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English at Victoria Community School

Our overall vision is to enable all of our children to develop the knowledge and skills to communicate effectively with the world at large, and to instill in them an enjoyment and appreciation of the rich variety of literature.

 

At Victoria, we follow the English Programme of Study (PoS) from the National Curriculum

 

 for: 

  • Spoken language
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation

Phonics

At Victoria Community School, we use the Department for Education's 'Letters and Sounds' programme for teaching phonics which allows us to follow a systematic synthetic approach to phonics teaching.  Phonics is taught every day in E.Y.F.S., Nursery and Reception, and Key Stage 1, Year 1 and Year 2.  Each lesson is 20 minutes long and contains either a reading or a writing focus.  Daily interventions are used to target children that need further support with their phonics learning and help pupils consolidate skills they find challenging.  Decodable reading books are used in reading lessons to develop application of phonic knowledge.  Pupils are also given decodable texts as individual reading books which they are able to share with their families at home.   

 

Link to the 'Letters and Sounds' handbook.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/190599/Letters_and_Sounds_-_DFES-00281-2007.pdf

 

 

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (SPaG)

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 are used to supplement the PoS in the National Curriculum.  Children in some classes have separate lessons whilst others develop and apply their learning through their daily English lessons.  SPaG tests are completed during Assessment Week each term in all classes from Year 1 to Year 6 to show the children's knowledge and understanding, but also to ascertain any gaps in their learning. 

Reading

At Victoria, we believe that reading is at the very core of learning - in all subjects and at all stages.  All children will learn to read with confidence, fluency and understanding, providing them with the skills required to achieve a lifetime of enjoyment through reading.  We strive for the Victoria Community to:

  • Develop a love of reading, through reading a variety of texts and genres for pleasure.
  • Broaden their vocabulary when they encounter new words.
  • Develop their phonic knowledge and use these skills to help them to decode to become fluent readers.
  • Fully comprehend what they read through thorough questioning and discussion.
  • Enjoy reading aloud to others and develop their performance voices.

 

To help promote reading at the school, our 'Reading Olympics'  aim to encourage children to develop their enjoyment of books through a series of awards: 

 

  • Bronze - 25 books
  • Silver - 50 books
  • Gold - 100 books

 

 

Children share books at school and at home with their family and record these in their home/school reading journals.  Certificates and prizes are awarded each term and names recorded on our ‘Wall of Honour’.  During our Friday Celebration Assemblies, children can also be awarded with a special 'Reader of the Week' certificate.  

 

In EYFS and KS1, all books for guided and independent reading are organised by phase and colour-banded according to age-related expectations.  This helps teachers ensure that children are reading books matched to their phonics phase and reading ability.  It also enables pupils to develop their reading in a systematic way and identifies those working below or above age-related expectations.  For guided reading sessions, we use phonic decodable texts such as ‘Bug Club’ and ‘Collins Big Cat Phonics for Letters and Sounds’ books.  These books provide pupils with the opportunity to practise sounds and words taught in Phonics lessons, as well as the chance to develop their comprehension skills.  We have a large selection of fiction and non-fiction texts to choose from.

 

In KS2, the selection of books for independent reading 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.  The children are encouraged to read a wide variety of books including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.  

 

In all classes, reading sessions take place each day and are used to develop the skills and strategies for reading and comprehension, such as prediction, inference and summarising.  From Year 2 onwards, reading is taught as a whole class where extracts or entire texts are used.  Various resources are used in these sessions such as 'First News', 'Cracking Comprehension' and 'Reading Detectives' that are targeted at a particular year group.  

 

Every class has a timetabled 'read aloud' session when the teacher reads a book for a set amount of time without any disruptions!  Many of these books have been selected from Pie Corbett's Reading Spine, whereas other books, including non-narrative and poetry, have been chosen by the teacher.  The children look forward to this special time and they enable them to broaden their vocabulary range using the class' 'Wow Word Board' and the children's Magpie Books in KS2.  

 

  

 

Well-resourced, attractive and interactive reading areas can be found in every classroom.  The children enjoy spending time in there when reading for pleasure and choosing books, comics, newspapers and magazines.  Many reading areas are based on a theme such as outer space or even a World War 2 Anderson shelter!  

 

At Victoria we are fortunate to have two libraries - one at our Victoria Road site, for our children up to Year 3 and family learning groups, and the other at Orchard, for Years 4 -6 and our Speech and Language Centre.   Our libraries enable children to select books based on their interests.  All classes have a designated slot when they visit the library and have the opportunity to take home an extra book.  

