English is recognised as a key curriculum area and is accordingly given a high profile at Harwood Meadows. The English curriculum has been developed with full regard being given to the newly revised National Curriculum requirements, offering all children opportunities to embed their basic skills of the English language.
Pupils are introduced systematically to the basic skills of reading, writing and spoken language and are given opportunities to study a wide range of narrative texts, non-fiction and poetry, as well as write creatively.
Grammatical understanding and the use of grammatical terminology is of a high importance, and therefore embedded across the curriculum. Similarly, word-level work (phonics and taught spelling lessons) is also a priority across the school. We aim to promote fluency in reading as well as reading for pleasure.
Teachers across the school endeavour to support pupils in developing their mastery over the skills necessary in order to communicate ideas effectively in both written and spoken form. The school also employs a specialist drama teacher to enhance its English provision and to develop each child’s confidence and oracy.
Synthetic phonics is taught daily and systematically through the 'Read, Write Inc.' teaching programme with the expectation that decoding and word recognition skills will be secured by the end of KS1. Children progress from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills and learn the major grapheme/phoneme correspondences. They have access to a range of decodable reading books.
In addition to decodable texts, our range of reading material includes a variety of fiction and non-fiction from a number of different publishers, written with natural language structures. They are graded in a progression of difficulty based on 'Bookbands for Guided Reading.'
The teaching of reading and the provision for reading is embedded within the Every Child a Reader approach, of which Reading Recovery is central. This includes the daily synthetic phonics and guided reading. Children are encouraged to respond to different layers of meaning in the texts they read and are given opportunities to practise and apply their reading skills across the curriculum.
It is our aim for all children to learn to read independently with confidence, fluency and enthusiasm both for learning and for pleasure.
Reading at Harwood Meadows
Background research from the Education Endowment Fund
Research indicates that
- Children benefit from a balanced approach to literacy that includes a range of approaches. The emphasis of the different approaches will shift as children progress; effective diagnosis can help to identify priorities
- All pupils benefit from oral language interventions, and some studies show slightly larger effects for younger children and pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds (up to six months' additional progress)
- Phonics approaches have been consistently found to be effective in supporting younger readers to master the basics of reading, with an average impact of an additional four months’ progress.
At Harwood Meadows, reading is a top priority and is a key driver for our curriculum. It is our intention to ensure that by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently and with confidence, to prepare them for their forthcoming secondary education. Reading at Harwood Meadows begins with an effective programme of phonics teaching based on a high-quality phonics programme.
We are developing a whole school reading culture to encourage all pupils to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live; establish an appreciation and love of reading; gain knowledge across the curriculum; and develop their comprehension skills. We are committed to providing vocabulary rich reading material to challenge children in every year group.
Our assessment system ensures that children are accurately and rigorously assessed against age related expectations.
- The systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. Phonics is taught daily to all children in Foundation Stage, Year 1 and those in Year 2 who have not passed phonics screening in Year 1.
- In EYFS, there will be a strong focus on developing the children’s capacity to listen, concentrate and discriminate between sounds.
- Staff systematically teach learners the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them.
- Teachers will be highly trained in the principles of phonics and whole class reading to enable them to identify the learning needs and recognise and overcome barriers.
- Phonics is delivered in ability-group format; it enables staff to ensure application across subjects, embedding the process in a rich literacy environment for early readers. This can involve cross year group delivery.
- Timely intervention is planned for those children who are working below age related expectations as soon as needs are identified. Children who fall behind the expected standard will be given individualised support.
- Children accessing phonics each have a home reader matched to their phonics phase; this is further supported in lessons.
- EYFS planning includes regular activities which promote purposeful reading with adults, pupils and independently.
- Once children are confidently reading, they move on to the school reading scheme. We aim for the majority of children to access this by the end of Autumn term in Year 2.
- Texts used in both reading and writing are chosen to ensure a broad range of genre and progressive challenge throughout each Key Stage. A range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts are studied each term.
- The school ensures all texts are accurately matched to pupil ability, as all books are colour-coded to ensure progression and challenge for all children.
- All children from Year 1 complete a termly comprehension assessment.
- All children from Year 1 take part in a minimum of 3 Whole Class Reading sessions per week. All teachers use these to introduce pupils to a range of genres and to teach a range of techniques which enable children to comprehend the meaning of what they read. This is followed up by retrieval, prediction, comprehension and inference tasks which are sequenced according to year group and ability.
- All classrooms have their own class reading areas with topic themed books. These areas are further enhanced over the course of this year.
- Each class has a daily reading session where teachers read to pupils and pupils have time for independent reading.
- Any children not making the expected progress have 1:1 or small group intervention using bespoke packages.
- Theatre trips and visits from published authors and illustrators give all children the opportunity to access cultural activity, which otherwise some children may not have the opportunity to experience.
Writing at Harwood Meadows
At Harwood Meadows Primary, writing is a crucial part of our curriculum. All children from Foundation Stage to Year 6 are provided with a diverse range of opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across the curriculum.
Writing runs alongside reading and is further supported by speaking and listening, with the intention of creating confident, articulate young people.
Our intention is for all pupils to be able to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. To be able to do this effectively, pupils will focus on developing a wide knowledge of vocabulary, and effective transcription and composition. They will also develop an awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. We intend to develop the skill of fluent, legible handwriting. We ensure that pupils are competent in the art of speaking and listening, demonstrating to others, and participating in debate.
- At Harwood Meadows, we use ‘Read, Write, Inc Phonics’ from EYFS to Y6 as the vehicle for teaching writing. This is to ensure a consistent and systematic approach across all cohorts. This also ensures that expectations are consistent across all year groups.
- Early writing is taught through mark making, then when the children begin RWI phonics they are taught the letter formations. This begins with writing (whether with a writing tool or in the air) cvc words, moving onto short sentences using the sounds they have been taught. They are encouraged to write independently in continuous provision.
- This process continues into Year 1, where children are encouraged to use the sounds they have been taught. They have access to RWI sound mats, when they are writing, whether this is with the teacher, in continuous provision or independently. Phoneme / grapheme posters are displayed in all areas where phonics is taught for easy reference.
- As we are aware that spelling is a cause for concern in our school, we have introduced the Spelling Shed spelling programme so that there is continuity from the RWI phonics. Children who have progressed from RWI phonics are then assessed and grouped by ability for spelling. There is an expectation that teachers track back to ensure that any gaps in knowledge are addressed. KS2 classes follow the National Curriculum, using Spelling Shed as a template to ensure full coverage.
- Grammar is taught through the model text, and also through discrete lessons. Grammar is assessed termly using a standardised assessment.
- There is an expectation that all teachers use of grammar is accurate. Any areas of weakness, that are identified as a result of independent writing, are taught as part of the modelled text, or the grammar starters. Again, teachers are expected to track back to previous year’s objectives, if this is appropriate.
- Writing across the curriculum is taught by showing the children what a good one looks like, before then identifying the features in the specific text type that is needed e.g. an information text about their learning in history. The children then use this knowledge as a scaffold to write about their learning, as they are familiar with the text type and style of writing needed for that genre.
- Children engage in the process of editing their work with support from adults and their peers. A final version is produced and placed in a writing portfolio.
- Where possible teachers use ‘real’ purposes for writing and work is published in an appropriate format.
- Teachers will develop pupils’ spoken language across the whole curriculum and children will participate in weekly drama sessions. As a school, we will host assemblies for parents, an annual Year 6 production and seasonal celebrations.
- The teaching of handwriting will enable children to develop a consistent, cursive style. Focus will be placed on accurate letter formation with appropriate pace and fluency.