At Brize Norton Primary School we aim to ensure that our children develop the key skills in spoken language, reading and writing needed in order to take advantage of opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.
Phonics and Early Reading
This is taught from the beginning of the EYFS until the end of Y1. Children follow the progression set out in our Phonics plan through a daily phonics lesson, which takes place at the beginning of each morning. The lesson incorporates direct teaching, oral practice, games for recall and writing practice (including dictation). Writing is done in books at least once a week, with whiteboards used for other sessions. Our Phonics plan is based on Letters and Sounds, but following the order in the Bug Club books to ensure that our books match the sounds taught.
Once children know some sounds, they are sent home with “bookmarks” of sounds and blending to practise. They are also given books to read at home which have only the sounds they know. All children following the Phonics programme are heard read by an adult in school at least once a week.
Children who are in danger of falling behind with their phonics are given extra support outside the phonics lesson as well as being taught at the same level as their peers. If a child shows signs of SEND and is unable to make progress even with the extra support, teachers sometimes teach them in a separate group, but this happens only in a small minority of cases.
Children who are already confident readers nevertheless follow the phonics programme to ensure that they have understood the sounds ready for spelling. However, the teacher assesses their phonic knowledge – if they are confident with the higher-level sounds, they may be given reading books for home from a higher level than the class has been taught.
Children in Year 2 who have not mastered all the sounds in Phase 5 of our Phonics programme need to be taught the sounds they have not learned. This is woven in to their teaching programme, alongside the Year 2 spelling programme.
Children in Year 3 and above who still need it are given phonics support. As they grow older, phonics may be blended with other reading programmes in conversation with the SENCO, such as Rapid Read.
Reading – Progressing Up
Once a child is confident in all the sounds in our Phonics plan, they begin reading from our Book Band selections, starting at Orange level and progressing up to Lime. Teachers check regularly whether children are ready to move up a band.
Once a child is confident reading at Lime level, they become “free readers”, able to choose their own books from home or from school but still with the supervision and guidance of their teachers.
All children have Reading Records to record their reading at home. Children are asked to read at least five times a week. Once a week, staff check the Reading Records; when insufficient home reading is recorded, staff speak to the parents to encourage them to do more. If a child does not read enough at home despite this encouragement, more opportunities for them to read in school are provided (such as reading buddies). Parents are asked to write in Reading Records up to and including Year 2. In Year 3, there is a gradual move towards the child writing in it, and from Year 4 upwards children write in their own Reading Records, including reflections and thoughts on their reading as well as just what they have read. Staff write questions for the children in the records, to encourage the children to think more deeply about their reading.
Class Texts and Units
Our English curriculum is based on rich texts. Each year, teachers plan English units lasting for several weeks, including fiction (5 units per year), non fiction (four per year) and poetry (three per year). Each unit is based on a single high-quality text, with opportunities to dip into other texts to expose children to a wide range of rich literature. These are planned by teachers across the year to include a range of genres and periods. Texts are chosen because they are engaging, because they demonstrate a range of writing features the children need to learn and because they may link with other subjects across the curriculum.
Fifteen minutes per day in the timetable are given to “snack and story time”, when teachers read their class text to the class while the children eat their snacks. This is a time for enjoyment and immersion in the text, so that it can then be explored and analysed in more detail in English lessons.
All classes have at least an hour and a half’s Reading teaching per week, with objectives taken from our school’s VIPERS progression:
• Summarising / Sequencing
Lessons may have a single objective or more than one, as long as all objectives are taught each half term.
Reading lessons are usually based on the text being studied at the time, although in a minority of lessons it may be appropriate to use stand-alone lessons to teach a particular objective.
From Year 2 upwards, spelling is taught for the first twenty minutes of every day, before the beginning of the English lesson. We follow the No Nonsense spelling scheme which clearly sets out objectives and a range of teaching and practice activities.
Each week’s spelling objectives are sent home for reinforcement. However, we understand that home learning of spellings is only a small part of our spelling teaching and that most learning takes place in class, so we do not do formal testing of spelling each week. Teachers test children’s retention of spelling knowledge each term to inform our writing assessments.
Handwriting takes place in the first 10 - 15 minutes after lunch at least four days a week, from Year 1 upwards. (In the EYFS, it is taught as part of Phonics and Writing.) With younger and less confident children, the emphasis is on teacher modelling and children’s practice. Once a child is confident with their handwriting, handwriting practice can be used to reinforce spellings or to expand vocabulary.
In the EYFS, children are taught to write neat, printed letters with exit flicks. From Year 1, they use dedicated handwriting books with line guides to learn the joined letter forms. Once they can do that, they use their handwriting books to learn to join.
Once children are able to join letters in their handwriting book, they are given a regular exercise book to practise at a normal writing size.
Once a child can join neatly and confidently in their dedicated handwriting time and in their regular exercise books, they no longer need to do handwriting practice in the afternoons and they can use this time for other learning.
English Unit Planning
Units are planned to last between two and four weeks, with two units each half term. Each unit consists of the following elements:
1. A starting point of a high-quality text (whole text or section)
2. A chance to deepen understanding the text through Reading lessons and other activities such as drama
3. Reading as a writer – identifying features within the text which can be applied in their own writing and why they are effective
4. Teaching of objectives relevant to the writing outcome
5. At least two writing tasks (a shorter one during the unit and a longer one at the end)
Every classroom has a “road” display showing the steps through the unit from the initial text to the final writing outcome, including the learning along the way.
When children write (at least twice during a unit), it will take several lessons and the following will be done:
• exploring the success criteria check list
• shared writing with a clear focus on effect on the reader and on the success criteria (“If you don’t do shared writing, you are not teaching writing” – Pie Corbett)
• warmup activities to get the brain going
• writing, with the success criteria check list in front of the children
• regular pauses in writing to revisit the check list and self- and peer-assess
• feedback from the teacher on the writing as a work in progress. This could be individually, in groups or as a whole class using a child’s writing as an example. Not all children will receive this feedback during every piece of writing, but over time all will.
• a chance for the child to edit and improve their work using purple pen
• some sort of celebration at the end of the unit, which may be reading the finished product to a friend, a wall display or presentation in a class book in the book corner
Success criteria check lists are used every time children write, with the following headings:
• Basic Skills
• Sentences and Paragraphs
Objectives for writing units may be taken from our Writing Progression document or directly from the text studied, but every unit includes elements of all three types of objective, and all three are included in every check list.
In Year 6, children are encouraged to be more independent in their writing so there may be a move away from a teacher-directed check list towards a list of targets written by the child him / herself.