English at Shillington Lower School
At Shillington Lower School, our rationale for the way the reading curriculum has been developed is for all children to become confident readers in order for them to reach age related expectations or make good progress from their starting point. As well as this, we want children to develop a love of books, reading and listening to texts for information and pleasure on a regular basis.
Beginning as soon as children start school, we aim to develop children’s phonological knowledge. We want them to rapidly acquire a secure and sequential knowledge of graphemes and phonemes and make sustained progress in learning to read with increasing fluency. We want children to develop their skills and understanding in a systematic and enjoyable way. In phonics, each year group builds upon the knowledge and skills learnt in the previous phase/ year and by knowing what comes next, we are able to move their learning on and ensure they make good progress so they are ready for the next stage in their education.
In addition to their phonics knowledge, we want the children to develop good reading comprehension skills. Children will experience a wide range of different texts. They will be given the opportunity to engage with multicultural books from a variety of backgrounds, authors and countries. Our aim is also for pupils to be exposed an increasingly wider and challenging vocabulary across all subjects to develop their comprehension and their linguistic knowledge.
To support the teaching of early reading, we use Letters and Sounds Across reception and KS1. We also supplement this with additional resources such as All aboard phonics and Jolly phonics. Phonics is taught every day in every class from Reception to Year 2. This looks like a mixture of new learning building on revision of existing knowledge.
During their time at Shillington Lower children have access to our colour book banded system which includes books that complement our teaching of phonics for our early readers. Reading books reflect the phase pf phonics that children are being taught and are more finely matched where the need is greatest. In KS2 where children are still securing their phonological knowledge, additional catch up books are used.
In Reception and year 1, we are using reading time and reading comprehension in small groups and daily guided reading takes place from Reception through to Year 4 using a mixture of whole class guided reading and with small groups for targeted interventions (year 2 to year 4). With this approach, children are developing their comprehension skills but also independence, a love of wider reading and exposure to rich vocabulary, which is absolutely key in all sessions for all learners. Teachers and teaching assistants are also reading to the classes and 1-1 reading with volunteers is well established in the school.
Reading is celebrated weekly in one of our assemblies, with children from all year groups having the opportunity to read out loud to an audience. Results of our Reading Challenge are also shared with parents which encourages the importance of reading.
In addition, throughout the school year, enrichment activities are enhanced and celebrated through acknowledging World Book Day and through a range of experiences such as our Christmas play, our annual Widdershins puppet show and authors’ visits which enriches and complements children’s learning and enjoyment of reading.
As a result of the way we implement phonics, our children have consistently achieved National or above national in the Year 1 Phonics Screening Test. As well as this, their reading comprehension and their love for reading is strong and children are prepared for the next stage of their education. Regular assessment ensures children are making good progress and identifies those children who are at risk, enabling teachers to intervene, to review and evaluate the effectiveness of our reading curriculum.
We believe that English skills are vital to the development of children so they are prepared for their future life. A broad and balanced English programme using objectives from the National Curriculum, determines the skills that each year group and Key Stage must cover. A range of genres are studied and promoted. A variety of resources are used to promote a reading and writing culture. Children are given a range of writing opportunities including the use of paired, group and independent writing tasks. A culture of learning from each other is promoted through use of co-operative learning structures and sharing of good practice with our federated school. This is developed across both key stages, so that the children learn to respond appropriately and supportively to each other regardless of gender, age, cultural or ethnic background.
The aims of teaching writing in our school are to develop pupils who:
- show high levels of achievement and exhibit very positive attitudes towards writing;
- use and understand language as speakers, readers and writers.
- are competent, confident and independent in the use of language in their writing.
- have an awareness of different audiences and purposes for writing.
- apply their grammatical knowledge in their writing.
- apply their phonetical and spelling knowledge in their writing.
- apply the English language in all areas of the curriculum.
At Shillington Lower, we teach Writing as whole class for all children to have access to the age-related skills and knowledge contained in the National Curriculum. All children will have Quality First Teaching. Within lessons, teachers and Teaching Assistants target support for slower graspers to enable them to achieve at an age-related level wherever possible. This may involve a greater level of scaffolding and access to additional support materials such as Word Banks or a greater level of modelling. In Reception, we are following the new EYFS curriculum (2021) and displaying words around the classroom with the pictures to match. Rapid graspers are given opportunities to extend their writing in a variety of ways and by using a higher level of vocabulary and grammar features for instance.
Writing is taught through the use of quality texts, (Literacy Tree) where children encounter a wide-range of significant authors, and a variety of fiction, non-fiction and poetry from different countries and cultures around the world. These texts expose children to inference, high –level vocabulary, a range of punctuation and characterisation and a wider knowledge of the world around them. Each text is purposely selected in order to promote a love of reading, engagement and high quality writing from each child. All classes use a working wall to show the learning journey of the children.
Teachers will use their professional judgement to determine whether a child is working within age-related expectations, above or below informed by internal and external moderation. They will base their judgements on the quality of the extended piece of writing that pupils produce at the end of week, at the end of each unit and determine to what extent pupils have met the agreed success criteria for that genre of writing. Additionally, each class will be using No More Marking once in the year to moderate nationally.
The texts used by teachers have explicit grammar skills for writing which are taught in context and are applied purposefully. Standalone lessons, are used if teachers feel that the class needs additional lessons to embed and develop their understanding or to consolidate their skills.
Handwriting is taught and practised throughout the school. From the beginning of year 2, children are taught to use cursive writing. Handwriting continues to be practised in KS2.
Spellings are taught according to the rules and words contained in the English National Curriculum. Children are given spellings to learn each week and are given a spelling test the following week and they are able to practise them at home using Spelling Shed.
Assessment for learning strategies are used on a daily basis. These will allow a picture to be built up of the pupils’ progress, any areas of strength or weakness which can then be addressed in teachers’ planning.
Children complete independent writing pieces at the end of each unit of work and at the end of each week, which are assessed against our writing criteria.
Analysis of the data impacts upon teachers’ planning so pupils’ needs can be addressed. Moderation of teacher assessment is also completed termly in order to ensure that judgements are accurate. Children who are not on track are identified for intervention/target teaching.
Leadership and Management
The subject leader's role is to empower colleagues to teach Writing to a high standard and support staff in the following ways:
- By keeping up to date on current issues; disseminating relevant information and providing training for staff members (either directly or through other professionals)
- Leading by example by modelling lessons or styles of teaching
- Having a knowledge of the quality of writing provision across the school and using this to provide a coaching and mentoring role
- Identifying and acting on development needs of staff members
- Monitoring expectations, provision and attainment across the school and providing feedback to develop practice further in order to raise standards
Monitoring and Evaluation
The quality of teaching and learning is monitored as part of the appraisal process through lesson observations and through the progress and attainment documents. In addition, continuity and progression across the school is monitored by the subject leader as is the implementation and impact of Assessment for Learning. The subject action plan identifies actions intended to raise standards.
The English Subject Leader will also provide an annual summary report to the Headteacher in which she/he evaluates the strengths and weaknesses in writing and indicates areas for further improvement.
governors meet with the subject leader to review progress.
Partnerships with parents
Parents are informed on how they can help their child at home through parents’ mail documents and workshops. Parents are kept informed of topics that are being covered through a newsletter sent fortnightly. During Parents' Evenings curricular targets are shared and a written report is completed annually in the Summer Term. Homework in Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Lower Key Stage 2 is based around spellings and phonics.