Our approach to reading, writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar
It all starts with phonics
At Roche we feel that reading is the cornerstone to progress in so many aspects of learning. We feel that children must learn to read in order for them to read to learn. The first step on this journey is the systematic learning of phonics. All children must crack the phonics code before they can develop fluency and automaticity as readers.
We teach phonics throughout Foundation Stage, Key stage 1 and this continues in Key stage 2 for those requiring additional support to make progress. Our principle aim for phonics is to develop the skills to read fluently, as well as to build firm foundations of vocabulary.
Progress in phonics is assessed every half term to ensure that children are making expected or better rates of progress. Children who have made expected progress are then moved up to the next group or targeted for extra support. A summative assessment is made in Year 1 (December of Year 2 following pandemic) using the National Phonics Screening Test where children are tested on their phonics ability and their score compared to a National Average. Children who do not attain the expected score retake the assessment at a later date.
We teach phonics through the Read, Write, Inc Programme. Children are assessed every half term and grouped according to their progress. Those who are not making enough progress are immediately put on a catch-up programme to prevent them falling behind.
Children’s reading books are closely matched to their phonics ability which helps them apply their learning and develop reading fluency. Parents are briefed about the scheme at the beginning of each year when we have our parent briefings.
The focus on phonics becomes a focus on spelling of key vocabulary as the children progress through the school where we use the Read, Write, Inc Spelling program. We run workshops for parents of children in Reception class to show them ways of supporting and developing reading with their children at home. These are well attended.
A high proportion of staff are trained in the delivery of Read Write Inc. and school has a phonics leader who coaches and quality assures provision. School uses Development days with representatives from the Kernow English hub to further advance and maximise the impact of phonics teaching at every level.
Engagement and enjoyment
In Reception class, we value the ‘five-a-day’ read-aloud programme, which sees the children engaging in five texts (stories, narratives and information texts) each day.
This immerses the children in the sounds and experiences of the stories, and is a great precursor to the shared reading initiative we employ in the other classes. It sparks and develops children’s levels of concentration and attainment in reading and writing, as well as their enjoyment and, ultimately, their love of reading!
In response to our evaluation of reading, school developed it’s ‘shared reading’ initiative that sees each class reading three times a week as a group using whole class sets of texts so that every child has a book in their hands enabling the class to read, discuss and enjoy the story or information together, and in particular develop vocabulary. This initiative begins during Year 1 and carries on throughout the school. Each text is carefully chosen and has a meaningful rationale. Texts are chosen to be engaging and enjoyable and ensure that children experience a high quality reading experience. The ‘shared reading’ session is also used for teaching reading. We use a set of generic questions known as VIPERS to structure the learning and practise of comprehension, inference and retrieval skills and encourage a focus on vocabulary discussion and application. Our frequent written comprehensions give teachers information on what skills the class have and need in terms of comprehension meaning that they can tailor the VIPERS questions to these domains giving the class opportunities to practise and apply the appropriate knowledge and skills, and ultimately progress.
We make the most of opportunities to read in subject areas such as History. This can be a particularly useful context for reading and sharing non-fiction texts.
Time to read
Whilst we encourage parents to read with their children throughout their time at school, we also commit time in school to read. Firstly, we dedicate time to individual independent reading to promote fluency and engagement, utilising the Accelerated Reader scheme with all children as soon as they complete Read Write Inc phonics. Accelerated reader offers a competitive element to reading, which encourages children to read as much as possible but also as deeply as possible. The Accelerated Reader system enables children to regulate their own progress and push themselves to read and achieve more. It promotes reading for meaning and develops comprehension skills alongside enjoyment and greater engagement in what they are reading. It also gives us clear information to share with parents about their child’s progress.
Carefully planned opportunities to embed writing run throughout our curriculum. Writing may derive from study in the wider curriculum for example in History, it may be linked throughout a unit to the shared reading text in class. We look for realistic contexts for writing that will have relevance for children.
We have worked hard at Roche to develop a rich and robust curriculum, which is committed to opportunities for progression and consolidation, primarily based upon our ‘editing and drafting’ programme. This programme champions the idea of fluency of writing, as well as development, as does our ‘writing conferencing’ initiative, which sees pupils working one to one, or in small groups, with their teacher to address the areas that are pertinent to them.
We want children take ownership over the improvement of their writing and understand the components of vocabulary, punctuation and grammar that will give them increasing levels of control over how and what they communicate when they write.
Targeted academic support for reading and writing
Whilst our emphasis is on quality first teaching we know that in some cases our curriculum needs to include opportunity for targeted academic support to enable children to make accelerated progress. This is particularly relevant following the pandemic which has impacted negatively on the progress of many children. School has adopted the Education Endowment Foundation’s tiered approach to School Development Planning and placed emphasis on targeted support in phonics, reading and writing. This may be in the form of additional phonics for a group as well as 1:1 intervention, writing conferencing led by class teachers as well as school’s designated writing conference teacher, additional reading comprehension activities in groups or in 1:1 scenarios and precision teaching for phonics or spelling. These activities will be part of the curriculum in all classes to ensure that all identified children will receive additional targeted support. In 2021/22 our overarching School Development focus in tier 1 is on the development of diagnostic assessment to sharpen the curriculum content for all as well as identification of specific learning needs ensuring that provision is accurately targeted.