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: Read Write Inc. (RWI)
Read Write Inc. Phonics is an inclusive literacy programme for all children learning to read. At St Albert’s, it is taught from Reception class through to Y2 and it teaches synthetic phonics. Children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and how to blend them to read and spell. The scheme heavily focuses on the development of early reading.
Reading is the key that unlocks the whole curriculum so the ability to efficiently decode is essential. The RWI sessions occur each day, as we firmly believe that the continuity and pace of the programme is key to accelerating the progress of children’s reading development.
What is Read Write Inc?
Read Write Inc (RWI) is a consistent, rigorous and dynamic literacy programme which teaches EVERY child following it to read as early in their school careers as possible. Using synthetic phonics, children learn to quickly blend letter sounds together by following a fun and effective programme. The aim is to get children through the programme quickly ensuring that they become fluent and confident readers.
RWI is well established in our school. Since we are passionate about reading at St Albert’s, we endeavour to help our children become the best readers that they can as early as possible and so the scheme suits our needs and the needs of our children perfectly.
Who follows the programme?
All the children from Reception to Year 2 are assessed every half term and are placed in groups at the appropriate level for them. This is to ensure that all children are working at the level which suits their personal needs. On completion of the RWI scheme, children will then progress to normal English lessons. All adults delivering the RWI scheme are fully trained and meet on a half-termly basis to discuss the progress of each individual child. For some children, it is necessary to continue RWI phonics into KS2 and appropriate groups are established for these children.
Children learn how to blend sounds and read words using Fred Talk.
What is Fred Talk?
Once your child is ready to start reading words, a toy frog called Fred will help them learn to learn to read. Fred can only say the sounds in a word and needs your child to help him read the word. Fred will say the sounds and children will work out the word. For example, Fred will say the sounds c–a–t, and children will say the word cat. This is Fred Talk: sounding out the word.
They will learn that some words with ‘tricky letters’ can’t be read using Fred Talk – these are known as red words. Remember you can’t Fred a red!
During RWI lessons the children work in pairs so they can:
- Support each other
- Practise each activity with their partner
- Take turns in talking and reading to each other
- Develop ambitious vocabulary
RWI Reading Books
Children read their RWI book in daily group sessions. Each evening, they take home two RWI texts closely matched to their phonic ability and the current sound they are learning.
Our school reading book scheme, Oxford Owl, is also closely aligned to the RWI group that children are in, ensuring their book is closely matched to their reading ability.
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.