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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; we call this author craft and it encompasses all aspects of the writing process from text immersion, through to text type analysis, technical accuracy, planning, editing and publishing. 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.

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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.

Handwriting

At St Bartholomew’s we follow Kinetic Letters handwriting scheme. Kinetic Letters is a nationally acclaimed, whole-school programme designed to help all children develop a confident, legible handwriting style. It is a holistic approach which focuses on far more than letter formation. Kinetic Letters progression teaches and develops core body strength and position to ensure children are ready to write. It teaches correct pencil grip and develops wrist and finger strength to allow children to develop the necessary strength for sustained writing. It also teaches both un-joined and then joined letter formation. The key aim is for children to have the stamina, strength and automaticity for transcription to reduce the cognitive load of writing. Once children are confident with the mechanics of handwriting, their journey from transcription to composition becomes a more confident one.

Oracy

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.

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