Phonics and Reading
Being able to read well is the foundation for all learning, and we believe it is important to start children reading early and well.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage, children are introduced to reading through systematic synthetic phonics, specifically through the Read Write Inc phonics scheme. Parents are supported through a parent workshop early on, so they understand how we are teaching the children. Children use phonics to read and write sounds, to blend sounds for reading and to segment them for spelling. Do not worry if your child's spelling at this stage is incorrect: the aim is to encourage them to use the phonics they know to produce plausible, legible words. Children are also introduced to "tricky words", those which cannot be read or written using phonics. As they grow in confidence, they are given books to take home and read with their parents.
Phonics is taught every day until a child is reading and writing confidently, after which they move into our Spelling programme, learning different rules and words. This takes place for most children at the end of Year 1, though it can happen earlier or later.
We encourage all children to read every day, both at home and at school. The school has a wide range of both fiction and non fiction books to choose from, and of course children can choose books from home. When children are still learning, they are encouraged to choose books from our "banded" books, so they choose a book at the right level; once they are more confident we like them to choose whatever interests them, as long as it is also challenging and stretching their ability. Parents (and older children) are asked to let us know what they have been reading through our home-school Reading Records.
Reading comprehension skills are taught once a week through our Big Reading lesson.
Each term is divided into two units for Writing. Terms 1, 3 and 5 have Fiction and Non Fiction, whilst Terms 2, 4 and 6 have Fiction and Poetry. Each unit begins by studying a high-quality example text, which the children analyse and break down, learning the skills of the writer. The next stage is to imitate the writer's style before finally applying what they have learned to their own, independent writing. Once a week we have our Big Writing lesson in which children write independently, developing their writing stamina and learning to bring together all the different aspects of English they have learned.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
Spelling is taught for most children from the beginning of Year 2. Children are taught a different spelling rule each week, learning to apply it to a range of words. They also learn "tricky words" which do not fit rules, as well as continually recapping what they have already learned. Ten words to learn are sent home each week: usually, five are from that week's rule and five are from the National Curriculum's list of tricky words to be learned. It makes a huge difference if parents help their children to learn their words, preferably for a few minutes every day rather than once a week.
Punctuation and grammar are taught both on their own and as part of Writing lessons. We have a reward scheme for children learning punctuation and grammar rules called Gruesome Grammar: children learn a series of rules, and when they have shown that they understand them, they receive a Gruesome Grammar bookmark with a picture of a monster on. Collect the set! We have produced parent guides for parents who would like to support their children in this, which you can download from this page.
The school teaches full-cursive (joined-up) handwriting. When children are first taught their letter forms, we include a "flick" at the beginning and end of the letter, so that later joining is much simpler. We believe that neat, joined-up handwriting helps children learn to spell more easily as well as helping them have pride in their work.