At Finedon Schools we are passionate about English, as we believe it lies at the heart of the curriculum. Using quality texts, children are encouraged to develop a love of reading and writing, as well as learn the oracy skills they need to communicate effectively.
Reading is at the core of our curriculum as we strongly believe that reading opens many doors for our children. It helps to improve their language and vocabulary, stimulates their imagination and gives them the opportunity to gain new experiences. Reading for pleasure contributes to educational success and we focus on equipping our children with the necessary skills to become confident, independent readers who develop a lifelong love of reading.
At Finedon Schools we teach reading daily through whole class reading lessons which focus on four core strands which are developed both in combination with each other and individually:
- promoting the love of reading
- language development
- phonics and fluency
To see a copy of our reading strategy, which explains our approach in greater detail please click here.
Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps them hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language. It involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters.
Our teaching of reading is initially based on phonics. There is more to reading than this but there is a weight of evidence that systematic synthetic phonics, taught in the first years of a child’s education, gives children the key building blocks they need to understand words. This underpins children’s successful progress in reading and can inspire a lifetime love of books.
As they learn their phonics children apply their skills through reading books that they are able to decode. Children who learn using synthetic phonics are able to tackle new words working from sound alone.
The phonics scheme we use at Finedon is well recognised and called ‘Read, Write Inc’; it begins in the Foundation Stage and progresses into Key Stage One with a daily lesson. Where necessary, children continue with the programme into Key Stage Two.
We recognise the importance of supporting children to become fluent readers in order to focus on comprehension. This is because we know that when they are struggling to pronounce or decode words, they cannot give the necessary attention to understanding the text.
Once confidently able to decode text and read fluently the emphasis in reading lessons shifts to focusing on understanding the written text through a variety of comprehension strategies which focus on aspects such as:
- Retrieving information from the text
- Summarising what has been read
- Making inferences
- Predicting what might happen
- Sequencing events
- Analysing the language and vocabulary
At Finedon Schools, we teach writing through the Talk for Writing approach which stresses the importance of talk prior to writing. In addition, it allows explicit modelling, scaffolding, rehearsal and drama techniques to be used in teaching and includes writing for a range of purposes. This process enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own, independent version.
Storytelling and purpose for writing is key to our writing programme. Children are skilfully taught to think like a writer and to use tools that will create an effect on the reader.
We recognise the role that ‘talk’ plays in developing understanding of the written word, and the ‘Talk for Writing,’ model regularly gives children the opportunities to listen to and retell stories and non-fiction texts. Through retelling texts, using actions, or drama to help internalise patterns, children are able to first imitate, then innovate and invent their own version of a text; these stages of writing form the basis upon which all of our writing units are taught. Children are supported in their ability to innovate upon a known text through shared and guided writing, whilst the invention stage teaches children an author’s craft.
Staff set individual targets from a ‘have a go task’ which show precisely what children are already able to achieve; when combined with effective feedback marking, these targets directly involve pupils in their continued progress whilst informing future planning for individuals and groups. Children are encouraged to reflect on their own learning, and the learning of their peers, and to edit and improve their writing as a direct result.
An independent task at the end of a unit of writing allows children to demonstrate all that they have learned, both with regards to their targets and beyond, whilst ‘short burst’ writing offers children the opportunity to revisit previous text-types.
Pre-cursive handwriting is taught in reception, leading to a fully cursive style. This enables the children to communicate in writing clearly and effectively.
Grammar and spelling are integrated into our teaching of writing as well as through discrete lessons.
Oracy is the ability to communicate effectively, speaking clearly and grammatically correctly. We aim for our classrooms to be rich in talk, in which questions are planned, peer conversations are modelled and scaffolded and teachers use talk to develop thinking.