National Curriculum Purpose of study
English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
At Highfields Primary School, we use the ALS: Letters and Sound approach to the quality first teaching of phonics, early reading and early writing. This approach demonstrates structure and routine so the children know exactly what they are learning and how to apply their knowledge in a wider context. It is mainly used in the EYFS and Key Stage 1 however, some children in Key Stage 2 also benefit from the strategies.
Our aim is to equip all children with the necessary skills needed to become fluent and confident readers. We understand the fundamental importance that reading has on a child’s ability to access the wider curriculum, make progress and ultimately succeed in life. It is also our mission and responsibility to open children’s minds to the magic and joy of reading, by introducing them to a wide range of carefully chosen literature. We believe that all staff, in partnership with parents, have a vital role to play in contributing to the teaching of reading, providing the best possible foundations to build upon.
Children are taught to read using big books where the teacher's model what to do for the children, the children then have daily opportunities to practise their skills through guided reading and apply their learning.
Assessment forms an integral part of the approach, so the progress of children is tracked carefully to ensure they do not fall behind in their learning.
If you would like to know about ALS: Letters and Sound and how to support your child at home, please speak to your child’s class teacher or for more information have a look at their website.
Learning to read is probably the most important thing your child will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible. We aim to promote high standards of reading through clear progressive planning and effective teaching. Reading is an essential life skill that provides access to the experiences of people from different cultures and times. We want your child to love reading and to want to read for themselves. This is why we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.
We start by teaching phonics to the children in the nursery class. This means that they learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words (blending) and how those sounds can be written down (segmenting). This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well. We teach the children simple ways of remembering these sounds and letters. Ask them to show you what these are!
The children also practise reading (and spelling) high frequency words such as ‘once,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’.
The children practise their reading with books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know and this does wonders for their confidence.
The teachers read to the children daily, so the children get to know all sorts of stories, poetry and information books. They learn many more words this way and it also helps their writing.
We will always let you know how well your child is doing. We use various ways to find out how the children are getting on in reading. We use the information to decide what reading group they should be in. Your child will work with children who are at the same reading level. Children will move to a different group if they are making faster progress than the others. Your child will have one-to-one support if we think they need some extra help to keep up.
From Year 2 onwards, we use Accelerated Reader (AR) which is a computer-based management system that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice and progress. Your child picks a book at their own level and reads it at their own pace. When finished, your child takes a short book-based quiz within the AR system. This is done in the classroom at a time designated by the class teacher. Passing the quiz (with a score of 85% or more) is an indication that your child understood what was read.
Accelerated Reader gives children and teachers feedback based on the quiz results which the teacher then uses to help set your child targets and goals and to direct ongoing reading practice and book choice.
We also use a reading test so that we can make sure that all our children are at the level that they should be for their age compared to all the children across the country.
In the summer term, the government asks us to do a phonics check of all the Year 1 children. That gives us extra information about their progress. We will talk to you about how well your child has done.
Try to read at home with your child as often as possible and sign their reading record. Talk about the book they are reading and show that you are interested in reading yourself by using the reading prompts provided at the back of their reading bookmark.
We will make sure that they are in the correct phonics group to enable them to make maximum progress. Some children will be given extra one-to-one tutoring by a trained adult if needed. Group interventions also take place across the year groups to ensure children are supported with any gaps in their learning. This could include comprehension strategies or further work around reading fluency.
At Highfields Primary School, we strive to use our children's love and knowledge of quality texts to connect with each other, their community, society and the world. Through our rich and well-structured curriculum, they develop clear purposes for writing that help them inform, entertain, instruct, persuade and explain the wider world through a range of writing experiences that have an impact beyond the classroom. Our children are immersed in the process of writing and this allows them to develop the confidence to become authors.
English lessons will introduce subject content progressively and constantly demand more of pupils. The English curriculum has been planned carefully to ensure both clear progression from EYFS to Year 6. Each unit of work builds on prior learning. We use high quality model texts, including classic texts, to constantly broaden children’s exposure to high quality literature and mastery of grammar.
We follow the teaching sequence for writing in KS1 and KS2 (see image below) . The teaching of writing involves clear modelling by the teacher to exemplify the process required to transcribe and compose a sentence, series of sentences or paragraphs.