Phonics is taught from the foundation stage using Letters and Sounds, a daily programme for the teaching of phonics. This is a systematic synthetic phonics* programme through which children are taught how to build unfamiliar words by understanding letters as sounds and learning to build and blend these. Children are encouraged and supported to use their skills in phonics in all aspects of their writing in the classroom.
As children move into year 2 phonics continue to be taught and revisited. Children then move onto a spelling programme, where strategies for spelling and learning new words are taught. Word investigations, spelling practice and use of dictionaries are all used to develop these skills.
*Synthetic Phonics is a way of teaching reading.
Children are taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound(s) they represent – so, they are taught that the letter l sounds like llllll when we say it. Children can then start to read words by blending (synthesising) the sounds together to make a word.
For further information on the way in which children are taught the sounds please refer to Oxford Owl. This will provide tips for reading and sounding out letters for blending.
We promote reading throughout the school to encourage children to love books and reading and develop the skills to enjoy a life long love of reading.
Early readers use colour band books. These are texts which are graded to suit the ability of the individual child.
The colour bands begin with developing skills for reading using books with a pink grading, children then progress through from red, yellow, blue, green orange, turquoise, purple, gold and then white.
Before children move onto the next colour band they are assessed through a system called Benchmarking. Children work with an adult on a 1:1 basis. They read the book and any errors are recorded. The children are then asked very specific questions about the book to find out about their skills of retelling and understanding. The errors are then carefully calculated and the child is given a reading score. If the reading score is high and the understanding and retelling is accurate, the child will then move onto the next colour band.
Teachers use the benchmark assessments to identify any areas for development, so that these can be addressed in class. This assessment system means that children move through the book band colours at a pace which is appropriate for them.
Children who have completed working through these colour bands then select their own books, guided by the class teacher.
Alongside colour bands, we also use a wide range of quality books, both fiction and non-fiction, where children are encouraged to read for pleasure and share their books with an adult. Books are displayed and available in all classrooms for the children to use. Children are encouraged to read different genre and to experience a wide range of reading.
A love of reading is also shared through class stories where children become familiar with high quality texts.
In the foundation stage children are given many opportunities to develop their writing skills, learning and forming letters, using phonics to develop their knowledge of letters and sounds and applying these skills in many contexts. Classroom role play areas and the outside environment also play a key part in the early stages of writing.
Children continue to develop and build on these skills as they progress into key stage 1. Writing is developed across the curriculum and children are taught to apply the skills they have learned in writing to all aspects of their learning. Teachers organise lessons to develop understanding, giving children the strategies they need to progress in their writing. Punctuation and grammar are also a focus, with children being challenged to use the correct vocabulary when discussing writing. Classroom environments are created to offer opportunities for writing.
We use Talk for writing across the school. An elicitation task will be undertaken at the start of a sequence of learning so that the learning can be directed to the needs of the children. At the beginning of the talk for writing process teachers share quality texts with children and discuss these, before modelling the writing process based on this text. Children are taught different strategies and develop their own ideas through discussion, story mapping, planning and rehearsal, before inventing and writing their own piece based on the style of the original text.
As children become more confident they are given increasing opportunities to reflect upon their work and consider the effect their writing has had on their audience. Children will often work with a peer to edit and share their work.
Opportunities for writing at greater length are developed as children become more proficient writers. Children develop their knowledge of different genre and demonstrate their skills in each of these areas.
Handwriting and presentation are also skills developed across the school. As children learn to write they are taught the flicks and exit strokes needed to ensure a fluent, joined handwriting style as they become more confident writers. Opportunities are given for children to edit and redraft their writing with a focus on presentation.
Children’s written work is displayed throughout the school. Children are proud of their achievements and are keen to demonstrate this to others.