At Hampreston First School, we want all of our children not only to be able to read and write but to enjoy reading and writing, regardless of their background or ability. They will receive a rich and varied diet of high-quality literature and will read for pleasure at school, at home and beyond their childhoods. Children will know and be able to express the value of reading and what it can offer them throughout their lives. We recognise that strong literacy skills underpin the entire curriculum and enable greater academic success and opportunities in life.
Our children will make continuous progress so that they are ready for middle school and beyond. By the end of Year 4, every child will be able to read independently, decoding texts using phonic skills taught from EYFS up and using strategies to explore the meaning. They will be able to justify their opinions on texts using evidence. Children will be able to access a variety of good quality texts to read independently and to share with their family at home. They will also be exposed daily to rich literature through explicit reading lessons and having books read to them purely for enjoyment. They will be encouraged to collect poignant vocabulary and use it in their own work.
Children will be able to write for a range of purposes, demonstrating a knowledge of the distinctive features of the genres they are using.
They will have a secure knowledge of grammar and punctuation so that they can apply and manipulate it within their own speaking and writing. All pupils, with the exception of those with specific literacy needs will be able to spell the common exception words at the end of each year and will apply a combination of phonic, spelling rules and patterns and visual checking to any word. Oracy in the form of debate, drama, recital and many other methods will encourage confidence to speak in front of others and to rehearse orally what may then be recorded in writing.
At Hampreston C.E First School, we teach English so that:
children can speak clearly and audibly, taking account of their listeners;
children listen with concentration to enable recall of key learning;
children become effective communicators;
children become enthusiastic, confident and independent readers;
children read so deeply and widely that they are able to tackle challenging texts across the curriculum;
children enjoy writing, and can adapt it for a range of purposes;
children write in a range of genres with an awareness of their audience;
children apply a range of writing skills and techniques to their writing.
We prioritise a literature-rich curriculum. This includes a range of pictures, story and non-fiction books. Exemplary texts provide a vehicle for teaching creative writing. We aim to foster a genuine enjoyment of writing by inspiring children with what we read with them.
Daily story time is timetabled in every class. In Reception and Year 1 we dedicate additional time to singing, poems and rhymes to enrich language.
We believe that all children can learn to read, regardless of their background, needs or abilities and are determined to make this happen. Research indicates that a child’s fluency of reading is a key indicator in further and higher education and employment.
We aim to deliver an inspiring and engaging English curriculum through high-quality teaching and exciting lessons. Writing is an integral part of our reading curriculum. All children from Reception to Year 4 are provided with many opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across all areas of the curriculum. We create a positive reading and writing culture in school, where both are promoted and enjoyed.
The school, wherever possible, uses the font style Sassoon Primary Infant for writing read by the children.
Handwriting is taught in a separate lesson from the letter formation activity during the teaching of graphemes in Phase 2 Phonics lessons. We use the Little Wandle formation phrases to teach correct letter formation for each grapheme. (See Phase 2 grapheme information sheets Autumn 1 and Autumn 2.) The Little Wandle letter formation is printed. Cursive or pre-cursive should not be taught in Reception. This is in line with the DfE policies and the Reading Framework (2021), which explain why teaching cursive can be deleterious.
For our youngest pupils we teach short handwriting lessons on a daily basis, which will include the following:
• enhancing gross motor skills such as air-writing, pattern-making and physical activities
• exercises to develop fine motor skills such as mark-making on paper, whiteboards, sensory trays, iPads, tablets, etc.
• becoming familiar with letter shapes, their sounds, formation and vocabulary
• correct sitting position and pencil grip for handwriting
• pre-cursive patterns.
Parents are signposted to the parent area of the Little Wandle website for accurate demonstrations of letter formation and the accompanying pneumonic.
Further handwriting practice is given in continuous provision and in weekly handwriting sessions in Years 1 and 2. In Year 3, children who are writing securely at age-related expectation, with good letter size and formation are encouraged to start joining. Letter joins are taught in formation families. The teacher models joining formation using the interactive whiteboard and sometimes with the use of a writing repeater programme so children have access to a continual visual reminder. Although the curriculum does not expect children in lower Key Stage 2 to join their letters, we encourage them to do so when they are ready because of the benefits for speed, fluency and spelling memorisation. We teach how to join letters correctly using the following order:
Diagonal joins to letters without ascenders, e.g. ai
Horizontal joins to letters without ascenders, e.g. ri
Diagonal joins to letters with ascenders, e.g. ul
Horizontal joins to letters without ascenders, e.g. wh
Children who struggle to meet the national curriculum objectives in handwriting are given extra support through 1-1 or group interventions. By the end of Year 3, all children use a blue handwriting pen.
