English at Sir John Heron
“Together We Learn. Together We Achieve” is embedded into all elements of school life and learning at Sir John Heron Primary including in the reading curriculum and lessons. Reading is an important part of the school’s broad and balanced curriculum. We believe it is important all children have access to a coherently sequenced reading curriculum which is relevant to their needs and interests and equips children with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their next stage of education and prepares them for life in modern 21st century Britain.
Reading plays an important role in working towards the aims of the school’s curriculum. The aims include ensuring children master a range of knowledge and skills, are provided with vocabulary rich learning, are encouraged to become healthy and active citizens and are provided enrichment opportunities and cultural capital development while also supporting the development of key skills needed for successful learning such as resilience and risk taking.
As the National Curriculum (2014) states: “English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.”
The formal teaching of reading occurs in a number of ways:
- Good reading habits are encouraged and modelled right from the moment children enter Nursery. A range of books are available for children to take home to share with their parents/carers. Books are read to the children regularly, fostering a love of story. An important part of the children’s early development as readers is their general language acquisition, so there is lots of storytelling and re-enacting of stories.
- RWI is formally introduced in Reception, although children begin working on sounds in Nursery, and continues throughout KS1. This highly structured scheme enables children to learn the 44 phonemes in English, and the graphemes associated with them. Occasionally children in KS2 who need extra support will take part in RWI sessions, at the level appropriate to their needs (refer to the Early Reading policy for further information)
- Guided reading is taught as whole class and is timetabled for every class in KS1 and 2 each day for 30 minutes. Each session has a particular focus (see table below). Teachers should ensure they have a focus group each day as specified below where they listen to children read in that group and facilitate discussion of a text through questioning. Children also record their responses to what they have read in their Reading Journals. Responses include comprehension activities, vocabulary activities and applying different reading skills such as summarising.
- The Reciprocal Reading model is used and sessions are based around three questions: looking, clue and thinking. Reciprocal Reading sessions also have a ‘clarify’ step where children discuss and unpick new vocabulary.
- Children are exposed to a range of different genres and high quality reading materials including the classics, which are used to develop children’s comprehension skills, as well as their fluency. Teachers should use carefully planned questioning (including higher order questioning) to facilitate discussion of a text and develop understanding among children, which enables them to analyse, summarise, evaluate, make inferences and make connections between texts.
- Children also read to their class teacher or another adult on a one-to-one basis. The frequency of this depends on the child’s reading ability and any specific needs they have. Teachers focus on identified children, e.g. Pupil Premium, to ensure they make steady progress.
- Texts are used in other curriculum subjects, and this provides children to use their reading skills in a range of contexts.
- Reading skills are further developed in Masterclass lessons (KS1 & 2). As children progress through the school, the focus moves to developing inferential skills and being able to justify statements and opinions by using evidence in the text.
- The Power of Reading teaching sequences are used for Literacy lessons. Sequences of lessons are planned around a high quality text, through which reading skills are practised and developed. These texts are also used as the basis for written work. Medium-term plans give the expected outcomes arising from each text.
- Cultural capital, SMSC and British Values are promoted through the use of the Power of Reading texts, as well as other books used across the curriculum.
- The school has Reading Buddies where children in upper KS2 are given the opportunity to read with another child in KS1 or EYFS several times a week. The Reading Buddies are trained by a member of SLT so they are aware of what is required of them including what questions to ask.
- Books and in turn reading should be visible around school including in classroom environments. For this, each class will have a Reading Corner which is inviting and has a range of texts for children to read including the classics. In September, an annual Book Corner Competition takes place in each key stage. Each class produce their own Book Corner based on a theme, author or book.
- Class teachers use quality texts for class reading books, and read these three times each week during DEAR time.
- Children are expected to read at home for at least 10 minutes a day and for this to be recorded in their Reading Records. Books are sent home which are closely matched to children’s ability based on which RWI group they ae in for EYFS and KS1 and their ZPD number (based on STAR assessments) from Year 2. Teachers should regular review how much reading children are doing at home by stamping their Reading Records. Children who are not reading at home should be given extra 1:1 reading time at school. Teachers should also discuss with parents/ carers any concerns they have about reading at home and if necessary send home a standardised school letter reminding them to read at home more often.
