At Elvetham Heath Primary School, we believe that English is a vital part of the school curriculum with reading at its core. It supports the development of all curriculum areas and ensures the growth of essential learning skills for the future. English encompasses the areas of: reading, writing, speaking and listening. We ensure that all our pupils develop a secure understanding of all forms of oral and written literacy to effectively communicate with others. The sections below summarise the approaches we take in all the areas of English.
Speaking and Listening
At Elvetham Heath, our aim is to create articulate, confident speakers who are able to express themselves and discuss their opinions clearly, as well as listening effectively to others.
There are different aspects of Speaking and Listening; speaking, listening, discussion and drama. All these strands are intrinsic to the development of English and are used in an engaging way to improve the standard of our children’s literacy skills. Strands of Speaking and Listening are planned and taught within discrete English lessons and also within other curriculum lessons and activities, such as class or year group presentations.
At Elvetham Heath, our aim is for our children to develop a life-long love of reading and an understanding that it enables them to access the world around them.
Phonics plays an important role in the development of early reading. In Early Years and Key Stage One, we use a scheme called, ‘Letters and Sounds’ to develop phonic knowledge. To enhance this further, we use a range of songs, actions and activities to engage the children in multi-sensory learning. Phonics is taught in a variety of ways to meet the individual requirements of each child. This includes whole class or group teaching as well as focused interventions. Children undertake a Phonics Screening Check in Year One to ensure they are secure in Phase 5. Phonics continues to be taught in all years through reading and spelling activities.
Guided Reading takes place in all classrooms on a regular basis. Sometimes, these lessons are discrete and other times they link to the writing skills being taught in English sessions. All English units have rich texts as a stimulus so Guided Reading and writing often support one another. A range of texts are looked at throughout the year; some texts are taught whole class; other texts are ability specific, especially when children are at the earlier stages of reading. Particular emphasis is placed on the understanding and comprehension of a text during each session.
When children start at Elvetham their reading materials are selected from a wide variety of books that are grouped into ability bands. These books cover a wide range of fiction and non-fiction subjects. As their reading skills develop, children move up the bands within this organisation before moving onto carefully selected texts from the library and finally free choice in selecting their own books.
Whole Class Texts
Classes will regularly read and share whole-class texts, either through their English unit, Guided Reading texts or when a teacher shares a story with the class, often at the end of the day. This helps the children to experience a wide range of texts and different genres.
Children of all ages are encouraged to select individual reading books from class and the school library to enjoy during the school day and at home. Children who are confident readers can also select appropriate texts from home. Class teachers and TAs will sometimes support children with reading on a one-to-one basis when required.
Comprehension skills are taught in a variety of ways and across subjects throughout the school. We feel it is important that children acquire a secure understanding of a text and can express their response to a question in both an oral and written format.
Reading opportunities are provided across the whole of our curriculum. Children are actively encouraged to develop a love for the written word and we organise a range of events and activities to promote reading. Children have at least a weekly opportunity to visit the school library and regular story time takes place in all classes. We support World Book Day and visiting authors - last year we invited Guy Bass and M.P. Robertson to visit the school and work with the children. A few years ago, we were even fortunate enough to have Michael Rosen visit us!
Reading Book Worm Badges
As a school, we run a Book Worm Badge scheme to create a reading culture within our children – it is designed to encourage children to read at home, encourage parents to be aware of the reading their child does and to promote a love of reading. Children are awarded a bronze badge when they achieve 50 reads, a silver badge after 100 reads and a gold badge for 150 reads. Those who read more than 150 times are continually monitored and celebrated at the end of the school year in our final assembly in the church – the child with the highest number of reads will receive a special certificate to celebrate their hard work with reading.
At Elvetham Heath, our aim is to support children to communicate through the written word, enjoying writing for a range of purposes and audiences.
Shared and Guided Writing
Shared and Guided writing takes place regularly in classrooms as a whole class and in small groups. This forms part of the taught English units where a class teacher will model an example of writing to the whole class. It is then used to support children’s writing in the development of different forms, styles and genres. A class teacher or TA may work with a small group of children to guide them through the writing process, working on individual writing targets as well as the main lesson objectives. Children have opportunities to work through and refine the writing process. As part of this process they are taught how to plan, draft, edit, proof-read and publish their work.
Grammar and Punctuation
During their time at Elvetham, children are taught the technical aspects of writing to ensure a broader understanding and a more effective use of written communication. Class teachers and TAs focus on punctuation and grammar right from the emergence of writing in Reception. As the children move through the school, new aspects of grammar and punctuation are introduced and previously taught aspects are revisited and developed.
Spelling rules are taught during spelling lessons and revisited throughout the curriculum. Children are given the opportunity to investigate, practise and apply these rules. Sometimes, homework will be set to provide further opportunities to learn these rules. Children will also be given common exception words or corrected errors from their own writing to then practise at home. Phonics is used and referred to throughout all spelling teaching.
At Elvetham Heath we aim for children to write in a fluent, joined style which is neat and attractive, allowing children to communicate meaning through writing quickly and effectively. All class teachers use ‘Penpals’ software to support the teaching and learning of handwriting. This allows for a consistent approach and progression of handwriting skills across the school. Children are awarded handwriting certificates when they reach certain milestones in handwriting. In Year R, gross and fine motor skills are practised through a range of activities, including Squiggle, Dough Disco and Funky Fingers. Fine motor skills continue to be practised for those children who need it and PenPals includes fine and gross motor warm ups.