How we teach reading
Oxford Reading Scheme:
As the UK’s most successful reading scheme, Oxford Reading Tree is currently used in over 80% of primary schools and has helped millions of children from all over the world learn to read ... and love to read. Rooted in reading for pleasure and with synthetic phonics at its heart, Oxford Reading Tree's well-loved characters, breadth (over 800 books!) and varied writing styles give children everything they need to become confident readers.
Schools across the world use Oxford Reading Tree books, including series such as Floppy's Phonics, Biff, Chip and Kipper, Traditional Tales, Songbirds Phonics, inFact, and Story Sparks. A separate range of books, each containing supporting notes for parents, have been created to support learning at home.
Reading is one of the most important things your child will learn at school. In England, children are taught to read the words on the page using phonics. Phonics is an approach to reading that focuses on building words from sounds. A sound might be represented by a letter (such as ‘s’ or ‘m’) or a group of letters (like ‘ch’ or ‘igh’).
Children start by learning the letters and the sounds they make, and how to put them together to read simple words.
In the UK, book bandsare used across different reading schemes to indicate the reading level of each book. You will see our Oxford Levels alongside the equivalent book band colours on the back of each Oxford Reading Tree book.
Age 6 – 7
Reading at school
What are reading schemes?
A reading scheme is a series of books that have been carefully written to support the process of learning to read and to help children make progress as readers. What educational researchers know about how children learn to read – and how best to motivate them to learn – is changing and improving all the time. The best reading schemes reflect this research and help teachers to deliver the best teaching in order to improve outcomes for children.
We now know that the Synthetic Phonics method is the best way to ensure that all children – regardless of ‘lucky’ backgrounds or external experiences – have strategies for working out any word they meet. They are taught the letter sounds and how to blend them as well as some ‘tricky’ words that are essential for reading in English: words such as the, said, there, was. By the age of 6 or 7, most children should have enough phonics knowledge to be able tackle and at least ‘decode’ any new word in a book. However, it’s important to remember that understanding what the words mean – both individually and in the context of the story or information text– is also vital for reading progress and is really important for motivation. Keeping children reading beyond the age of 7 can be a challenge so the earlier they develop a reading habit, the better.
The very best reading schemes ensure children have both the SKILLS they need and the WILL to want to read!
What do the different colours, bands and levels mean?
All reading schemes have a careful structure designed to support the teaching in class and to ensure that when a child takes a book home they can read it successfully, build confidence and make progress. Educational publishers consider a number of factors when determining the ‘level’ of a book including phonic knowledge, vocabulary, sentence length, number of words on a page and use of illustrations.
There are a number of different ‘levelling’ systems used including Oxford Levels, Cliff Moon levels, Reading Recovery Levels and Read, Write, Inc. However, the most commonly used structure in schools is Book Bands because this is a system that has been applied to lots of different reading schemes and other books. Book Bands consists of a series of coloured bands that reflect progress in reading from early phonics through to fluent, competent reading around the age of 7 or 8. There are also Bands beyond this, but these are much broader and more about age-appropriateness than reading ability.
The point at which your child is ready to move up a band or level depends on your child and the teacher’s approach. Generally, a teacher will want to know that a child is secure and confident at a given level before moving them on. It’s also important to bear in mind that not all levels are of equal size. In the first few years of school, the steps of progress are fairly small, and children will move through a number of levels quite quickly. As children move up the levels, the steps become broader and ‘moving up’ happens less frequently.It’s also important to remember that different children develop their reading skills at different rates so comparing your child with others is not helpful.
If you think your child is ready to move on, talk to their teacher – there may be good reasons why they are being ‘held back’ for a bit, for example to work on their comprehension, fluency or expression.
In many schools, children become ‘free readers’ once they’ve come to the end of the reading scheme. This is a fantastic achievement to be celebrated and means your child will be able to choose their own reading book from a much wider range. However, it’s important to ensure that your child continues to get a varied and appropriately challenging reading diet. To this end, we have a magnificently renovated library which is both now inviting and well-resourced. It serves up a great diet of variety, mixed genres and excitement.