Rationale and Aims
At Little Gaddesden School we enable our children to become confident, lifelong readers by providing a highly effective and exciting English curriculum. We aim to develop and inspire a love of literature and expose pupils to high quality texts. Pupils are given opportunities to explore and apply their skills across the whole curriculum. Our pupils achieve success in their journey, becoming skilled, avid readers and articulate speakers.
A love of reading is embedded in the culture of our school. Reading is an essential life skill that enables children to develop their learning across the wider curriculum and lay the foundations for future success. Teachers’ have wide knowledge of children’s literature and other texts and make recommendations to pupils. Pupils have opportunities to read aloud and fluent readers to read independently. By securing strong language comprehension and word recognition, children are moving from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’.
Pupils at Little Gaddesden enjoy rich opportunities to participate in conversation and to verbalise thoughts and ideas through discussion. Through a carefully planned curriculum pupils are equipped with the right knowledge and vocabulary to be able to speak on a topic effectively and present their ideas clearly and articulately using the appropriate grammar and register for audience and purpose.
Firm foundations from EYFS and KS1 enable pupils to develop automaticity with phonics, freeing up their working memory to focus on comprehension and fluency. Motivated readers want to read aloud, modelling by adults supports all pupils to do so effectively.
Reading for Pleasure
We Love Reading!
Reading for pleasure opens up new worlds for children. It gives them the opportunity to use their imagination to explore new ideas, visit new places and meet new characters. It can also improve well-being and empathy, helping them to understand their own identity, and an insight into the world and the views of others.
Across the school year we have many initiatives that take place to encourage reading for pleasure.
- We read to children every day from carefully chosen texts.
- Every classroom has an inviting book corner.
- Childrens’ reading book choices are carefully chosen and monitored.
- Children are encouraged to bring books from home to share with their class.
Phonics Rationale and Aims
At Little Gaddesden School, we use the Sounds-Write systematic synthetic phonics programme. It is a comprehensive system to teach reading, spelling and writing. Sounds-Write is taught in Reception and Year 1 and continues to be referred to throughout the curriculum beyond these year groups so that children can reliably decode any word using their phonic knowledge in any stage of their learning.
Our phonics screening success shows that Sounds-Write is a highly effective method of learning centred on letter sounds and phonics. It is structured, multi-sensory, incremental and code-oriented and provides an instructional approach to teaching children to read and spell. It teaches all key elements of conceptual understanding, factual knowledge as well as the three essential skills of blending, segmenting and phoneme manipulation necessary for learning to read and spell.
At Little Gaddesden School we believe that by creating confident readers we will develop the foundations for great writers and we strive to give our children the best start in establishing secure foundations in writing through our curriculum (See planning overview and curriculum map below). It is our intention that by the end of their primary education, all of our pupils will be able to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas effectively and with a developed awareness for purpose and audience.
Daily phonics instruction
Phonics is taught for 30 minutes every day to ensure all children achieve the automaticity that underlies the fluency of every successful reader. In Reception, we begin the initial code of the Sounds-Write Programme. We progress to the more complex sounds in the Extended Code in Year 1. This daily teaching of discrete sessions progresses from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills, covering all the major sound/spelling correspondences in a systematic sequence of lessons that build on one another, as well as providing plenty of opportunities to review and revisit previously taught knowledge ensuring that all our pupils are able to crack the phonics code.
Ensuring Consistency and Pace of Progress
All teachers teaching phonics have received the appropriate certified training. This ensures teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
All children are assessed regularly by their class teachers ensuring they are working at the appropriate level, with any gaps addressed through targeted interventions. We recognise that some children may require more opportunity for repetition and for their phonics learning to be broken down into smaller steps. Swift and effective intervention allows pupils to keep up with others and have full access to the curriculum.
Decodable reading books are taken home to ensure success is shared with the family. We use a range of books from a wide variety of providers. These are colour banded.
Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents/carers to share and read with their children.
Writing Rationale and Aims
Creating confident readers develops the foundations for great writers and we strive to give our children the best start in establishing secure foundations in writing across our curriculum . It is our intention that by the end of their primary education, all of our pupils make good progress, will be able to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas effectively and with a developed awareness for purpose and audience.
