“Reading and writing float on a sea of talk.”
We believe that English is an essential life skill. Therefore, our aim is to provide a high quality English education that teaches our pupils to speak and write fluently, so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.
As well as following the National Curriculum requirements, we use the English teaching framework ‘Talk for Writing’ as the basis of our teaching. The foundations of this approach rely on a reading spine of high quality, core texts: from traditional tales and classics, to texts from other cultures and texts that celebrate diversity.
From Year 1 to 6, every class has a daily, one hour English lesson. In addition, classes have 15 minutes ‘English Meetings’ five times a week, for further spelling, punctuation and grammar work. The teacher will also read aloud to the class in ‘Story Time’ sessions.
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing, and Talk for Writing acknowledges this. Focuses on this area feature throughout each cycle of learning: pupils develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. We also incorporate drama, discussion and debate.
We also make sure that S&L objectives are included in our poetry work as well as other areas of the curriculum, providing a wide opportunity to reinforce and develop these skills.
READING AND WRITING
We aim to create a love of reading across our school. Each class has a creative and well-equipped reading area and there is a whole school Reading Award, which celebrates reading effort and achievements. Our Recommended Reading Lists help guide children to select appropriate books – providing a wide range of fiction and non-fiction choices. Teachers also read aloud to their class in ‘Story Time’ sessions, modelling fluent and expressive speech. This also ensures that all children are exposed to quality texts that they may not be able to access independently. English Meetings allow for specific reading objectives to be addressed. Reading is also taught, along with writing, in our one hour English sessions.
Our daily sessions are guided by the Talk for Writing process.
All cycles have an engaging ‘hook’ e.g. making cookies for grandma in Little Red Riding Hood.
Text maps are shared with the class and learnt over a few days. They are also sent home for further practice.
When children can recall the text verbally, they are then given the written version. About a week is then spent, exploring the text. This period is called ‘Reading as a Reader’. Activities such as comprehension questions and drama activities take place to deepen the children’s understanding of the model text. Short burst writing is often used at the reading stage. This might include, for example, writing a diary entry in a role as a character from the text. Short burst writing allows for creative writing opportunities, practice of previous writing genres and assessment opportunities.
Once the children have demonstrated a solid understanding, the focus is given e.g. character description. Children are provided with the toolkit and together, identify the tools in the text. The text type is also shared with the class and together and the story is boxed up. From here, children can plan their own version of the story using the generic structure. More time is then spent on practicing the tools in other contexts with the aim to use them in the children’s new text. This period is called ‘Reading as a Writer’.
When the tools have been learnt, shared writing begins; the teacher models how to write the new story, using the learnt tools. Children are invited to contribute to the teacher’s model. Pupils then write their own version of the story, by writing one part from their plan each day and children orally rehearse their sentences before they are written down. Teachers provide immediate feedback in lessons and further feedback on what has been effective as well as potential areas for improvement.
Independent Application Stage
Finally, the children carry out an independent piece of writing; they plan and write a new version of the text using the generic structure. There are opportunities to edit and improve their work and children produce published versions to share.
GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION AND SPELLING
Grammar, punctuation and spelling are an ongoing focus and are covered in our one-hour English lessons. There are also opportunities to address particular areas in our English Meetings.
We have high expectations of handwriting at all times and staff constantly model best practice to the children. From Reception, children are taught how to establish the tripod grip. This is reinforced through pre-writing skills involving pattern work and other exercises to help develop fine motor skills. Children are then taught individual letters with exit strokes in order to make small words, using the Read Write Inc phrases. Specific attention is given to pencil control, pencil grip and posture. When a child is able to form letters, they are introduced to joining up. In KS2, specific handwriting sessions take place in English Meetings, when teachers feel intervention is necessary. If in Year 5, children have fluent, legible handwriting, they can become pen writers.
Poetry is taught termly. In the first term, each class focuses on a particular poet. In term 2 and 3, children learn about different types of poems and create their own versions. Each poetry unit explores poetic devices and provide opportunities for performance.
For more information on Talk for Writing, follow this link to their website (click here).