We believe that children deserve the very best teaching and learning provision in English. We strive to develop children who are articulate and imaginative communicators and are well-equipped with the basic skills they need to become motivated lifelong learners. We also aim for all our children to develop a genuine love of language and the written word.
We have high expectations of all children and we are very proud of the creative and exciting opportunities we provide in order to scaffold learning at every level. We are committed to providing a rich and engaging English curriculum that meets the needs of all learners and inspires children to become imaginative and effective writers and readers.
Our aim is that English learning is contextualised in children’s experiences and therefore is carefully planned with explicit links to children’s wider learning. We enrich English learning with visits from authors, trips and experiences that will provide a real purpose for reading and writing.
Books are more than the stories inside. They are the key to unlocking the potential in every child. We believe the ability to read is fundamental to pupils’ development as independent learners. We have a blog to review and comment on books.
What are our aims for reading at The Mead?
- To encourage children to become enthusiastic and reflective readers through contact with challenging and enriching texts.
- To read a wide variety of genres and text types.
- To read with confidence, fluency and understanding, using a range of independent strategies to self-monitor and correct mistakes.
- To develop confident and independent readers by inspiring a love of literature and an enjoyment of reading for pleasure.
Good reading skills allow children to access all areas of the curriculum. In order to read across the curriculum with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment pupils need to use a range of strategies. Drawing on knowledge of context and grammatical knowledge, applying phonic knowledge and skills, applying alphabet knowledge and developing word recognition. These are skills which the children are taught through English and Guided Reading sessions.
Guided Reading is an opportunity to develop and practise reading skills whilst engaging with a variety of texts. Working with groups of children, teachers support individuals as they develop their skills using a balance of questioning and guidance to encourage fluency and comprehension of texts.
Whole class reading sessions occur daily in our classrooms. These sessions encourage children to choose a text and read independently for pleasure. To support reading in class, there is a dedicated book area in each classroom. KS2 children often pair up with KS1 children too.
All independent reading books are colour coded to ensure that children and parents are able to select a book at an appropriate level.
The majority of our independent reading books are published by Oxford University Press and these include: Songbird phonics, Oxford Reading Tree (Biff, Chip and Kipper adventures), Fireflies, Snapdragons and Project X. Some of the Rigby Star scheme are also used to support and complement the OUP selection.
Our Independent reading books include a variety of fiction genres and non-fiction books.
Colour banded independent reading books range from the most simple key word recognition text (Pink – Reading age <5 years) to more complex lengthy text (White – Reading age 7.5 – 8 years).
Once children reach this level in their reading they are encouraged to select from a range of Lime banded longer chapter style books (>8years) before progressing to a monitored ‘free’ choice from the library or class book corners.
In EYFS and KS1 the teaching of Guided Reading is supported by the Collins Big Cat, Rigby Star and Kingscourt Story Steps Guided Reading schemes and at KS2 by the Collins Big Cat, Rigby Navigator and Literacy Links Plus Guided Reading schemes. This does not however, preclude teachers from planning guided reading sessions around other text, provided the texts chosen are matched to the reading levels of the children.
We have well stocked libraries which contain a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, which children have the opportunity to use during lessons and independently. Parents are encouraged to visit the library at the start or end of the school day with their children to assist the selection of books to share and enjoy at home.
The school library is a vibrant learning space where the children are encouraged to choose a book that they would like to read and or share at home with their family. Each child in school has a unique library barcode number that is attached to their planners at the start of each school year; this barcode then enables the children to ‘check’ books into and out of the library.
We employ teachers to lead Reading Recovery at our schools. Children who are identified as in need of Reading Recovery have individual lessons with a specially trained teacher for 30 minutes a day. The lesson series lasts for up to 20 weeks. The programme is different for every child, starting from what the child knows and what he/she needs to learn next. The focus of each lesson is to comprehend messages in reading and construct messages in writing, learning how to attend to detail without losing focus on meaning.
At the end of the programme most children are able to read and write without help, at the appropriate level for their age and after the intervention their progress continues in line with their peers.
We use ‘Letters and Sounds’ (a programme developed as a result of the ‘Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading’) to support children’s phonological development. This is a six-phase systematic, synthetic phonics programme designed to help children become fluent readers by the age of seven. It focuses on teaching high quality phonics, using blending and segmentation techniques. This aims to teach the children the correspondences between sounds (phonemes) in spoken language and letters (graphemes) in written language. These correspondences help the children to read and spell words.
We use ‘Jolly Phonics’ as a vehicle for making our Phonics teaching fun and memorable. This is a child-centred multi-sensory approach to teaching each of the 42 letter sounds. Each sound has a fun story and an action to support children to embed new learning and apply this knowledge in reading and writing.
Key Words and Spellings
High frequency words are the words that appear most often in printed materials. Some of the high frequency words are called ‘tricky words’ because the children are unable to use their phonic knowledge to decode every part of the word.
Learning to recognise the high frequency words on sight is crucial in developing fluency and accuracy in reading and then writing. We are committed to supporting the children learn to read and then spell these words.
Once children are confident with reading and spelling high-frequency words, they are taught spelling rules and are encouraged to apply these rules in their writing. Key words and spellings are usually tested weekly in school.
Key Words and Spellings
We teach children to join their writing in a cursive script throughout the school.
Cursive letters all start from the same place and flow from left to right. Children are taught to form each letter with a ligature (lead-in) and each of the four different types of joins.
Role Play and Drama
We value Drama techniques as a core part of the Literacy Curriculum. Children engage in drama activities to provide purpose for reading and writing and to develop speaking and listening skills.
Teachers and children work together to create engaging role play areas linked to each topic. Children use these areas to apply the English skills they have been taught. These role play areas are highly valued by staff and children and are an essential tool for enabling independence in all learners.
At The Mead we use ‘Storymaking’ and ‘Talk for Writing’ to strengthen children’s development in writing. Through learning to tell stories, children develop speaking and listening skills and internalise story language and sentence structure to apply in their own writing. Children use symbols and pictures to support them to learn and retell stories for a range of audiences.
Our schools are very well-resourced to support children with all aspects of their English learning. We have an extensive collection of quality texts for children to read and enjoy and a wealth of other resources to make learning in English fun and engaging. Children use laptops regularly to explore digital texts and to write for purpose. We also have a range of other digital devices that we use to enhance the English curriculum such as video cameras, recordable microphones and audio devices.
Steam Museum Visit
Children visited The Steam Museum in Swindon as part of their learning about life as a child during WW2.
Cathy Farr, author of Moon Chase and Moon Crossing visited The Mead to speak to our Year 5 and 6 children. Our English curriculum is made up of some key elements.
The Mead is very proud to have been re-accredited with the ‘Basic Skills Quality Mark’ in 2010. This award is in recognition of our dedication to supporting all children to make progress in English.