- The school recognises the vital contribution parents/ carers make to children’s reading progress and therefore we encourage their full involvement. Parents/ carers are made aware at the beginning of each year the school’s expectations of reading at home and recording this in Reading Records. They are reminded of this during Parent/ carer evenings (or when needed); they are also informed about the progress their child is making in reading and how they can support at home. Parents/ carers are invited to take part in several reading events held in school such as parent/ carer workshops, RWI workshops, Family Fridays and Nursery Together in EYFS, Reading Cafes in KS2 and working with their children in lessons such as RWI in KS1. These are designed to promote the profile of reading in the local community and help develop parents/ carers knowledge of how they can support reading at home.
Apart from the formal teaching of reading, positive attitudes and a love for reading are fostered in various ways:
- Throughout the year, and across the school, various initiatives are used to promote reading, e.g. Book Fairs, World Book Day, Book Corner Competition, Little Lending Library, promoting the borough reading challenges over the Christmas and summer holidays, etc. Author visits, enrichment workshops, and educational visits are also planned.
- DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time is timetabled in every class two or three times each week. This time is used in various ways, e.g. silent reading, children sharing books with a partner, the teacher reading to the class, all with the purpose of fostering a love of reading, and the application of reading skills.
The school library is visited by each class regularly during one of the class’s DEAR time. Children are encouraged to take out books, using their school library card. Classes also visit the outside Reading Garden when their partner class is in the library to enjoy reading.
- Informal assessment takes place whenever a teacher or other adult listens to a child read, or talks to them about their reading. Reading on a one-to-one basis with the teacher or another adult is recorded in the class reading folder.
- Guided reading sessions are recorded on group sheets, which are kept in the class reading folder. Three key questions are recorded, and children’s responses are noted. This serves as formative assessment.
- Children record their responses to texts in Reading Journals, and these are used as formative assessment as well.
- RWI assessments are ongoing, with formal assessment each half term of each child on the RWI programme. This ensures the books children are reading are closely matched to their phonic ability. Children on the RWI scheme will take home the books they have read at school. In Reception, children will take home an RWI book and an Oxford Reading Owl books based on which RWI they are in. In addition, children can take home a ‘free reader’ book as well as books more closely linked to their reading ability.
- STAR Reading assessment is from Year 2-6. These online assessments give a child’s ZPD range, which enables them to choose books to read at an appropriate level: books within the level will be understood by the child, but will also have enough challenge to help develop their skills. These books are taken home for children to read. Children following RWI are not assessed with STAR Reading.
- PIRA tests are used from Year 2-6. These are summative tests, which assess a range of reading skills, based on the National Curriculum reading objectives. A gap analysis can also be made from these tests, which informs future planning and teaching.
- In Year 6, SATs-style tests are used through the year to assess children’s reading, and to help prepare them for the statutory tests they will have to take.
- Children are given a teacher assessment for reading which is recorded on SIMS three times a year.
“Together We Learn. Together We Achieve” is embedded into all elements of school life and learning at Sir John Heron Primary including in the writing curriculum and lessons. Writing is an important part of the school’s broad and balanced curriculum. We believe it is important all children have access to a coherently sequenced writing curriculum which is relevant to their needs and interests and equips children with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their next stage of education and prepares them for life in modern 21st century Britain.
Writing plays an important role in working towards the aims of the school’s curriculum. The aims include ensuring children master a range of knowledge and skills, are provided with vocabulary rich learning, are encouraged to become healthy and active citizens and are provided enrichment opportunities and cultural capital development while also supporting the development of key skills needed for successful learning such as resilience and risk taking.
As the National Curriculum (2014) states: “The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils…acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language…write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences…”
The teaching of writing follows a steady progression, so that children become confident and articulate writers:
- In EYFS, children are encouraged to make marks in Nursery, and opportunities for this are created by the teachers, using real-life contexts so that the mark making is purposeful. This continues into Reception, when children begin to write more formally when they are ready.
