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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 BHPS we place literacy and literature right at the heart of children’s learning. Whilst supporting pupils of all backgrounds and all abilities to read, write and communicate effectively, English also encompasses important elements of: History, Religious Education, Philosophy, Ethics, Geography, Government and Politics, Psychology, Sociology and Media. English enables pupils to become better thinkers and more responsible citizens. It is the key to being able to fully participate in society.
Raising the self-esteem and confidence of pupils is as important as ensuring pupils have academic success. We want to equip them with the skills to express themselves confidently in a variety of situations and foster a greater independence in their work, ensuring they are fully prepared for the demands of secondary school and beyond.
At BHPS we believe that spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding. Spoken language activities are embedded throughout the curriculum and children take part in: discussions, debates, drama, presentations, assemblies, public speaking and school events.
BHPS promotes a love of literature, encouraging students to read widely and independently. We acknowledge the growing body of research into the importance of literature and reading for pleasure, which indicates that reading engagement has the potential to close the attainment gap and achieve equality.
Across the school from the youngest children engaging in questioning, debate and discussion about the picture book their teacher has shared with them, to detailed text analysis in Year Six, children have the opportunity to discuss the books they read. Learners are encouraged to develop a critical appreciation of how language is used by writers and are given the skills to interpret the ever more complex linguistic world around them.
In line with the National Curriculum for reading, children in all year groups develop their word reading and comprehension in guided reading and guided understanding (comprehension) lessons using a range of book-banded books, e-books, magazines and newspapers and comprehension resources. They also access their class libraries and the school library resources to ensure they read widely.
At Blakesley Hall 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, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme.
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 our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Blakesley Hall, 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 speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
We have 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.
In Year 1, we teach two 30 minute sessions per day to ensure the children meet the end of year expectations and are ready for the Phonics Check in summer 2.
We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress (see above):
- 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 Phases 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Teaching Reading in KS1
We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
- Are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children.
- Use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments.
- Are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
- Prosody: 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.
Home Reading in KS1
The 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 use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Parents’ Resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.
At the end of Year 1 children will sit a phonics screening check consisting of a mix of 40 real and pseudo (made up) words. Children who do not pass this in Year 1 will be supported with interventions in Year 2 and have the chance to sit it again at the end of Year 2.
In Key Stage 2 children who need additional phonics intervention are identified and they will receive regular phonics sessions based on their needs. They also have access to age and knowledge appropriate books to support their progress.
- For more information about phonics screening please visit Oxford Owl: Year 1 Phonics Screening Check
- For more information on how you can support your child please visit Oxford Owl: Learn to Read with Phonics
- For more information about Little Wandle please visit Little Wandle Resources For Parents
Reading at Key Stage 2
In KS2, in addition to daily reading opportunities, guided understanding lessons place greater emphasis on reading for meaning. The school’s whole-class approach to teaching guided understanding is based on the research of Doug Lemov et al (Reading Reconsidered), Isabel L. Beck et al (Bringing Words to Life) and Tony Whatmuff (National Trainer for Inference Training). It develops dialog, focuses on developing the readers’ understanding and teaches strategies to support the development of comprehension (predicting, questioning, clarifying, summarising, thinking aloud, annotating and visualising).
Home Reading in KS2
Children in KS2 have the opportunity to practise the skills and strategies they are being taught at school, by taking their reading book home to share.
Children are encouraged to read at home daily and all children have individual logins for Bug Club (an e-reading library) and use it as a resource when reading at home.
For further information on Guided Understanding please refer to the following document:
Reading for Pleasure
Reading for pleasure is also referred to as independent, leisure or recreational reading. The National Literacy Trust (UK) defines reading for pleasure as:
Reading we do of our own free will, anticipating the satisfaction we will get from the act of reading. — Christina Clark and Kate Rumbold
Research shows that the benefits of reading for pleasure are extensive and long-reaching. Reading for pleasure:
- Boosts academic achievement, and provides a foundation for critical, digital and information literacy.
- Builds cognitive function and stamina when immersed in the flow of reading.
- Develops empathy and knowledge- of self, other worlds, culture, heritage, and ways of being and thinking.
- Empowers students to become active citizens.
- Improves and builds psychological wellbeing and healthy behaviours, and crucially for young people, can be relaxing and provide an escape.
Blakesley Hall Primary School have worked alongside the OU and UKLA to develop reading for pleasure across school and in 2022 were awarded the Gold Award for Reading for Pleasure.
- Reading for Pleasure Gold Award Letter - October 2022
We believe in providing pupils with a varied and enriching curriculum and continually review and update units of learning in order to engage pupils. Their motivation is increased by providing authentic, meaningful and relevant learning experiences.
We share excellent writing to inspire children to develop their own style or ‘voice’. We instil in our learners a love of literature and nurture their creativity - to use the written word powerfully and creatively to express themselves. BHPS pupils develop an understanding that writing has a real purpose and that word choice and style can bring about changes to meaning and effect. Children are encouraged to read their work for enjoyment, to read it aloud to others and provide audiences for writing.
Each half term a central ‘driver text’ is chosen, which is paired with a range of supplementary texts including fiction, poetry, non-fiction, multimodal texts, and cross-curricular links. The unit is planned around the driver text, with a broad range of writing opportunities. This approach provides an exciting and inclusive context for a range of speaking, listening, reading and writing activities. It also gives all learners the opportunity to develop a secure understanding of the driver text, subject matter and key skills – as well as the scope to work in greater depth and to explore and showcase their creativity and writing abilities.
During a unit of writing, pupils are taught how to plan, compose, evaluate and edit their writing. Through the use of word banks, thesaurus’, dictionaries and working walls detailing high level and challenging vocabulary, children increasingly develop a wide vocabulary. Staff deliver modelled and shared writing sessions but there are also regular opportunities for independent, extended writing.
For further information on writing at BHPS please refer to the following document:
Writing for Pleasure
According to research by the National Literacy Trust in 2023, just a third of children and young people aged 8 to 18 report that they enjoyed writing in their free time. Previous research has identified that children and young people who enjoyed writing very much, were seven times more likely to write above the level expected for their age compared with those who did not enjoy writing at all.
In order to address children’s potential lack of enjoyment and therefore under-achievement in writing, children at BHPS have regular writing for pleasure opportunities, where they can develop their own personal writing projects.
English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
Grammar is taught within the context of the texts being studied in lessons to ensure it is meaningful for children. Alongside this, spelling, vocabulary, punctuation and grammar are also taught discretely in basic skills sessions. Teachers utilise the NC Statutory Appendices for spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to ensure the specific features of the programme of study are covered.
At BHPS we follow the Letterjoin continuous cursive handwriting programme. As soon as they are ready to, this introduces cursive handwriting in Reception and supports children in meeting the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 National Curriculum expectations.
All teachers have high expectations for the presentation of work in all areas of the curriculum. When children have reached a good standard of handwriting in all areas of their work, they receive a pen from their teacher.
For further information on the Letterjoin scheme please visit the Letter-join website