At Whitmore Park, our aim is to increase children’s confidence, enjoyment, and ability in reading, writing and communication. We believe that pupils in our school should become confident readers, speakers, listeners and writers through a broad and balanced curriculum appropriate to their needs. We ensure that we provide all children with depth, breadth and ambition in their learning-ensuring that our curriculum is well sequenced and building on knowledge and skills gained as children progress through school. We promote a love of reading and writing whereby children want to read and write independently with enjoyment. We strive for our children to develop a passion for English to aid them in later life and to enable them to become lifelong learners.
Key Drivers in Reading
We believe that reading is the most essential skill our pupils will develop during their time at our school. Because of the value we place on this, reading underpins the broad curriculum we offer at Whitmore Park. We have created an atmosphere that promotes a love of reading through exposing pupils to a variety of rich texts and experiences. For this reason, we have adopted a combined approach to teaching Reading and Writing to ensure there is a breath of texts exposed to the pupils from a young age and key progression within the texts as children move through the school.
Our daily English lesson entail of 2 combined sessions of Reading and Writing. During the 1 hour and 40 minutes of English, teaching is based around a high quality text that will allow the children to practise becoming active readers by learning the skills of predicting what will happen next in a story; activating prior knowledge and using their background knowledge; being able to visualise the story in their head; summarising the main points in a story; making links to other stories and other reading they have done; retrieve details from what they have read; use deduction skills to be able to infer; work out the meaning of unknown words and vocabulary; discussing author’s language and word choice and using these skills to show overall understanding of what they have read. Focussing on objectives set out in the National Curriculum, by the end of the pupil’s time at Whitmore Park, they will be able to:
- maintain positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read by:
- Continuing to read and discuss an increasingly wide range of fiction, poetry, plays, non-fiction and reference books or textbooks
- Reading books that are structured in different ways and reading for a range of purposes
- Increasing their familiarity with a wide range of books, including myths, legends and traditional stories, modern fiction, fiction from our literary heritage, and books from other cultures and traditions
- Recommending books that they have read to their peers, giving reasons for their choices
- Identifying and discussing themes and conventions in and across a wide range of writing
- Making comparisons within and across books
- Learning a wider range of poetry by heart
- Preparing poems and plays to read aloud and to perform, showing understanding through intonation, tone and volume so that the meaning is clear to an audience
- Understand what they read by:
- Checking that the book makes sense to them, discussing their understanding and exploring the meaning of words in context
- Asking questions to improve their understanding
- Drawing inferences such as inferring characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions, and justifying inferences with evidence
- Predicting what might happen from details stated and implied
- Summarising the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph, identifying key details that support the main ideas
- Identifying how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning
- Discuss and evaluate how authors use language, including figurative language, considering the impact on the reader
- Distinguish between statements of fact and opinion
- Retrieve, record and present information from non-fiction
- Participate in discussions about books that are read to them and those they can read for themselves, building on their own and others’ ideas and challenging views courteously
- Explain and discuss their understanding of what they have read, including through formal presentations and debates, maintaining a focus on the topic and using notes where necessary
- Provide reasoned justifications for their views
We encourage children to regard themselves as readers for life, not only to read for information but also for pleasure and enjoyment. We recognise the importance of using systematic synthetic phonics to give early readers the key building blocks they need to understand and read words. We have chosen to follow the Read Write Inc. programme with some adaptations to meet the needs of the children. This is due to having success within the programme for the majority of our children and having highly skilled teachers and teaching assistants to deliver the lessons. Children received a daily session of RWI which is taught through whole class, small and targeted groups.
Our approach to teaching Early Reading is to start from developing listening and attention skills from Nursery and progressing this into sound recognition and then into comprehension skills based on the stories that have been read.
Our Early Reading curriculum is designed to meet the aims of the Early Years Statutory Framework:
- Children listen attentively in a range of situations
- Children listen to and respond appropriately to what they hear with relevant comments
- Children answer how and why questions about stories
- Children read and understand simple sentences
- Children use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read then aloud accurately.
- Children read some irregular words
- Children demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read
Our Early Reading curriculum is designed to meet the aims of the National Curriculum:
- Apply phonic knowledge and skills as the route to decode words
- Respond speedily with the correct sound to graphemes (letters or groups of letters) for all 40+ phonemes, including, where applicable, alternative sounds for graphemes
- Read accurately by blending sounds in unfamiliar words containing GPCs that have been taught
- Read common exception words, noting unusual correspondences between spelling and sound and where these occur in the word
- Read words containing taught GPCs and –s, –es, –ing, –ed, –er and –est endings
- Read other words of more than one syllable that contain taught GPCs
- Read words with contractions [for example, I’m, I’ll, we’ll], and understand that the apostrophe represents the omitted letter(s)
- Read aloud accurately books that are consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and that do not require them to use other strategies to work out words
- Re-read these books to build up their fluency and confidence in word reading
- Develop pleasure in reading, motivation to read, vocabulary and understanding
- Understand both the books they can already read accurately and fluently and those they listen to
- Participate in discussion about what is read to them, taking turns and listening to what others say
- Explain clearly their understanding of what is read to them
- Participate in discussion about books, poems and other works that are read to them and those that they can read for themselves, taking turns and listening to what others say
- Explain and discuss their understanding of books, poems and other material, both those that they listen to and those that they read for themselves
Expectations for Pupils Working at the Expected Standard
Promoting the Love of Reading
A love of books and reading is modelled and encouraged throughout school. There are a range of books on display in classrooms that enable us to foster an interest in books and reading too. We also take part in key events such as World Book Day and National Poetry Day. Children are encouraged to select a class library book each week as well as take home a home reading book. Home reading books are carefully selected to match pupils’ abilities, allowing pupils to practise new learning and become confident, fluent readers. Our home reading scheme consists of a range of texts including traditional stories, phonic based books and non-fiction books.
