Overview & Introduction
Reading and writing are key life-skills, required throughout both education and employment and also crucial on a personal level too. We therefore place huge importance on teaching children to read with confidence and on enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. Our curriculum aims to teach children to write with fluency for a variety of purposes and to vary their vocabulary and grammar appropriately to suit the task or circumstances.
We aim to create a nurturing environment where children take pride in their reading and writing, from a very young age. In Key Stage 1 during daily phonics lessons, our focus in reading is on the decoding of words and developing fluency when reading age related texts. At Key stage 2, we have daily whole class guided reading sessions which look at a wide range of high quality texts as we know children must be exposed to high quality reading material throughout their school journey.
Across all year groups, in our daily English lessons, we focus on writing two genres each half term so children are able to fully understand each genre as both readers and writers. Our English curriculum is well-sequenced and progressive across each term, and across each year group, to ensure that learning builds carefully upon what has been taught before.
We have the highest of expectations for our children. The children are regularly assessed using formative methods so that teachers are able to identify any gaps in learning immediately and provide the required support for children to progress.
We believe strongly in recognising celebrating children’s achievements in English – this happens on a daily basis in every classroom, and also at a whole school level via our termly Writing Awards, our ongoing Eager Readers scheme, and our half-termly Handwriting Heroes assemblies.
Reading and Writing
Our Reading and Writing Policies are below.
At Grangetown Early reading and phonics skills are taught from the very beginning of each child’s learning journey. Formal phonics begins in Reception and continues up until Year 2 and beyond if needed.
We use the Monster Phonics scheme which is a highly-engaging, structured, synthetic phonics programme. It accelerates learning by allowing children to learn new graphemes by using monsters to group graphemes for recall and to provide an easy and fun memory cue for children. It also uses colour-coding to highlight the new grapheme. Once taught and secure, the colour is removed.
We trialled Monster Phonics in Autumn Term 2021, and then formally adopted it in January 2022 after it had gained DfE accreditation. A training day, involving all staff, was held in January, focusing on Monster Phonics, and we have also held two information sessions for parents and carers.
Phonics is taught daily in Reception and KS1 for 30 minutes by a trained teacher or TA.
In Reception initial sounds and Reception decodable and tricky words are taught. Consonant digraphs are introduced, as are some vowel digraphs. Each lesson focuses only on words that use graphemes that have been taught so far. As the year progresses well-known repetitive traditional stories and songs provide a focus for activities to develop reading and writing in sentences. The aim is to provide real and meaningful contexts for practising blending and segmenting graphemes, CCVC, CVCC, CCVCC, CVC+. Focus is given to blending and segmenting skills, whilst increasing automaticity to read and write captions and sentences.
All Year 1 graphemes are taught as well as the Year 1 common exception words and the first 300 high frequency words. In spelling the children are introduced to suffixes where no changes occur to the root word these are then reinforced in grapheme lessons. As the year progresses the children will learn common prefixes and the k before e, i and y spelling rule.
All Year 1 graphemes are taught by week 9 then revision lessons commence. The daily activities check for gaps in learning, further reinforce word lists, practise grammatical rules and dictation.
In Year 2 all the National Curriculum graphemes, the Year 2 common exception words and spelling rules, including the rules for adding vowel suffixes – the drop e, double consonant and y to an i rule are taught. Homophones/near homophones are also taught. This then progresses to the teaching of further spelling rules with a focus on consonant suffixes, contractions and possessive apostrophes. After a formative assessment, grapheme revision lessons commence. The daily activities check for gaps in learning, further reinforce word lists, practise grammatical rules and dictation.
Our Phonics Policy is below.
Policies: English, Reading, Phonics, Writing
Throughout the school, beginning in reception, children are taught handwriting using the Letter join scheme of work. Letter join is a programme which covers the handwriting requirements in the National Curriculum. A highly detailed and progressive scheme, with a wide range of resources, was chosen to support children with their handwriting journey. Our aim is that handwriting becomes an automatic process that does not interfere with children’s creative and mental thinking. Therefore, by the end of Key Stage 2, all pupils should have the ability to produce fluent, legible and speedy handwriting.
The numbers of lessons taught per week varies depending on the year group. The aim is for the younger children to be taught in two to three weekly sessions, totally 30 minutes. Years 1-3 are taught in two or three weekly sessions, totally 30-45 minutes, and Years 4-6 are taught two or three weekly sessions totalling 45 minutes. The aims for each year group are outlined below:
70 lessons for pre-cursive patterns and continuous cursive, lower case letters. It starts with Getting Ready for Handwriting: warm-up exercises, sitting position and tripod pencil grip.
