At Christ Church Primary School, we are committed to providing all children with learning opportunities to engage and develop their love for writing and an appreciation of its educational, cultural and entertainment value. This in turn, allows them to have a real understanding of having a meaningful purpose for writing. We aim to encourage their ability to write fluently, with interesting detail on a number of topics throughout the curriculum. Using their vivid imaginations, they will engage readers through use of a highly developed vocabulary and an excellent knowledge of writing techniques. Well-organised and grammatically coherent writing, excellent transcription skills, combined with a passion to produce work that is presented to the highest standard will ensure that our children leave Christ Church confident and capable writers.
To see how English is implemented across our school, please click on this link.
Phonics at Christ Church School
At Christ Church primary school we are determined that every child will learn to read by the age of six.
As a school we aim:
- To develop in children a love of reading.
- To provide systematic phonics teaching that enables children to read rapidly.
- To give children opportunities to apply what they have learned across the Curriculum.
What is phonics?
Spoken words are formed by articulating a group of ‘speech sounds’. Each speech sound has its own mouth movement. In the words c-a-t, s-t-ay and f-l-igh-t, there are four mouth movements. The English language has around 44 speech sounds, of which all but four or five are pronounced consistently across all accents.
The principle of the alphabetic writing system is to visually codify speech. The writing system for European languages continues to be based on the Roman alphabet, which has 26 letters. English, however, has 44 speech sounds, meaning there is an insufficient letters for each sounds, so groups of letters have been combined to write the extra 18. To make it even harder, each sound can be written in more than one way! For example:· The speech sound ‘f’ is spelt f, ff and ph. (fast, huff, phonics)· The speech sound ‘ay’ is spelt ay, ai, a-e, aigh, eigh, eig and ei. This is called a complex alphabetic code, and English is the most complicated code in the world!
When we read, each word has a letter, or letter group (grapheme) that triggers a speech sound. The speech sounds are then blended into a spoken word; also known as decoding. The more we decode, the quicker we begin to recognise words and read more fluently. Once children can read fluently, their energy is freed for comprehension.
Children in Key stage 1 receive phonics on a daily basis for 30 minutes. We use Read, Write Inc as our main scheme for teaching systematic phonics, but we also support our teaching with other resources to enable our children to make rapid progress; such as letters and sounds and Teach your monster to read. Lessons are fast paced, give lots of praise as reinforcement to learners and teachers ensure that all children actively participate in the lesson.
All teachers and TAs are trained to teach phonics confidently. Miss Finney is our English co-ordinator.. She makes daily visits to each phonics groups and works alongside teachers to ensure rapid progress takes place in each group and any concerns regarding progress is quickly addressed.
Children will be assessed every half term by Miss Finney. The assessment will confirm how many sounds the children have learned and if the children can apply their knowledge to blend real and nonsense words. This data will be used to assess the phase at which each child is secure and groups are arranged accordingly. Phonics meetings are held regularly so children’s progress is discussed and children who are causing concern are recognised early. Children will move between phonics groups to ensure optimum progress is achieved.
In Year 1, children sit a National phonics screening check set by the Government where they are required to read 32 out of 40 words correctly in order to pass the test. Our regular assessment enables us to track children to ensure that they achieve the best score that they are capable of. One to one phonic booster is given to children who are struggling to meet the required target.
Reading is not simply the decoding of marks on a page. It is a complex process involving the ability to gain meaningful access to a wide range of different types of texts. Success in reading has a direct effect upon progress in most other areas of the curriculum and is a major contribution to independent learning. It is therefore crucial in developing children’s self-confidence and motivation. The teaching of reading is given a high priority by all staff.
To ensure that children become successful and enthusiastic readers, they need to learn a range of strategies to grasp the meaning of what they are reading. This principle is at the heart of the National Curriculum for English.
- To provide opportunities and a range of reading materials for shared and guided, group and individual reading.
- To promote children’s enjoyment of reading through the provision of imaginative, appropriate and meaningful reading opportunities.
- To promote children’s understanding that reading is an essential aid to thinking and learning.
- To promote the development and use of reading skills across the curriculum.
- To provide children with the knowledge and skills necessary to:-
- Read with accuracy, fluency and expression
- Read a wide range of texts for a variety of purposes
- Respond appropriately and imaginatively to what they read.
At Christ Church School, reading is a high priority! We have invested in a new set of high quality reading books for all ages and abilities. To promote a love for reading, we have a whole-school reading incentive. Each child has their own 'READ!' label attached to their reading record. Every time your child reads their school reading books/a book at home, and get a signature, they can colour in a piece of the bookmark. Once this is filled they will receive a sticker to go on their reading record. The rewards are as follows:·
Bronze sticker for 100 signatures
Silver sticker for 200 signatures
Gold sticker for 300 signatures
Gold reading reward pin for 350 signatures
Provision for reading
To facilitate shared reading throughout the school, all classrooms are equipped with a library of fiction and non-fiction books and all classes have access to an ICT smart board. All classes have access to a visualizer or Apple TV where texts can be shared with the whole class.
Phonics teaching is supported by the use of Read, Write inc. Phonic skills are taught rapidly and are reinforced by regular practise and application. Key stage one undertake daily phonic sessions where children move to the group that is most suited to their ability. Lower KS2 children who would still benefit from phonics are exposed to this through interventions and support in class.
Sets of books for guided reading are based centrally. The books have been levelled to cater for the needs of all the children. All children from year 1 participate in reading development lessons each week where they use reciprocal reading as a way to answer questions about the text. Teachers differentiate their questioning in order to include children of all abilities in developing response, literal and inferential understanding.
