Reading, Writing and Phonics at St Michael's
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 language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
At St. Michael’s, we place reading at the heart of our curriculum; we value it as a life skill, which unlocks opportunities in all other subjects. By the time children leave St. Michael’s, we want them to be competent readers who have fostered a love of the written word in all its various forms. We wish to create a community of readers that share, enjoy and promote reading as a skill and desirable past time.
We are dedicated to ensuring our children are exposed to high-quality literature throughout the school; our English curriculum is delivered through Literacy Tree, which has books at its heart. Reading is taught through a variety of means; including carousel teaching, whole class reading, close text analysis, discreet phonics teaching, shared, peer and 1:1 reading. Children are explicitly taught comprehension skills using VIPERS (Vocabulary, Infer, Predict, Retrieve, Explain, Sequence/Summarise). Furthermore, all classes have dedicated story time throughout the week when they share a class book. Time for independent reading (ERIC) is also made throughout the week. Both activities help to promote reading as a desirable past time and something that should be valued and treasured.
All classrooms contain a range of high quality fiction books (including Pie Corbett’s Reading Spine) for children to enjoy at school and at home. Furthermore, non-fiction books are readily available in classrooms as part of the class’ topics. Previously, we have used book bands in EYFS and Key Stage One to closely support children in the progress they make with their reading. We are currently rolling out the book band system into Key Stage Two to help ensure all pupils are accessing books that are suited to their current needs and help scaffold their reading progress. All children are encouraged to take a further book home either from the library or the class library, promoting reading for pleasure.
The impact of our reading curriculum is evident across the school through children and staff talking about their love of reading; sharing and discussing of books with each other; the quality of texts the children are accessing in lessons and as home readers; the quality of teaching across the school; and the achievement of above national end of KS1 and KS2 reading results.
Here at St Michael’s, the teaching of writing is considered to be the cornerstone of the children’s education and one that permeates into all other subjects. We want our children to become confident and competent writers who have a good command of the written language, enabling them to produce writing across a range of genres; in a variety of forms and encourage them to develop their own style of writing. It is our intention, when teaching the English curriculum, that our pupils acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to become confident, lifelong communicators.
The teaching of writing is delivered using planning sequences from The Literacy Tree, which uses high quality texts as writing stimuli, immersing the children in a literary world to provide meaningful and authentic contexts for writing; where possible, we have made cross-curricular links.
The teaching of writing aims to focus on core grammar and text skills, whilst ensuring children develop their own style and flair as writers. Planning and teaching is structured around writing purposes in each unit of work; each writing unit has grammar focuses which feed into writing sessions across the curriculum and are closely linked to that purpose of writing. Our Reception class follows the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum whilst KS1 and 2 follow the 2014 National Curriculum knowledge and skills for writing: transcription; composition; and vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.
Throughout a learning sequence, teachers will provide opportunities for the children to plan, draft, edit and re-draft their writing. Additionally, children will be exposed to high quality modelling of writing by the teacher and be involved in analysing model texts and their key features. Key features and example texts, including modelled writing are displayed on the English working wall for children to refer to. Periodically, sections of texts or whole texts are chosen to be published for display.
Teachers plan their core and foundation subjects so that there are guaranteed writing opportunities for children to apply previously taught objectives in different contexts.
At St. Michael’s, we view handwriting as an important skill and so teach discreet handwriting sessions throughout the week using the Twinkl continuous cursive handwriting scheme. Children in Class R concentrate on developing fine motor skills in order to master printed letter formation, Class 1 build on these foundations, where children are exposed to the pre-cursive font and Classes 2-6 develop their continuous cursive handwriting style.
Spelling is a key component of our English curriculum. In KS1, spelling is linked to the phonics taught in class whilst in KS2, spelling is taught following the No Nonsense Spelling scheme, which aims to develop children’s awareness of spelling patterns and provide them with opportunities to apply and embed their learning.
As our English curriculum becomes embedded, it is evident across the school that writing is given a high priority. Children readily and eagerly discuss their writing and its effectiveness with their teachers and peers. High quality writing from a variety of genres can be seen not just in English books but across subjects. Our end of KS1 and KS2 results in writing are in line with national data and our end of KS2 attainment in SPaG is significantly above national.
At St Michael’s, we believe that systematic phonics provides children with the foundations of learning in order to make the transition into fluent readers and writers. Phonics is the process that is used to help children break down words into sounds, as well as building letter and word recognition. This can then enable children to use unknown words in the future. Children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read the words.
Phonics at St Michael’s is taught using the Department of Education approved document “Letters and Sounds” which is supplemented using ‘Jolly Phonics’ songs and actions to make it more engaging for the children. This allows our phonics teaching and learning to be progressive from Reception up to Year 2 as well as allowing children’s listening and speaking skills to develop. Phonics is delivered daily as an explicit lesson in EYFS and KS1. Phonics is taught as a whole class approach to ensure that quality first teaching is accessible to all children. Our children read using a reading scheme, this reading scheme is matched to the child’s phonological knowledge. Additional interventions are delivered to support and meet children’s needs. Children are given opportunities to use and apply their phonic knowledge through English lessons. Our reading scheme books are matched to their children’s phonological learning.
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to be engaged and enjoy learning phonics so they can become fluent readers and confident writers by the end of Key Stage One. We aim for children to be able to confidently read and spell the tricky and common exception words. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Phonics teaching at St Michael’s has enabled our Year 1 students to achieve above the national percentage for the Phonics screening test.
At St Michael's, our book bands start at lilac and go all the way to black. These book bands support the development of children's early reading skills resulting in them becoming competent and reflective readers in the later years. If you need more information regarding the book banks please click below.
At St Michael's we use the following schemes of work:
English - Literacy Tree
Phonics - Letters and sounds/ Jolly Phonics