We have a daily story time session at the end of each day where teachers model the love of reading through carefully chosen books to engage and enthuse the children. In addition to this, we are part of a project called ‘Own Books’. This is a child-centred project aiming to give away many free books to children of all backgrounds and ages, without any discrimination. We believe passionately in children having books at home, sharing and enjoying them with their siblings and families.
Key Drivers of Writing
In our school we want to enable our pupils to write with confidence, coherence and accuracy for a variety of purposes and audiences. We aim for all children to enjoy and recognise the value of writing. We want our children to be able to write with grammatical accuracy and be able to apply spelling patterns correctly whilst using a neat handwriting style.
Through a combined approach to Reading and Writing, our Writing curriculum has been built on a clear progression of skills to ensure children’s writing develops as they progress through school. Children are exposed to a breadth of rich texts and where appropriate links are made with the wider community and their learning across the curriculum e.g. writing an explanation text for a concept they have studied in Science.
Children are encouraged to be independent writers from a young age and draw upon their personal and reading experiences within their writing. Writing at Whitmore Park promotes children to view themselves as an author by critically engaging and discussing texts. Our main principal of Writing is to ensure we promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
For KS1 and KS2, we have a long-term map for books and writing genres. Alongside this, we have devised a writing structure for teaching a unit of work. Both documents are at the heart of our writing curriculum and set out what is expected to be taught and how. These two documents allow for breadth of texts, progression of skills and consistency of teaching. During our writing lessons, teaching is based around a high-quality reading text and a writing genre from the long-term map. Lessons are clearly structured to allow children to develop essential knowledge and skills. Children are taught specific skills to create a piece of writing over a unit of work. Children are also given the opportunity to apply their writing skills independently by completing short burst writes. For us at Whitmore Park, effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas and then organising them coherently for the reader. The writing structure in place allows teachers to guide children through a clear writing process and children are given the opportunity to learn skills, apply these skills, generate ideas, plan, draft, edit and publish their writing.
Our Writing curriculum is designed to meet the aims required by the National Curriculum:
- Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
Our Writing curriculum is also designed to meet the programmes of study for writing at Key Stages 1 and 2 from the National Curriculum:
- Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- At Whitmore Park, children are taught discrete spelling lessons which follow the statutory appendices from the National Curriculum and handwriting is taught daily based on a handwriting model we have adapted for our school.
- Composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing)
- At Whitmore Park, children are encouraged to articulate ideas from a young age and teacher’s model high standards of articulation within all lessons across the curriculum to develop children’s skills. In English lessons, children study a variety of compositions and unpick them to develop their understanding and structure what they have learnt to apply to their speech and writing.
Spelling and Grammar
Key Drivers in Spelling
Key Drivers in Grammar
At Whitmore Park, children are taught spellings following the rules and words contained in the appendices from the National Curriculum. Teachers provide a range of activities which build on children quickly and accurately knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. Where appropriate, spellings are used to enhance pupils’ vocabulary which arise naturally from their reading and writing. As vocabulary and the understanding of spellings develop, teachers show pupils how to understand the relationships between words, how to understand nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of unknown words through applying spelling rules they are familiar with. We also teach pupils how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than 1 meaning through application of word knowledge learnt through spellings. In KS1 and KS2, a spelling rule is taught and tested on a weekly basis.
Grammar is also taught following the rules contained in the appendices from the National Curriculum and it is linked to writing genres and outcomes being studied so that children are given the opportunity to see the grammatical rules in use. We believe it is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching across the curriculum so that children have a secure understanding of the concepts and terminology used.
At Whitmore Park, children are taught to use the elements of spelling and grammar so that they can speak and write consciously and be able to use Standard English as members of our society.
We recognise the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum. For children to become fluent, creative and confident individuals, they are encouraged to express their ideas through speaking and listening opportunities. Pupils are provided with opportunities to develop speaking and listening skills across the curriculum. For children to become fluent, creative and confident individuals, they are encouraged to express their ideas on a daily basis. All children are encouraged to speak clearly and convey their ideas using Standard English. Pupils are involved in class and group discussions, assemblies, circle times and drama activities. Drama techniques are explored to enhance children’s spoken language, presentation skills and to use a stimuli pre or post-writing. Across every area of the curriculum pupils’ vocabulary is developed and widened. These lively, interactive learning exchanges provide all children with the tools and knowledge necessary to become successful writers.
Through our high-quality teaching of English, we aspire for all children to reach age related expectations or above by the end of each year group.
In each lesson, teachers assess pupils understanding through marking and feedback and verbal communication. Teachers then assess if pupils have met the lesson objective and success criteria and then act appropriately through small group catch up, 1:1 support or an additional lesson on a skill.
Assessment of children’s learning in English is a triangulation of ongoing monitoring which consists of book looks, learning walks and pupil voice surveys. This information is used to inform, differentiate and support planning to ensure pupils understanding, knowledge and skills are taught effectively. Summative assessment is also used as a way to track progress and inform next steps of learning. These assessments take place termly using the NTS and PIRA test papers. In additional to this, we use an online analysis tool (MARK) to inform next steps in the teaching sequence and interventions that need to take place.