English at Stakesby
At Stakesby, we aim to nurture a love of literature and language, which instils children with the confidence to continue reading and writing throughout their lives.
We want children to:
- read with confidence, fluency and understanding;
- be interested in books, read with enjoyment;
- evaluate and justify their preferences;
- understand the sound and spelling system and use this to spell accurately;
- have fluent and legible handwriting;
- understand and be able to write well in a range of situations;
- plan, draft, revise and edit their own writing;
- develop their powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
We believe that as soon as they enter our Early Years Unit, children begin to ‘Learn to Read’ enabling them as soon as possible to ‘Read to Learn’. We have a structured and multifaceted approach to the teaching of reading at our school. This includes:
- The teaching of synthetic phonics through the Letters and Sounds programme.
- Guided reading sessions that happen regularly to develop specific reading skills. Close monitoring ensures that any specific needs of individuals are identified by the class teacher and addressed in subsequent sessions. These are led by the class teachers and teaching assistants.
- Whole class reading sessions.
- Independent reading time where the children are encouraged to choose an age appropriate book of their choice to read for enjoyment.
- Discrete Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) lessons happen as part of the daily English lesson which support the understanding of a range of texts.
We use picture books, novels and factual texts to engage and stimulate learning, ensuring children enjoy high quality writing that elevates their knowledge and understanding. We have an extensive school library as well as access to high-quality texts online. We use the ‘Reading Eggs’ online activity portal where children have fun reading but also develop key comprehension skills. This supports our desire that children are encouraged to read widely both in and outside school.
We have used Synthetic Phonics successfully for a number of years as a strategy to support children in the early stages of learning to read. It is a way of decoding written letters and spoken sounds. Learning to read is like cracking a code - teaching phonics is a way of teaching children to crack the code, by building or breaking words into their sounds.
At Stakesby, we use the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics scheme which has six stages. We usually expect children to have mastered all six stages by the end of Year 2. Children have a daily phonics input from Early Years through to Year 2. (Phonics teaching continues into Year 3 for children who have not fully mastered phonics)
In the Early Years, we also supplement phonics teaching with other strategies to ensure that all children make rapid progress with their early language skills.
We also run a ‘Tricky Word Bookmark’ initiative to support children to recognise, read and spell words that do not sound or spell as they are written (hence they are ‘tricky’). There are 8 sets of words to learn with suitable rewards for learning each set. We welcome support at home with this vital activity.
In the Early Years and Key Stage One, children use their phonics skills to spell words as well as learning their tricky words. As children progress through the school, they are taught spelling rules and patterns. All children are expected to learn their spellings as part of their home learning and will be tested on them in school.
Learning to make the transition from spoken to written language is a key skill for children to learn as early as possible. This transition is made through exposure to a wide variety of written texts and through purposeful opportunities to practise their developing skills.
At Stakesby, we use a variety of teaching approaches to encourage and achieve the highest quality writing outcomes. Listed below are just a few of the approaches we use:
- Shared writing
- Teacher-modelled writing
- Reading aloud and re-reading
- Drama and role play
- Story mapping
- Writing in role
- Debate and argument
We are lucky at our school to have a talented staff team who share expertise and good practice with each other on a daily basis. In addition to this, we use aspects of some schemes, such as ‘Talk for Writing’. All attempts at writing are valued at our school and we aspire towards every child being a successful writer.
Speaking and Listening
Good oral work enhances pupils' understanding of language, in both oral and written forms. As children develop, we foster their understanding of speech and their abilities to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas in words.
Assessment and Learning
We make sure that pupils know what we are trying to help them achieve. By sharing details of their learning with them, children can see how their learning is developing, what they have achieved and what their next steps need to be. This helps them to see the ‘bigger picture’ and to get interested in how they are learning, as well as what they are learning (metacognition).
For this reason, we use ‘ I Can’ sheets – which set out clearly for pupils, staff, parents/carers how children are doing and where they are going next. These are included here for Reading, and Writing. (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling objectives are included in Writing).