English teaching at Staplecross Methodist Primary School aims to provide our children with firm foundations in reading, writing and speaking and listening, so that they become effective communicators. Secure skills in these areas will ensure that the children can confidently negotiate everyday life. Furthermore, we hope to develop a love of language and literature that will stay with them throughout their lives. English is at the heart of everything we do and teachers promote a love of the English language through daily, engaging lessons and a range of appropriate intervention groups.
Being able to read is a hugely important skill and here at Staplecross, we believe the key to enabling children to learn is a rich, cross-curricular approach with a high focus on reading for pleasure, combined with the consistent teaching of progressively more advanced skills. The children in our school are enthusiastic readers and are given many opportunities to engage with and discuss a variety of enjoyable and high quality texts in English lessons and in other areas of our Creative Curriculum; our children not only learn to read, they read to learn!
Phonics and Early Reading
At Staplecross we use FFT Success for All programmes to support our mastery approach to early reading. We are committed to providing the very best provision so that all children master the skills to become confident, fluent readers and writers. We know that high-quality phonics teaching improves literacy levels and gives all children a solid base on which to build and develop their reading habits so that they read widely and often for information and pleasure. We have a strong emphasis on the development of language and give specific attention to developing vocabulary and speaking and listening skills.
Through daily, systematic and consistent high-quality phonics teaching, children learn to blend and segment words for reading and spelling. To allow our children to develop a strong phonological awareness and effective blending, decoding, fluency and comprehension skills, we have chosen to use a DfE-validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) called FFT Success for All Phonics from FFT. The programme supports our intentions to teach children to read and write independently so that they are able to access a broad and exciting curriculum and flourish as learners throughout their time at our school.
The phonics programme is part of a comprehensive package of programmes which we use to support a mastery approach to phonics and early reading. The FFT Success for All programmes (Phonics, Shared Reader, Tutoring with the Lightning Squad and Reading Assessment Programme (RAP) complement each other in highly effective ways and provide the tools that all our practitioners need to develop competent, fluent early readers, preparing the way for passionate and successful lifelong reading.
At Staplecross we believe that children deserve a rich curriculum which encourages extensive reading of whole books and other kinds of texts. We believe that active encouragement of reading for pleasure is a core part of every child’s educational entitlement, because we know that extensive reading and exposure to a wide range of texts make a huge contribution to students’ educational achievements.
We teach English through The Power of Reading. We aim for our children to leave school as successful fluent readers. The Power of Reading uses high quality books and creative teaching approaches. A quality text is used as the basis for learning over several weeks. Teachers skillfully hang the curriculum requirements for the term around one book. For example, Kestrels studied Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, as the focus of English and History work during their Life in the Freezer topic; Kingfishers studied I was there….. 1066 by Jim Eldridge’ within their Halt! Who Goes There? Battle of Hastings topic; Robins studied The Iron Man by Ted Hughes in their topic Moon Landing, while Swallows read Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke within their Homes and Gardens topic. Every unit that is taught is carefully planned to tie into each year group’s learning journey where possible. Within each unit, texts are analysed by drawing out key features and then a range of practical, skill-based and creative activities are delivered so that children are immersed in the genre. This then provides them with a solid foundation on which to base their own extended writing, as well as a rich and varied vocabulary. These activities include music, art, drama, discussion and role-play with approaches such as, responding to illustrations, ‘Book Talk’, story-mapping and book making. Children take ownership of the books and engage with it fully by deepening their understanding of texts, providing a meaningful context for writing. They write in a range of genres as part of each unit. For example, they might write a letter in role as a character or write a newspaper recount about the events in the text.
Reading aloud is a key part of the Power of Reading. This strategy enables all children to access quality texts. It also enables the teacher to model expressive and fluent reading to the children. Children then echo what they have heard read aloud in their own writing.
We encourage home reading with rewards for children who are reading consistently at home (5 reads per week which an adult will record in the reading planner). Reading encourages a wider vocabulary, as children are exposed to words they haven’t heard before, as well as feeding their imagination and creating interest and enthusiasm.
Comprehension is also key. Children need to be able to understand what they are reading and how characters and a storyline is developing, rather than just being able to decode the words. You can help by asking questions about the book your child is reading, such as how a character feels about a situation or what is going to happen next.
English teaching at Staplecross aims to provide our children with firm foundations in reading, writing and speaking and listening. Secure skills in these areas will ensure that the children can confidently negotiate everyday life. Furthermore, we hope to develop a love of language and literature that will remain with them throughout their lives. Teaching of writing aims to focus on core grammar and punctuation skills whilst ensuring pupils develop their own style and flair as writers. We provide a variety of writing purposes, including writing opportunities across the curriculum.
