At Abbeyfields, our curriculum drivers demonstrate the importance we attribute to the development of children’s reading and to their receptive and expressive vocabulary. Our wish is to capture children’s interest with the power of the written word, and inspire them to become confident and imaginative writers themselves. We also aim to develop holistic skills, for example through confidence in using oracy skills and making choices in what to research and in how work is presented, and to give children positive experiences of people and cultures that differ from their own backgrounds.
We develop children’s oracy, language and literacy skills in daily whole class mixed-ability English lessons and cross-curricular study. We use an agreed range of texts in English lessons, as well as selecting books which are read by an adult to the class purely for enjoyment. Non-fiction titles are also carefully chosen to support learning in Foundation subjects so that children will see how literacy skills can be used effectively across the curriculum. We offer an interesting and varied breadth of study of these skills throughout each year group to keep children engaged and motivated.
Reading, sentence structure and comprehension are addressed in work on teacher-led texts and also, particularly in the Early Years and Key Stage One, through dedicated daily phonics lessons. We follow the Read Write Inc scheme to teach sound recognition, decoding and encoding, as well as punctuation and other fundamental reading and recording skills. This means that children will work in small homogenous groups at the correct level to best develop their individual skills, and this will be supported by correctly matched reading materials for home and school. We aim for children to learn to read quickly so that they can continue to read to learn.
In English lessons we follow a theme for one or more weeks, which will often be linked to a unit of study from a Foundation Subject. A sequence of lessons often starts with a hook activity, such as finding clues about a character or having a mystery to investigate. Early in the sequence, teachers introduce the stimulus book or text extract, and devise oral and written tasks for the childrens’ responses. Purpose is given to writing such as writing letters between characters, reporting on an investigation, or writing instructions, so that different fiction and non-fiction genres are experienced through reading and writing, throughout the year. Staff use a talk for writing approach and we are undergoing further training in this area so that this will become a whole school approach when training is complete.
Handwriting is taught using the Penpals scheme, initially also using the Read Write Inc formation rhymes. Children are reminded in every lesson to check that their posture and pencil grip is correct and encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their work. Cursive handwriting is developed as the children are ready, initially in focused handwriting lessons only, towards the end of Y1 if appropriate. By the end of Y4 most children will have developed a fluent cursive method, and will select whether cursive writing or print, and pen or pencil are required.
In Nursery children attend for 2 or 3 days a week and there is one focused whole group session each week dedicated to Communication and Language and Literacy skills. There are daily reading and storytelling sessions and also daily songs and rhymes. The Nursery environment (inside and outside) provides opportunities to explore, develop and enhance oracy, reading and writing skills, in line with the revised early years curriculum. Adult focused activities also focus on Communication and Language and Literacy and there are child-initiated opportunities for mark making, reading, small world play etc. At the end of the Spring term, the children are assessed using the school readiness passport and will either start weekly Read Write Inc sessions, preparing them for Reception or work on auditory discrimination and other language skills if they are not ready for Read Write Inc. In order to support later handwriting progress, children are encouraged to develop a dominant hand and pincer (tripod) grasp of their pencil, and there is a dedicated fine motor area for children to develop hand strength.
In Reception we have 5 RWI phonic lessons per week followed by a whole class English adult-led input each morning. In addition we have daily reading/story sessions and also daily songs/rhymes sessions. A sequence of learning includes developing communication, language and phonic skills giving children opportunities to practice, explore, develop, challenge and enhance oracy, reading and writing skills, in line with the revised Early Years curriculum. The children build on their skills throughout the year so that they begin to write short sentences with words with known letter correspondences and understand the different purposes of writing e.g.lists, messages, labels, instructions etc. Feedback is given in the moment verbally and often using a green helper pen to model correct letter formation and spellings.
Key Stage 1
Each morning in Year 1 we have a phonics lesson (in small groups according to assessment), followed by a whole class English lesson. A sequence of learning in an English lesson will be based on a teaching text (usually a picture book) and will typically include opportunities for short burst writing, modelled and shared writing, teaching and rehearsal of grammatical structures and the independent application of skills. Drama and oracy have a strong focus and will be practised through devices such as hot-seating and role play. A sequence of learning will conclude with an oral performance and/or a handwritten presentation. Work is edited and improved by ‘in the moment’ teacher feedback with children responding instantly. Spellings and spellings rules are taught during daily phonics sessions and are appropriate to the child’s current understanding of phonics. Year 1 common exception and high frequency words detailed in the National Curriculum are practised weekly and are supported at home through Purple Mash quizzes. Handwriting is taught using the Penpals formation during a 10 minute daily session with additional opportunities to practise throughout the day.
In Year 2 we also have a phonics lesson (in small groups according to assessment) followed by a whole class English lesson each morning. When children have completed the Read Write Inc phonics scheme they continue to work in ability groups on spelling rules or reading comprehension.
A sequence of learning will include short burst modelled writing, rehearsal of grammatical structures and independent application of skills. A sequence will conclude with a combination of a handwritten presentation and an oral performance.
Work is marked and responded to during the lesson with opportunities to edit and make improvements by using checklists and upleveling. Spellings continue to be taught during the phonics session and are also taught by selecting from the Year 2 National Curriculum spelling appendix incorporating the Year 2 common exception words. Purple Mash is used to set daily practice, there are opportunities to address in class twice a week culminating in a weekly test.
Handwriting is taught using the Penpals formation with three focus sessions weekly and 5 mins of individual practice daily.
Key Stage 2 (Year 3 and 4)
In Year 3 English is taught daily for one hour in the morning. There is a whole class introduction to each lesson for the whole class. Following this there will be phonics sessions for those children who still need this, and additional adult support and differentiated work within the English lesson.
A sequence of learning will include short burst modelled writing, rehearsal of grammatical structures and independent application of skills. The children are given many opportunities to read aloud to the class or to a partner as part of the main lesson. A sequence of learning will conclude with either an oral or written piece of work.
Children will peer mark and edit their work to make improvements according to checklists that cover the writing criteria. The class teacher will oversee all marking and provide instant feedback during written and oral activities.
Spellings are taught by selecting various elements from the National Curriculum including the Year 3/4 high frequency words, prefixes, suffixes, homophones and root words. The children are given spellings according to their own attainment level. There is a spelling test given each Friday as well as opportunities during the week to practise them.
Handwriting is taught daily using the Penpals formation.
In Year 4 we have short silent reading, handwriting, and reciprocal reading sessions each day as well as an hour’s English lesson which includes reading, writing and different SPAG foci.
A sequence of learning will include extended modelled writing, rehearsal and application of grammatical structures and independent application of skills. It will conclude with oral and/or handwritten pieces of work culminating from prior lesson plans.
Work is marked, edited and improved by the children, their peers and teaching staff with a variation of instant marking and feedback and extended marking and feedback.
Spellings are taught by selecting from the Year 3/4 National Curriculum high frequency words using teaching staff created resources, practising daily and culminating in a weekly test every Friday. Spellings are also subject specific to the theme of learning and therefore are utilised during the teaching week and beyond.
Handwriting is taught using the Penpals formation with a focussed 15 mins session daily.