Aims and Values
Learning English accurately is a vital element to being an effective communicator. Our aim is to enable all children to fully develop their ability to understand and use both spoken and written English, in addition to experiencing the fascination and excitement of creative literacy. We aim to develop pupils' abilities to become literate within an integrated programme of speaking and listening, reading and writing. Pupils will be given opportunities to interrelate the requirements of English through a creative, broad and balanced approach which is embedded across the curriculum, with opportunities to consolidate and practise skills. Speaking and listening underpins the teaching and learning of English across the school. Mastery over language empowers children to communicate creatively and imaginatively, as well as allowing them to actively engage with the world at large.
Reading and Phonics
At our school, we know that reading for pleasure is an important step in becoming fluent and confident readers and writers. Consequently, we aim to nurture a lifelong love of reading and provide lots of opportunities to enjoy and share books with others. A language rich environment enables pupils to access new and challenging vocabulary on a daily basis, and every class has a reading area with a wide selection of books, specifically suited to their age group. These include a range of new and classic texts
Reading skills are systematically taught throughout the school beginning in Reception with our Linking Letter and Sounds phonics scheme. Staff also read one to one with every child to support early comprehension skills. In Key Stage 1, children continue to build on their fluency in decoding to read and develop more complex comprehension skills so they can demonstrate their understanding of a text by discussing and explaining their ideas. Teachers model reading strategies during shared reading sessions, whilst children have the opportunity to analyse and discuss texts in detail during guided reading sessions.
A range of reading schemes are used to support early readers including Oxford Reading Tree, Project X, Floppy’s Phonics, Songbirds and Collins, as well as banded book packs for guided reading in groups. Our reading structure is also enhanced through the addition of real books, so that the children are given the opportunity to apply their reading skills and to read for pleasure.
From Reception, the children bring home a reading book suitable for their reading ability from our banded scheme. We encourage parents to record comments in their child’s home school reading record, so that teachers and parents can share information about their child’s progress in reading. Parents are encouraged to read with their child daily.
In Key Stage 2, the school uses the Fiction Express, Reading Detectives, Bug Club and a range of real books to continue to develop the children’s reading skills in whole-class and guided reading sessions. Once children have reached the free reading stage, children can select books to take home from well resourced, age-appropriate books in the classroom. Those still learning to read have access to a series of books specifically developed to help children continue to grow in confidence as readers with a text that also appears appropriate for their age group.
No matter their age, we still encourage all readers to share a book at home with their grown-ups. We believe that this not only helps to develop inferential skills, but also supports a lifelong love of reading. We recognise the value of adults (both in school and at home) reading aloud to children, in order to improve their grasp of story language, enthuse them with a love of books and inspire them as writers.
Writing and Spelling
At Earlsdon Primary School, we aim develop keen writers who are equipped with a range of vocabulary and writing techniques. We use a variety of teaching and learning strategies in our English lessons in order to meet the needs of all our pupils. One of these approaches is Talk for Writing which is the developmental exploration, through talk, of the thinking and creative processes involved in being a writer. Talk is essential so that learning and understanding can take place.
Teacher share with and model to the children what goes on in a writer’s head before, during and after writing. Children are then provided with the opportunity to read good writing and get familiar with and practise what works well before applying these skills to an extended piece of writing. Furthermore, the children are taught to know, understand and use grammar rules and punctuation purposefully. This is achieved by teaching them in context, opposed to discrete sessions. Grammar and punctuation are viewed as tools which clarify meaning, and are the elements that create different text types and writing styles.
Handwriting is a transcription skill that affects written composition across the curriculum. Therefore, by making handwriting an automatic skill, cognitive processes are freed to focus upon higher-level writing skills. Research shows that there is a clear relationship between children’s ability to mentally recall letters and the quality of their written composition. The cursive font is predominately used in the learning environment and is available for use on teacher’s computers. Other fonts are also used to ensure children recognise a range of fonts used in the external environment. Handwriting is taught little and often to ensure that children have ample time and opportunities to practise and master this transcription skill. Methods are adopted that address all aspects of handwriting: formation, legibility, mental recall, fluency and speed.
We believe that the ability to spell enables our pupils to become more effective writers. When spelling becomes automatic, more thought and creativity can be put into the content of what is written. Pupils can channel their time and energy into the skills of composition, sentence structure and precise word choice. Learning to spell is a process of learning patterns and then applying these patterns to new words. The teaching of phonics plays a vital role in children’s ability to spell so emphasis is placed on this in the Foundation Stage and KS1. As children move through KS1 to KS2, the emphasis in the teaching objectives shifts from the teaching of phonics to more focussed teaching of spelling strategies, conventions and rules to build upon a child’s established phonological knowledge. Children need to be taught explicitly about the structure of words (morphology) to guide their spelling. We primarily use the ‘No Nonsense’ scheme to develop effective spellers.