“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein.
"Reading can take you places you have never been before." Dr. Seuss.
At Holmgate Primary School our aims are:
- To promote a positive attitude to reading, writing, speaking and listening.
- To develop children’s abilities to become confident users of language, both oral and written.
- To ensure that children have access to a broad, balanced and creative English curriculum.
- To provide clear and consistent teaching throughout the school.
- To raise standards in the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening
- To encourage children to be aware of their own learning and to know the next steps they need to take
We use Read Write Inc. to deliver phonics lessons every day in EYFS and KS1. This is continued into LKS2 where necessary. Reading strategies are modelled daily by teachers and teaching assistants. All children have the opportunity to develop their strategies for reading and discuss texts in detail.
Reading comprehension is taught using the ‘Holmgate Reading Detectives’ strategy. As part of this strategy, children are taught to:
- use their background knowledge to connect with books that they read
- make predictions about a text
- ask questions about a text
- visualise (make mind pictures) about some of the things that happen
- identify what is really important in a text, such as key words, phrases, sentences and ideas
- check things make sense to them and notice when they have an understanding ‘breakdown’
- use ‘breakdown strategies’ to get them understanding again
- summarise by spotting important parts of a story and connecting them together to build meaning
In the infants, children are given reading book bags which match their phonetic ability. For example, if a child is reading at ‘Red’ level in their phonics group, they will then be given a ‘red’ reading book to take home. This way, children are consolidating the phonemes and graphemes they are taught in school, at home. Children are expected to be able to decode 90% of the words in the book bags independently. Parents are encouraged to listen to their children read at least four times a week.
We recognise the value of adults (both in school and at home) reading aloud to children, in order to improve their grasp of story language, enthuse them with a love of books and inspire them as writers.
Many exciting and rewarding activities are arranged in school to promote the pleasure and knowledge that can be gained from books. For example:
- Each class has a set of ‘Teacher’s Choice’ books where children are given the opportunity to select a special book which has been recommended by their class teacher.
- Children get to choose a special birthday book to take home when it is their birthday. This gets presented to them during Friday’s celebration assembly.
- We have an eye-catching library which is full of thrilling books to read.
- Buddy reading takes place across school where children can support each other with their reading.
- We have an exciting library club which takes place in the library three times a week where the children can come and relax with a good book. This is run by our school librarians.
- We participate in ‘World Book Day’- where children are immersed in storytelling, author quizzes, book discussions and the opportunity to dress up as a book character and share their favourite books.
- When possible, we organise book fairs, which are Y6 librarians help to run and competitions throughout school.
In the teaching of writing, we aim for all children to appreciate that writing is a universal method of communication and to enjoy playing with language and writing for pleasure. This includes writing for specific, real or imaginary audiences and a cross curricular approach is adopted wherever possible, in order to give writing real life purpose and meaning.
We aim to develop the children’s ability to produce well structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and which engages the interest of the reader. Attention is paid throughout the school to the formal structures of English, grammatical detail, punctuation and spelling. Our approach to teaching writing covers the ‘transcription’ and ‘composition’ requirements of The National Curriculum (2013).
Teachers model writing skills and the use of phonics and spelling strategies in shared writing sessions. Guided writing sessions are used to target specific needs of both groups and individuals. Children have opportunities to write at length in extended independent writing sessions at the end of a unit, applying their taught skills to an unsupported piece of writing.
The children are given frequent opportunities in school to write in different contexts using quality texts as a model and for a variety of purposes and audiences. The text types which are required to be covered by The National Curriculum (2013) are outlined in our long term plans for each year group to ensure that there is a breadth of coverage. They may be asked to produce their writing on their own or as part of group.
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
At Holmgate Primary School, grammar and punctuation is taught through the use of Rainbow Grammar, both in discrete lessons and as an integral part of other writing activities. Rainbow Grammar breaks sentences down into coloured sections; it is designed to teach the children in stages and builds on previous knowledge. As children build their knowledge, they learn how to structure more complex sentences, using grammar and punctuation correctly.
Like grammar and punctuation, spelling is also taught in discrete sessions, as well as being incorporated into English lessons. Spelling is taught using the Read Write Inc. Phonics scheme in KS1 and Spelling Shed scheme in KS2. These sessions are taught daily. In KS2, the weekly spellings children take home to learn will link to the strategies they have been learning in class.
In EYFS, children focus on pencil control and correct individual letter and number formation. Children are encouraged to use a wide variety of writing implements, including pencils, crayons, paint etc. to support them with their writing. In Y1, a pre-cursive style is taught and modelled to the children. In Y2, children will start learning how to join their writing in the school’s cursive style. In KS2, most children should be writing in the school’s cursive style. Pupils should use the diagonal and horizontal strokes that are needed to join letters and understand which letters, when adjacent to one another, are best left unjoined. Children will also be able to earn a handwriting pen in KS2 when they consistently use clear, fluent and joined-up handwriting during their independent writing.
Speaking, Listening and Vocabulary
Speaking and listening with confidence are significant factors in the development of effective writing and across the English curriculum. An emphasis is placed on oral work, to prepare children for writing. We follow the spoken language curriculum and this is incorporated in all subjects including English.
We believe a strong vocabulary across all subjects helps foster understanding, communication and reading and writing ability. We aim for the children at our school to develop their vocabulary and we endeavour to expose the children to new words, giving them the tools to find out the definition of words they don’t understand. We aim to support children in using new words, as well as clarifying their meaning.
Early Years Foundation Stage
In the Foundation Stage, English is part of the Literacy development of children and a specific area of the Early Years curriculum. In the Foundation Stage, children are encouraged to be writers and readers and develop an early enjoyment of written and spoken language through real play based experiences. Literacy development involves encouraging the children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials to ignite their interest. The children are also encouraged to develop their communication and language skills by being given opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations. We also support the children with the development of their physical and mark making skills which leads into letter formation and pencil control, the early steps into writing.