At Whitehouse Common Primary School, we understand that the reading and writing of Standard English, alongside proficient language development, is the key to unlocking the rest of the academic curriculum. With this in mind, teachers plan from the National Curriculum, promote a love of reading and deliver high quality input to embed the key skills within English.
Whole-class daily phonics is taught in Foundation Key Stage and Key Stage 1 through the use of the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds (Revised) systematic synthetic phonics program. Within phonics lessons, pupils are introduced to a progressive set of sounds (phonemes) and their associated letters (graphemes). Sayings and rhymes are used to support the children in remembering the letters and sounds and letter formation children will practice saying both the sound and the saying throughout the lesson. Through this daily teaching, pupils will cover:
- all the phonemes of English words
- correct pronunciation of the phonemes
- all commonly occurring grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs)
- the correct formation of all graphemes
- blending for reading
- segmenting for writing
- the sequenced learning of appropriate tricky words.
In line with current Government assessment practices, pupils will participate in a phonics screening towards the end of Year 1.
For more information, and resources to help you support your child with saying their sounds and writing their letters, please follow this link.
There are also some useful videos so you can see how the sounds are taught at school, helping you to feel confident about supporting their reading at home.
Pupils read daily and are exposed to books through a variety of ways: Reading Practice (EYFS / KS1), Group Reading (KS2), Big Reading (Whole-class reading lessons) and shared reading within all curriculum areas. Pupils have weekly access to the library and regular story-time is timetabled in for all classes.
The teaching of Reading:
Reading input varies across the school, with Foundation Key Stage and KS1 accessing a minimum of 3 ‘Reading Practice’ sessions in addition to their daily phonics session. In these year groups, the explicit links are made between the development of the pupils’ phonics knowledge and their ability to decode when reading, with pupils reading phonetically decodable books, in line with their phonics knowledge. In Year 2, pupils also access Big Reading as an approach to analysing a text as a class. Pupils are familiar with the 5 Question Types, and are taught how to tackle these questions, enabling them to dig deeper into a text and show deeper understanding within their responses. The question types and their associated symbol are referred to regularly:
The 5 Question Types:
- Look back and find easy answers.
- Read and think more deeply like a detective.
- Connect important words, phrases and ideas to build meaning.
- Know what’s in a writer’s toolkit and explain what the tools do.
- Notice an author’s use of language and explain how it makes reader think.
In Foundation Key Stage and Key Stage 1, ‘Reading Practice’ occurs at least 3 times a week, with the week’s teaching following a structured plan. Children begin each week being introduced to the book and making the link between phonics knowledge and reading as they decode the week’s text. As the week progresses, the focus shifts from decoding to fluency and prosody (the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech). Teachers model the reading of the text using expression and intonation and will use this time to listen to individual readers, ensuring that they are using expression and prosody. Once the pupils are confident with the text, the teaching focus moves to comprehension – where the pupils’ understanding of the text is deepened. It is at this point, that children will be increasingly exposed to the 5 Questions Types with responses modelled before children respond independently.
As children progress into Year 2, pupils are also taught reading through a Big Read session, which is a whole-class method of teaching reading. Within Big Reading sessions, a text is analysed more deeply, with a focus on vocabulary, authorial intent and identification of the structures used within the text allowing for questioning, modelled answers and deeper thinking about a text they are increasingly familiar with.
In Foundation Key Stage and Key Stage 1, pupils keep the same book each week, taking it home for additional reading so that they become confident and accurate in the reading of the sounds and text as a whole. This reading book will be matched to the child’s phonics knowledge so that they can be successful in their reading.
In Key Stage 2, pupils undertake daily reading through Group Reading sessions. These sessions provide the opportunity for pupils to read with an adult, complete follow-up tasks from previous reading, read for pleasure and undertake comprehension tasks. Pupils will access a range of appropriate and accessible texts within their group, with books chosen from the Star Room (Start Talking About Reading). These books have been lexiled, which is a measure of the difficulty of a text, taking into account the content and accessibility of the text. Pupils may be asked to read their Group Reader between adult sessions and may bring this book home. Pupils who require additional support with their reading will be provided with a book tailored to their needs in terms of their phonetic knowledge. These may be books from the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds (Revised) resources or Project X books, depending on their need. As pupils progress through Key Stage 2, they are encouraged to select books of their own choosing when reading for pleasure, with guidance from teaching staff. Pupils are supported in increasing the breadth of reading through genre and author discussions, book exposure, class texts and book talk throughout the school week. Group Reading is delivered over a 3-week block in one class, while the other class is accessing reading through Big Reading sessions.
These lessons are delivered to the whole class, providing the opportunity for pupils to learn from each other and to develop more modelled responses to a class text or extract; and for the pupils to really get to know a text. The purpose of these Big Reading lessons is to “wring” out the meaning in the text. Through the delivery, pupils look at small chunks in lots of detail and teachers model the process as a reader using a ‘think aloud’ cloud – sharing how a response is formed to what has been read. These lessons involve an initial reading aloud of a section of the text with expression, enabling the children to gain an understanding of what has been read. Teachers then share and discuss key vocabulary to further aid understanding and then pupils engage in a further re-reading to “wring” out the meaning/comprehension focus using the 5 question types referenced earlier. Big Reading in Key Stage 2 is delivered over a 3-week block in one class, while the other class is accessing reading through Group Reading sessions.
