At West Acton we strive to develop in our pupils the ability to communicate effectively in speech, writing, to listen with understanding and have passion for reading.
We want our pupils to be motivated and confident readers who read with accuracy and fluency whilst having a strong understanding of what they are reading. As writers we want them to have confidence to write for a range of purposes both formal and informal and to be able to write for a communication purpose as well as engaging audiences with imaginative short stories and poetry.
At West Acton, we aim to provide our children with the courage, skills and aptitude to enable them to make a difference in the world. By becoming confident readers and writers , our children will have access to the exciting opportunities available to the young people of the future. We believe it is important to give children access to reading materials from a broad spectrum that includes classics and contemporary texts, some by key British authors and poets through the ages, others from exciting new voices covering different backgrounds and experiences. Non-fiction texts and multi-media texts are an important aspect of our curriculum too, including mixed media approaches using technology. Throughout their learning in English, our pupils have the opportunities to connect, consolidate and reinforce their Reading and Writing skills within a broad and balanced yet purposeful curriculum. A striking feature of West Acton is our diverse community not only in ethnicity but economically and emotionally.
We are very proud of the way our curriculum, especially our English curriculum, reinforces this unique feature of our school whilst developing pupils' understanding and consideration of their own lives and those of others.
The home-school partnership is sustained through homework, workshops for parents/carers and half termly letters going home in advance informing what the following half term’s text and focus will be. Pupils are expected to read daily and practise spellings. Resources are sent home at key points during the year to support this. Monitoring of the completion of these tasks is done through assessing the progress children are making in their learning and if the parents/carers are signing the Reading record book. In addition, we have provided a set of CGP books and spelling book for each child. We also provide access to Espresso, an on-line learning resource full of reading-related activities, film-clips and other useful on-line tools as described earlier.
We want our children to be motivated and confident readers who read with accuracy and fluency whilst having a strong understanding of what they are reading. We aim to provide pupils with opportunities to build, consolidate and reinforce their Reading skills within a broad and balanced yet purposeful curriculum.
From Nursery through to Year 6 Reading is central to our curriculum to allow pupils to access the full curriculum offer. At all stages, reading attainment is assessed and gaps addressed quickly and effectively for all pupils. Alongside, structured learning opportunities in Reading, we support children in developing an intrinsic interest in reading through access to reading opportunities in our library, reading areas and an ongoing timetable of reading events.
From Reception to Year 2 pupils are taught to decode words through the daily phonics lessons and as their reading becomes more fluently a greater emphasis turns to reading comprehension skills
Reading Comprehension lessons take place three/four a week for thirty to forty minutes where the teacher works in a more focused way on developing reading comprehension skills – the text may be from the daily English lesson. However, other shorter texts may also be used. Lessons are based around the KS1 & KS2 Reading domains, supporting children’s skills in decoding and understanding different text types in a structured way and through practice. Teachers may hear children read aloud too. The children work in groups for some of these sessions with the teacher supporting different groups throughout the week. The rest of the class will be completing short, useful reading comprehension activities, which should not require marking, such as checking the meaning of new vocabulary, linked to the learning objectives for the lesson.
Reading comprehension strategies are taught in explicit lessons each term during Reading sessions and applied to English and other subjects too. The skills teachers develop are literal, evaluation and inferential : questioning, sequencing, predicting, summarising, skimming and scanning, visualising plus the importance of learning new vocabulary and checking the meaning of words. Pupils complete a reading comprehension test each half term and area heard read for a Salford reading test twice a year to assess their reading and comprehension age.
- Reading - Reading corners in the classroom
Each classroom has a dedicated reading corner with a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts at different levels. Reading corners also display questions to stimulate thinking about books or to celebrate learning, should be tidy and welcoming spaces and can be looked after by class Reading Monitors. ‘Reading for pleasure’ or ‘free reader’ books are available in each classroom’s book corner. These are for children to read whenever they have the opportunity. These books should stay at school.
- Reading - Home school reading book and library
Pupils are also given the opportunity to borrow a book from the school library - these are books of their choice and interest which they can take home to enjoy. Each class is timetabled to visit the library once a week. The library is also open after school three days a week so that parents/carers can enjoy reading with the child.
All pupils also receive a ‘reading book’ from a band chosen by the class teacher, based on assessment, this book is to take home and read with the support of an adult. Pupils will be assigned the appropriate level following reading assessments and this will be reviewed weekly by teachers. For each year group or phase, these books will be stored and distributed from a ‘Reading station’. These books are banded according to ‘Book Bands’ and reading levels or beyond; this a ‘free reader’. Parents/Carers are asked to sign the bespoke Reading Record Book, which is full of resources, at least once a week.
The school provides further access to Reading related activities through Espresso; every child can log-on to use at home. Children in KS1 also have access to e-books through ‘Bug Club’ on the school website. Here, teachers will allocate children a particular level at a time; all the books at that level can be accessed to read. There are questions and activities too.
- Reading - Class Novel
Class teachers will, at different points of the year, read a ‘class novel’ to pupils in their classes as a further opportunity to build the children’s exposure to different kinds of texts. They also use it as an opportunity to develop pupils’ understanding and enjoyment of books.
