English 

Reading

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 buy 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.

Here is our reading policy.

Reading lessons

In Reception and Year 1, while children are at the early stage of reading and learning phonics, children are taught in small groups with a Phonics Shed text closely matched to the phonics they are secure in. This is extra to their daily phonics lessons. Alongside this, whole class reading lessons also allow children to share stories and texts which are read to them, both with the purpose of building their comprehension skills and also for pleasure.

Once children are secure in their phonics, they begin reading a wider range of 'real' texts - picture books and extracts from chapter books and non-fiction. Either in small groups with an adult, or as a whole class, children learn comprehension skills in these reading lessons. After reading an age-related text, with adult or peer support when needed, 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. We mostly use short extracts but also draw upon the class text for the term where appropriate. Where possible we make sure the books we use extracts from are available n the class library for children to finish reading if they wish.

To help our children talk about and remember the different reading skills that they learn, we use a system of 'reading hats' each with a different colour, This also allows teachers to record which areas of reading individual children are good at or struggle with and shape future lessons accordingly. This has particularly had good impact on the children's use of evidence when backing up their opinions about their reading (our white hat) with children right from Reception being able to use the sentence starter 'because it says that...'.

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. We believe learning to read is the most important skill that children will learn in their time at Cashes and we know that this happens best and quickest when children are supported at home. 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).

While children are learning phonics, their home reading book is closely matched to the phonics they are secure in. Children re-read a book several times to build fluency and confidence.

Each week, children who have a matched phonics book also have the chance to take home a book from our 'Share a Story' baskets (or from a coloured book band once they are in KS2). These are a range of 'real' books (picture books, illustrated or longer chapter books and non-fiction) which can be shared with them by an adult or older sibling at home. We understand that books are expensive so we have provided these books so that every family gets a chance to share reading texts together at home.

Once they have mastered phonics and are practising their fluency and comprehension skills, children continue to follow through the colour-coded reading bands. This 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. We know it takes time to build fluency and stamina and also how important it is that children enjoy what they read. These home reading books are from a wide range of published schemes but also include a range of 'real' books by both favourite and new authors to ensure that children are exposed to a range of styles and characters.

Generally by the end of Year 4, as they become fully fluent, with a larger vocabulary and able to independently tackle any age-appropriate text, we have a wide range of both fiction and non-fiction books for children to choose from in their class libraries. These free-reading books are 'real' children's books rather than from published schemes and include a range of authors, styles and themes . We invested in these books so that children have interesting, age appropriate books to read and to encourage a real love for reading. Children are regularly asked to recommend their favourite authors and we often add to our bookshelves.

In KS2, each class has a specially selected set of reading challenge books. A fiction set exposes children to a wide range of authors, characters and themes and has been designed to be progressively challenging through the year groups. Whilst children do not have to read these books, they are encouraged to and the first chapters are used for reading lessons to spark children's interest and enthusiasm for trying a new author or genre. Alongside this, a set of graphic novels has been put together which is accessible for a wider range of pupils. These have proved extremely popular.

Our next set of books to create for each class will be poetry and we are also looking to invest in a wider range of high-quality non-fiction books for each class too.

Writing

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. 

In Reception children write in their writing lessons and in their continuous provision where they can choose to practise their skills. They learn to write sentences to retell stories and for real purposes.

From Year 1 upwards, each term children have a narrative unit and a non-fiction unit. We also plan in regular opportunities to practise non-fiction text types througout each term, linking to other subject areas when appropriate. Children enjoy publishing their writing on this webpage, in class books and on displays as well as in their own topic books.

Non-fiction Overview

For each non-fiction text type, we have developed a skeleton structure to help children remember the parts needed. This skeleton builds up as children move through the school, and the grammar features for each year group are mapped on a progression grid so that children learn to apply and practise these skills which get progressively more complex. For example, present tense non-chronological reports have this skeleton and this progression grid.

Phonics and Spelling

Phonics is taught daily in EYFS and KS1 following the Phonics Shed scheme. 

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 to the whole class, meaning that teaching has high expectations for all. However, we know not all children learn at the same speed so additional teaching also occurs to those who need it so that every child can learn to read in a timely manner.

From Year 1 upwards we also teach discrete spelling lessons, following the Spelling Shed scheme. We know that our children sometimes find learning to spell difficult so we link to learning new vocabulary and the etymology and morphology of words where possible as well as actively teaching ways to remember the letter patterns.

Here is our Phonics Policy.

Here is our Spelling Policy.

Handwriting and Presentation

We use a fully joined cursive style of writing inline with the expectations of the National Curriculum from Year 2 upwards.

Children and explicitly taught letter formation and joins, and practise their handwriting with an adult 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, once they are secure in their phonics. Before this, they learn a print style which enables them to learn correct letter formation and size before adding in the leaders and feeders needing for joining. This also helps children in learning to read as they are writing in the same style as they are reading in their Phonics Shed lessons.

 Currently, 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.

At the end of each day, children from any class can be sent to receive a handwriting merit sticker to recognise their efforts in this area of the curriculum.

Here is our Handwriting Policy.

Grammar and Punctuation

The start of each English lesson has a spelling or grammar focus. 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.

We use Alan Peat's Exciting Sentences as a hook to help children remember how to apply their technical grammar knowledge to their writing. Children then practise these skills every time they write, moving from having reminders to using them naturally as their understanding and confidence grows.