We believe that English is a vital part of the school curriculum that supports the development of all curriculum areas and ensures the growth of essential learning skills for the future. English encompasses the areas of; reading, writing, speaking and listening. We ensure that all our pupils develop a secure understanding of all forms of oral and written literacy to effectively communicate with others. The sections below summarise the approaches we take in all the areas of English.
A love of reading is encouraged by an ever increasing range of provision such as:
- weekly library slots for all classes and all children able to take a library book home
- home library for nursery and pre-school changed weekly
- regular author visits
- whole school events and celebrations
- lunchtime story clubs
- competitions and class based rewards
- daily reading of a class story for pleasure
Children are exposed to a wide range of high quality texts throughout the school. In the Early Years and KS1 this is supported by the core book list we have developed. These books are read to the children regularly so that they become familiar and the language and vocabulary begins to be embedded in the children’s own language patterns. The core texts also form the basis of play based activities in early years to allow children to use the language patterns in their play. In addition, the core list includes a range of nursery rhymes and poems to ensure that children experience a range of these in their time here.
In KS2 the texts children are exposed to are based on the LiteracyTree. This forms the basis of their writing by providing hooks into writing using the language from the high quality texts to improve their writing. Children are immersed into the texts through activities such as role play, real life experiences and art, encouraging a greater depth of understanding and engagement in the texts.
It is important for children to access texts that are appropriate for their ability in reading to enable them to apply the skills taught in phonics as well as other reading skills. Books for individual and guided reading are banded according to reading recovery levels for 6-30. Phonically decodable books are also used and these are banded by phonic step. It is vital that early reading is done through the use of phonically decodable texts and therefore we ensure that the first books children receive to read at home are matched to the phonic step they are on and contain graphemes that they will be familiar with at any point in their learning. A variety of reading schemes are used in school including: Bug Club, PM, Oxford Reading Tree, Jelly and Bean, Storyworld, Ginn Pocket reads, Lighthouse, Rigby Star and Big Cat.
Children are regularly assessed to ensure that their reading level is correct for them and this is done using running records and PM Benchmarking.
The important skill of decoding is taught using the North Somerset ‘Phonics into Early Spelling’ programme. Children in Reception and KS1 receive daily interactive phonics lessons to embed the skills of recognising graphemes and blending to read unknown words. There are also additional groups to pre-teach and repeat parts of the programme as needed up to Year 3.
Reading for meaning is embedded in our teaching of reading across the school. This is reinforced during all reading sessions where children are given time to discuss their thoughts about books and guided reading sessions happen daily for year 1-6. Starting from the initial understanding that all children bring to text, teachers facilitate discussion, provide modelling and use book talk to deepen understanding of what is read.
In EYFS and KS1 this discussion is verbal with some recording beginning in Year 2. KS2 use Scholastic Read and Respond Guided Reading to give children the opportunity to read a range of texts. They also provide a progression in the type of questions that children will answer in line with the National Curriculum requirements for comprehension.
As a school we recognise that it is essential for all children to learn to read and we provide a range of interventions to ensure that no children are left behind. We use our Pupil Progress Meetings to identify and create interventions that meet the needs of children and ensure rapid progress.
We aim to develop enthusiastic writers who can use their writing skills in a variety of contexts and for a range of purposes. This includes developing language and transcription skills but also we aim to ensure children feel ‘like a writer’ not just someone who can write.
Children are taught spellings in an interactive way through a variety of activities. They begin with learning to spell the ‘non-negotiable’ first spelling list alongside their phonics in reception and KS1. In KS2 children are taught spelling rules according to the programme devised by North Somerset and they receive three discrete spelling sessions a week.
The spellings and rules being taught are displayed clearly in the classrooms and are referred to by adults and children at the point of writing and during shared writing sessions. Feedback given by adults will included spellings and these will be corrected by the child using the resources in the classroom.
The teaching of handwriting skills starts in Nursery and Pre-school where activities are provided to develop the gross and fine motor skills needed later when writing letters begins. Mark making is highly valued and a wide range of tools and contexts encourages children to experiment with it.
In reception and onwards children are taught to write fully using the PENPALS program to inform regular handwriting sessions. Those who need support in developing their motor skills are identified for interventions such as Dough Gym or Write Dance and there are also intervention groups across year groups giving focused support with letter formation.
Grammar is taught in KS1 and 2 during the teaching sequences for the different genres of writing. Once an aspect of grammar is taught it is then modelled through shared writing before being included in the success criteria or writing toolkit for use in independent writing. Any discrete teaching of grammar must be used in context through writing.
All writing at Oldmixon begins with reading. Whether a core book in EYFS or KS1 or Literacy Tree text in KS2 the children are immersed in the language of quality text as a starting point for their own writing. This text then provides hooks, or reasons to write as well as providing new vocabulary, language patterns or text structures which will be used in children’s own writing.
The children are taught to write in a variety of genres both fiction and non-fiction and these are taught using a clear progression through the year groups. Within years 1 to 6 children will write each non-fiction genre at least once during the year which will then be applied in cross curricular work.
There are 6 basic pure genres:
- Non-chronological report
There are 7 basic narrative plots:
- Overcoming the monster
- Rags to riches
- The quest
- Voyage and return
Early Years and KS1 use Talk for Writing approach to teaching writing. This includes a focus on oral rehearsal of text using actions to reinforce the key language. Once children are able to imitate the text they move onto shared writing where the text is modelled and they innovate to make a new story with similar language patterns. Children will also work on short burst writing which aims to develop strong sentence level skills within the text type. Children are encouraged to invent stories through their play when they can make story maps and use role play to tell their own stories. Invention is also done through shared writing once a week where teachers model the writing process and use children’s ideas to develop class stories.
In KS2 the key features of a text type are constructed by the children through looking at model texts, real life examples of text and work on the text type from previous years. This then forms the success criteria for their own writing. Short burst writing and oral rehearsal of sentence structures is followed by shared writing. Once children have these tools they are ready to write independently, edit and improve and then publish their work.
Speech and Language:
We recognise that communication are crucial to future success for our children and the development of excellent speaking skills underpins our curriculum in all areas at Oldmixon. Vocabulary is explicitly taught through topic work and in guided and shared reading. Talk for Writing provides a structured platform to developing children’s speaking skills and we have developed a progression of storytelling language to be taught in EYFS and KS1
Opportunities for developing confidence and skills in communication are built into every lesson. At the end of each topic children share their learning and this is used to provide audience and purpose for speaking in increasingly formal contexts - from talking about art they have made, to becoming experts in an exhibition, to delivering motivational speeches to a hall full of people.