Our primary aim is to expose the children to a range of literature over the course of their primary school life through carefully selected core high quality texts. This is the basis of our English planning and we strive to intrinsically integrate the teaching of reading and writing.
Children engage deeply with our selected texts as we foster their ability to ‘read as readers, read as writers and finally write as readers’. In this way, we are able to assist the children in their development of a rich vocabulary and of texts which are written with careful precision to captivate their audience.
Because talk plays a central role in our curriculum, both English and beyond, children quickly develop confidence whilst embedding their core communication skills and subsequently develop as articulate citizens. Teachers carefully model the writing process daily to support children’s writing and make expectations clear.
Within each unit, we teach the essential skills of grammar and punctuation. Some of which are also taught discreetly.
Children are taught how to proof-read and check that their writing makes sense. From Year 2 onwards, they develop editing skills to improve their work.
Planning for progression
We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in English which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. Our Long Term Plans ensure a pathway of progression covering a range of fiction and non-fiction genres year on year which may be influenced by the core text and/or other curriculum learning ensuring a model of progression is sustained throughout school. In this way, children progressively develop their writing of different genres year on year, building on and deepening their writing skills.
We recognise the importance of children being able to write legibly, fluently and at reasonable speed. Presentation is valued and high standards are promoted; most children move into Key Stage 2 able to write in a neat, cursive style.
In EYFS, the early stages of handwriting development, children are introduced to activities to establish and develop their fine motor skills. Multi-sensory experiences ensure that the techniques are not only fun to learn, but that the skill is learnt effectively by pupils with a variety of learning styles. During phonics sessions, letter formation is taught alongside the letter sounds. Opportunities for mark making are planned for inside and the outdoor areas. Children are offered a range of materials and experiences for mark making developed across all seven areas of learning. When teachers are modelling activities, they demonstrate and encourage a tripod pencil grip.
In KS1, handwriting forms part of daily, early morning activities and is a focus in phonics and spelling lessons. These focus on letter formation and the objectives of the Key Stage 1 Programmes of Study. Teachers provide opportunities to demonstrate and reinforce correct letter formation, using a continuous cursive lead-in to the correct starting point for each letter.
We aim for all pupils to secure a legible joined handwriting style by lower KS2. Extra intervention is offered to children who need further handwriting support.
Children are provided with the opportunities and experiences to develop the skills and knowledge that they require to become proficient in spelling a wide range of words that they encounter on a daily basis and in their learning across the curriculum. We aim for the children to be able to make informed and independent decisions when spelling, showing their knowledge and understanding of the English language and its conventions.
In Reception and Year 1, spellings are taught through the Sounds-Write phonics programme ensuring children are confident with matching the letters to sounds.
From Year 2 onwards, we use the Herts ESSENTIALspelling programme. ESSENTIALspelling focuses on the explicit teaching of spelling so that children understand how to apply patterns, strategies and knowledge to other words, building on prior knowledge. We provide targeted support to children when needed.
The sequence follows the model of Review, Teach, Practise and Apply. Emphasis is placed on the Review stage –“What do we already know that might help us to spell words in this sequence?” The Review session is essential because it gives teachers an opportunity for assessment for learning and gives pupils the chance to build connections between existing knowledge and new knowledge.
As well as teaching spelling explicitly, opportunities are given to pupils to practise spelling rules in context within their writing across the curriculum.
Support for SEND and Lowest 20%
We have a determined approach that all children are kept up rather than catching up primarily through our approaches in quality first teaching; offering a systematic reading curriculum where first, phonic knowledge is developed and deepened to build fluency and later, immersive, ambitious and challenging reading sessions support comprehension and contextualisation.
The EEF states that, “The best evidence shows that teaching is the most important lever available to schools to improve pupil outcomes.”
The following interventions are used in addition to quality first teaching in order to support those children who are working below the expected standard in reading:
- Speech and Language intervention and support
- Flashcards used to develop automaticity with High Frequency Words
- Keep-up Intervention to support ‘Sounds-Write’ Phonics.
- Where the need is identified children will access 1:1 or small group fluency sessions on a more regular basis: these sessions develop children’s fluency, automaticity and basic comprehension.
- Support for dyslexia through dyslexia-friendly texts / books