Subject Lead: Mrs Hadley
We aim to create fluent readers and writers with all the vital language skills they need for life. The children at Fairfield First School are immersed in high quality texts which inspire learning and act as effective writing models. We believe this has a significant impact on their vocabulary as well as the quality of their writing. We want all of our children to leave Fairfield First School with high standards of written and spoken literacy as well as a life-long reading habit and a love of literature.
Speaking and Listening
During Reception and Year 1, pupils learn to speak confidently and listen to what others have to say. The EYFS follow the ‘Teaching Children to Listen’ approach. Through effective teacher modelling, they are encouraged to use language to explore their own experiences and imaginary worlds.
As they progress through Key Stage 2, pupils learn to adapt and develop the way they speak to suit different situations. They are encouraged to develop their skills through class debates, performance poetry, class drama and school productions. Throughout the school, children have lots of opportunities to share ideas with learning/talking partners as well as being encouraged to participate in whole class discussions. At Fairfield, we believe in the motto, ’Great writing floats on a sea of talk’ and we utilise the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach. We believe oracy is essential for promoting high standards of literacy. Retelling stories and composing sentences orally enable children to become increasingly familiar and confident with grammatical structures. They can also experiment more freely with vocabulary choices before selecting the most effective words to create effect in their writing.
We encourage a love of reading amongst all of our pupils at Fairfield First School. Every day, we enjoy sharing stories, poems and non-fiction texts through a variety of activities. By making these sessions fun, the children are encouraged to read for pleasure as well as developing valuable learning skills. The children keep us informed about their favourite stories and authors so that our school library and class libraries are stocked with a wide range of popular books as well as children’s magazines and newspapers. Throughout the school, we are committed to developing the children’s vocabulary and actively encourage the children to be inquisitive about new words as well as incorporating them into their writing.
- In Reception, the children begin the process of reading by sharing books with an adult. In the early stages these books may not have words, as pupils are encouraged to develop comprehension skills through the use of picture and contextual clues. This also helps to develop their vocabulary and imagination. As the children are introduced to phonics, they begin to apply this knowledge by blending sounds in order to read simple words. They also begin to recognise ‘tricky words’. We use a variety of reading schemes linking in with the Letters and Sounds programme which we use to structure our phonics teaching at Fairfield. These books are colour banded to match phonics taught and to allow the children to progress at their own pace.
- In Year 1, the focus is still very much on reading through phonics. The children learn all the remaining letter combinations needed for decoding words (such as ‘ay’ as well as ‘ai’ taught in Reception). They also begin to learn that some letters can be pronounced in different ways such as ‘ow’ on owl or snow. The children’s progress is monitored closely to ensure that their phonic knowledge is secure. Pupils not on track to meet national standards are supported in small booster groups to help them catch up with their peers. The children regularly practise their word reading and comprehension skills through whole class reading, by reading to an adult in guided groups as well as individually to adults and peers.
- In Year 2, we give children regular opportunities to build their fluency by reading words automatically without overt sounding out. This is monitored individually to ensure that children are able to meet the national standard of 90 words per minute. Additional practice time is given to pupils as necessary. Comprehension skills are taught as whole class and guided group activities with shared text extracts. Most pupils progress rapidly through the colour banded book system. Children falling behind are identified quickly and interventions are put into place.
- By Year 3 and 4, the teaching of reading focuses more on comprehension and responding to texts. We have whole class guided sessions at least once a week when pupils can continue to practise their word reading skills, developing their use of expression. Children not attaining 90 words per minute fluency rate in Year 2 are identified for intervention. The children continue to have colour banded books available to take home although some of our Key Stage 2 pupils are ‘free readers’ and can choose from a wider range of books from the school or class library. All children have access to these books in our regular library sessions, where they get to choose a book to read at home and at school where they can share books that may be above their current personal word reading level.
Ensuring pupils are exposed to high quality texts is important because it provides children with opportunities to respond to literature; it gives students appreciation about their own cultural heritage as well as those of others; it helps students develop emotional intelligence and creativity; it nurtures growth and development of the student’s personality and social skills; and it transmits important literature and themes from one generation to the next. Quality texts are also used to inspire children to plan and write for different purposes and audiences that ensure a range of writing outcomes.
Writing and Grammar
At Fairfield, we are committed to using both the ‘Talk for Writing’ and ‘Reading into Writing’ approaches. We believe writing is closely related to reading and the two activities reinforce each other. By sharing high quality texts together, the children are able to identify techniques, vocabulary and language patterns used by authors and poets which can be applied to their own writing, creating an effect on their reader. As well as using texts to model writing, we also use ‘shared writing’ as a tool to demonstrate success. It is important to share the process of writing with our children by modelling these regularly and from early years. After discussing ideas, pupils get to watch their teachers and peers experiment with vocabulary choices, punctuation and sentence structure. Afterwards, they can apply these new skills with greater confidence in their own work. It is important that pupils learn to write independently of an early stage and as they develop, pupils are shown how to plan, draft, edit and improve, proofread and then publish their work.
The teaching of phonics, spelling and handwriting is an essential part of the writing process and is used to build up accuracy and speed. Children are taught to punctuate their writing correctly, using a range of different punctuation marks. We teach grammar and punctuation skills in line with the National Curriculum and to fit in with the style of writing covered in class. After reading texts which model appropriate sentence types and features of language, the children go on to write independently. We plan ‘sequences of learning’ where children have opportunities to learn and practise specific skills. These skills are then identified on the success criteria for extended pieces of writing.
At Fairfield, we believe that children should transfer their phonics, spelling, handwriting skills into all of their writing. In addition, the children are encouraged to maintain the highest possible standards by applying and embedding their knowledge of language and writing across all areas of the curriculum.
Handwriting and Presentation
It is important that children are able to write clearly and neatly when presenting their ideas. Correct letter formation is taught from the beginning in Reception, using a cursive script. Handwriting is taught regularly to enable our children to develop a fluent and legible style as well as practising their handwriting skills to ensure their work is presented in the best possible way to a high standard.
For further information please refer to the English, Presentation and Handwriting policies below.