At Snapethorpe Primary School, English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through the varying dimensions of literacy, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it. At Snapethorpe Primary 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, a systematic and synthetic phonics programme, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.
Through the teaching of reading and writing, we place a heavy emphasis on developing a child’s vocabulary and love of reading. We value reading as a key life skill and we are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. Ultimately, reading is key for academic success. By the time children leave Snapethorpe in Year 6, the limited vocabulary that they arrived with in Reception, will have expanded vastly, giving them the language they need to understand increasingly difficult texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts.
We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and encourage them to use discussion to communicate and develop their learning.
We believe that children need to establish a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression, as they advance through the primary curriculum. Securing these skills is crucial to a high-quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
Our intent is embedded across our English and phonic lessons and the wider curriculum. We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school. As a result, all of our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Snapethorpe Primary 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. Reading is prioritised to allow pupils to access the full curriculum that we offer.
We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects. We have a well-organised English curriculum and framework, that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children, ensuring that cross curricular links are woven into the programme of study.
At Snapethorpe Primary School, we are developing a more holistic approach to our English curriculum, encouraging our children to make links within and across different texts and other curriculum subjects. We believe that linking reading, writing and curriculum sessions together, will allow children to develop a deeper understanding of the English curriculum and transfer new skills across the curriculum.
Teachers plan coherent and well-sequenced English lessons, which are differentiated to the particular needs of each child. We help each child maximise their potential by providing help and support where necessary whilst striving to make children independent workers once we have helped to equip them with the confidence, tools and strategies that they need. We identify any children who require additional support and provide intervention in the most effective and efficient way that we can. We run intervention groups for phonics, reading and writing and we are fortunate to have some voluntary adults, who come and listen to children read.
In order to achieve our aims, our children have the opportunities to:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding, reading a range of different text types and genres.
- 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; our children should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
- speak and listen, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debates.
With a coherent and well-sequenced English curriculum, the impact should be clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. The impact across the English curriculum should demonstrate:
- A love of reading built within a book-rich environment.
- Pupils enjoy reading and are exposed to a broad range of texts and authors.
- Successful readers are nurtured through the good teaching of both language comprehension and word reading.
- Pupils have a good range of vocabulary that they are able to use in discussions and apply in their writing.
- Pupils have a good knowledge of how to adapt their writing for different purposes and audiences.
- Pupils have a solid foundation in spelling and have a toolkit of different strategies to support the continual learning of new spellings.
- Pupils are able to identify, use and apply grammatical features in their writing effectively across the curriculum.
- An expectation for our EYFS children to achieve ELG in Literacy and Communication and Language.
- An expectation for children to achieve national in the phonic screening check.
- An expectation for children to achieve national in reading and writing, both at and above age-related expectations.
How do we teach writing?
The National Curriculum states that pupils should:
- Develop the stamina and skills to write at length
- Use accurate spelling and punctuation
- Be grammatically correct
- Write in a range of ways and purposes including narratives, explanations, descriptions, comparisons, summaries and evaluations
- Write to support their understanding and consolidation of what they have heard or read
The 2014 Curriculum divides writing skills into two dimensions:
- Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- Composition (articulating ideas in speech and writing)
We recognise that both these elements are essential to success and we support the acquisition of both sets of skills through various methods. We recognise that these areas are clearly linked to the other aspects of English learning: speaking and listening, reading, grammar and vocabulary. In Early Years, pupils learn about the different purposes of writing when teachers/adults model writing in a variety of contexts and then practising these skills themselves.
In all year groups, we teach writing through high-quality texts and experiences such as: picture books, novels, poetry and immersive real-life experiences during school trips. During their time at the school, children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, including recounts, news reports, explanation texts, poems, plays and various forms of narrative.
Throughout Early Years and Key Stage One, children are taught the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. Through the Little Wandle Programme, an emphasis is placed on developing clear handwriting with ‘finger spaces’ between in each word. Children are taught to apply their knowledge of phonics to help them spell accurately. Our curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to their work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and adverbs and developing sentence structure using conjunctions and sentence openers. By the end of Key Stage One, children have been taught the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar. This structural and technical knowledge is fostered alongside developing a love for writing as a means for communication.
