We believe that English is at the heart of the whole curriculum and as such have high expectations of our pupils in all areas of this, including reading, writing and speaking and listening. Children’s abilities are developed within an integrated programme of reading, writing, handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar across the curriculum in order to make them skilled communicators, fluent readers and expressive writers.
Phonics is taught daily to all children in early years and key stage one (and where appropriate in key stage 2). At the Victory Primary School, we use a synthetic phonics approach as the main approach to early reading. For the most part, we follow the government published programme “Letters and Sounds”, which support us in providing a multi-sensory approach to learning phonics. However, in addition to this, we teach the additional graphemes, which are part of the current national curriculum too. As a school we believe that children learn best when they are active, so we ensure that these lessons are fun, engaging and get pupils up and moving.
Using Jolly Phonics to support where appropriate, we use a multi-sensory approach. Pupils are systematically taught the phonemes, learning actions and ditties for each grapheme. They are taught how to blend the sounds for reading and how to segment the sounds for spelling. When children are learning to spell during these sessions, we also teach them to spot and apply “best guess rules” to help them. For example, knowing that ay, usually comes at the end of a word, so if I need to spell a word with the /ai/ phoneme at the end, it is likely to be spelt with the grapheme ay. During this time, children also learn how to read and spell “tricky words”, which are words that do not completely follow the phonetic rules. Children are encouraged to spot the unusual graphemes and to explain what is unusual about them. They practise these words through a variety of fun and engaging games and are encouraged to think about ways that they will remember them e.g. If you can spell all, you can spell small and tall as well or oh, you, lucky duck, can help you to remember how to spell could, would and should.
Children have additional opportunities to practise these new skills in reading and writing as we try (where possible) to link this learning to our writing and reading lessons and the children are encouraged to regularly read books that are matched to their phonetic ability at home too.
For those children who do not progress as quickly, we work hard to give them extra support to enable them to catch up. They work in small groups or individually with another adult to target their areas of need on a regular basis and because we believe that exposure is key, they do this in addition to the phonics that their peers are learning.
As a school, we believe that if we are going to develop children who can read accurately and fluently for meaning and pleasure, we need to nurture their love of reading and not only teach them the mechanics of reading but comprehension skills as well. For example, in early reading, children are taught to use their phonic skills and knowledge as their first approach to reading, but they are taught other strategies too, such as using the picture, using the context or looking for words inside words, for those words that “don’t follow the rules”.
Reading is taught every day across the school from early years to year 6 in a variety of ways with a focus on strategies to decode and understand. During the week children are taught these skills in a variety of ways:
• whole class reading
• individual reading
• guided reading
• phonics (mainly early years and key stage one)
Children are also encouraged to read regularly at home by their class teachers in order to practise their new skills. We like them to read every day, but we encourage all our children to read at least three times a week. Children have the opportunity to change their book every day and have a selection of books to choose from (many of which are new this year), which are at an appropriate level for them. In addition to this, we plan opportunities for children to practise these new skills in other areas of the curriculum too.
Reading for Pleasure
Reading for pleasure is high on our agenda because if we believe that children are not engaged with the process of learning to read, they are unlikely to achieve their true potential or develop into life-long readers. We promote reading for pleasure in a variety of ways:
• daily ERIC time (Everyone Reading In Class)
• bedtime story sacks (These are sacks with books in that we send home for an adult to read to their child.)
• library visits (At least once a week, children visit our lovely library with a wide range of books, which was revamped this year, to enjoy reading on their own, with a partner or with their class and they are allowed to take a book home.)
• class reading areas (In every classroom, there are engaging areas that are clearly labelled, comfortable and well-stocked and make children want to go in and read.)
• teachers reading aloud good quality texts (to nurture our children’s love of reading and broaden their reading diets)
Throughout the school, writing is taught daily and staff use the current curriculum objectives when planning. Where possible, children’s writing is linked to other areas of the curriculum so that children have opportunities to practise and apply their skills in a range of contexts.
In line with the 2014 National Curriculum, children are taught to articulate ideas and structure them clearly in speech and writing. Initially, teachers will support pupils’ developing ideas by modelling the planning and writing process, allowing children lots of opportunities to orally rehearse their ideas, so that children feel confident when applying their writing skills independently.
When writing, pupils should understand the following:
• There is a purpose to their writing.
• There are a range of text types; each with their own features and conventions to be applied when writing.
• Their writing must make sense and flow.
• The need to pay close attention to spelling, punctuation and grammar when working in order to improve the sense and clarity of their work.
• Writing is a process which allows for changes and edits to be made. This editing could be done independently, with a peer or with an adult throughout the process. Children know that it is important to listen carefully to any advice given at this stage and that they should act upon it as best they can.
• A wide range of interesting and exciting vocabulary should be experimented with to engage the reader and make their writing more effective.
• They can look at and make use of teacher models and the learning environment to aid their work.
• That writing is an enjoyable activity with great value.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG)
Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) are taught every day in addition to writing sessions across key stage one and two. Teachers model how to apply these skills during writing lessons and pupils are expected to practise these skills in their own writing too. In addition to this, teachers highlight how other authors have used these features in their writing too during reading sessions to help children understand how and when to use these features effectively and with purpose.
At the Victory Primary School, children begin to learn cursive script from early years, where appropriate in line with the 2014 curriculum. Handwriting is taught in a lesson and then practised and encouraged in all aspects of the curriculum thus promoting understanding and application.
Here is a link to The National Curriculum