ENGLISH AT SWALECLIFFE COMMUNITY PRIMARY
Reading is a key skill and here at Swalecliffe we believe that children should be continually clocking up their reading miles; developing their reading skills and increasing a love of
books. Reading permeates our day: as part of Early Morning Work, through story time, class assemblies, library time, in connected learning, time in the book corner and during Book Talk sessions. We have two separate libraries: one in the infants and one in the juniors which offer a wide variety of texts for a range of genres. The children select a book during their weekly library time to share at home; read for pleasure or to use to help with homework in addition to their individual reader which they change as needed.
Individual readers come from a number of sources. They are accurately grouped according to age and National Curriculum expectations into coloured bands. These colour bands have smaller structured steps within reading levels which really help to develop a child’s reading skills. We have combined a range of different schemes including: Big Cat, Oxford Reading Tree, Bug Club alongside carefully selected ‘real’ books in order that the children experience a wide range of genre, interests and author.
To ensure good communication between school and home about children’s reading, each child has a contact book which should be taken home every evening and returned every morning. Teachers will write comments in these books but for practical reasons this is simply not possible every day. Where a child reads as part of a group during Book Talk, the teacher will stamp the child’s reading record. Every child will read with an adult at least once a week either individually or during Book Talk. At K.S.1, where early reading skills are being developed, this is considerably more. For parents supporting reading at home, in the middle of the reading record there are some ideas about helping children and discussing books whilst reading. There are further questions on the website for parents to use.
Some children require more support when reading if they are to become more fluent. We use the Toe-by-Toe programme for our older children who still need support with phonics for reading and its next step, Stride Ahead, to improve reading speed. At Swalecliffe, we also greatly encourage support from parents and are very lucky to welcome many adults in to read with children across the school.
Every day the children have a Book Talk session where carefully differentiated tasks will have been planned for the children to develop their comprehension (based around the Reading Domains and our Reading Rainbow); their recognition of punctuation for reading and to teach key skills like inference, summarising and comparing. Again, a variety of texts, genre and poetry will be studied. World Book Day is celebrated every other year.
Writing is taught systematically across the school daily according to National Curriculum expectations in terms of skills and we use a ‘Rainbow’ system to ensure progression of these. Genre aspects of teaching are repeated throughout the year using new texts. Each progressive unit of work focuses on developing sentence construction, vocabulary, sense of audience and purpose, punctuation, grammar and organisation. There are also strong links to connected learning. Children use their Sentence Menus in every aspect of writing to scaffold their learning. We greatly encourage our children to edit and improve their own work as they write with guidance from an adult.
In handwriting, we teach the children to use a cursive script with many children gaining their pen licence from Year 4.
Phonics and Spelling
At our school, we follow the Letters and Sounds programme. From Early Years the children are taught discrete phonics every day in ability groups where appropriate. We closely measure progress termly with a school phonics assessment across KS1 to ensure that the children are ready for the Year 1 Phonics Screening which takes place in June. We continue phonics with the children that have not yet met the required standard and need to do the test a year later. Further up the school, phonics continues for those who still require additional help. This is done through continued use of the Letters and Sounds Programme and Toe-by-Toe with skilled teaching assistants in small groups or on a 1:1 basis.
Spelling is taught discretely across KS1 and KS2. During these sessions, children look at spelling patterns, rules and high frequency words. They are taught to proofread for spelling errors; use dictionaries/thesauruses to support their spelling; develop mnemonics and about how to use etymology to help with spelling. Children receive termly 'Spelling Bee' lists to learn at home based around the rules that they are learning in class.
Speaking and Listening
Children have many opportunities to discuss, debate and relate events in order to become confident speakers and listeners. Our Life Skills Challenges and connected curriculum play a huge role in the promoting this area of the English curriculum. Class and year group assemblies also develop our pupils dramatic skills in addition to their confidence in Speaking and Listening.