Each year group is introduced to a wide range of genres and texts from narratives to newspaper reports, from play-scripts to instructions. Every unit that is taught is carefully planned to tie into each year group’s learning journey. Within each unit, texts are analysed by drawing out key features and then a range of practical and skill-based activities are delivered to immerse the children in the genre. We use a variety of stimuli for our ‘Wows’: educational visits, creative workshops and different starting points including pictures, photographs and artefacts. In addition, our children experience drama, role play and hot seating to stimulate the writing process. As a result, this provides a solid foundation on which to base their own extended writing.
Phonics and Early Reading
We maintain fidelity in the implementation of our phonics teaching by using FFT Success for All Phonics which allows the children to learn phonics through a highly structured programme of daily lessons across FS/KS1, using a variety of fun activities in multi-sensory and systematic ways. Each session gives an opportunity for children to revisit their previous experience, be taught new skills, practice together and apply what they have learned and celebrate their achievements.
It follows the teaching principles of:
• Revisit and Review
• Teach and Model
• Practise and Apply
• Celebrate Achievement and Assess
Time is incorporated to allow for consolidation so that children can secure their skills, knowledge and understanding. The programme is underpinned by a set of seven core principles designed to support all teachers and children.
• Systematic Progression
• Regular Assessment
• Early Intervention
• Multisensory Approach
• Co-operative Learning
• Application of Skills
• Reduced Workload and Collegiate Approach
Reading materials have been designed to support rapid and sustained progress and are well-matched to the scope and sequence of the programme. A comprehensive set of 68 decodable shared readers is provided by the programme and additional materials that a school already has that match the sequence can be used to supplement early reading.
The FFT Success for All Phonics Scope and Sequence is set out clearly and provides detailed guidance and support for teachers to plan and deliver high quality lessons. A synthetic approach to teaching ‘pure sounds’ and the skills of segmenting and blending are incorporated into the teaching and learning materials. Lessons are planned so that children build on their skills sequentially and systematically and can be adapted and modified to meet the needs of the children accordingly.
We measure the effectiveness and impact of our English Writing, Grammar and Spelling curriculum in a variety of different ways. We use National and summative testing to assess pupils' outcomes for Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling as part of the Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs for Year 6 pupils). Additionally, pupils complete pieces of writing on a half termly basis, where written work is assessed to inform teachers of pupils' next steps and successes. We have a robust system of internal moderation, federation and cluster moderation where appropriate to assess progress in writing. The impact of the curriculum can be seen through pupils' national assessment results. We also assess children through PIRA and Salford reading test throughout Key Stage 2.
Through lesson and pupils' book monitoring, it is evident that pupils are being well supported to acquire the necessary skills and subject knowledge in order to become established and confident readers and writers. Work is monitored in books and demonstrates that the curriculum is taught at an age-appropriate standard across each year group, with additional opportunities planned for pupils to demonstrate their ability to work at a higher standard. Lesson observations demonstrate that learning is being broken down into smaller steps and modelling supports pupils in the writing process/reading skills process - ensuring that the subject as a whole is regularly being reviewed to ensure learning is being embedded into pupils' long term memory.
The impact of our writing, grammar, spelling and punctuation curriculum can also be measured through the acquisition of pupil voice and talking to the children about their own learning. Pupil voice indicates that the children are enjoying their learning and can talk about the subject and curriculum opportunities.
Phonics and Early Reading
Through the consistent, systematic and daily teaching of the FFT Success for All Phonics programme, our aim is for children to become fluent, confident readers by the end of Key Stage One.
Children are regularly assessed informally by the teacher within the lessons and over a sequence of lessons to ensure they keep up. If children need additional support, they are provided with keep-up sessions to ensure they stay on track with the rest of the class. More formal assessments are completed every half term using FFT’s Reading Assessment Programme (RAP) which covers all KS1 assessments including phonics skills, decoding, reading fluency, comprehension and the Year 1 phonics screening check.
Children who require further additional support (catch-up) are identified using a range of assessment information and will be supported through small group or one-to-one interventions such as Tutoring with The Lightning Squad, a reading tutoring programme where pupils work in small groups with a tutor to improve their reading skills. The tutoring is a blended approach with face-to-face tutoring supported by an online tutoring platform. The tutoring activities are designed and structured to improve reading skills, fluency, comprehension, spelling and phonics.
At the end of Year 1 children are statutorily assessed using the Phonics Screening Check. This screening check confirms whether the child has met the appropriate phonics standard and can be used diagnostically to identify areas that need further attention going forward. Children who do not meet the required standard will continue their phonics lessons so that they are ready to retake the screening at the end of Year 2.
Through the FFT Success for All Phonics programme and our commitment to phonics teaching, children will be equipped with the skills, knowledge and understanding to decode unfamiliar words using a range of strategies. They will have a firm phonic base to support them on their literacy journey through school. They will develop their fluency and comprehension skills, take pleasure in exploring the rich literary world around them, acquire a love of reading and flourish as readers.