Hillcrest Road, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 4NL
Care and Support Helps Everyone Succeed
From learning to write their name in Reception Class to writing letters of persuasion to politicians in Year 6, our children enjoy writing. We learn writing skills in daily English lessons and provide a range of opportunities for these to be practised in other subjects through our topic based curriculum. We find our children learn best when writing is purposeful and linked to their interests so we use a range of stimuli such as story books, real and imaginary events and digital media to give meaning to their writing tasks.
Phonics is taught daily in EYFS and KS1 following the Letters and Sounds programme. Phonics lessons include a wide range of activities, including games, computer/iPad activities, sorting words and objects as well as reading and writing. We teach phonics in small groups meaning that teaching is tailored for the specific stage of the group. Children move between groups as their needs change - the groups are not set. Once children complete all phases of Letters and Sounds their phonics continues to be important. Alongside this we follow the No-Nonsense Spelling Scheme, starting in Year 2, which then continues into Key Stage 2.
Handwriting and Presentation
We follow the Penpals scheme for handwriting through the school which is aligned with the expectations of the National Curriculum. Children practise their handwriting with an adult in special handwriting books each week but are also encouraged to continue this into all their writing. Children learn to join when they are ready, for most children this is towards the end of Year 1/the start of Year 2. In Upper Key Stage 2, children displaying consistently neat, legible and joined writing earn their pen license and are allowed to use pen for all their work. In Friday Celebration Assemblies a child from each class is chosen for a Handwriting Merit Sticker to reward their efforts and achievements in this area.
Spelling and Grammar
The start of each English lesson has a spelling or grammar focus when children are taught explicitly spelling rules and patterns, how to use specific punctuation marks and about different types of words such as nouns and adjectives. Children then practise these skills every time they write, moving from having reminders to using them naturally as their understanding and confidence grows. We very closely follow the National Curriculum, ensuring children progressively develop their skills and have time to embed them whilst learning to write at the age expected level.
Reading is a vital skill for life and we invest time, effort and resources to ensure that learning to read is fun for our children. We have a well stocked library, a book corner with age appropriate books in every classroom and borrow topic boxes each term too to ensure that children have a wide range of interesting books to read. Children read many times each day at school, whether it be within a specific reading lesson, practising reading aloud to an adult or as part of a topic lesson.
In small groups, with an adult, children learn comprehension skills in guided reading. Both fiction and non-fiction books are studied. After reading a text of appropriate challenge the group discusses the text, for example thinking about the characters, their feelings and actions or the layout and language choices made by the author. Follow-up tasks involve the children responding to what they've read individually, for example writing a diary from the point of view of one of the characters or finding information in the text to answer quiz questions. We have recently spent a lot of money adding to our group sets of guided reading books. This means there are a wide range of books written by famous and well-liked children's authors which our children enjoy choosing and reading as well as interesting non-fiction books.
Practising Reading at Home
Reading makes up part of the homework children in all classes are expected to complete every week because we know that children progress with their reading better when they practise regularly .In our Friday Celebrations Assembly children receive awards for the number of times they read at home - the top prize being choosing a book to take home (200 reads).
When they are learning to read and practising their comprehension skills, children follow through the colour-coded reading bands which makes sure that they are practising the skills being taught in class at an appropriate level for them to build their confidence and enjoy their reading. These home reading books are from a wide range of published schemes to ensure that children are exposed to a range of styles and characters.
As they become more fluent, generally by Key Stage 2, we have a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction books for children to choose from. Our 'star' books are 'real' children's books rather than from published schemes and include classic authors such as Roald Dahl as well as modern authors such as David Walliams and Anthony Horrowitz. We invested in these books so that children have interesting, age appropriate books to read and to encourage a real love for reading. To ensure progression and challenge the books are colour coded and we encourage a balance between working through sets of favourite books and reading a range of authors to experience different styles and genres. Children are regularly asked to recommend their favourite authors and we often add to our bookshelves.