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 The Hayes we support the aim for English expressed within the National Curriculum: 'to promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.'
This underpins the development of reading and writing and is vital for pupils' development across all aspects of the school curriculum. We provide children with a wide range of opportunities to hear and use good quality vocabulary, focusing also on variety. Children are encouraged to ask questions, discuss in pairs and groups and to use conventions for discussion as well as debate. Opportunities for drama are sought throughout the curriculum as it is recognised that the skills that are developed through this medium are unique.
Throughout Key Stage 1 and 2 we teach English through the Power of Reading programme.
The Power of Reading approach has raised achievement in over 2500 schools across England and internationally. Here at The Hayes, we have seen The Power of Reading transform the way the teachers teach and the way children feel about reading and writing. Children engage with high quality picture books, novels, poetry and non-fiction through a wide range of teaching approaches. Children are immersed into the text through music, art, drama, discussion and role-play. Other approaches include responding to illustrations, ‘Book Talk’, story mapping and book making. Children take ownership of the text and engage with it deeply.
The programme of study at Key Stages 1 and 2 are:
comprehension (both listening and reading).
Our aim is to teach children to read fluently and accurately so that they have a full understanding of text, resulting in enjoyment of what they have read. We share this aim with parents, and to this end, use a variety of strategies. Our children’s reading experiences continue and develop throughout The Hayes, with them learning to read for a purpose – why are they reading? This of course reflects directly upon their writing skills, when the two are allied and the connections are made known to the children! Children are, therefore, encouraged to make choices about their reading matter, according to why they are reading. When reading for information, higher reading skills are taught so that they can skim/scan text for what they need.
Skills such as recapping on what children have read, predicting what might happen next and inviting opinion as to why, are vital to children progressing as readers and these skills are encouraged from our earliest readers.
The carefully chosen texts are all part of Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s (CLPE) Core Book List.
We ensure that our children receive high quality phonic teaching on a daily basis throughout the Infant department. We use the ‘letters and sounds’ teaching tool to ensure that our children are well placed to read and spell words with fluency and confidence. We also make use of a programme called 'Phonics Bugs' produced by Pearsons. This is a synthetic phonics programme that has had good results in raising attainment across the board but especially for that of boys and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The main features are that it:
teaches blending, segmenting and phonemic awareness skills
covers the 40+ phonemes of the English language
includes language activities to develop fluency and comprehension
is simple and systematic with ongoing assessment embedded
uses technology to bring phonics alive.
The programme of study at Key Stages 1 and 2 are:
transcription (spelling and handwriting)
composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
Learning to write is a complex process that involves a variety of skills but is an extremely powerful medium. It can last longer than the spoken word and can, and often has, been immortalized. We encourage all our children to become “authors” in their own right.
Initially, a child needs to be able to form the letters needed and then be able to express one’s ideas using these letters. Through shared and guided writing opportunities, we equip children to develop the skills of writing clearly and legibly. When the child is confident with these basic skills, they will work towards being able to write with a greater sense of purpose and learn to organize their writing according to this purpose. Children are equipped with the necessary tools to do this, being given daily opportunities to focus on spelling and/or grammatical structures.
Our children work using a variety of real texts – the link between reading and writing is made very clear. We are keen to develop the links between the child’s creative work and the creative arts.
We strive for our children to form correct letter formations, joining and good handwriting habits so that they can write fluently and legibly by the end of KS2. Children are introduced to cursive style writing from early years. This is taught with a sequential and progressive approach with teachers and TAs modelling the handwriting style.
We believe that children’s self-esteem and pride in their work can be raised by good quality presentation.
Each aim is considered equally important:
To teach children to write with a flowing hand which is legible, swift and pleasant to look at.
To enable children to develop their own style of handwriting as they progress through Key Stage 2.
To support the development of correct spelling and to aid in the elimination of letter reversals by the learning of word patterns and the correct joining of letters.
To ensure that children of differing abilities are provided with appropriate and achievable goals.
To assist children in taking pride with the presentation of their work.
To teach correct letter formation.
To appreciate handwriting as an art form.
To display excellent examples of handwriting in every classroom and around the school.
We use the letter- join scheme throughout the school, thus ensuring there is a continuity and progression across classes; please see: www.letterjoin.co.uk/index.html. Handwriting is taught 30 minutes a week (with additional interventions for children who need extra support). During lessons, we ensure that children sit, position their paper/book and hold their pen/pencil correctly using their other hand to hold their work firmly. It is important that in the Early Years and at Key Stage 1, children are observed closely during the lesson to ensure that letter formation is correct and corrected if needed. In addition to specific handwriting lessons children are expected to apply their learning in their exercise books and to show care for the presentation of their work. Regular opportunities for children to produce presentation work are also planned, for example in English, maths and IPC.