At St.Swithun’s School, English is at the cornerstone of the entire curriculum. It is embedded within all our lessons and we strive for a high level of English for all. Through using high-quality texts, immersing children in vocabulary-rich learning environments and ensuring the progression of skills are met, the children at St.Swithun’s will be exposed to a language-rich, creative and continuous English curriculum which will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening.
At St.Swithun’s School, we aim for all our children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading. Children who read regularly, or are read to regularly, have the opportunity to open the doors to so many different worlds! More importantly, reading will give children the tools to become independent lifelong learners.
At St.Swithun’s, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. Through daily, systematic and consistent high quality phonics teaching, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. To allow our children to develop a strong phonic awareness and effective blending and decoding skills, we have chosen to use a synthetic phonics programme called Read, Write, Inc. produced by Ruth Miskin. Read Write Inc. is a method of learning centred around letter sounds and phonics, blending sounds together to read and spell words and applying these skills across the curriculum. Using Read Write Inc. the children learn to read fluently so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. We believe that teaching children to read and write independently is one of the core purposes of a primary school enabling them to access a broad and exciting curriculum and ensuring they flourish as learners throughout their time at our school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances.
Throughout Early Years and Key Stage One, children are taught in small and focussed groups to target their specific needs for phonics, alongside children of the same ability. These groupings are based on Read Write Inc assessments that are carried out at the start of each school year and then continue half termly. Our Reading Manager then collates this information and regroups children based on their current skill level allowing progression for most children but repetition and support for those that need more time on a specific set of sounds. This approach allows lessons to be focused and specific to the needs of the children. Lessons are taught by both teachers and teaching assistants, who are supported by the Reading Manager in their delivery.
As children build up their knowledge of sounds they are able to apply their decoding skills to any unfamiliar word, whether it be real or nonsense. During lessons each day children will practise their decoding skills by sounding out nonsense words. Children are unable to rely on existing knowledge of real words, and instead have to use their letter-sound knowledge. This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Check that the children complete at the end of year 1.
We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ability to read ‘tricky words’ so they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers, as well as consolidating the learning that takes place in school. In EYFS and Year 1, children bring home a Read Write Inc scheme reading book that is matched to their stage of development.
Through the consistent, systematic and daily teaching of the Read Write Inc Phonics programme, our children become fluent, confident readers by the end of Key Stage One. Children are assessed at the end of Year 1 using a Government Statutory Assessment Tool known as the Phonics Screening Check. This screening check confirms whether the child has learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard and will identify sounds needing further support in Year 2. Those who do not pass the screening will continue their phonics lessons in Year 2 by being streamed into the correct group within the Year 1 cohort. This allows for them to consolidate and develop their confidence, within a group aimed at their specific ability, ready to retake the screening at the end of Year 2.
In Key Stage 2, we ensure that half an hour of discrete reading teaching happens daily across the school. This ensures that reading is explicitly taught every day and that vulnerable groups can be highlighted and supported appropriately to further ensure progression, and that specific year group skills are secure. Lessons are planned based upon appropriate high-quality texts and allow children to learn comprehension skills as well as independence, a love of wider reading and exposure to rich vocabulary, which is absolute key in all sessions for all learners.
To further support the teaching of reading and develop a love of reading:
- Teachers read ‘quality texts’ during a daily story time
- Regular 1:1 reading takes place alongside guided reading sessions in Year One and Two
- A ‘daily read’ on a one to one basis is given to those who are below the expected level
- Shared reading takes place in English lessons
- Colour band books are used and sent home that link to the children’s specific phonic ability
At St.Swithun’s we ensure that the teaching of writing is purposeful, robust and shows clear progression for all children.
Writing lessons based on high quality texts take place daily. In order to expose children to a variety of genres which helps to utilise and embed the writing skills, teachers plan learning journeys based on a quality, language-rich ‘text driver’. Each journey is designed to show progress, teach the pertinent year group objectives, apply and consolidate these skills and develop vocabulary and spelling. Writing is taught through the use of a quality text or video, which exposes the children to inference, high-level vocabulary, a range of punctuation and characterisation. Each text driver is purposefully selected in order to promote a love of reading, engagement and high quality writing from each child.
The planning of a writing learning journey follows the teaching sequence which is:
- stimulate and generate
- capture, sift and sort
- create refine and evaluate.
A variety of strategies are used to develop writing skills, including shared writing, guided writing and independent writing.
Role play, response partner, group work and storytelling opportunities are used to support the development of speaking and listening, imagination and inventiveness.
Tasks are planned carefully and differentiated where needed to provide support for those needing to revisit and practise or challenge for those needing to move forward.
As well as teaching the objectives, teachers are able to embed the skills throughout the year in engaging writing opportunities and ensure that most children are achieving the objectives at the expected level and that some children can achieve at a greater depth standard. All year groups use the same format for assessing writing.
Spelling is taught through Read Write Inc across the school.
By the time children leave St.Swithun’s School they will:
- read and write with confidence, fluency, creativity and understanding, using a range of independent strategies to spell, decode and self-correct
- use synthetic phonics to enable them to decode unknown words
- have developed a love of reading and see themselves as readers
- have developed an interest in words and their meanings and developed a growing spoken and written vocabulary
- have experience a ranged of genres and be able to write in a variety of styles and forms
- have developed imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness
- have used literature throughout the curriculum
- take pride in their work and present it neatly.