Our reading curriculum at St. Leonard’ Church of England Primary School, nurtures a life-long love of reading in all our pupils. Word reading and comprehension is integral to develop a pupil’s curiosity and fascination of the diverse world around them. Reading is at the heart of the whole school curriculum. We will ensure that by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence. Creating a love of reading enables pupils to experience the wide-ranging world around them. It will provoke thoughts and opinions about their ever-changing world. They will become independent, resilient, ambitious, curious citizens being able to speak, read and write about their experiences of life.
In Reception and Year 1, reading is taught through the programme which adopts a synthetic approach to teaching phonics. Synthetic phonics is simply the ability to convert a letter or letter group into sounds that are then blended together into a word. We group pupils homogeneously, according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This is because it is known that pupils’ progress in writing will lag behind progress in reading, especially for those whose motor skills are less well developed.
In Year R we emphasise the alphabetic code. The pupils rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Pupils have frequent practise in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – ‘tricky words’.
We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the ‘tricky words’. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.
From Years 2 – 6, children use Accelerated Reader to make progress with their reading. We ensure that children are reading within the correct reading range and are regularly changing their book. After reading a book, children quiz on the book before they change it. This ensures that comprehension skills are developed and identifies any areas of weakness for individual children. Children in Year 2 – 6 also have a daily guided reading lesson using the Reading Explorers scheme of work. The children focus on one particular text for the week and develop inference and retrieval skills. They also make predictions and offer opinions about texts they have read.
An important part of the school day in the class novel time. This is timetabled into every year group daily. Class novels are decided with subject leaders and class teachers to ensure we read a range of diverse texts including classics and modern novels. This is a time for children to enjoy listen to stories and for teachers to model expression and fluency in reading.
At St Leonards, we believe that to write well children need to know words and have experiences to write about which is why we have developed an exciting and engaging English curriculum with talk at the heart of it. As Pie Corbett states, ‘If you can’t say it, you can’t write it.’ We strive to help our children develop into articulate and imaginative communicators, who are well-equipped with the basic skills they need to become lifelong learners. We inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening (oracy) and to use discussion to communicate and further their learning in all areas of the curriculum. We ensure that children develop an understanding of how widely writing is used in everyday life and, therefore, how important and useful the skills are that they are learning. Our intentions in writing are for children to write for a purpose, see themselves as real writers, take ownership of their writing, see writing as an interesting and enjoyable process and to acquire the ability to organise and plan their written work. Writing is a crucial part of our whole curriculum at St Leonard’s. We intend for all our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively through the written word. We aim to enable pupils to be able to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling. We set high expectations for all our children to take pride in their work and have a fluent, joined handwriting style alongside allowing their imaginations to flourish.
‘Writing floats on a sea of talk.’
The children are taught English using Pie Corbett's Talk for Writing approach. Each unit follows the same structure - Imitation, Innovation, Invention and Independent application. The children begin by tuning into a text type and orally rehearsing a model text, playing a variety of warm up games and participating in short burst writing activities. For fictions units, a variety of diverse and inspiring texts are chosen and the children identify what type of story pattern it follows such as wishing stories, warning stories or defeating the monster story. They read and develop their understanding of a text through book talk, role play and a variety of reading activities. Each unit has a ‘toolkit’ focus which teaches the children the grammar skills required to be successful writers.
For non-fiction units, they explore the text type and the structure and features of those text types (persuasion/instruction/explanation).
Once the model text has been internalised the children 'box it up' in order to learn the structure of different text types. This helps them with the next step which is to innovate their own story based on the model text. Finally, the children invent their own piece of writing based on the text type they have learnt.
The children are also taught poetry throughout the year. To promote oracy we hold an annual ‘Off by heart’ poetry competition where children perform poems off by heart to an audience.