawnay’ style we decided to embrace poetry together! We made poetry the theme for this year’s Book Week across the school. Every child from Reception to Year 6 was asked to learn a poem and then perform it in class. Each class then selected a ‘winner’ who competed at the end of Book Week in The Great Dawnay Poetry Read-Off!
There was a wide range of amazing poems learnt and performed. For the final we assembled a team of judges to vote for the overall school winner. Alongside Mrs Hard were Peter Snell from Barton’s Bookshop and Mrs Peters from the school office. As well as the children’s competition several teachers also performed their favourite poem too. The final was the culmination of Book Week which also saw everyone in school dressed as their favourite book character as well as a week-long celebration of reading and writing across the school. The Infants held an ‘Extreme Reading’ competition bringing in photos of all the wild and wonderful places they had managed to read. Among our favourites were children who had managed to read in the bath, the shower, on an ironing board and even inside a (switched off) cement mixer!
As well as working hard in school the Dawnay take advantage of opportunities to promote reading in the wider community. Year 5 were lucky enough to be invited to Leatherhead Trinity School to hear author Lara Williamson talk about her new book. This was an amazing opportunity for the children to meet a real-life author in the flesh. Many of them came back inspired and ready to write their own books!
At The Dawnay we are always looking for ways to make meaningful and fun links with our learning. Reading is a vital life skill and one that we work hard to promote in as many ways as we can!
Clive Wallis English Subject Leader