English is crucial to the success of pupils in both their career aspirations and their quality of life. Strong English skills are encouraged at Whitefield and our book based curriculum has had a huge impact on the children. Books in the curriculum have been specifically chosen to broaden pupil’s thoughts and ideas of different cultures and periods of time. The book based curriculum has put English into context and learning has become more meaningful to both teachers and pupils. The ability to read, write and articulate ideas are promoted in other areas of the curriculum.
At Whitefield we use Accelerated Reader as our reading scheme. Accelerated Reader is a reading program that helps teachers support and monitor children’s reading practice. The children pick a book at their own level and read it at their own pace. When finished, they take a short online quiz to measure how much of the book they understood. Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read. AR gives children and teachers feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice. The children then take a half termly assessment to measure their progress and comprehension. A link for the website can be found here.
It is our aim to promote a love of reading and the ability to critically evaluate books. As such we encourage children to read within whole class teaching, group work and guided reading sessions. These activities include child initiated and teacher led questioning, reading for reflection, evaluating word and punctuation choice and comprehension.
We also use a resource called Cracking Comprehension which has a range of multi-format resources that support children in developing and improving their reading comprehension skills across a range of text types and genres.
To encourage regular reading at home, pupils from Reception through to Year 6 are encouraged to take part in the RED (Read Every Day) Challenge. To take part in the RED Challenge, children need to read at home five times every week. Each time they read at home, we ask that an adult signs their reading record. Each Friday we add up how many children have achieved the RED award in each class to see who has won the RED award. The winning class receive £10 to spend on books for their class library.
Writing is a primary means of expression, both for personal cognitive purposes and for communicating meaning with others. Our aim is to develop in our children the ability to communicate their ideas fluently and accurately through their writing.
Pupils learn how to write with confidence, fluency, imagination and accuracy by orchestrating their knowledge of context and composition (text level), grammatical knowledge (sentence level) and knowledge of phonics, word recognition and graphic knowledge (word level at Key Stage 1) and a wider range of spelling strategies at Key Stage 2.
We provide a wide variety of reasons and purposes for writing and in the early years provide many opportunities for child initiated and role-play writing.
As soon as children are able to form most letters correctly and have a good pencil grip, we teach a fluent and legible handwriting style that empowers children to write with confidence and creativity. We encourage children to ‘have a go’ at writing as soon as possible and to use their phonic skills and knowledge to spell.
At Whitefield, we teach writing following a three-staged approach of: Imitation, Innovation, and Invention; incorporating the ‘Talk for Writing’ principles. Teachers regularly model writing in daily shared writing sessions and we provide regular opportunities for children’s writing and ideas to be shared, displayed, published and celebrated.
This approach centres on children learning quality texts off by heart so that rich language and structure is embedded and built upon in every year group. Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it. We teach all of our English through fun activities that help them rehearse the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their writing. This enables them to choose the writer tools they want to use in their independent writing, which in turn helps them to develop their own literacy voice.
All of our writing is taught with a clear audience and purpose in mind.
Read Write Inc.
Read Write Inc. Phonics teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas step-by-step.
Children learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. They experience success from the very beginning. Lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases. Along with a thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice.
The children write every day, rehearsing out loud what they want to say, before spelling the words using the graphemes and ‘tricky’ words they know. They practise handwriting every day: sitting at a table comfortably, they learn correct letter formation and how to join letters speedily and legibly. Children’s composition (ideas, vocabulary and grammar) is developed by drawing on their own experiences and talking about the stories they read.