English is the language of learning in every curriculum subject. English allows children to learn independently and is therefore empowering. At St John's Church of England Infant School the teaching of English is enjoyable, motivating and challenging. We teach basic skills and provide a rich, meaningful and engaging learning environment. We strive to inspire a love and appreciation of English and ensure that every child becomes a competent reader and writer.
At our school, it is our intent to provide children with a broad, balanced and challenging English curriculum. Children will embark on an exciting journey that supports and develops their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.
The children will become confident speakers who initiate and engage in discussions with others. We will equip children with the necessary skills required to become capable and confident readers, thus providing a lifelong love of reading and literature. By immersing the children in a rich variety of texts we will inspire their imagination. Children will develop an extensive vocabulary and their use of grammar that will inspire them to write clearly and accurately for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. By developing children’s reading and writing we aim to prepare them for lifelong learning.
All children have a daily, hour-long Read Write Inc session. Read Write Inc Phonics is a highly successful program that is used by more than a quarter of all primary schools in the UK. The lessons last for one hour per day and consist of a range of phonics, reading and writing activities.
The aim of the programme is to help children to become fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers. The children are set in ability groups across the school; these groups are flexible and the children move groups as they progress. Children who are not progressing as fast as expected, receive 1-1 phonic interventions.
In addition to Read, Write Inc, we also deliver English lessons using a scheme called ‘The Power of Reading’ This scheme consists of a large range of high quality texts and enables cross curricular links to all subjects. Children engage deeply with these carefully selected texts as we foster their ability to: read as readers, read as writers and finally write as readers. The primary aim of using these texts so that we expose the children to a range of high quality literature over the course of their infant school life. In this way, we aim to assist the children in their development of a rich vocabulary. The writing process is always modelled by the teacher during shared writing sessions.
Children are taught pre-cursive and then cursive handwriting during the course of their time at St John’s through regular handwriting sessions.
Pupils will not only acquire the appropriate age-related knowledge but also skills which equip them to progress from their own personal starting points and within their everyday lives. Children will :
- Be confident in the art of speaking and listening and be able to use discussion to communicate and further their learning;
- Be able to read fluently both for pleasure and to further their learning;
- Enjoy writing across a range of genres;
- Have a wide vocabulary and be adventurous with their vocabulary choices within their writing;
- Be able to effectively spell using their phonetic knowledge and their knowledge of spelling rules;
- Be well equipped to continue their education with a good grounding in reading and writing.
English is taught throughout Key Stage 1 via a daily structured English lesson, which is based upon the National Curriculum objectives. Throughout these sessions, children are able to develop and extend their speaking & listening, reading and writing skills.
Our reading books are graded by colour according to difficulty known as Book Bands and children work through the bands at their own rate.
Each Book Band has its own colour and fits with current National Curriculum levels. Within the bands, books are taken from several different established schemes such as Rigby Star and Oxford Reading Tree. There are also some "real" books that are not written as part of a scheme. This system ensures that children are exposed to a wide variety of authors and genres and can become very discerning in their choices.
Some children will have progressed through the scheme and will have become a free reader. This means they will choose their own books from a wide selection of books. The choice of book will be monitored by the class teacher. Children will also take part in guided group reading sessions in class.
In Year 2, children use an online quizzing program after they have read a book. This is a really fun way to test your child's comprehension of each text.
Children have access to a range of books within their own book corners and also the school library. Classes also have access to the local library via the library van which visits the school each term and children walk to our local library to choose books.
Teaching of Phonics
The phonics scheme of learning used across our school is called Read Write Inc and was created by Ruth Miskin.
Read Write Inc Phonics is a highly successful phonics program that is used by more than a quarter of all primary schools in the UK. The lessons last for one hour per day and consist of a range of phonics, reading and writing activities.
The aim of the programme is to help children to become fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers.
It is the expectation at St Johns that pupils will have successfully passed their phonics screening test and have completed the Read Write Inc program at the end of KS1. However, individual pupils may still require additional teaching of phonics as they enter KS2.
Read Write Inc lesson structure (EYFS):
- Speed Sounds and Word Time: Each session begins with the children learning a new focus sound and practising saying it several times. The children are learning to blend sounds together to make a word, so will then use whiteboards with magnetic letters in order to do this.
- Writing: Children practise forming the grapheme (written form of the sound) using a rhyme they would have been taught to remember its shape. For example, the rhyme for the letter ‘a’ is ‘around the apple and down the leaf’.
Read Write Inc lesson structure (KS1):
A typical Read Write Inc lesson will follow a similar structure to the one below.
- Speed Sounds and Word Time: Each session begins with the children learning a new focus sound and practising saying it several times. The children will then read words with the new sound and write words with the new sound.
- Reading: Children will follow a teaching sequence that lasts either 3 or 5 days and is based on a story that is suitable for their current phonetic ability. The children will read the story multiple times to build up their fluency when reading and engage in activities linked into the story, such as answering questions with a partner.
- Writing: Children will write something every day linked to the story they have read. Children may “Hold a sentence” where they are asked to memorise a sentence and copy it with the correct spellings and punctuation. Children will finish off the teaching sequence by writing an independent piece of writing inspired by the story they have been reading.
Other essential phonics information:
- All children are tracked and assessed approximately every six weeks.
- In Year 1 pupils undertake a phonics screening test; if children do not meet the standard required, they will re-take the test in Year 2.
- Read Write Inc Phonics offer a range of free video guides for parents who wish to give their children further support at home:
Expectations of Parents/Carers
St John's expects Parents/Carers to be an integral part of their child's learning. Therefore it expects them to listen to reading regularly and help with the learning of letters and sounds along with the learning of weekly spellings.
Please click below to view our recommended reading lists for each year group:
In writing, children are taught a cursive script from Reception which then helps them as they learn to 'join up' their handwriting in years one and two. The children are taught to compose their written work by orally rehearsing their sentences, writing it down and then re-reading to check it makes sense. In the Early Years writing can be encouraged by providing a range of different writing materials such as; white boards and pens, chalk boards, and paper of different colours, textures and sizes to experiment with.
We use a scheme called 'The Power of Reading' to teach reading and writing to children. This scheme consists of a large range of high quality texts and enables cross curricular links to all subjects.
Speaking and Listening
Acquiring a good standard of spoken English will underpin the development of reading and writing and is essential to communication as a whole. We value the use of drama across the whole curriculum to help children improve their speaking and listening skills. Parents can also help by looking for opportunities to develop speaking and listening skills, for example playing games and sharing conversations over a meal and carefully monitoring children’s access to television and computer games. Setting aside time when all mobile phones and tablets are 'out of bounds' can help your child know they have your full attention and develop their social and language skills.