We want our children to have a thorough understanding of how the English language works. This should enable them to have ownership of their own written work. We want to create children who are enthusiastic, lively writers with an innate desire to read for pleasure.
The New National English Curriculum states;
“A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.”
The English Curriculum Programme of Study is divided into four main areas;
- Spoken language
- Spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and glossary
Current Practice at Sinai School
The aim is for all children at Sinai to be confident and enthusiastic speakers, readers and writers. Therefore, we provide a broad range of daily activities for children to practise these skills. Children will experience a variety of genres that stimulate them to write creatively. Motivational lessons will be delivered by teachers with excellent subject knowledge ensuring children achieve their full potential. The children are encouraged to ‘magpie’ words from a range of texts, thus improving the quality of language in written work.
In the EYFS the children are introduced to Phonics, starting with Environmental Sounds in the Nursery and working systematically through a six-phase Synthetic Phonics Programme. The programme stretches from our nursery into KS1 and beyond, supporting the children to become fluent readers. It teaches the children the link between graphemes (letters) in written language and phonemes (sounds) in spoken language. By linking graphemes and sounds it aids children to begin to read and write words.
At Sinai the children have a daily phonics session, in which they are taught new letters and sounds, as well as recapping their previous learning. The classroom is set up to provide the children with independent learning opportunities, which are varied, fun and engaging. This encourages the children to work independently to put their newly acquired learning into practice. During a two week period, the children will work either 1:1 or in small groups with the class teacher to practice both reading and writing.
KS1 & KS2
We teach English through a whole school approach, focusing on a key text each half term per year group. We begin each topic by immersing our children in a high-quality text looking at the text type and its features. From this, the children are encouraged to look at the key language and structure that has been used.
Teachers model their own version of this text type using a planning template which the children then replicate, helping them to guide their thought process. As a class, children are encouraged to share their ideas and create a class model using the features and language devices discussed previously in the week.
At Sinai, we have high expectations of the children’s presentation and handwriting. From Year 1 onwards, the children’s English books include handwriting lines so that children can ensure their letters are formed correctly and are the right size in relation to each other. Teachers consistently model excellent, joined handwriting using flipcharts and display this on a regular basis in the classrooms. A handwriting lesson is taught weekly throughout the school. Pen licences are awarded to children in Year 4 when they are able to write legibly and using consistent joins.
As a school, we teach weekly SPaG (spelling, punctuation & grammar) lessons focusing on a different skill each week in great depth. We believe this benefits the children’s writing and better understanding of how a sentence is structured.
At Sinai, we nurture children’s enjoyment of reading, as well as a strong focus on fluency and comprehension. The phonics programme of study progresses throughout the school, from Early Years upwards. This begins as soon as each individual child is ready. We use the Collins Big Cat books, which follow the letters and sounds that the children are learning in their phonics lessons. Other reading schemes are also used including Oxford Reading Tree and Floppy Phonics to supplement the children’s books. Guided Reading lessons take place daily throughout the school, each day focuses on a different VIPERS skill.
- Explain/Effect on the reader
Weekly comprehension lessons follow the same format. Each year group looks at a specific text and links this to one specific VIPERS. We believe that it is important for the children to have well developed comprehension skills as well as becoming fluent readers.
How to help your child
Reading and Phonics
There are lots of ways that you can help your child at home, try and read with them daily for at least five to ten minutes. Before reading a book you could talk about the title, look at the cover and predict what you might find inside. After reading each page you could summarise what you have read so far and then discuss what might happen next. You may wish to use the VIPERS question starters and reading questions (find link below) to help ensure your child is comprehending what they are reading. Please allow time for discussion about the book and events that have happened.
Whilst your child is in EYFS/ KS1 they will be learning phonics. Encourage them to sound out whilst they are reading and help them to break up longer words. You could ask them what sounds they have been learning in school and see if they can find them in their book. You may wish to practise key sounds using flash cards and ask your child to find graphemes (letters) that make the same sound but are written differently.
Please practise weekly spellings regularly with your children and support your child to put their spellings in context to help them write their own sentences. Your child may use the look, cover, say, write, check method as well as the use of games such as hiding their words in a picture or writing their words in alphabetical order. You may wish to challenge your child to see how many times they can write their word in a minute and if they can put it in a sentence.
http://www.primarysupportteam.co.uk/files/key_reading_questions_2016.pdf – Key Reading Questions.
https://my.uso.im/ – A variety of games and stories.
http://www.letters-and-sounds.com – Phonics games and phonics information.
https://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com – A game to learn letter sounds and practise blending.
https://www.topmarks.co.uk/english-games/5-7-years/letters-and-sounds – Phonics, spelling and reading games.