 

Each class focuses on a particular author each half term to develop knowledge of a variety of authors.  We are lucky enough to have author visits in school so children get the chance to meet a real author and all classes visit Burton Library at least once a year.   We work closely with the library to promote reading initiatives such as the Summer Reading Challenge.  

 

To encourage the children to read more at home, a 'Caught on Camera' competition is held each term.  The children are encouraged to email a photograph of themselves reading somewhere unusual and then email the photograph to caughtoncamera@victoria.staffs.sch.uk.  There have been some incredibly unusual locations so far - even in a dentist's chair!  One lucky winner receives a set of new books at take home.  

 

At Victoria, we understand the importance of working with our families to improve and enhance the children's learning opportunities.  Each term we hold a 'reading open session' in every class.  There is a different focus each term but previous sessions have included phonics (for EYFS and KS1), questioning techniques and celebrating achievements.  

Writing

At Victoria, we will provide the children with exciting, inspiring and real-life texts, materials and opportunities to support and challenge them.  This encouragement will in turn enable them to become confident, capable and enthusiastic writers who develop a genuine love of writing.  Writing opportunities will occur throughout the day in many lessons.  We strive for our children to:

  • Write clearly, accurately and coherently for a range of purposes and audiences.
  • Adapt their language and style, as necessary, using a wide vocabulary and correct knowledge of linguistic conventions.
  • Effectively evaluate their own and others’ writing to revise and edit as required to improve.
  • Understand the importance of fluent and legible handwriting, where appropriate.

Handwriting

As recommended by the British Dyslexia Society, we promote the teaching of cursive handwriting from the end of Year 1.  Children are taught how to form letters correctly from Nursery 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.

 

       

 

Spoken Language

At Victoria, we appreciate the importance of effective communication, including non-verbal forms, and this is something that is developed in many lessons as the spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing also.  It is essential that all children are able to communicate effectively with their peers and educators so this is at the heart of our learning, especially in the Early Years.  We aim for our children to:

  • Be confident communicators with others for a variety of purposes, such as to seek information or to show their emotions.
  • Use discussion in order to learn by listening to, and valuing, other people’s differing views and opinions.
  • Acquire the necessary skills to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
  • Be competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, taking part in plays and assemblies, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

 

Opportunities to develop our skills are provided throughout the curriculum.  Throughout the day, children are encouraged to discuss with their 'Talking Partners' in many lessons. At various times in the year, children participate in assemblies, presentations and plays.  Each class will hold an assembly for their families and many whole school assemblies take place, such as to celebrate National Poetry Day, focus weeks and Harvest.  We aim to develop children’s confidence with speaking and performing in a variety of situations, and to different audiences, to develop their performance voices.  

Targets

Each child has a 'target wall' at the start of each academic year from Year 1 to Year 6, for both reading and writing.  The writing target wall is at the front of each child's English book and the reading target wall at the front of their reading journal.  

 

Once a target is met by a child, it is marked on their wall by dating it and colouring it in using a certain colour - autumn term (blue), spring term (green) and the summer term (pink).  

 

 

Assessment

Formative assessment is carried out on a daily basis and provides teachers with up-to-date and accurate information about the specifics of what children do and do not know.  This information allows teachers to modify teaching and learning activities to improve children's attainment.

 

Summative assessments focus on the outcome at the end of a unit or given period of time.

  • writing assessment - carried out at the end of each writing unit and assessed using either the Staffordshire Writing Skills Grids, the end of key stage teaching assessment frameworks in Years 2 and 6 (T.A.F.s) or the Early Years Foundation Stage profile in Reception 
  • PiRA (Rising Stars) - carried out termly and provide a standardised score for each child
  • SATs - Year 2 and Year 6 only
  • SPaG test - carried out termly from Year 1
  • phonics assessment - carried out at least each term in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2
  • Phonics Screening Check - administered to Year 1 children in June  

 

Monitoring

Monitoring of English is carried out in different ways. 

  • Lesson observations - quality of feedback (teacher-pupil, pupil-pupil and pupil-teacher), and the extent to which this helps to develop pupils understanding.
  • Pupil voice 
  • Book scrutiny - progression with learning
  • Learning walks
  • Assessments
  • Pupil Progress meetings each term with each teacher and the Headteacher 
  • Senior Leaders - data analysis