Our intent through the English curriculum is to ensure that children develop the skills and knowledge that enables them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language, and to equip them with skills to become lifelong learners. We help children to enjoy and appreciate literature and develop a passion for reading.
Everyday, we teach reading and writing in varied and lively ways, as well as promoting reading and writing in all subjects. We want our children to acquire core literacy skills and have a love of language.
The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar, and their understanding for reading and writing. It is our intent that the children at Abbey Meads develop a rich and diverse knowledge of language. This is implemented across the curriculum; we provide our children with a wide range of opportunities to develop their speaking and listening skills such as discussion, debate, presentation, drama and movie making. During speaking activities, we assist children in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing, and children’s knowledge across the curriculum, the impact of which can be seen in all subjects.
Children will participate in a range of drama activities and we will invite theatre groups and other performers, such as storytellers into the school. Through our relationship with Prime Theatre, all children in Reception, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 have weekly drama workshops for 2 terms each year.
Our intent is that pupils learn to read fluently and with a good understanding. Reading enables pupils to acquire knowledge, develop a wide vocabulary and stimulate the imagination. It helps pupils to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Through reading high quality literature, pupils develop a good understanding of the world and a love of reading.
We provide children with a variety of schemes from which to choose, within book bands, with many children moving on to be ‘free readers’ after the ‘scheme’ books. Within FS2 the dominant scheme is Dandelions (with a specific link to phonic learning in that phase) and children in KS2 have access to Accelerated Reader Welcome to Renaissance Place (renlearn.co.uk) as both a motivational tool and additional way of developing comprehension skills.
All of our children have Reading Buddies throughout the school. Children in KS2 mentor and buddy up with a children from Foundation Stage and KS1 so that there is a weekly focus on enjoying and sharing quality texts, fostering a love of reading and learning through positive role models. These activities also act as an opportunity to develop speech and language for both age groups, with the additional safeguarding benefit of developing another avenue to capture the younger pupil’s voice.
Ways we teach children to learn to read:
Learning to read comprises of two core elements: word reading and comprehension. We implement the teaching of these skills in a range of ways.
We use a range of strategies across the school to teach reading. In EY and KS1 we focus on 1:1 reading with a child which them moves into group sessions and whole class reading activities. 1:1 reading is still important in KS2 but is done alongside whole class teaching of reading sessions.
All children are read to daily to engage them with reading and develop their reading skills. We have a reading spine running throughout the school which ensures children are introduced to a range of authors, genres and characters.
Regular assessment activities as well as more formal summative assessments are used to plan the next steps to develop the children’s reading.
The teaching of vocabulary is a central part of all reading sessions.
Additional reading material is made available through Classroom Libraries, Themed Book Boxes (all age groups termly rotation), Story Sacks (Year 1) our school research library and periodicals such as First News, Story Time and Whizz Pop Bang.
Children also engage in online reading activities through:
Bug Club (Active Learn) - A reading programme that joins books with an online reading world. Log in details are available from your child's class teacher. Please click here to access the website.
Purple Mash offers a range of reading activities including ‘Talking Stories’ where stories are read aloud to children while they follow the text on the screen, ‘Stories 2 Tell’ which brings storytelling to life and comprehension activities where children read chapters of stories and answer questions based on what they have read. Log in details are available from your child’s class teacher. https://www.purplemash.com/sch/abbey-sn25 to login.
Supporting reading at home
In Early Years, Key Stage One and Key Stage Two, the pupils’ understanding of a text is developed through opened ended questions and through discussing the meaning of words. In reading sessions pupils are taught how to find evidence in the text to back up their ideas. With the support of a teacher, they are taught the wider skills of reading and are given the opportunity to look at texts in more depth.
When reading with your child at home, in order to help them understand the text further you can ask the ask them a range of questions that encourages them to retrieve information, infer information or encourages them to give their own thoughts and opinions.
Questions to develop comprehension skills
Can your child find evidence directly and indirectly from the story?
What did……… do?
How many……… were/are there?
Where did it happen?
Who was there?
How does he describe it?
How do you make/do……?
What happened when……… did………?
What happened to………?
How is the character feeling? How do you know?
Can your child answer questions without referring to the story?
Have you ever....?
If you could....?
If you were going to....?
In your opinion...?
Do you agree with...? Why...?
Do you know anyone who...?
How do you feel about....?
What do you think will happen next...?
Through quality phonic teaching, which begins in Nursery, we use ‘Letters and Sounds’ and the ‘StoryTime Phonics’ programme to teach phonics in an imaginative, engaging and inspiring way that embeds and contextualises learning using quality texts. Pupils are taught to read tricky high frequency words and are given books to read at home that match their phonic and word knowledge; this boosts the child’s confidence in reading. Book bands will enable a clear progression in reading through the use of quality reading texts.
Children learn Phase 1 Phonics throughout the first year of the Foundation Stage. This comprises of lots of fun activities including sound walks and games. It is our intent that children can blend and segment everyday sounds before they move onto learning phonic sounds. These skills, along with rhyme, are essential as the foundations of all phonic learning. Children will begin to name letters and begin to learn letters and sounds relevant to their life, e.g. the letters in their name.
Once into Foundation Stage 2 (Reception), children start a phonics programme. We have designed our curriculum to follow the sequence of the Letters and Sounds scheme.
This will continue throughout the child’s time in school depending on need.
