Our children learn and develop their reading and writing skills, through the careful planning of the progression of key skills. This is evident within the classroom activities, and also in our vibrant displays. Our literacy learning develops excellent communication skills which build the children’s writing skills. This allows the children to develop their speaking and listening skills and enhance drama and expressive skills. These skills, and the children’s individual next steps, are applied in a variety of activities daily within the classroom. We celebrate these skills in a variety of ways.
Reading has an extremely high status in the school and we seek to create fluent, discerning, life-long readers who love and value books.
When children start at school, we have a structured system to ensure that home and school work together to develop phonic understanding using the structure as set out in the nationally recognised Letters and Sounds as the basis of what is taught. We understand that as soon as children are able to crack the basics of reading, then reading books becomes enjoyable, which is what we all want. This system links into the teaching of spelling to help with writing. As the children get older Grammar for Writing national guidance helps children develop into grammatically aware readers and writers.
If knowledge of phonics and words still need developing into Key Stage 2, we have a learning support assistant who specifically targets children weekly to support them. Pupil Premium has also helped pay for learning support for targeted intervention to improved phonetic awareness.
Each week, children are involved in guided reading groups where they discuss and learn how to find out information from a text. Sometimes these texts will have no words, even in year 6 because what the children are able to interpret is important. Guided reading is taught every day for half an hour to one specific group with a teacher tracking progress. The extensive range of guided reading books are book banded, these include quality picture and chapter books as well as a range of schemes including Collins Big Cat and Oxford Reading Tree. At the beginning of each year the teachers have reading meetings that all parents are invited to attend to explain how reading is taught at school, but also how parents can support the school at home. We also have a number of volunteers who read with children throughout the week as well. The schools asks all children to read at home daily and communicate about that reading through the home school learning journal.
We use a variety of approaches in the teaching of reading, including books that are colour banded according to difficulty to ensure children take home a suitable book. The school also has two well stocked libraries, an infant library for the younger people within school and a Key Stage 2 library for children years 3 to 6. Each library is close to the class bases so that they can access these for books, but also if they need a quieter place to work in a small group or with an adult.
For all areas of the curriculum, a book or text is a key starting point and within displays and small world areas, books will always be found for children to access.
Throughout the school we have a comprehensive school system to teach reading and phonics. Reading is a strength of the school and the children and adults all see the importance of reading to the futures of the children.
Reading needs to be for pleasure and throughout the school teachers read to the children to ensure that they have a broad range of quality authors in their repertoire. Listening to their teachers read also allows the children to gain a further love of reading. Each year the school has a whole school Book day where the children and adults become a reading book character and share their favourite books.
To ensure writing is of high a quality as possible, experiences are given to children using small world objects, drama and real life experiences to ensure that they have a full understanding of the character, setting or emotion that they are to use. We also understand that writing doesn’t need to be just secretarial skills rather ideas and planning. When writing, teachers help with clear guidelines of what is expected structurally within a piece of writing, but also allow the children to use their imaginations. By experiencing first and at times becoming experts even before a pen or computer is picked up, the children find writing not as difficult as it could be. Over a number of years, the school has seen a significant improvement in the area of writing due to our philosophy of explore, explain and the try out. By peer marking and clear feedback from teachers marking the children understand how to further improve. Learning opportunities are taken by going on educational visits such as on the Poppyline as evacuees. When the children return their writing as an evacuee is amazing because of their empathy for the characters!
Children learn to write using the language that they speak. We encourage children to have a go and then with skillful teacher input and support we work through the recognized stages of development to ensure written work, spelling, phonics, grammar and punctuation are developed gradually through children’s writing. As they develop children are encouraged to see writing as a powerful means of self-expression and communication and to write for a range of purpose. Children understand what they are expected to do by using clear frames using success criteria. The children love to use this and work with each other to ensure that they are able to produce work that gets better every time they try. At school, staff and children often talk about each day getting a little bit better will ensure they do better every day.