At St Nicholas, we aim for every child to: -
- develop a passion for English and to become better speakers, listeners, readers, writers and thinkers
- connect ideas and express themselves through exposure to language, story and text
- have the skills and confidence to read and write across genres using a wide range of vocabulary
- apply grammar, punctuation and spelling skills appropriately
For all children to: -
- acquire a wide vocabulary and understanding of grammar
- feel confident voicing opinions during discussions and collaborative activities
- be able to make formal presentations, demonstrate to others and participate in debates
Teaching and Learning:
At St Nicholas, Spoken Language is prioritised as it underpins the development of reading and writing.
it is embedded into all areas of our curriculum.
Within classrooms, teachers support spoken language by: -
- encouraging children to reply with developed answers, speak in full sentences and project their voices
- modelling a more sophisticated and subject specific vocabular
- ensuring regular opportunities to debate, justify, explain
- directly teaching key vocabulary
- consistently using 'agree, build upon or challenge' as a tool to debate different views constructively
- presenting Super Speaker awards for confident and clear expression
- the inclusion of Drama strategies as a tool to explore language
- a programme of termly poetry recitals
- the use of 'Talk for Writing' approaches providing children with opportunities to imitate language structures as well as oral re-telling.
At St Nicholas we aim for all children to: -
- be taught the key principles of writing to further develop their skills
- be immersed in a range of writing genres and styles across the curriculum
- be confident independent writers, who can build upon skills throughout their Primary Education and beyond
- have a clear understanding of purpose and audience
- have the ability to carefully select vocabulary and to think about what the desired impact on the reader
Teaching and Learning:
At St Nicholas, we ensure that children have plenty of opportunities to explore language, story and text and time to reflect upon their learning throughout the writing Journey. We use high quality texts ranging from picture books to classic authors. Children are given time to immerse themselves into books to give them the understanding of what it means to be a writer.
To support our writing journey, we follow the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach which follows 3 key areas:
Children are provided with a range of opportunities to imitate required language and they spend time exploring the structure and vocabulary of specially selected texts.
Key writing principles are built upon as children progress through the school. Drama is used as a learning tool to capture the children’s interests, to engage their imagination and stimulate a writing response. This is the innovation stage.
As the writing journey moves into the innovate stage, children are becoming more independent and drawing upon model texts to support them with their own writing. We provide support by building in collaborative opportunities to work in groups and partners or with more direct guidance from the teacher or test. Introductions to varying Writing styles are carefully considered enabling children to experience varying writing styles, suitable for a variety of audiences and range of purpose.
The Invent stage is the final stage of the writing Journey. This allows the children to reflect upon their learning journey and apply their skills more independently and securely.
For more information on the Talk for Writing approach, please visit the website talk4writing.com.
Through Reading, we aim for children at St Nicholas to: -
- gain a life-long love of reading
- develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually
- enjoy a wide range of texts, genres and authors
- read fluently, applying phonics and skills confidently to develop comprehension of progressively challenging texts and vocabulary
Teaching and Learning:
At St Nicholas, Reading is taught as a discrete subject alongside being prioritised in all other subjects, particularly Writing. This ensures that the two key skills of recognising words and understanding language are taught to the whole class supported by group and individual activities.
Children are given opportunities to read aloud, in silence and to listen to text being read to them. They discuss and debate what they have read and explore unfamiliar vocabulary and context to ensure sufficient breadth and depth to their knowledge and skills. Children are also listened to regularly on a 1:1 basis by a teacher to support fluency as well as comprehension.
Alongside personalised and progressive reading journeys, each year group engages, at whole class lever, with carefully selected texts. These texts can be viewed on the attached overview below. To support individual reading journeys, the school invests in a variety of reading schemes enabling children from Year R to Year 6 to choose from a range of genres within the appropriate level of challenge and interest. Our comprehensive reading scheme is an extensive range of books which support the teaching of Phonics and Dyslexic learners. The main schemes are:
- Big Cat Collins
- Oxford Reading Tree
- Bug Club
- Project X
- Rigby Star
Phonics (Reading and Spelling)
At St Nicholas, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we have chosen to teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme.
We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Progression, which ensures that children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school. As a result, our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read.
At St Nicholas, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
We value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.
Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a member of staff who leads Phonics and another lead for Reading. They both drive the early reading programme in our school. These leads are highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
Daily Phonics Lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for 30 minutes every day. In Reception, we build up from 10-minute sessions, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
- We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
- Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs (written letters to match spoken sounds), and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily Keep-Up Lessons
- Any child who needs additional practice has Keep-Up support at least 4 times a week, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
- We timetable phonics sessions 4 times a week for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-Up resources – at pace.
- If any child in Year 4 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.
Teaching Reading: Reading Practice Sessions
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
- are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
- use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids. This means the children should know all the sounds and tricky words in the book, read many of the words by silent blending (automatic reading) and only need to stop and sound out about 5% of the words by the time they bring the book home.
- are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
- Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
- prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
- In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
- In Year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books. These children have a book matched to their secure phonics knowledge and read these at least 3 times a week in school on a 1:1 basis.
- The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family and for additional rehearsal.
- Reading for pleasure books, known as sharing books, also go home for parents to share and read to children. The children are not expected to be able to read this book. This book is to be shared together. Parents can make the story exciting by using different voices, discussing new vocabulary and encouraging the children to talk about the book and things they see.
- We use the parent resources on the Little Wandle website to support and engage our families. Resources are also uploaded on to our school website as they become available.
Ensuring Consistency and Pace of Progress
- Every teacher and teaching assistant in our school has been trained to teach phonics/reading through Little Wandle, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
- Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
- Lesson templates, prompt cards and ‘how to’ videos ensure that we all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
- The Phonics Lead, Reading Lead and Senior Leaders use the audit and prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
- Assessment for Learning is used:
- daily within class to identify children needing Keep-Up support
- weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
- Summative Assessment is used:
- every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-Up support that they need.
- Children in Year 1 undertake the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2. (2020 and 2021 Year 2 had the Phonics Screening Check in November 2021 in line with Government guidance).
Ongoing Assessment for Catch-Up
- Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the half-termly Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised summative assessments.
Little Wandle Website Parent Support Resources and Videos
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
At St Nicholas, we aim for all children to: -
- acquire a wide vocabulary range and understanding of grammar
- to have the confidence to apply their knowledge to their writing.
- to be able to apply spelling strategies to unfamiliar words and grammatical structures to varying contexts
Teaching and Learning
At St Nicholas, spelling is taught as part of our daily routine. We teach the spelling rule at the start of the week through direct teaching. This spelling rule is then revisited daily through a variety of activities and techniques to support working memory.
Years 2 – 6 follow the ‘Spelling Shed’ scheme which covers all the spelling rules and statutory word lists set out in the National Curriculum. The children are tested each week on their spellings through oral dictation of sentences. Each week the Spelling Rule is also interwoven into the writing lessons for further opportunities to apply new knowledge.
For Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling at St Nicholas we teach a grammar rule for the week through direct teaching at the start of the week. We use ‘Nelson Grammar Scheme’ which follows the National Curriculum. The Grammar rule for the week is also a key focus during the extended writing activity at the end of each week. Children are encouraged to apply this learning in their writing across the curriculum and different genres.
As children progress towards Year 5 and 6, they begin to explore the extent to which different grammatical structures can have an impact of the quality of their writing and fitness for purpose.