Our Approach to English
Reading Into Writing Journey
Once children have progressed through the Little Wandle phonics programme, they are able to read at a fluent level and this fluency enables children to move on to develop their fluency and comprehension at a deeper level. This is because the children’s cognitive ability can be refocused from decoding words (breaking the words into sounds) into understanding the text as a whole (comprehension).
At St Bartholomew’s guided oral reading is paramount to this comprehension and will be seen in all lessons on a regular basis. Through a range of reading theatre activities such as echo and choral reading , class texts can be articulated and understood orally before being studied in greater depth.
To develop their understanding of this literature even further, all children at St Bartholomew’s will have a planned English journey of reading like a writer into writing like a reader. Ultimately, this means that all children will be able to understand how the text has made them feel or think in a certain way; this will help enable pupils to emulate this in their own writing, using the same literary techniques such as purposeful word and stylistic choices and the use of specific sentence structures and punctuation to create the desired purpose, impact and level of formality. At St Bartholomew’s we ensure that a children’s ability to write is not limited to a specific genre of writing but instead we ensure we give our pupils a reason to write—and someone to write for. Research proves that this can support effective writing and provide opportunities to teach pupils how to adapt their writing for different audiences and purposes.
Transcription Into Composition
In order for children to become fluent writers it is important for our children at St Bartholomew’s to develop their automaticity in transcription (handwriting and spelling). In EYFS and through to Year 1, dedicated lesson time will focus on this transcription in order that pupils can become fluent with the mechanics of writing. This includes the need to become confident with their handwriting such as letter formation and the use of dictation so the children have an ability to practise and apply their handwriting and spelling understanding. To develop composition techniques, teachers will enable children to articulate their ideas and then model how to convey these ideas through the vehicle of text.
Children will have many opportunities to orally rehearse their ideas for writing before applying this at an age- appropriate level.
Once children are fluent in transcription, the children will be able to have their working memory free to focus more on composing writing. This will enable the children at St Bartholomew’s to develop the content in a specific way to have a particular purpose for their writing and thus impact on the reader. In order to reach this point, the children will be able to use key grammatical skills as well as high level of dialogue so their ideas can be heard, developed and refined.
All children who are learning to decode through the teaching of phonics will have a fully decodeable reading book which matches the phonics stage that that they have learnt, enabling them to practise these reading skills and further develop fluency. These books offer a structured progression to reading, allowing the children to practise and improve their reading skills at an appropriate level, through access to high quality, decodeable texts. Once they have completed all stages of the phonics teaching, children will move onto our reading scheme which continues throughout KS2, choosing books appropriate for their ability. As a school we have invested significantly in new reading books following consultation with the children. The range of books available includes many by well-known and popular authors. All children will also bring home “books to share.” These may not match their reading ability but should be shared with parents and carers who can read these books to them. This will help develop and expand children’s vocabulary and comprehension further. The children have opportunities to read their books individually to their teachers and teaching assistants and are supported to change their reading book regularly, allowing them to swiftly progress through the scheme. It is crucial that children read daily, even for small amounts of time and at St Bart’s we appreciate the support from parents in hearing their child to read at home and recording this in their reading diaries.
Reading and the enjoyment of books is an integral part of each day at St. Bart’s and we endeavour to ensure that all children leave our school as confident, successful and critical readers, who have developed a lifelong passion for reading.
At St Bartholomew’s we follow Nelson Handwriting, which is part of Nelson English Skills. Nelson Handwriting is a whole-school programme designed to help all children develop a confident, legible and personal handwriting style. Once children are confident with the mechanics of handwriting, their journey from transcription to composition becomes a more confident one.
At St Bartholomew’s it is important that children’s language comprehension and composition is developed through a literature-rich environment, for example through interactions between adults and children and by listening to, talking about and extending their learning through this communication. In class, children will have the ability to orally rehearse their ideas through a range of activities as there is a significant amount of research literature on the role of spoken language as a pedagogical tool. Pupils use this dialogic talk which also helps them to access learning across the curriculum. Given the importance of spoken language, we have created a clearly planned provision for developing pupils’ spoken language across the curriculum; this not only improves the ability for the children’s own communication but also their ability to collaborate and enhance their learning through conversation.
At St Bartholomew’s, we understand that spoken language depends on pupils’ knowledge of the topic they are learning about which is why much of the literature chosen to study in English, links to aspects of the wider curriculum in order for children to deepen their understanding of the subject matter and vocabulary used.
An effective spoken language curriculum identifies the components that pupils need to learn for successful spoken communication. It focuses on interrelated aspects that constitute effective spoken language (physical, linguistic, cognitive, and social and emotional). All teachers at St Bartholomew’s ensure their pupils are equipped with the right knowledge and vocabulary as well as the necessary grammar and register for the audience and purpose, including Standard English where necessary. Our curriculum provides frequent opportunities for pupils to practise, refine and apply their spoken language knowledge and skills.
Reading - Comprehension
Once all children have the ability to decode words (break the word up into sounds), they will have understood the mechanics of reading but not the full breadth of being a confident reader. In order to be able to gain this confidence, all children at St Bartholomew’s have daily exposure of being a fluent reader through every teacher’s desire to ‘hear’ all children read in class through a range of reader’s theatre activities. These activities ensure prosody (intonation and expression) remains important throughout their English learning in school. Furthermore, we teach specific reading strategies that pupils can apply, monitor and overcome barriers to comprehension. These include, prediction (based on text content and context), questioning, clarifying, summarising and activating prior knowledge. This is all achieved through the context of a specific text. At St Bartholomew’s we ensure a range of carefully chosen texts are used in each class which enable strong links to our wider curriculum, range in their text complexity or vary in their tone or purpose. All the texts are carefully selected to support the teaching of these reading strategies and, as a result, children at St Bartholomew’s end their journey as very confident readers.