The 5 main skills taught during each phase are as follows:
Learning the letter sounds. Children will be taught the 44 main sounds. This include alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as ‘sh’, ‘th’, ‘ai’ and ‘ue’.
Learning the letter formation. Using a multi-sensory approach the children will learn how to form and write letters. We will use the printed form in Nursery, move on to introduce pre cursive handwriting in our Reception classes, which prepares children to join as they move through the school.
Blending. Children are taught how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words e.g. c-a-t becomes cat.
Identifying the phonemes in words (segmenting). Children are taught how to segment words into individual phonemes and represent these as graphemes.
Tricky words. These are the words with irregular spellings. Children will learn to read and spell these separately.
The links below will help reinforce what we work on in school.
Phonics: How to pronounce pure sounds | Oxford Owl - YouTube
Phonics: How to blend sounds to read words | Oxford Owl - YouTube
Children are continuously assessed on their phonic knowledge.
Letters and Sounds - Please click here to access the website.
At Abbey Meads, our intent is for our pupils to become fluent, articulate and enthusiastic writers. We teach the writing objectives of the National Curriculum using an exciting cross-curricular approach, and feel it is important to give pupils rich experiences to inspire writing and to provide a strong purpose where possible. Exciting stimuli helps children to be enthused about writing. We look for ways to motivate and inspire pupils so they see themselves as 'writers'.
Ways we teach children to learn to write:
Units of work are planned that immerse children in a genre by reading and discussing good examples of writing before the children plan and write their own.
We believe that pupils need to hear how sentences are spoken, speak these sentences aloud and then read and analyse them written in a text before attempting to write them for themselves.
We use carefully chosen or created model texts as well as live modelling and shared writing so that pupils can see the process involved in creating a piece of writing.
The pupils are given time to edit, and improve their writing and they are encouraged to evaluate both with the teacher and with peers.
We ensure the pupils have the opportunity to write for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
We recognise the vital importance of exposing our pupils to a rich and varied vocabulary and understand that their acquisition of vocabulary is key to their learning and progress across the whole curriculum.
Where possible, our teaching of the grammar requirements of the National Curriculum are embedded into our writing lessons, because we believe that grammar makes most sense when it is taught as an active process, related to the teaching of writing and reading. We supplement this with short and snappy stand-alone ‘Guided Grammar’ sessions throughout the week - see below.
Grammar forms an important part of the teaching of English at Abbey Meads. All pupils in KS1 and KS2 take part in Guided Grammar sessions four times a week. These sessions are used to directly teach the content and application of the Grammar Objectives from the National Curriculum in a modelled, scaffolded and then independent approach. Teachers plan and deliver these sessions using the 'I can' statements taken from the long term English overviews, which every year group has in place. This ensures that the intent to teach grammar is thorough. The sessions are implemented through whole class teaching and evidence is recorded by teachers individually, often through the use of flipcharts. The consistent delivery of Guided Grammar across KS1 and KS2 means that the impact of Guided Grammar teaching is measurable and effective.
Grammar is also delivered within English lessons, either as a Starter or Plenary focus or as a main lesson. As the Grammar 'I can' objectives have often already been taught through Guided Grammar, the lessons provide more of an opportunity for children to demonstrate and apply their understanding of these skills, in context. Guided Grammar teaching has a positive impact on English lessons and allows the implementation of these skills to be purposeful and valuable.
An Example of a Year 6 Guided Grammar Session:
The arrow points to the correctly edited sentences, showing how to use inverted commas and the associated punctuation accurately.
Spelling is a central part of the Writing curriculum for all Year groups. All children have spellings which are taught and practised in school and let home to practise with parents. In Y1-2 these spellings are linked to their phonics teaching in school. In KS2 they use the Spelling Shed resources to support their teaching of spelling patterns and challenge words. An important part of our spelling teaching is supporting children with applying the words they have learnt to their writing. Many resources will help with this with word mats. Children are also supported with editing their written work. Teacher use the editing progression when marking to ensure pupils are taught how to edit their own spellings after a piece of writing.
Strategies to support pupils with their spelling:
Phonetic spelling strategies. Segmenting, to see how a word is composed of individual sounds, is crucial for spelling.
Visual spelling strategy. Learning how a word looks and visualising the word can be an effective strategy.
Rule-based strategies. Pupils are taught through investigations to understand rules behind spelling patterns.
Word-meaning strategies. Helping pupils understand what words mean can support their spelling of those words. Explaining how words are derived, how prefixes and suffixes are added on to root words and how to form compound words, can all support confidence and accurate spelling.
We also encourage the pupils to develop their use of dictionaries and other tools to check their spelling.
We use an online resource to allow pupil access at home called Spelling Shed - click here to log in. This scheme also assists the teachers further up the school with their teaching and assessment of spelling. Teachers do not however follow the programme as a scheme and simply utilise the facilities to assist their teaching.
Handwriting is taught explicitly in the early stages with handwriting practice within the day. EYFS children learn the correct formation of letters and will print as well as taking part in gross motor and fine motor activities to help strengthen finger tips and arm muscles. We spend time ensuring children have the correct pencil grip. They will begin to join digraphs once they are developmentally ready and this will continue into Year 1. In Year 2, children will begin to join all letters once the teacher decides they are ready. Once a child is fluently joining their handwriting they will use a pen and be encouraged to develop their own style. This enables them to use handwriting pens and to further develop their fluency.