In Nursery and Reception pupils are given the opportunities to write during their independent learning time by having access to a range of writing materials both in the indoor and outdoor classroom. Reception are also explicitly taught in small groups through focussed teaching sessions with the teacher and/or nursery nurse and throughout the year are exposed to many different genres and write lists, facts, stories, poems and recounts.
In Years 1 to 6, through the school’s medium term plans, based on the National Curriculum, pupils are given opportunities to write in a wide range of genres and become familiar with the features of each e.g. narrative stories, writing in role and discursive and persuasive writing. Pupils also explore poetry at different points across the year with a focus on creating and performing poetry. Teachers use a range of strategies including talk for writing, modelled and shared writing, planning, drafting and editing.
Pupils are given opportunities to evaluate and reflect on their own work in order that they may develop their own sense of achievement. Pupils are expected to produce one long piece of writing per week. Teachers give clear feedback to pupils so they know how to improve and what they did well. In KS1 and KS2 planning includes grammar and punctuation focuses for each week.
- Grammar and punctuation skills are linked to the text type being taught so that skills can be embedded and applied through whole class teaching and in the children’s writing. Relevant websites are available on the school’s website for further research.
Each half term pupils produce an unaided piece of writing to support summative assessment – this is in a separate book, to show progress the book is started in Nursery that goes up with them as they move through the school.
Each year group has a set of ‘non-negotiables’ for their writing lessons, based around the objectives in the National Curriculum. These guidelines help the pupils to remember the skills that a child in their year group should be including in their writing independently at all times, as well as new skills they are learning. In this way, we scaffold children’s writing, supporting them in integrating all the age-appropriate features.
English writing lessons are based around a high quality book or books. This allows pupils to explore writing from a range of texts, to identify and then adapt and use the features in their own writing. Other extended pieces of writing may be generated from learning in other subjects such as Science, History, RE, PSHE or Geography such as recounts, reports or writing in role, or from trips and workshops.
Phonics and Spelling Implementation
Planning is in place from Nursery though to Year 2 based on the Governments ‘Letters and Sounds’ publication. Letters, including the letter name and the sound they make, are introduced one at a time.
Pupils are encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s-a-t to make the word sat. They will also start learning to segment words. For example, they might be asked to find the letter sounds that make the word tap from a small selection of magnetic letters. This is decoded or word reading. As they progress pupils are able to read the words fluently without segmenting and blending. Words that are referred to as ‘Tricky words’ are also taught: the, to, no, go, into and I. These are not decodable and children have to remember how to read and spell them.
After the teaching and assessment of the Phase 2 letters and sounds, pupils in Reception are set for phonics throughout KS1. Pupils are assessed at the end of each Phase, results from which are recorded into class folders. Going up to Year 3, a group of pupils may still require phonics teaching before accessing the Spelling curriculum. Due to the mobile and diverse nature of West Acton pupils we still need to offer phonics lessons to our older pupils.
The National Curriculum includes statutory spelling requirements for Years 3 & 4 together and Years 5 & 6 together plus a high frequency word list. Every half term, each year group will have explicit spelling lessons on different spelling rules and patterns: they will also be given words to take home and learn to be tested on in class. The word list is tested three times a year and additional lessons may be given covering the words on those lists too.
Spellings are displayed in class and children are encouraged to find them during their reading and use them in their work. At the start of the year a spelling practice booklet is sent home to reinforce the learning and help parents/carers support the children.
Whilst younger pupils are encouraged to make phonetically plausible attempts at spelling, once the rule/pattern has been taught children are expected to spell words correctly. The more a child reads the better their spelling (and vocabulary) will be as they will have had more exposure to the correct spelling.
Other elements of the English Curriculum:
We introduce children to new words in order to develop their writing further. In the teaching of both Reading and Writing, children are encouraged and supported to identify unknown words, to use their spelling strategies (e.g. about root words) and their inference skills along with a dictionary to help them define the words. Research shows that the best writers are familiar with a huge number of words, many descriptive but others such as nouns, verbs and academic words such as ‘evaluate’ or ‘apply’. We develop children’s acquisition of language in all subjects by a focus on vocabulary development across the curriculum.
Children are taught to use a simple cursive (joined) style as described in the National Curriculum for English. We are currently teaching the letter formations in the Nelson Handwriting scheme. In EYFS and KS1, the letters are written separately with a focus on size, spacing, letter formation and capitals where appropriate. In EYFS, children develop their use of a pencil through mark marking in play dough, sand etc.
Teachers model this handwriting in all their board work, written display work and in children’s books. Teachers teach correct pencil grip and posture for good handwriting, taking account of left-handed writers too. Children can be awarded a pen licence once the teacher feels they have reached a state of consistency in their joined writing. Where appropriate, use the joined-up font for writing on smart note-books and other resources. It is also beneficial for children to see adults writing too; use a cursive style when doing this.
- Spoken Language
The National Curriculum states ‘Pupils should be taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. They should learn to justify ideas with reasons; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others; and select the appropriate register for effective communication. They should be taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding through speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. This will enable them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing’. Teachers provide opportunities for pupils to talk, both formally and informally within the classroom across the whole curriculum. Each unit of English will have at least one lesson which is dedicated to speaking and listening. I
Pupils should be taught to:
- listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
- ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
- use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
- articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
- give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
- maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
- use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
- speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
- participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
- gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
- consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
- select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.