- In Reception, children will start to learn how to form letters correctly. They will be encouraged to use their knowledge of phonics to write words in ways, which match their spoken sounds. By the end of the year, they will be expected to write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others.
- In Year 1, children will be taught to write sentences by saying out loud what they are going to write about, put several sentences together and re-read their writing to check it makes sense. They will also be expected to discuss what they have written and to read it aloud.
- In Year 2, children learn to write for a range of purposes, including stories, information texts and poetry. Children are encouraged to plan what they are going to write and to read through their writing to make corrections and improvements.
- In Years 3 and 4, children are encouraged to draft and write by talking about their writing. They will learn how to organise paragraphs and, if they are writing non-fiction, to use headings. When they are writing stories, they will learn to use settings, characters and plots. Children in Years 3 and 4 will be expected to use what they know about grammar in their writing and to read through what they have written, to find ways to improve it. Children are taught to draft, proof read, edit and redraft in order to improve their own texts.
- In Years 5 and 6, children will continue to develop their skills in planning, drafting and reviewing what they have written. Children learn to identify the audience for and purpose of their writing. They will be expected to use grammar appropriately. In non-fiction writing, children will use headings, bullet points and other ways to organise their writing. They will be expected to describe settings, characters and to use dialogue in their stories.
- From Year 1 to Year 6, writing is taught based on The Power of Reading texts used in Literacy lessons. Medium-term plans give the expected written outcomes for each half term, as well as other possible written outcomes that could be used. Way-points are given to ensure children are able to achieve the final written outcomes, as well as key vocabulary (both tier 2 and tier 3) that children need to understand and use. Text types are explored before children plan and write. Editing takes place before redrafting (if appropriate), and final drafts published. A selection of Power of Reading texts are also used in the EYFS linked to a thematic theme.
- Before writing, much discussion will take place, as well as drama techniques being employed, e.g. hotseating or role play, so that children already have ideas and experiences to draw on. This is also an opportunity to develop children’s vocabulary so that they are used to the way language is used for a particular text type.
- Teachers model writing, thinking out loud as they do so, in order that children not only see the writing process, but learn why and how decisions are made.
- Working walls are used to record the writing process, and for children to see the steps taken to the final outcome.
- Grammar, punctuation and spelling are embedded within the teaching of writing (as detailed in the medium-term plans), as well as taught in starters to Literacy lessons. These aspects of writing are also made explicit when children are writing in other subjects.
- Within other curriculum subjects, writing opportunities are planned for, based on each subject’s medium-term plan. Children are taught to write in the specific genre they are using for the subject, and are constantly asked, “Who are you writing as? Who are you writing for?” to help them focus on the purpose, style and audience of their written work.
- The acquisition and use of new vocabulary is an essential part of lessons, and so teachers make explicit reference to vocabulary in one of the lesson’s success criteria.
- The aim is for children to be able to write confidently in a range of genres, and for different purposes by the end of Year 6, using the conventions of each text type appropriately.
- Handwriting is taught explicitly. The school uses Nelson Handwriting, from Year 1 to Year 6.
- Writing is assessed informally every time it is marked by the teacher. Feedback (written and verbal) is used to give children the next steps in their development as writers.
- EYFS: examples of mark making and early writing are kept in children’s Special Book and writing book (Reception). These are assessed against the Early Learning Goals.
- KS1 & 2: writing is more formally assessed every half term, and includes writing in other curriculum subjects, not just Literacy. The expected written outcomes, from the medium-term plans, are used, as well as substantive writing from science or topic lessons, which have gone through the process of redrafting, editing and publication. Writing is assessed against National Curriculum objectives and expectations. The level of the writing (E, D, S or M) is recorded in the children’s book, and this helps teachers to give an overall writing grade on SIMS.
- To ensure consistency in assessment across school and within year groups, writing moderation meetings take place throughout the year in teams (EYFS, KS1, LKS2, UKS2).