To support the teaching of new and adventurous vocabulary, teachers collect and display word banks on classroom working walls. In Key Stage 2, each child has a vocabulary book which they use to collect vocabulary that has captured their interest and also for ‘having a go’ at spelling a word before asking an adult to confirm whether it is correct.
There is an expectation that handwriting, grammar and spelling will be modelled and used correctly by all teachers. To ensure progression in grammar skills, all teachers from Years 1-4 use the National Curriculum progression of grammar skills appendix. Any areas of weakness that are identified as a result of independent writing are taught as part of the next modelled text, in focused SPaG sessions or during grammar starters.
To ensure our writing standards are in line with DfE expectations, we hold moderation meetings among our own staff and analyse the end of Key Stage 2 exemplars thoroughly in order that teachers throughout the school see where we are aiming for our children to be after they leave us in Year 4. We arrange external moderation with pyramid schools whenever possible.
Around the school, there are displays of writing to encourage pride in work, give a purpose and audience and to show that work is valued. Children are expected to maintain the same standard of presentation across all subjects.
At Hampreston, our Little Wandle Systematic Synthetic Programme is followed by ‘No Nonsense Spelling’ (NNS) scheme, where specific spelling rules and patterns are planned and taught, also building in opportunities for revision of previous years’ learning. Common exception words are learnt using multi-sensory strategies suggested in the NNS programme. Children in Years 2, 3 and 4 learn sets of spellings related to the weekly rule or pattern and subsequent dictation exercises are used later on to ensure these have been retained.
Medium term and weekly planning includes each of the seven elements of the National Curriculum for English: spoken language, word reading, comprehension, spelling, handwriting and presentation, composition and vocabulary, punctuation and grammar. Planning differentiates for different groups of children or individuals according to their level of attainment or specific educational needs and a challenge is always open to all.
High quality texts are chosen and used as a basis for most units of work. Before text examples are ‘unpicked’ there is always the chance to soak up the writing, enjoy it and respond to it at face value. Children are then encouraged to explore the features of the genre and techniques used by the author, identifying what exactly makes it effective. Grammar and punctuation is usually taught discretely at the beginning of the week and children are expected to implement it in their writing for the unit and beyond. Writing tasks are designed to provide children with opportunities to put into practice what they have learnt about the text type or grammar and punctuation skills.
Enjoyment and confidence in writing is fostered through the use of drama, story and the use of ICT. A book dedicated to ‘Free Writing’ provides children in Key Stage 2 with opportunities to be creative and practise writing without judgement.
We can see that our pupils enjoy reading regularly for information and for enjoyment. Reading is well supported by parents, who share our vision and aims. Phonics and reading information workshops are well attended. Parents and extended family members volunteer to come in and read to or with children and everyone takes part enthusiastically in book events. Our school book fairs are always extremely well supported and create a buzz of excitement among the children.
We collect opinions from our pupil surveys and respond to them wherever possible.
Pupils in each class look forward to class novel time and they discuss books with excitement and interest. Reading displays around the school provide evidence of the value that children, parents and staff place upon books. Learning walks have given snapshots of children enjoying writing and wanting it to be read or heard. In their learning journals, learning intentions are clear and the features of different genres and styles have been used. Pupils can confidently write for different purposes and audiences. Reading records show that most children read regularly at home (at least 4 times weekly). Parents of children who read less frequently at home are encouraged through conversations with the class teacher. Children with parents who have literacy difficulties are identified and given extra 1-1 reading time at school. Weekly monitoring by the class teacher and half termly sampling by the Reading Lead ensures that these positive habits are continuous. Engagement in the online reading scheme ‘Bug Club’ is tracked and home reading records are used as an effective means of communication about reading by the majority.
Progress is shown through formative and summative assessment procedures. Pupils are tested for their reading and comprehension ages at the beginning and end of a school year and progress is tracked. Low scores at the beginning of a year are acted upon through intervention groups. Pupils in Years 2, 3 and 4 are also tested on their comprehension using a formal test, termly, again which has shown clear progress in reading attainment in every year.
Writing in every subject is at a consistently high standard due to the use of the learning journal where subject links can be made and writing skills transferred and applied in any subject area. Marking and verbal feedback shows that children respond well to suggestions for improvement (in purple pen).
Half-termly, teachers moderate pupils work in school and in cluster meetings with other schools to ensure accurate assessments are made. The quality of writing in learning journals is evaluated by learning walks, drop ins, pupil conferencing and work scrutinies. These inform future areas for improvement and the impact of new initiatives. The English subject leader provides an action plan for the subject and addresses areas for development and improvement which is then shared with all staff