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English

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. 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: 

  • Phonics  
  • Reading  
  • Writing Composition 
  • Spelling 
  • Handwriting 
  • Spoken language 

These skills are needed in all subjects. English skills should be seen as a “toolkit” that can be used in all lessons. 

For further information about the EYFS Early Learning Goals, please click here (page 13). For Years 1-6, please see the English National Curriculum. 

Reading

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.

Our intent is for our pupils to be motivated, enthusiastic readers who have the required skills to read a range of texts fluently, with good understanding. We aim to foster a life-long love of reading that will stay with the children into adult life.

Phonics

Phonics lessons are taught daily across FS and Years 1 and 2. 

In FS, phonics is taught in two 15 minutes sessions. The morning session focusses solely on recognising phonemes and reading phonetically decodable and tricky words. The afternoon session focusses on segmenting and blending words to spell. In Years 1 and 2, phonics is taught in a single 20 minute session, with opportunities to read, write and practise learnt skills. 

In FS, children learn phase 2 and 3 phonemes and tricky words, before moving onto phase 4.  In Year 1, children recap phase 3 and 4, before learning phase 5 phonemes and tricky words. This includes alternate pronunciation e.g. the two different sounds the ‘ow’ digraph can make.  In Year 2, children recap phase 5 and learn phase 6. This includes learning spelling patterns, prefixes and suffixes and homophones.  

Phonic Phases

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 = spelling, grammar and punctuation based

Key Terminology  

  • Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word e.g. s, a, t.. Phonemes may be written with more than one letter e.g. day. They are represented by graphemes in writing.   
  • Grapheme: The letter or letters that are used to write a phoneme. For example, s, ai or igh.  
  • Digraph: A grapheme made up of two letters that make one phoneme (sound). where two letters represent one phoneme or sound. For example, ar, ea, er, oi, ch, th.  
  • Trigraph: A three letter grapheme where three letters represent one phoneme or sound eg air, igh, ear. 
  • Split digraph: A digraph that is split by a consonant (e.g a-e in make). A split digraph usually changes the sound of the first vowel. For example, compare the pronunciation between hug and huge.  
  • Blending: Blending involves merging the sounds in a word together in order to read it. For example, j-a-m blended together makes the word jam.   
  • Segmenting: Segmenting involves breaking up a word so that you can hear each individual sound. This helps with spelling or reading. For example, the word jam is segmented into j-a-m or the work ship is segmented into sh-i-p. 
  • CVC word- An abbreviation for constant- vowel- consonant. This is a way of indicating the order of graphemes in words. For example, it (VC word), cat (CVC word), nest (CVCC word). 
  • Tricky words: Words that are commonly used in English, but they have complex spelling patterns which make them difficult to read and write. For example: said, of and was. 
  • Vowel: The letters a, e, i, o and u. 
  • Vowel digraph: A digraph that is made up of two vowels (ea in sea). 
  • Consonant: The letters of the alphabet (apart from the vowels a, e, i, o and u). 
  • Consonant digraph: A digraph that is made up of two consonants (sh in shop). 
  • Adjencent consonant: Two or three consonants next to each other that represent different sounds. For example, bl in black. Notice here that bl makes the two different sounds b and l, whereas ck makes the single sound ck. 

Statutory Assessment 

At the end of year 1, all children must complete the phonics screening check. This is normally completed at the start of June. It is a way for teachers to ensure that children are making sufficient progress with their phonics skills to read words and that they are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning. The screening is made up of 40 words to check how well they can apply the phonics skills they have acquired in reception and year 1. There are 20 real words and 20 pseudo words. The pseudo words are included to check they can apply their phonics knowledge to decode unfamiliar words, not just recognise words they have read before.  

Regular checks are carried out throughout reception and year 1 to check whether children are on track to pass. If a child does not pass in year 1, they will have extra phonics sessions throughout year 2 and retake the test the following year. 

Phonics in KS2 

If a child does not pass the phonics screening at the end of year 2, or they need additional provision to improve their decoding skills, they will have weekly phonics interventions in lower KS2. This will recap the skills they have learnt so far and give them extra opportunities to practice their phonics and reading. Children do not take another phonics screening test in year 3, but it will be used as an assessment tool.  

How to help at home 

It is important that the children read their reading books, but there are other engaging ways to help them with their phonics. You could: 

  • Stick post it notes with phonemes or tricky words  around your home and they have to read and high five them as they walk past.  
  • Go on a word hunt. Stick VC/CVC/CVCC words around your home/garden and give them a word to find.

Reading Comprehension

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 resources such as Bug Club  (which pupils can use at home), through which children can access a wide variety of texts online.

How to help at home

We appreciate the vital role parents and guardians play in developing children’s reading. Reading is part of each child’s home learning, therefore, parents and carers are expected to assist with this. Each child has a reading record in which reading at home should be recorded and teachers monitor this regularly.

