At Blakesley CE Primary School, English in all its forms is at the heart of everything we do. It is also a key ingredient for gaining access to the whole curriculum. Communication, both oral and written, is the key to educational progress. Through our English teaching, we aim to develop children’s competence as listeners, talkers, readers and writers so that they can live, work and succeed in a literate world. We believe all the skills of language enable children to participate fully as a member of society.
At Blakesley, we believe that reading is central to a child’s understanding of the school curriculum and is of vital importance in life. Fluent readers can access a full range of life experiences and can enjoy an amazing breadth of genres and writers.
At Blakesley, as well as hearing individual readers on a regular basis and in group reading tasks we also pride ourselves on our approach to the teaching of reading. When teaching children to read they need to be taught how to learn to read words and to develop language comprehension. Both are essential for learning to read. Daily reading lessons are planned that focus on comprehension, information retrieval and the teaching of higher order reading skills eg inference and deduction. Pupils record their responses to tasks in ‘Reading lessons’ in their exercise books. Feedback is given and acted upon.
In EYFS and KS1 the priority is given to securing the development of word recognition skills. Children are taught letter/sound correspondences, the skills of blending and segmenting. Progression in phonics skills and knowledge are taught following the ‘Soundswrite’ scheme. All children in the Foundation Year and KS1, receive a phonics session every day. The children are taught in phase groups across each year group. The children’s progress is regularly assessed and they move through the phases at their own pace.
A colour banded reading scheme provides structure yet a plentiful supply of engaging and challenging material for children and their reading. Texts are taken from a range of reading schemes, including Collins Big Cat, the Oxford Reading Tree and Rigby Star books. Children can choose from fiction or non-fiction texts within their appropriate colour band. As children’s skill, confidence, independence and reading stamina grow we have an enticing wide range of fiction books in our library to satisfy the most avid of readers.
Once children have learnt to apply their phonics and are at the learning to read stage, teachers and support staff will listen to pupils read regularly. From EYFS/KS1 all children are heard read aloud individually at least once a week. In KS2 there are regular opportunities for periods of reading several times a week. The frequency of individual pupils is timetabled. A reading record of the books pupils read is kept and comments are made by members of school staff and parents.
Regular monitoring of a pupil’s progress is tracked using Rising Stars reading tests and the standardised PIRA Reading assessments. Gap analysis is conducted to inform planning and possible interventions where necessary.
We aim to use ‘high-quality’ texts or resources within reading lessons and to provide a breadth and range of reading material in school. Each classroom has a dedicated reading area which includes a variety of class books (Fiction and non-Fiction) which the children can choose and read for pleasure. These appeal to different genders and also reluctant readers.
Pupils are also given regular opportunities to hear books and stories read aloud for example, class novels, extracts and poems.
When planning writing teachers, at Blakesley, use the National Curriculum for medium term planning. The writing objectives are used as a basis for short term planning and adapted according to the text type being taught and the needs of the children. Teachers work towards independent learning and plan for different working groups e.g. whole class/small group/paired/individual. The length of a unit may vary. However short term planning is completed for one or two weeks to deliver a genre/writing unit. Clear objectives and success criteria are set for each session and are shared with pupils. Teachers differentiate learning objectives and writing tasks according to the needs of the pupils and use intervention programmes for targeted support. Children are given regular opportunities to edit, re-draft and improve their written attempts. The Kinetic Letters Handwriting scheme is taught to all Key Stages.
As English contributes to many subjects within the primary curriculum, opportunities are sought to draw literacy experiences out of a wide range of activities. This allows children to begin to use and apply their skills in real contexts and for writing for a real purpose. ICT is used where it enhances, extends and complements teaching and learning. Additional adults are used to support the teaching of English. They work under the guidance of the teacher with small groups of children or individuals. Classrooms display wall charts, learning walls, grammatical word collections and examples of pupils’ writing to stimulate, support and provide information. Pupils have good access to a range of appropriate dictionaries and thesauruses.
Regular moderation of independent writing takes place. Checklists are completed inside books to track the progress of individual pupils and to inform Teacher Assessment.
Spelling is taught through a systematic whole school approach. Pupils are taught spelling rules and patterns regularly, from our adopted Spelling Scheme based on the National Curriculum’s Programmes of Study.
All pupils have Spelling exercise books in which to record their work. Spelling is differentiated in both difficulty and also through the number of words to be learned. Spelling lessons are taught as whole class lessons with differentiated activities. Pupils are given a list of spelling words from the appropriate level of the structured spelling lists. Chances are given to use the words in context and learning is linked at times with handwriting. Opportunities for consolidation will be afforded through frequent learning sessions offering a wide variety of approaches to practise and learning spellings. The teaching of spelling is predominately school based practice although at times active home learning activities are linked to spelling taught in class. Weekly spellings are regularly sent home to encourage further practise; these include Common Exception Words drawn from the Programmes of Study.
After writing lessons, key words which are appearing as misspelled words from more than one pupil will be noted. Opportunities are given to allow pupils to make corrections to their spelling attempts. Regular standardised testing of a pupil’s spelling takes place so that progress can be monitored using Termly Rising Stars Spelling tests. Gap analysis are carried out to inform future planning and intervention needs.
At Blakesley, we believe the teaching of Grammar is vital for all children so that they become confident and independent writers.
In Reception, the accurate use of grammar in speech and writing is consistently modelled from the outset. Children learn what makes a simple ‘sentence’ whilst looking at capital letters, full stops and other punctuation forms. In Years 1 to 6, grammar and punctuation are taught as part of a planned whole-school programme in line with the progression through the National Curriculum. Grammar lessons are planned for as part of a teacher’s short term plans. Grammatical structures and terminology are also introduced at a point in the teaching sequence which is relevant to the focus of learning.
Regular monitoring of a pupil’s progress is tracked using Rising Stars Grammar tests. Gap analysis is conducted to inform planning and possible interventions where necessary.
Classrooms display wall charts, grammatical word collections and information to stimulate and support learners. Pupils have good access to a range of appropriate dictionaries and thesauruses.