English at Stondon Lower School
At Stondon 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.
We want all children 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 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 to an increasingly wider and challenging vocabulary across all subjects to develop their comprehension and their linguistic knowledge.
Beginning as soon as children start school, we aim to develop children’s phonological knowledge. 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.
To support the teaching of early reading, we use Essential Letters and Sounds across reception and KS1. We also supplement this with additional resources such as Phonics Play and Jolly phonics. Phonics is taught daily in class from Rep to Year 2. This includes a mixture of new learning and building on revision of existing knowledge.
During their time at Stondon 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 of 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.
Reading is taught in a variety of ways including: whole class reading and group reading. We teach reading skills through our text based English programme, Literacy Tree. With this approach, children develop their comprehension skills, independence, a love of wider reading and exposure to rich vocabulary.
Teachers and teaching assistants also read to children for pleasure, to excite and engage and to expose them to a range of genres beyond that at which the children can read independently. 1-1 reading with volunteers is well established in the school to support practice and fluency.
Reading is celebrated weekly in one of our assemblies where results of our Reading Challenge are shared. Throughout the year, Children are given opportunities to read aloud to an audience.
In addition, enrichment activities are celebrated such as World Book Day and through a range of experiences such as our Christmas plays and author visits which enhance and enrich the 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
At Stondon Lower school, we believe that children should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their writing. We want all pupils to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and punctuation and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they have learnt. We want them to write clearly, accurately, coherently, and creatively adapting their language and style for a range of purposes and audiences.
Children are given a range of writing opportunities including the use of paired, group and independent writing tasks. Children will develop their skills so that they 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.
During English lessons at Stondon Lower School a range of quality texts are used to teach the core skills in-line with the expectations of the National Curriculum. Writing is taught through the use of well-chosen texts from the Literacy Tree. 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 are a vehicle for children to write for different purposes whilst exposing them to 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.
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. The environment is language rich and staff use subject specific language in their discussions with children. Rapid graspers are given opportunities to extend their writing in a variety of ways and by using a higher level of vocabulary and grammar.
A combination of approaches and opportunities are given across the school such as:
Whole class modelled writing
Writing different text types and narrative styles
Writing across a variety of curriculum areas
Planning, drafting, editing, up-levelling and presenting
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 using the correct letter formation from the very beginning of their time in school as well as how to sit with good posture, hold a pencil in the correct position and build the muscles in the hand and wrist. 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. We use Literacy leaves to explicitly teach spelling in years 2-4, this complements our Literacy Tree scheme and puts spelling into context for the children.
Teachers use assessment as an integral part of the teaching and learning process and link it clearly to the children’s next steps. On the spot marking is used to give quick feedback. Teachers record and track each child’s progress and use this to set future targets. Extended pieces of writing are used to assess at the end of units of work.
The impact on our children is that they have the knowledge and skills to be able to write successfully for a purpose and audience. Children will progress through the school to become more confident writers with the ability to plan, draft and edit their own work. By the end of their time at Stondon children are able to enjoy sustained writing and can use language, grammar and punctuation to create effect. Skills taught in English lessons are transferred into other subjects. Children are prepared for the next phase of their education.