We have daily phonics lessons which follow a systematic synthetic approach. In EYFS and KS1, we use ‘Phonics Bug’ (Pearson) to support the DFE Letters and Sounds programme. Actions from ‘Jolly Phonics’ are also used to support a kinaesthetic approach to learning, which our children benefit from. Decodable reading books are used effectively to develop application of phonic knowledge (Collins Big Cat Phonics, ORT Songbirds and Project X). In Year 1, phonics teaching and learning is encompassed within the English lessons, a strategy that helped our phonics screening results to rapidly improve in June 2015.
From Year 2 onwards, we focus on applying phonic knowledge to support the spelling of words and learn different spelling rules and patterns. Documents such as the ‘Support for Spelling’ programme and the ‘NLS Spelling bank’ are used to supplement the PoS in the National Curriculum. Children have daily lessons, but also develop and apply their learning through their English lessons.
Our 'Reading Olympics' aim to encourage children to develop their enjoyment of books through a series of awards:
Children share books at home with their parents or reading buddies and record these in their home/school reading journals. Certificates and prizes are awarded each term and names recorded on our ‘wall of honour’.
In EYFS and KS1, all books for guided and independent reading have been colour banded (Cliff Moon system) according to age-related expectations. This helps teachers to ensure that children develop their reading in a systematic way and identifies those working below or above age-related expectations. In addition to the phonic decodable books, we use schemes from Rigby Star and Heinemann, such as ‘Storyworld’, as well as ‘real’ books. We have a large selection of fiction and non-fiction books to choose from.
In KS2, the selection of books is based more on children’s interests, although the colour banded books are available for those who need them. Intervention strategies such as ‘Better Reading’ are implemented if children need to develop their reading fluency and comprehension more.
Guided reading sessions take place each day and are used to develop the skills and strategies for reading and comprehension.
Our library enables children to select books based on their interests. We also borrow books from the School Library Service to support our topic work.
Each class focuses on a particular author each half term to develop knowledge of a variety of authors. We have author visits in school so children get the chance to meet a real author, such as Caryl Hart.
Writing skills are taught during English lessons and link with the teaching of grammar, vocabulary and punctuation. Cross-curricular writing is developed through our creative curriculum, where we focus on different topics each half term, e.g. fairgrounds, journeys.
We also have whole school approaches based on a particular story or event, which encourages children to apply a variety of their writing skills in a creative and enjoyable way, e.g. poems, instructions and narrative. Last year, the focus was on World War 1.
As a Dyslexia Friendly School, we promote the teaching of cursive handwriting (based on the ‘Collins’ scheme). Children are taught how to form letters correctly and begin to join in Year 2 if they are ready. Intervention strategies are used to develop hand control for those children finding it more difficult.