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.
We are developing our curriculum to provide clear planning and sequencing across the whole school to support children in building upon previous knowledge and achieving success as readers and writers. Our reading spine aims to give children experiences of a range of books across genres and periods. This links with our long term plans for writing and provides children with high quality model texts as well as making links to the wider curriculum where appropriate. Our curriculum is ambitious and designed to give all learners, particularly the disadvantaged, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.
We ensure that all staff at Brize Norton Primary have expert knowledge in English. We do this by ensuring staff receive continual professional development (CPD) as appropriate and information is disseminated through regular staff meetings and inset days. Recent training has included all Foundation and Key Stage 1 teaching staff attending up-to-date phonics training. Key Stage 1 and 2 staff have received training on planning and delivery of units of writing. Our English lead attends regular network meetings and has recently attended training on Reading Across the Curriculum and Gaining Consistency. This CPD has meant that increasing consistency is being gained across the school; an example of this has been the introduction of our Writing Journey walls in every classroom so children can see their end goal and map progress through each writing unit.
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 Letters and Sounds. 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 just phonics. From the start children are given books to take home and read with their parents.
Phonics is taught daily through Foundation and into Year 1 and 2 as appropriate, after which they move on to learning different rules and patterns as well as high frequency and non-decodable words in line with the National Curriculum.
We encourage all children to read every day. 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 provided with books linked to their phonics phase; once they are more confident we encourage them to choose high quality books according to their interests, these should also be challenging and stretch their ability. Parents (and older children) are asked to record daily what they have been reading through home-school Reading Records.
Reading comprehension skills are taught through our weekly reading comprehension lessons.
Teachers select genres for writing linked to other areas of study where appropriate, and ensuring a range are covered over an individual’s time in our school, including revisiting text types across the school. Our Writing Journey identifies the outcome with intended audience and purpose for writing. A unit of writing begins by studying a high-quality example text (WAGOLL – what a good one looks like), 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, bringing together all the different aspects of English they have learned.
A unit of writing is usually taught over a period of about three weeks. In addition, children will be practising and applying their developing writing skills in other subjects.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
Spelling is taught for most children from the beginning of Year 1 through phonics; children then progress through the National Curriculum expectations by year group. Children are taught different spelling rules each week, learning to apply these to a range of words. They also learn "tricky words" or common exception words that do not fit rules, as well as continually recapping what they have already learned. Words to learn are sent home each week, either from that week's rule or from the National Curriculum's list of 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 with a focus on applying skills in their independent work.
Children are initially taught simple letter formation with rhymes accompanying each letter to support learning. A lead-in at the beginning, followed by full-cursive joined handwriting, come later in Key Stage 1. We believe that neat, joined-up handwriting helps children's writing 'flow' as well as helping them have pride in their work. As they move through the school, children will be expected to maintain legibility in joined up handwriting when writing at speed.
We intend for all pupils to access the curriculum and to achieve to their full potential, including challenging our more able pupils. We ensure this happens through study of a range of high quality texts and developing childrens' ability to discuss and improve their own and others work
Children who may have additional needs are initially assessed using the Oxfordshire County Council descriptors for SEN. If needs are identified support and provision are put in place as appropriate to support individual’s learning. Those with identified Speech and Language needs may be referred to the Speech and Language team. Programmes of support may then be put in place as necessary; these include phonics programmes such as Launch into Reading Success and programmes to support reading and writing such as FFT or Rapid Read. All children are included in main lessons, where activities and expectations are designed to meet the needs of all learners and for all children to achieve success.
Our medium-term plans have been designed to take into account cases where ‘catch-up’ is required. Medium term planning may be adapted as needed to ensure children secure key expectations and learning is consolidated. Pupils have opportunities to revise and apply skills by revisiting previously taught genres and through cross-curricular learning where appropriate.
In lessons, teachers use precise questioning to check knowledge and understanding. They formatively assess in lessons to identify who requires intervention, meaning that all pupils are expected to ‘keep up.’
Children are assessed against how well they have understood a range of both key objectives and others from the National Curriculum. Day-to-day Assessment for Learning informs teachers about the elements of learning pupils need to develop further. In order to progress children need to achieve key objectives for their current stage of learning. The attainment and progress of pupils’ learning is tracked by class teachers and senior leaders, so that early intervention can be put into place to ensure no child falls behind.
Regular assessments take place three times per year. In Year 1 children are expected to pass the Phonics Screening Check; those who do not achieve this in Year 1 are supported and will complete in Year 2. Reading is assessed using written assessments, with children in Year 2 and 6 completing SATs assessments. Writing is assessed by teachers, taking in to consideration a range of writing by each child against expected standards for the year group.
Both the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team complete regular learning walks, observations, book and planning reviews as well as seeking pupil voice and staff feedback about teaching and learning.