80 lessons for teaching fine and gross motor skills, how to sit correctly for handwriting using the tripod grip, the different letter families and how to to write capital letters, printed letters, and numbers and symbols alongside cursive handwriting using Letter-join’s on-line and printed resources.
90 lessons on how to improve letter formation and orientation of letters through regular practice and to support spelling, grammar and punctuation in readiness for KS1 SATs.
Module 4 has 60 lessons presented in sets of two lessons per week which can be taught over a school year. It is targeted at Year 3 children in lower KS2 where pupils should be using joined handwriting throughout their independent writing. It is designed to improve the legibility, consistency and quality of the children’s handwriting through a variety of resources which link handwriting to other areas of the curriculum.
Module 5 has 60 lessons presented in sets of two lessons per week which can be taught over a school year. It focuses on using handwriting practice to support other subjects in the curriculum and, at the same time, builds on fluency and consistency.
This module aims to promote meaningful links with other subjects such as English, maths, science, geography and French. Making such links enables children to apply the skills they are learning in context and also provides depth to the curriculum. Children will continue to build on producing fluent, consistent and legible handwriting through the regular practice offered in this module’s lessons.
Module 6 has 60 lessons presented in sets of two lessons per week which can be taught over a school year. Lessons will continue to build on combining fluent handwriting with other subjects across the curriculum. Children will have plenty of opportunity to develop the stamina and skills to write at length, with accurate spelling and punctuation. Children will work towards producing consistently neat and well-presented handwriting in all curriculum subjects. By the end of this module, children should be producing cursive writing automatically, enabling them to focus on the content of their work rather than the process of writing.
Module 7 contains 60 handwriting lessons presented in sets of two lessons per week which can be taught over a school year. Children will be presented with a range of tasks where they have to decide on an appropriate style of handwriting. Promoting speedy, fluent writing continues to be a strong feature in this year group. Challenging dictation exercises will refine pupils’ revising and checking skills as well as boosting their handwriting speed, stamina and fluency. A range of curriculum-based worksheets will give pupils the opportunity to practise writing at length. By the end of this year, children should be able to adapt their handwriting for a range of tasks and purposes and to create different effects. They should be clear about what standard of handwriting is appropriate for a particular task, for example, quick notes, a final handwritten version, an un-joined style or capital letters.
Across Key Stage 2, children have a spelling session which is taught using the No Nonsense Spelling scheme. Following the programme, children are taught 5 spelling sessions over a two week period, from Year 3 to Year 6. No Nonsense Spelling provides a comprehensive progressive scheme which focuses on how to teach strategies, knowledge and other skills pupils need to learn. The programme consists of the requirements of the National Curriculum, which have been organized into strands and then broken down into termly overviews. Daily lesson plans are provided for each session and follow the structure below:
- Lesson: Reference to the year group, block of lessons and lesson number in the sequence
- Lesson type: States whether it is a Revise, teach, learn, practice, apply or assess lesson
- Lesson focus: The particular spelling focus for the day
- Resources needed: A list of resources which are required for that lesson, which may be flash cards, photocopied sheets, or display activities
- Teaching activity: The teaching points, incluing extra notes and tips for the teacher.
The programme has been written broadly following a teaching sequence for spelling, whereby each new concept is taught, practised and then applied and assessed. Frequently there is also a ‘Revise’ session before the teaching session. A typical teaching sequence is as follows:
- Revise: Activate prior knowledge / Revisit previous linked learning
- Teach: Introduce the new concept / Explain / Investigate / Model
- Practise: Individual & group work / Extend & explore the concept independently / Investigate / Generalise
- Apply/Assess: Assess through independent application / Explain and demonstrate understanding.
Pupils are assessed throughout the programme during the apply part of the sequence as this regularly includes assessment activities to identify whether pupils have learnt the key concept. Activities include: testing by teacher and peers, dictation, explaining, independent application in writing and frequent learning of statutory words.
Pupils from Year 3 to Year 6 all have independent spelling journals which are used to supplement the teaching of spelling. They enable children to take responsibility for their own spelling journey and refer back to their previous learning. Spelling journals may take many forms across the year groups but they can be used for a range of activities such as:
- Practising strategies
- Learning words
- Recording rules/conventions/ generalisations as an aide-memoire
- Word lists of really tricky words (spelling enemies)
- ‘Having a go’ at the point of writing
- Ongoing record of statutory words learnt
- Recording spelling targets or goals
- Spelling tests.
English Curriculum Map
Our English Curriculum Map provides an overview of the subject across EYFS, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
Long Term Planning
Long Term Planning for Reception, Year 1, Year 2.
Long Term Planning for Year 3, Year 4, Year 5, and Year 6.