Reading Leaders / 1:1 reading:
One of the initiatives that we are really proud of is the use of Reading Leaders. These are pupils from Year 6 who have been selected by their teachers as pupils who have the skills and attributes to support younger pupils with their reading. The pupils are given training and resources to support them in helping our younger readers and regularly meet with them, providing additional support in phonics and reading. We also have reading volunteers in school at times providing additional opportunities for pupils to read.
Reading for Pleasure:
As a school, one of the things we value is our drive around reading for enjoyment and promoting a real love of reading. In recent times, we have implemented several strategies aimed at widening pupils’ exposure to high quality texts and opportunities for pupils to enjoy a book.
Each year group has an individual book award to work towards, where pupils are set the challenge to read a wide range of genres and authors and also encouraged to take on board recommendations from others. Certificates are awarded for completion of the book award and the PTA provide prizes for the Book Award Prize Draw at the end of each academic year. In September 2021, a Staff Book Award was also added to the set, with ideas taken from pupils as to the challenges staff members should be tasked with completing.
When children complete a book of their own choosing, they are asked to share their book with the class and then the spine is copied and added to the classroom door book spine. Pupils enjoy seeing these book spines grow as the weeks go by.
Head Teacher and Deputy Head Teacher bookshelves:
To further raise the profile of reading in the school, both Mrs. Milward and Mrs. Wood have their own bookshelves in the Acorns and Oaks, where pupils are able to come and select a book of their own choosing. Staff will often send children who have been working hard with their reading or children who they feel would benefit from the range of books on offer and children can borrow them to take home as their ‘reading for pleasure’ book.
The aim of Birthday Books is that, instead of bringing sweets in for the pupils in the class, a book is purchased from a set list of texts that we know will engage and appeal to the pupils their year group. This book is often wrapped up as a present, brought into school on or near to their birthday and opened by them in front of their class. The book has a bookplate stuck into it to acknowledge that it was bought for the year group on the special occasion of that child’s birthday.
A reading newsletter is published each term to share with parents any updates, initiatives, celebrations of means of support within the delivery of reading. In each issue a staff member shares their favourite books and makes a recommendation. In previous issues, parents have been made aware of the book corners within classrooms, World Book Day has been celebrated and guidance for reading at home with their child has been shared.
Through the teaching of writing, we aim to develop independent writers who make the link between reading and writing, applying language, structures and styles identified through the reading of high-quality texts to their writing.
At Whitehouse Common, we teach writing through Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing programme. Through this structured delivery, pupils are able to retell a number of texts, develop a sound understanding of text structures and as a result create well-structured, engaging pieces of writing with the reader in mind.
As a consequence of the writing input delivered, pupils are able to demonstrate varying skills and attributes:
- An understanding of how authors use language to create mood,
- The use of language to communicate effectively through a range of genres to varying audiences,
- The accurate use of phonic principles and spelling patterns,
- A neat and efficient handwriting style that is appropriate to the purpose,
- An understanding of grammatical terms and correct grammar within spoken and written forms,
- An enjoyment of writing as a form of communication.
All children at WCPS are taught handwriting using ‘Nelson’ handwriting scheme. This font allows children to learn to form letters using four main joins:
1. to letters without ascenders (um ig)
2. to letters with ascenders (for example ch ol)
3. horizontal joins (for example od ve)
4. horizontal joins to letters with ascenders (wl of)
The scheme also includes nine break letters (letters that aren’t joined from): b g j p q x y z s.
All children currently have a weekly handwriting session to support them in learning these formations, allowing time for focused practice of handwriting, with children from Nursery – Year 4 writing using pencil, whilst children in Years 5 – 6 will write using a handwriting pen once they have shown that they can write in a neat script.
Half termly ‘Seat at the Table’ afternoons are used to recognise pupils who present their work to a high standard alongside those who have made a real improvement in their overall presentation (including handwriting). At these events, pupils attend with their books showcasing their presentation and are provided with a drink and treat as well as a certificate and sticker.
Across the writing and handwriting delivery, children recognise that writing evolves and must go through the editing process before a polished piece of work can be produced.
SPaG stands for Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. At Whitehouse Common, SPAG is taught both within and in addition to the daily English lessons. Often SPAG starters are used to remind pupils of prior learning or introduce a new concept ahead of a focused lesson and input takes a variety of forms including quizzes, activities and videos. As a school, we follow the Grammarsaurus scheme to deliver our SPAG curriculum and, as part of this programme of learning, weekly spelling words are set. Each word set within this weekly list will also have a definition to support their understanding and development of vocabulary. In addition to a weekly spelling test, children undertake a half-termly Grammarsaurus SPaG test to assess their attainment and progress and pupils are provided with the challenge of competing in the Spelling Bee events that are organised across the school.
If you wish to support your child with their spelling, punctuation and grammar, here are some website you can use at home:
Grammar, punctuation and spelling - KS2 English - BBC Bitesize
Spelling and Grammar, English Games for 7-11 Years - Topmarks
Free Primary SPaG Online 10-Minute Tests - Years 1 to 5 | CGP Books
Cambridge Learner’s Dictionary: Definitions & Meanings
The Spelling overviews can also be found on the website at the below link. This will allow you to see your child’s spellings for the whole half term.