At Wickford Primary School, our aim is for children to become confident, skilled communicators by providing rich teaching and learning opportunities that are both appropriately challenging and engaging. To achieve this, the children complete daily reading (KS2) or phonics (KS1) and writing lessons as well as applying English skills to other areas of learning. We view the teaching of English as a fundamental part of the complete growth of the pupil, providing key skills to benefit pupils throughout their education and beyond as well as encouraging positive behaviours and attitudes towards learning as a whole.
The key areas of teaching and learning for English are:
- Early reading
- Reading comprehension
- Writing composition
- Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
- Spoken language
These skills are needed in all subjects. English skills should be seen as a “toolkit” that can be used in all lessons.
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” – Walt Disney
The ability to read is an essential skill for all aspects of learning. Our school has a strong reading culture, where we aim to foster a lifelong love of reading for pleasure, ensuring that reading is valued, rewarded and celebrated.
Children begin to develop their reading skills by learning the sound that each letter makes within a word. As the children develop their ability to recognise the sounds within the words, they learn to blend the sounds together to read the word. Eventually the children become fluent readers and progress onto longer, more complex texts. This process is taught through daily phonic lessons.
For more information on Early Reading, click here.
Daily phonic sessions are completed throughout lower school, following the Phonics Play scheme of work, based upon Letters and Sounds
Phase 1 = identifying different sounds around them, body percussion (e.g. clapping and stamping) and rhythm/ rhyme.
Phase 2 = learn 19 most common single letter sounds and some double letter digraphs sounds e.g. ‘ss’
Phase 3 = learn 25 other digraphs and trigraphs
Phase 4 = lots of blending and segmenting practice with the graphemes that have already been taught
Phase 5 = learn alternative spellings for phase 3 graphemes
Phase 6 = grammar and punctuation based. The children will also develop their dictionary skills.
For a description of the phonic terminology, please click here.
Comprehension is a skill that will transfer to many areas of learning and development. Comprehension of a text involves understanding the words and grammar as well as being able to apply it to their knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussions with others and reading a wide range of appropriate texts. We recognise that in the future, pupils will be accessing more and more texts using information technology tools and use these within our lessons. This includes the use of our computer-based reading resource Bug Club (which pupils can use at home), through which children can access a wide variety of texts online.
Reading for Fluency
Reading a text to fluency has been proven to have a large impact on a pupil’s progress in multiple areas of learning. The best readers read a lot and are fluent. They are fluent because they practise. “When children are fluent, they are no longer learning to read, they are reading to learn.” When you are a fluent reader, it frees up your brain to think about what you are reading (comprehension) as little effort needs to go into decoding. We encourage and rehearse the skill of reading to fluency regularly in school in order to encourage the children to continue this at home and I other subject areas.
We appreciate the vital role parents and guardians play in developing children’s reading. Reading is part of each child’s homework, therefore, parents are expected to assist with this. Each child has a reading journal in which reading at home should be recorded and teachers monitor this regularly. Parents are encouraged to discuss any concerns about their child’s reading with the class teacher.
For more information on strategies for supporting reading at home, please click the appropriate key stage link below:
Initially, all children will work through colour banded, phonetically decodable books which will be set by the class teacher, at an appropriate level for the child’s reading ability. When children have progressed through their phonetically decodable, banded books they will move to books that develop their fluency and comprehension skills. Once they are fluent readers, they are taught strategies for choosing books at the right level e.g. they are able to access them independently but also be challenged by them.
“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ” – Joss Whedon
It is important for our children to develop the skills that will enable them to write with confidence, fluency and understanding. We aim to do this by enabling the children to experience writing in a range of contexts. We consider making writing as engaged as possible, relevant to children and, wherever possible, real-life contexts are used. Opportunities to publish finished writing are given to value the children’s efforts.
We recognise the link between saying ideas aloud and structuring them in writing. Planning, revising and evaluating are all important parts of composition. During English writing lessons, our children are taught skills in the following areas:
Sentence structure, punctuation, Organisation of text, including links within and between paragraphs and vocabulary choices. This, in turn, …
As a school, we provide an environment in which children are able to become confident and competent spellers. This is not only through specific spelling tasks and tests, but also in writing compositions and throughout the curriculum. Spelling is a work in progress - children cannot be expected to spell all the words they wish to use correctly – and life skills for learning and checking spellings are therefore taught and modelled by teachers. We feel that it is important for children to develop a positive and confident attitude to spelling, have a secure understanding of phonics and develop a range of strategies that they can apply in order to be successful spellers.
Spelling is based on the National Curriculum (2014) statutory appendices outlining spelling patterns and rules and word lists to teach. For more information, please click here.
“I don’t have bad handwriting, I’m just using my own font.” - Anonymous
Handwriting remains the most personal means of communication. A clear, legible style of writing helps communicate ideas without misunderstanding. Judgements are often made based on the appearance of a text before it is even read, therefore, we aim to enable pupils to write in a cursive style in order for them to write legibly, fluently and at an appropriate speed. As they are closely linked, handwriting is often taught alongside spelling. Although pupils should develop individual handwriting styles, children best develop their handwriting if it is taught within a structured approach. Handwriting is therefore explicitly taught by the teacher modelling specific letters, joins and words on the board so children have a secure understanding of how letters and words are formed.
For more information on our handwriting policy, please click here.
For an example of our school letter formation expectations, please click here.
Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation (VGP)
We aim for our pupils to be able to understand and use a wide range of vocabulary appropriately based on audience, purpose and context. They are also expected to use standard English correctly and be prepared for using all VGP skills in real-life situations. Teaching of VGP is based on the National Curriculum non-statutory glossary and additional guidelines. For more information on this, please click here.
What makes a good writer?
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth
For more information on what makes a good writer, please click on one of the options below:
What makes writing good in EYFS
What makes writing good in Year 1
What makes writing good in Year 2
What makes writing good in Year 3
What makes writing good in Year 4
What makes writing good in Year 5
What makes writing good in Year 6
We acknowledge that speaking skills underpin communication and learning, therefore, we place a very high value on them. In essence, the best speakers make the best readers and writers. We aim for our children to speak confidently, audibly, fluently and appropriately in a range of situations and for different audiences. We expect them to listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers, asking relevant questions and justifying answers or opinions. In addition to this, we encourage children to give well-structured descriptions and explanations in addition to participating in discussions, performances and debates.
Pupils with SEND
For information on how we support pupils with additional needs, please click here