English sits at the very heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves.
Across both writing and reading, we place a heavy emphasis on developing a child’s vocabulary. We use Talk for Writing techniques from EYFS onwards and are part of the Voice 21 Oracy project. Such techniques, paired with immersing our children in rich literature, ensure that by the time children leave St Albert’s, the limited word hoard they arrived with in Reception will have expanded enormously, giving them the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts.
At St Albert’s, we are passionate about fostering a life-long love of reading within our children. As a result, we approach the teaching of reading from all angles, encouraging children to read both for pleasure and in order to gain information. Reading is promoted across the curriculum and occurs all of the time.
Pupils are taught the skills and strategies to read and comprehend a variety of texts including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays. They are encouraged to read with confidence, fluency and understanding. Integral to everything we do, is ensuring that we provide an environment where children see the true value of reading and develop a love for the written word.
Our English sessions are split into a ‘Read-It’ week and a ‘Write-It’ week. During the ‘Read-It’ week, children become fully immersed in both the text and genre of writing that they are studying. Lots of exploration of the text takes place, with many opportunities for discussion, voicing opinions on key events and author choices, and practising inference and deduction skills.
Daily Guided Reading sessions focus on the skills of comprehension, first through unpicking vocabulary, then moving on to unlocking the meaning of whole texts and critical appreciation.
Reading Scheme (Oxford Owl)
Children move through coloured book bands which are arranged in progressive steps to ensure sustained progress and we encourage the development of a wide-ranging set of reading skills within each colour band. Children are regularly assessed to ascertain whether they are ready to take on the challenge of the next level.
Reading For Pleasure
We work closely with our local library service to ensure that children are immersed in a wide range of high-quality class-readers.
Each year group has their own ‘Reading Chest’ of carefully chosen titles picked by the children themselves.
All classes also have a box of Reading Spine books, specific to each year group. These are a collection of popular texts which we want our children to know well.
Alongside this we have author visits, trips to our local library to listen to story tellers and World Book Day celebrations.
Phonics: Monster Phonics
What is Monster Phonics?
Monster Phonics is a whole class, systematic synthetic phonics programme, which became our new phonics scheme in October of this year (2021).
Monster Phonics is currently taught from Reception to Year 2, but it can also be used as an intervention tool for Key Stages 1 and 2. The design and implementation of the programme is to support children to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch-up’ with their phonics learning.
Monster Phonics teaches children to read by enabling them to identify the individual graphemes (letter combinations) and blend sounds (phonemes) together to read the word. Sounds are categorised into ten colour groups, and each colour has a corresponding monster character.
Monster Phonics is an advanced multisensory scheme, with songs, actions and colours associated with graphemes. There is an action for each Phase 2 and 3 grapheme, as well as for each Monster, which we believe, excites and engages our pupils.
Teaching Overview (Reception – Year 2)
The Monster Phonics Reading Scheme
We want learning to read to be fun and memorable for our pupils, which is one of the main reasons we chose this scheme for our children. Rather than relying on rote learning, it uses colour coding to promote understanding, which we believe, will lead to greater confidence and independence.
Children access decodable books matched to where they are on the programme. Regular assessment throughout the school year ensures that their reading book match their ability. Children also have access to Monster Phonics eBooks that can be read at home, using a personal login.
The 26 letters of the alphabet and combinations of these letters make 44 speech sounds in English.
The 44 sounds (phonemes) are spelt by 144 different letter combinations (graphemes). For example, the sound A is spelt several different ways, including ay (play) and ai (train).
Traditional ways of learning to spell can be time-consuming and for some children they are ineffective. Monster Phonics teaches children to read by enabling them to identify the individual graphemes (letter combinations) ad blend the sounds (phonemes) together to read the word. To support this process, Monster Phonics uses the 10 monsters to categorise all sounds into 10 simple areas. Furthermore, each monster has a different colour and that colour represents that way of spelling the sound.
The 10 monsters categorise all sounds into 10 simple areas. Each monster has a different colour and that colour represents that way of spelling the sound.
Spelling Books are colour-coded for the sounds to accelerate learning. Spelling log books cover all KS1 graphemes and spelling rules, to support weekly spellings and home-learning.
Parents and Carers have their own personal login to Monster Phonics, which gives them full access to the resources used in school. This ensures that children who are off school can still access the same lesson and resources as their peers.
Parents and carers can access the Monster Phonics site at home using their personal login details. They have full access to the resources, including the each year group’s lesson plans, PowerPoints, videos and flashcards. Parents and carers can also access phonics webinars in order to familiarise themselves with Monster Phonics.
Free resources for Parents and Carers
Ideas for learning spellings
Information about phonics https://monsterphonics.com/how-it-works/letters-and-sounds/
Phonics Screening Check:
All children in Year 1 complete a phonics screening check in the summer term. If you would like to find out more about the phonics screening check, please ask your child’s teacher.
Phonics Support for Parents/Carers:
Our overarching aim within writing is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with a strong command of the spoken and written word and fostering an environment where children are enthusiastic about writing.
In all year groups, we teach writing through high-quality texts – ranging from picture books to Shakespeare, immersive real-life experiences, such as school trips, or a combination of both.
Over their time at the school, children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, including recounts, news reports, explanation texts, poems, plays and stories of all kinds. We use drama, role-play, storytelling and discussion to engage the imagination, before moving on to vocabulary exploration, grammatical focus and creative writing.
Throughout the Early Years and Key Stage 1 children are taught the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. An emphasis is placed on developing clear handwriting with ‘finger spaces’ between in each word. Children are taught to apply their knowledge of phonics to help them spell accurately, and to structure their work, whether it be fiction writing or a set of instructions. Our curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to their work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and adverbs and developing sentence structure using conjunctions and sentence openers. By the end of Key Stage 1 children have been taught the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar. This structural and technical knowledge is fostered alongside developing a love for writing as a lifelong means for communication and expressing oneself.
Our writing process is developed over five days – we begin with a ‘Gather it’ day where children are immersed in model texts and gather their idea around the writing theme. The children then ‘Plan-it’, on day two, ‘Write-it’ on day three, then ‘Edit-it’ and ‘Publish-it’ on days four and five.
Speaking and Listening
Children are given plenty of opportunities to develop their speaking and listening skills across the curriculum. In Early Years and Year 1, each class has a role-play area where children enjoy developing their social skills and imagination and drama is planned into our lessons regularly. Our whole-school approach of talk partners is crucial to ensuring that all children have an opportunity to discuss their thoughts and ideas and respond appropriately to others’.
We strongly believe that talk is invaluable in moving learning forward through verbalising of ideas before writing and using discussion to identify areas for improvement within their work. Our aim is to ensure that all of our children show competence and confidence when speaking in front of others.