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 produce a piece of work from shared writing. Shared writing is an instructional approach to teach writing to students by writing with them. The idea is to teach writing through writing. The process of writing is demonstrated by the teacher through a 'write aloud' process. This is done before finally applying what they have learned to their own, independent writing. Every fortnight, 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" that 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.
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. In order to achieve greater depth at the end of key stage 1, joined up handwriting is a requirement, so we encourage this throughout our daily writing. As we get to Year 6, children will be expected to maintain legibility in joined up handwriting when writing at speed. We ask you to embrace this handwriting culture by ensuring your child practices at home wherever possible.