At Reed First School, our intent is to give every pupil a high-quality education in English which will teach pupils to speak, read and write fluently. As a result, they will be able to communicate their ideas and emotions to others. They will understand the purpose and audience they write for. Pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually and socially through studying literature. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know across the whole curriculum. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society.
English at Reed First School ensures the requirements of the National Curriculum are met across all year groups. We have adapted the Herts for learning materials as a basis for our teaching and learning. We believe that all children should be part of a literacy rich environment. The importance of literacy is recognised through use of high quality texts and experiences to offer a wealth of opportunities to read, write, speak and listen. Good practice in reading, writing and speaking and listening is shared and modelled in whole class teaching.
In the Foundation Stage English is seen through opportunities in Communication, Language and Literacy. The emphasis is on teaching English through stories and non-fiction texts with strong topic links, child-initiated learning through play and the demonstration and use of language rich environment.
Phonics, Reading and Spelling
At Reed First School, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through the school.
Through systematic teaching of phonics, the children all benefit from:
- direct teaching in frequent, short bursts
- consistency of approach
- secure, systematic progression in phonics learning
- maintaining pace of learning
- repeated practice
- application of phonics using matched decodable books
- early identification of children at risk of falling behind, linked to the provision of effective keep-up support.
As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Reed First School, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speak and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
At Reed First School, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, we aim that every child will read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for pleasure and purpose.
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and Literacy’. These include:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language.
- Practical daily sessions to focus on sounds using both fine and gross motor skills.
We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
- We follow the Little Wandle letters and Sounds expectations of progress:
- Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
- Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
- We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
- If any child in Year 3 or 4 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions take place three times a week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week from Reception to the end of Year 2.
- These are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
- Use books perfectly matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge
- Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the sessions do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
- teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
- In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
- In year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.
- Guided reading sessions take place to support the development of comprehension skills once phonic knowledge is secure from the beginning of Year 2.
Guided reading offers opportunities for the children to read and respond to a challenging text with the teacher supporting. Each session has an assessment focus, against which children’s knowledge and understanding are assessed. Guided reading provides an opportunity for children to demonstrate what they have learned about reading and to further develop and extend their reading fluency. They will also improve their use of expression and comprehension skills. The guided reading session also includes other reading opportunities and activities for those children not in the teacher focus group.
When children are fully secure in Phase 5 (for reading and spellings) they use this time to have a specific and additional Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling session to cover curriculum expectations and see these applied in all written work. Spellings are taken from high frequency word lists, and the suggested sequence of learning spellings from our selected high quality scheme: No Nonsense spelling taught from Year 2 to Year 4.
- A decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
- Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.
- We share resources with our families about the phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.
- Our expectation is that daily reading at home (minimum of 5 times per week) should take place. A reading record is used to record books read and observations made. An adult from home is expected to sign the reading diary and add a comment. Children are heard read individually in school also by teachers and volunteers.
Additional reading support
- Children in Reception, year 1 and 2 who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress
- Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
- Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
- Lesson templates, Prompt cards and How to videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
- The Headteacher uses the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.
Ensure reading for pleasure
We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.
- We read with children every day. We chose books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Reed First School and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
- Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
- Books are used across to school in displays which invite interest and learning.
- In Nursery and Reception, children have access to the reading corner both inside and outside every day in their child initiated time and the books are continually refreshed.
- Children from Reception onwards have a home school communication book. The parent/carer records comments to share with adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school.
- As the children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.
- Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, whole school book engage units, author visits and workshops, national events etc).
- Books are shared and enjoyed in assemblies to support our school values and PSHE themes but simultaneously develop a love of books in all of our children who regularly borrow the books from our assembly bookshelf to share at home.
- We have a brand new library to give our books the space and importance they deserve!
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
Assessment for learning is used:
- daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
- weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
Summative assessment is used:
- every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the keep-up support that they need.
- by the Headteacher and English subject lead and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
- through tracking the book band each child is reading ensuring each book is closely match to the child’s phonic knowledge and fluency.
- to assess the comprehension of what is read using Head Start reading papers once a term as check points from Year 1 to Year 4.
Children in year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in year 2.
Ongoing assessment for catch-up
Children in year 2 to 4 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through half-termly Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised summative assessments in Reception and Year 1.
Speaking and Listening
We develop each child’s ability to speak with confidence, clarity and fluency in a variety of situations, for a variety of audiences and for a range of purposes. We foster the confidence needed to speak to an audience by incorporating a range of opportunities to speak in our daily routines to becomes a natural life skill. Capacity to listen with attention and understanding is developed as soon as the children start school by providing engaging experiences and time to respond. All adults working with the children model correct use of Standard English and accurate speech.
To ensure a progression of skills in writing, we have adapted the Herts for Learning writing units to suit our setting (see writing long term plans A and B years). The high quality texts used as stimuli for writing ensure use of a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry writing. Where possible, the children are given meaningful opportunities to write. Written outcomes often also have direct links to topics and other curriculum areas. To celebrate writing together, the whole school uses the same stimuli at key points during the year in the form of responding to performances, artwork and books.
- to plan opportunities to write which are meaningful
- to plan opportunities to write from exciting stimulus including high quality texts
- to teach the importance of the audience in knowing when we are: Entertaining, persuading, making a record, teaching, reflecting or painting with words.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it. All children are involved in identifying successes and areas for development in their own written work. Writing is assessed using the teacher assessment framework descriptors and the Early Years Framework. Written work is assessed across the curriculum and where completed independently.
Early Years children work on basic letter formation. As they move in to Year One, this leads them onto practising writing letters with a ‘lead-on’ and a ‘lead-off’. Letter formation is modelled as part of phonics lessons. However rehearsal of letter formation takes place in addition to our daily phonics and spelling sessions. When children are able to form all letters correctly, with the appropriate lead-on and lead-off they are taught to use cursive joined up handwriting. High standards of handwriting and presentation are highly valued in the school. Teachers expect high quality presentation in all written work. (See handwriting and presentation policy)