In Reception and Key stage one, our core reading scheme is Oxford Reading Tree. These are also supplemented by books from a range of published reading schemes and non-scheme books. Books for individual reading are taken from any of the above according to the teachers' judgement. Children also have access to books available in classroom libraries, for reading in the classroom and at home. Reading books are changed three times a week.
Individual reading at lower Key stage 2 is mainly based on a range of scheme and non-scheme boos, graded for difficulty, situated in corridor bookshelves where the children can access them independently. More proficient readers move onto the free reader’s scheme which involves reading longer classical texts. Children are also encouraged to read books of their own choice which is suited to their ability. In Key stage two, targeted groups of children are given extra literacy support. In Year two and six, extra support is given through booster classes.
In addition to the reading curriculum as outlined in the National Curriculum:-
- All children are expected to take some responsibility for their own progress in reading. They are expected and encouraged to practice their reading at home on a daily basis, to sign their reading diaries or ask their parent/carer to sign and to remember to bring their reading book to school every day. Children are also encouraged to discuss their reading with parents/carers using the reciprocal reading questions that are used in school. All children have the opportunity to read regularly in quiet reading and guided reading sessions. These may be at any point in the day, decided by the class teacher.
- Reading corners are available in all classrooms, to give children opportunities for independent reading and to give reading a high profile.
- Reading as a tool of learning is employed across the curriculum. Where appropriate, shared reading sessions use texts linked to work in other curriculum areas. The International Primary Curriculum gives examples of books that link with each topic. Children are also encouraged to look for, browse through and actively use books from the classroom or library, as part of their learning experience in all curriculum areas.
Homework and Parental Involvement
Parents are encouraged to be involved with the reading policy throughout their children’s school lives at Christ Church. Parents are urged to encourage their children to have a love of learning by sharing books with them and listening to them read at home. The home/school reading record is formulated with this in mind and teachers take an active part in encouraging parents to participate in this way. Parents are also welcome into school to read with their child on our Thursday morning 'Reading Cafe' . Reading and phonics workshops are offered regularly to guide parents on how to support their children in reading.
For support with reading at home, please click on this link for question prompts that you can ask your child when listening to them read.
All children are encouraged to join the library and opportunities to visit or take part in events held at the library are taken whenever possible.
A yearly Book Week is held to raise the profile of reading for pleasure; this is usually the same week as World Book day.
Recommended reading websites
Writing at Christ Church School
Our writing is taught in a structured way which is routinely taught across the school.
Each writing unit follows this routine:-
- Children complete a 'prewrite' to assess their prior understanding and knowledge of a genre.
- Children are familiarised with the genre and Talk for Writing (Exposure to many samples of the new genre)
- A success criteria is generated with the class
- Build up lessons to improve children's knowledge of language features and content
- Modelled writing (writing for the children)
- Shared writing (writing with the children)
- Independent writing (writing by the children)
- Published work
Familiarisation and Talk for Writing
The use of Drama to begin the writing process and use of Talk Partner work in school will give the children opportunities to talk and think about their ideas before putting pen to paper. Structured Role Play areas are in Key stage one classrooms to give the children opportunities to explore and play with language prior to actual writing tasks. Once children are familiar with a new genre, they work with the teacher to generate a success criteria. More able children are challenged by being asked to generate their own success criteria. We usually ask the children to complete a “pre write” in the first few lessons so that the teacher can use any misconceptions in the next step of the writing process.
Build up Lessons
These lessons will be used to develop children's understanding of genre features. This includes topic specific knowledge and vocabulary, and covering how to use punctuation and grammar elements to improve their writing. Children will be encouraged to use this new learning in their independent writing, to meet the success criteria.
This is where the teacher is demonstrating how to write by “thinking aloud” as he/she composes and interacts with a text in front of the students. This allows the children to hear the thinking process that is going on during the writing process.
The teacher voices her thoughts (planning what she intends to write), talks about the success criteria, letter formations, how to spell words, choice of words, grammar etc.
The teacher talks through the process step-by-step to show the learner how things are done. The end result is a readable, error free text that allows the children to have a correct model to refer to and follow when engaged in further writing.
This is a joint construction of the text between the teacher and the children. The teacher is acting as the scribe, but the children have ownership of the text. As they are not directly engaged in the physical demand of the writing they are better able to concentrate on the compositional aspects of the work and to contribute a wide range of ideas. Children contribute their ideas through discussion, peer work and sharing ideas on whiteboards. It is practical to use small whiteboards for this type of work, in order that the children can easily make changes/adjustments to their writing.
Children need many opportunities for independent writing in a variety of forms based on both teacher guidance and their own choice of topic. The purpose of independent writing is to put in practice the ideas, structures and skills they have seen demonstrated in modelled and shared writing. Once children have finished their independent writing (their draft), they work with peers to edit their writing and use the success criteria to make further improvements. Children use red pens to make the editing clear in their draft book.
Once the children are happy with their draft, teachers use a code to mark their work around the success criteria. It might be technical errors such as spellings and punctuation. Children will act upon this feedback at the beginning of the lesson. Once everyone is satisfied that the writing is the best quality that it can be, the children write a final copy in to their super writing book. Children then mark their own writing against the success criteria. The final piece of work is then marked by the teacher where successful elements of the work are highlighted in green and an improvement is marked in pink(this is described as EBI – even better if!). Children respond to their EBI if necessary.
Children are very familiar with this routine. We are very proud of our writing and the quality of writing that our children produce. Children are also encouraged to take lead on their own learning. To do this, we provide them with their own vocabulary book. Whenever new vocabulary is taught, they are encouraged to add this to their vocabulary book. This helps the children develop their range of vocabulary and also gives them the tools needed to edit their own work independently.
Please see below for our progression of handwriting. This slowly teaches children to join letters clockwise and counter-clockwise.