English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. 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.
‘Reading is the creative centre of a writer’s life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find that there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in.’ – Steven King
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, 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.
The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 include:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)
It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these two dimensions. In addition, pupils will be taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
In September 2018, we implemented a new approach to teaching writing called Talk for Writing. Talk for Writing was developed by the author Pie Corbett. It is fundamentally based on the key principles of how children learn. Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need orally before they try reading, analysing and recording it. It is a fun, creative yet also rigorous approach to develop writers.
Talk for Writing has three key phases which work together to develop knowledge, confidence and independence in writing:
During this phase the children create actions to accompany the oral re-telling of the story. They also create story maps, using pictures and symbols, to depict actions and events from the text. The key to success for the children is that they internalise the text type through repetition and rehearsal. They also begin to look closely at the language and text features that have been used.
During this phase the teacher and the children begin to change aspects of the model text using their own ideas. They explore the text using different characters, settings or events and new ideas for descriptive language whilst sticking closely to the underlying structure. This process enables the children to write their own versions through developing their ability to generate good words and phrases.
During this phase the children plan and write their own version of the text type they have been learning.
For further information please visit the Talk for Writing website.
Spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation
Phonics is taught throughout the school using the Read Write Inc. scheme, a whole-school literacy programme for 5-11-year-olds, which ensures systematic coverage and progression.
In Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2), the children are taught in smaller groups, led either by class teachers or by trained learning support staff. The children are assessed regularly to ensure that they are making progress and that they are in the appropriate group for supporting and extending their individual needs. Year 1 children take part in statutory Phonics Screening during Term 6, and parents are informed of their child’s achievement at the end of the school year.
Writing progresses from talking and composing sentences orally to being able to write sentences with support and, later on, independently. Writing is linked to storytelling and to the children’s own experiences, as well as to the topics taught. Phonics is used to support the early stages of writing, and spelling patterns are taught as the children’s skills progress. Great emphasis is also placed on handwriting and learning the correct letter formation and pencil control from early on.
Read Write Inc. continues to form the basis for literacy teaching as children move into Key Stage 2 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6) and develop their writing, spelling and grammar skills.
Please use the links below to access videos related to phonics and early reading.
Guided reading takes place on a daily basis throughout the school.
Volunteers come into school regularly to listen to individual children read.
The school does not use one specific reading scheme, and has instead classified a wide range of books into different colour bands to create reading progression. Children work their way through the colour bands until they reaching books from the school or class libraries. Some children in Key Stage 2 follow the Project X or Rapid Reading schemes.
Reading expectations at home
We encourage and expect our children to read every day at home. This can be with a parent, sibling or even to the family pet. All children have a Reading Record that is taken home daily. This is a journal that children and parents can fill in together which is regularly checked by class teachers. We understand that some children enjoy to read independently, in addition to reading with an adult. On these occasions, KS2 children can independently fill out their reading records.
We feel that it is important for children to regularly read with an adult (in addition to reading independently – if they can) so that discussions and joint exploration can take place around the text.
Through these discussions, we would appreciate your support in reiterating the six key reading skills that we are teaching across the school. When filling in your child’s Reading Record, it is helpful to document which of the reading skills you have explored.
The table below outlines and explains the six key reading skills that we are focusing in on:
|Reading Skill||Questions or prompts for the questions|
|Inference and Deduction||As readers, it is important that we develop the ability read between the lines of what is explicitly said. This enables us, as readers, to draw a greater understanding from the text.
What is explicitly said in the text?
What is implied?
What thoughts fill the gaps that are left by the author?
E.g. “Sunshine had bled into the room, turning the mid walls yellow.” The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave pg 45.
What time of day is it? How do you know?
|Visualise||As adults, we often naturally visualise what we are reading, however, this is a skill that needs to be taught.
What do you see in your mind when you are reading?
This could involve: drawing a picture of a character or setting, acting out the meaning of a word or even creating freeze frames to represent a specific part of a book.
E.g. “He flinched when I got up to stroke him.” The Girl of Ink and Stars – Kiran Millwood Hargrave pg 45.
Show me what a flinching cat might look like.
|Breakdown and Repair||When we read, we often ‘break down’ when faced with a word or concept we are not familiar with. This skill teaches the children to notice that they have ‘broken down’ and gives them strategies to recover.
What doesn’t sound quite right?
Which words are unfamiliar?
What strategies can you use to make sense of the text?
– Check decoding or pronunciation.
– Read around the word to look for clues.
– Replace the unfamiliar word with another that could be similar.
– Look at the word make-up: root word, suffix, prefix.
|Background Knowledge||Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea is set in a boarding school. Children may have knowledge of what a boarding school is like because of their own background knowledge e.g. they may have read Harry Potter, A Murder Most Unladylike
This skill encourages the children to draw on their pre-existing knowledge to connect with the text they are currently reading.
What does this text make you think of?
Does the setting remind you of anything?
This is a bit like…
(Very Important) and Gist
|When reading, it is important to hone in on the most important facts and words so that the meaning of a text can be quickly summarised. As adults, we often do this naturally when we skim through a text.
What are the key words, phrases, events and ideas?
How do they link?
Can you summarise that paragraph?
Can you summarise that chapter?
This skill can be practised verbally or even in reading journals.
|Predict, ask questions, wonder||When reading, it is essential that the children can draw information together to make predictions. Once the predictions are made, read on to find out if you were right.
What do you predict is going to happen next?
What does this make you wonder?
I wonder… why, when, how, whether, what, who, if…
At Phil and Jim, our children have expressed that they enjoy reading a wide range of texts including: comics, graphic novels, picture books, interactive books, e-books, novels and non-fiction. When reading at home, we encourage our children to read as widely as possible.
Here are some examples of activities to complete and questions to ask when exploring a text:
- Look at the front cover and ask the children to comment on anything they find interesting. Allow time for free discussion. If necessary, offer prompts that draw attention to the way the pictures have been made.
- Can you tell what materials have been used to create the picture?
- What is happening in the picture in the centre of the cover? Who do you think the two people might be?
- Are there any clues that tell us when or where this story is set?
- Look at the back cover
- What did you find interesting?
- Did the book remind you of anything you have read, seen or heard? What?
- Was there anything that you found strange or difficult to understand?
- After reading the book do you have any questions about anything that you have read or seen in the pictures?
- Record the children’s questions and retain them for reference during reading. Review the questions periodically to see if they have been answered.
- Endpapers – What can you see? What does this tell us about the book?
These questions were adapted from: https://justimagine.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/MemoriaL.pdf
Reading Record House point reminder:
Filling in a reading record regularly is an easy way to tally up house points:
3x recordings = 1 house point
5x recordings = 2 house points
7x recordings = 3 house points
What books are recommended?
We recommend looking at the United Kingdom Literacy Association’s long and short lists.
Why read for pleasure at home?
International evidence has demonstrated that reading for pleasure:
- increased attainment in literacy and numeracy (e.g. Anderson et al., 1988; OECD, 2010; Sullivan & Brown, 2013)
- improved general knowledge (e.g. Clark and Rumbold, 2006)
- richer vocabulary (e.g. Sullivan & Brown, 2013)
- supports identity explorations (e.g. Rothbauer, 2004)
- encourages imagination, empathy and mindfulness of others (e.g.Kidd & Costano, 2013)
Please use the links below to access websites related to reading.
Please use the links below to access websites related to English.