This process continues into Key Stage Two, by which time children have mastered simple sentence structure enabling them to develop their writing style. As they progress towards Year 6, children are taught to write for a range of purposes – to entertain, inform, explain, persuade and discuss – using explicit sentence models and ambitious vocabulary. They then learn to shape these sentences into coherent paragraphs, before planning and creating their own original works of fiction and non-fiction. Children also apply their writing skills across the curriculum: writing up experiments in science, recounting events in History and describing processes in Geography.
Throughout the teaching sequence, children should be taught:
- Preparation for the sequence, through familiarisation with text type
- Analysis / deconstruction of text, identifying text and sentence level features of model texts
- Vocabulary collection for use in word banks and display within the classroom
- Modelled writing (demonstration) – teacher models the process
- Talk for writing (oral composition), imitating and rehearsing sentences
- Shared writing (we all have a go together)
- Supported composition - drafting (independent/group/shared/response partners)
- Continue to model spelling and handwriting skills as part of the sequence
- Guided writing – supporting individuals at the level of need
- Opportunities to write daily and build their stamina for writing
- Opportunities to proof read, edit and redraft their writing
- Regular independent application – purposes and audiences for writing are essential.
We know that children need to secure knowledge, understanding and skills in decoding and comprehension in reading and in composition, transcription, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation in writing; therefore, we have developed a ‘Context, Immerse, Teach, Write’ teaching sequence to ensure that children have opportunities to practise the key skills, whilst building the understanding and knowledge to apply these skills across a range of genres.
This is the first lesson of any writing unit. The children will have the opportunity to see and engage with the text and establish what they will be writing. Within this initial lesson, it is important that children establish:
- The text type – WHAT they are writing
- The purpose – what is the REASON for them to write
- The audience – WHO will read the piece of writing
This section allows children to become immerse within the identified text type, identifying the key features of the text type through discussion and text marking. Children will look at different examples, building a tool kit of skills and features which appear within the chosen text type. Consider the language used and how to “magpie” particular words or phrases which evidence good examples. This will lead to a shared understanding of what a good one looks like and should be used to structure and assess the effectiveness of all their writing in this text type.
Once the key structural and language features have been identified within the text type, children may need to be taught additional skills, that require more focus, and given opportunity to apply them. These lessons will have a specific focus, to equip children with the skills needed to apply within that text type. Their written work may be presented as sentence building, a short burst paragraph, vocabulary building etc.
This section may incorporate some planning and editing stages, to book-end the writing stage. In this section, when planning is appropriate, the teacher would model how to plan an example of the text type, using all the elements captured in the previous days. Once they are ready to write, the teacher would model how to write this text type and the children would have a go at writing their own independently. Supports and scaffolds may be given to those children who require it, e.g. writing frame, sentence starters or word bank. Throughout the writing process, the teacher would model how to improve the text, before the children have a go for themselves. Depending on children’s needs, it may be easier to model a section, allow children to edit, before writing the next section. This will be each teacher’s professional judgement for their class.
To enable children to build their grammar and punctuation skills, we teach explicit lessons that link with the text type we are studying. For example, direct and indirect speech would be taught through a newspaper report unit. However, we recognise that there are some grammar skills that need to be explicitly taught.
Children are explicitly taught spelling rules that relate to their year group’s curriculum and, where possible, to their current text type in their English unit. Over a week, children are taught new spelling rules and given opportunities to practise and apply these. At the end of the week, children take part in a mini spelling test to check their understanding.
The National Curriculum makes clear that learning vocabulary is key to ‘learning and progress across the whole curriculum’ (p11) since it allows pupils to access a wider range of words when writing and for them to understand and comprehend texts efficiently.
Vocabulary teaching needs to be:
- Progressive/ systematic
- Making links from known words
- Develop understanding of shades of meaning
- Subject specific- accurate mathematical and scientific words
We encourage our pupils to have a wide and growing vocabulary in a number of ways, these include:
- Modelling vocabulary skills within guided/shared reading
- Spelling activities in class
- Display of key words linked to topics and subjects
- Using the correct vocabulary orally
- Using dictionaries, thesaurus and similar programmes
- Carrying out systematic testing and providing feedback to pupils
- Editing and redrafting work to improve vocabulary choices.
It is important to us that handwriting is presented legibly and to a high standard, therefore we follow a progressive handwriting scheme across school. Handwriting begins within the Little Wandle Programme and is built upon as children move through KS1. At Snapethorpe, we follow a progressive handwriting model that begins in the early stages of school and is built upon as children move through the key stages. Handwriting is modelled by the class teachers throughout the teaching sequence, to ensure children are exposed to the standard and expectations.