For more information on strategies for supporting reading at home, please click the appropriate link below:

Lower School - Reception & KS1
Upper School - KS2

Book Banding 

Initially in FS and KS1, 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 colour banded books that develop their fluency and comprehension skills.

In KS2, children are introduced to Accelerated Reader. Every half-term children complete a short online reading assessment called STAR Reader. This gives children their ZPD range - a range of books that offer challenge without causing frustration for children. Children will read books in school within their range, and are taught how to chose reading books. Once they have finished reading their book, children will complete quiz on their book on the Accelerated Reader website. To check the book level of a book, please search for the title here.

More information on Accelerated Reader can be found here.

 

Writing

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth

Writing composition

Our intent is for our pupils to become keen, confident, fluent writers who will have the required skills to write successfully in a range of genres, for a variety of purposes. In addition to this, they will have the ability to use a wide range of vocabulary to suit their purpose and audience. The children will be able to apply these skills across the curriculum as well as real life situations, preparing them for adult life. 

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. 

Terminology

Children are taught the correct terms for grammar, punctuation and vocabulary in English lessons. This will help them become better writers and prepares them for the next stage in their education. Each year, children are taught specific grammar, punctuation and vocabulary skills.  

You can find explanations of the taught terminology here 

Year Group Expectations 

We have high expectations of our children as writers and follow the National Curriculum and our own progression of skills so that children continuously build upon their writing skills. Click on the year groups below to find out more.  

Year 1 and Year 1 grammar and punctuation 

Year 2 and Year 2 grammar and punctuation 

Year 3 and Year 3 grammar and punctuation  

Year 4 and Year 4 grammar and punctuation  

Year 5 and Year 5 grammar and punctuation 

Year 6 and Year 6  grammar and punctuation 

How to help at home 

  • Encourage children to write about what they want and for pleasure. This could be by keeping a diary, writing a story or character descriptions, designing a comic strip, going outside to write about nature using the 5 senses or writing short poetry.  
  • Talk about word choice when reading or listening to others and how it makes you think or feel.

Spelling

Spelling in FS and KS1 is taught through phonics lessons. In KS2, children have a weekly spelling lesson at the start of the week. Children will have daily opportunities to practise the spelling of these words and the rules, in a number of ways. At the end of the week, children in in Years 1-6 will have a short dictation exercise where some of the words set for the week are tested.  

We follow the statutory guidance from the National Curriculum. Common exception words (Year 1 and Year 2) and statutory word lists (Years 3&4 and Years 5&6) have been embedded within our school progression of skills so children are taught to read, understand and spell more challenging words.  

How to help at home 

  • Support your children learning their weekly spellings, putting them into sentences and a context. 
  • Emphasis the transferrable skill (the rule, the sound and so on) so children are learning this rather than the words.
  • On average, the English language takes children three times as long to learn than other languages, so please speak to your child’s teacher about further support.  

Handwriting

A clear, legible style of writing helps communicate ideas without misunderstanding. We aim to enable pupils to write legibly, fluently and at an appropriate speed.  

In FS children are taught how to develop their pencil grip and start to form lower-case and upper-case letters, as well as digits. From year 1 until year 5, children have discrete handwriting lessons. When children are in year 2, they learn how to join some letters and this continues into year 3 and year 4 where children are also taught the letters that are best not to join. When children are in year 5 and 6, they are taught how to choose the presentation of their handwriting depending on the purpose, such as the difference in note taking and redrafting their work for display.  

We group letters based on their formation to help children build their muscle memory: 

  • Set 1 - Down and off in another direction: l i t j u y  
  • Set 2 - Down and retrace upwards: m n r b p h k  
  • Set 3 - Anti-clockwise and round: c a d o q g e f s 
  • Set 4 - Zig-zag letters: v w x z 

Children are not taught entry strokes, but from year 2, they will be taught exit strokes as they start to join more letters. Children will write in pencil in FS and KS1, and from year 3 children will write in pen. For more information on letter formation and joins, click here

How to help at home 

  • Make writing fun! Encourage children to draw, colour, create a scrapbook, keep a diary or a fact-file on their interested.  
  • Praise children for writing – the more children write, the more their muscle memory will develop. 
  • For younger children, use a tray covered in flour and get them to form letters using their finger, or get them or use washable crayons to write outside.  
  • Encourage children to use the tripod grip  and to sit down at a table.
  • Children can find it helpful to practice on traditional handwriting paper, but also encourage them to practice on standard lined paper as they will be writing on lined paper more often.  

 

Spoken Language

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. Our intent of for our pupils to be able to communicate clearly by speaking confidently and appropriately in a range of different situations and for different audiences. These skills will be transferrable into their written work where the understanding of vocabulary and grammar is imperative.

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.