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Teaching of English

As a school we aim to develop confident, articulate children who are able to communicate effectively through the written and spoken word. We encourage children to relish the opportunity to read and write in a variety of contexts and aim for all children to develop a love for reading and writing which will serve them well throughout their later life.

We use the National Curriculum as a basis for developing the children’s reading, writing, speaking and listening skills in Key Stage 1, and Development Matters guidance in Early Years. All children undertake a daily dedicated English lesson. Additionally, and importantly, at South Stanley Infant & Nursery School, we see English teaching as something that must be, and is, embedded across all lessons and activities across the day. From speaking clearly and articulately around school, to writing at length as part of a topic lesson.

There is also an emphasis on giving children the technical knowledge and language through which they can discuss and improve their work, helping them to become reflective and proactive learners. We have a strong emphasis on the home-school links to support learning in English.

Spoken Language

The importance of communication and language as underpinning all learning and development is recognised and development is supported through all curriculum areas and within ‘daily dashboard’ sessions in class.

Emphasis is given to vocabulary development in all year groups and through all curriculum areas, and focus vocabulary is shared with parents.  Children are supported to become communicators through being effective ‘talk partners’ and through opportunities for role play and drama linked to ‘book hooks’.  This supports children to prepare their ideas before they write, assisting them in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others.  Children are supported to discuss in order to probe and remedy misconceptions.

We use WellComm as a tool with all the children in school to identify the areas a child may need additional support within their language development. Individual and whole class interventions based on screening results are used to identify difficulties and provide targeted support. 

Reading

In Nursery our children engage in activities to develop sound awareness, in preparation for more formal phonics teaching.  From the start of Reception, we teach ‘phonics’ using the Sounds Write programme. (Please see Phonics section for more information).

 

In addition to daily Sounds Write phonic lessons, children take part in daily dedicated reading sessions to build their ability to read automatically and fluently using their phonic skills. We use Sounds Write and Dandelion reading books which are carefully matched to our phonics scheme. Once children become fluent with their reading in Year 2, they will be given opportunities to read books that are not Sounds Write or Dandelion readers, so they can apply their phonic skills in ‘real’ contexts. Reading skills are also developed through our cross curricular links where we encourage children to read texts related to the topic being taught.

Our daily English teaching follows a text-based approach using carefully chosen ‘book hooks’. These texts have been selected to be both engaging to children, and to broaden their understanding of a range of experiences and cultures. They are high quality texts recommended by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), which are award winning or written by award winning authors. Children’s comprehension skills are developed through the ‘book hooks’ and in dedicated comprehension lessons.

Reading for pleasure is at the heart of our reading ethos, as we understand the positive impact reading for pleasure has on children’s academic, social and emotional development. We encourage children to read for pleasure in a range of ways; through inviting class reading areas, daily story time sessions, school poetry recitals, visiting our school and local library and visiting author and poetry workshops.

 

In Early Years we enjoy the same book for a whole week, repeat reading throughout the day to enable children to know the story and related vocabulary really well, so they can retell, role play and reinvent these stories. In Key Stage 1, each year group has a ‘story suitcase’ containing twelve specially chosen stories which they repeat read throughout the year. These texts have again been carefully selected to be both engaging to children, broaden their understanding of a range of experiences and cultures and are also recommended as being high quality, age appropriate texts for children by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. Weekly ‘book blether’ sessions are enjoyed by all, allowing adults and children the opportunity to share and discuss books in common.

Reading at Home

 

We use Sounds Write and Dandelion matched reading books for our home reading books which are carefully matched to our phonics scheme. Books that are sent as home readers have been read in school the previous week to ensure children begin to feel confident in their reading. Once children become fluent with their reading in Year 2, they may bring home additional books that are not Sounds Write or Dandelion readers.

We have adopted a ‘repeat reading’ approach to reading where children are encouraged to build up their ability to read words automatically and as such develop their confidence as readers by repeated exposure to a text. Information about our approach to repeat reading is in the inside of your child’s home reading record book.

You can support your child by giving them as much practice as possible at home (at least three times per week) reminding them to ‘say the sounds, read the word’

At South Stanley Infant and Nursery School we believe that reading at home is a great way of helping and supporting your child to develop their reading skills but also a lovely opportunity for you to spend time with them developing their love of reading.

Library Visits

Children across school visit the local library in South Moor every half term. Lisa the Librarian reads us stories, gives us activities to do and we even get to choose our own books to borrow for our class reading areas back at school! We always look forward to our visits to the library! We regularly share links to our ‘Lisa’s Library Reads’ on our Facebook page where Lisa the Librarian suggests books for the children in our school and keeps them in the library just for our school!

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Writing

Across the Key Stages, children are taught writing through our text-based approach. Over the year, teachers plan units of work around our chosen ‘book hooks’. We aim to develop children’s cultural capital through their exposure to these high-quality and award-winning texts. The chosen books inspire a range of writing opportunities and throughout the unit children regularly write across a range of genres in response to the characters and events they encounter. This approach provides opportunities for children to appreciate and discuss a range of literature whilst reading and writing regularly for a purpose. It really engages the children and creates a buzz around their English work. Where appropriate, our chosen books link to termly topics in order to immerse children fully into a cohesively planned unit of work.

Please look at the link below which details the National Curriculum by Year Group for English (including spelling lists for each year).

National Curriculum English Programme of Study

If you require any more information about how we teach English in school then please do not hesitate to speak to your child’s class teacher, Mrs Fagan (English Subject Lead) or Mrs Thompson (Head Teacher).

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We are proud of the emphasis our staff and children put on presentation of work.  We use the Kinetic Letters handwriting programme to support our children to develop legible handwriting that is quick and automatic. 

The four strands of the Kinetic Letters approach are:

  • Making bodies stronger, as you need core, arm strength and hand strength to be able to control fingers precisely.

  • Holding the pencil with the ‘three friends hold’, which is a comfortable grip, allowing for writing for longer periods (this hold is the same for right-handed and left-handed holds).

  • Learning the letters, using letter formation ‘blurbs’ to help remember letter formations.

  • Flow and fluency, to help develop a fast and flowing writing style, with flicks which will enable letters to be joined when the children are ready.

In daily dedicated handwriting lessons, children will develop skills in all four strands of the Kinetic Letters scheme.  When being taught letter formations, they will begin with whole body movements, progressing to writing in sand trays, then on whiteboards, and finally on paper.

In Kinetic Letters, letter formations are formed by one of two monkeys.  The brave monkey (Bounce) who starts at the top branch of the tree, and a scared monkey (Skip) who goes to the lower branch.  This helps the children to know where to start their letters.

The letter formation ‘blurbs’ use six movements to describe how to form the letter – up down push pull bump flick., which the children practice from Nursery up to Year 2, so these movements are automatic.  Lower-case and upper-case letters are organised into letter families, which have similar starting points and movements.

Please remind your child to use the ‘3 friends hold’ when they draw and write at home, and use the letter formation ‘blurbs’ to help your child when they are writing.

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