English is crucial to the success of pupils in both their career aspirations and their quality of life. Strong English skills are encouraged at Chantry and our book based curriculum has already made a huge impact on SATs results. The ability to read, write and articulate ideas are promoted in other areas of the curriculum.
World Book Days, Book Weeks, theatre productions, WOWs, Fantastic Finishes, Storytellers and many more events enrich our children’s understanding and knowledge of their world. 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.
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 sessions are held daily across key stages one and two, and give the children both structure and support as well as independence. This is achieved through a mixture of activities that link to the process of reading and the different assessment within it, as outlined in the National Curriculum. These activities include child initiated and teacher led questioning, reading for reflection, evaluating word and punctuation choice and comprehension.
This year we have started to 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. On Mondays, we count up the number of signatures and award children with a sticker. Once children have earned six stickers they win a prize. Prizes include bookmarks, pencil cases and a range of stationery items!
Please see an information sheet about our RED Challenge.
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 Chantry, 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.
At Chantry we follow the No Nonsense Spelling programme for Years 2 to 6. The focus of the programme is on the teaching of spelling, which embraces knowledge of spelling conventions – patterns and rules; but integral to the teaching is the opportunity to promote the learning of spellings, including statutory words, common exceptions and personal spellings. The children will be have a spelling test once a week based on Spelling sent home.
Tips for learning spellings at home
Learning at home needs to be an extension of the practice in school. Consider:
- Children will be sent ten words a week. Five from the No-nonsense spelling programme and Five based on words the children are using in their English or topic lessons.
- Assessing spellings in context, for example: learning spellings in a given sentence, generating sentences for each word, assessing through unseen dictated sentences
- Keeping an ongoing record of words learnt and setting very high expectations of correct application in writing once a word has been learned.
The fundamentals of the programme are as follows:
- Learning is based on the 44 sounds of the English language
- 20 vowel sounds and 24 consonant sounds
- Based on 120 key words
- Suitable for all learners
All children have access to THRASS resources; THRASS keyword charts as well as Phoneme check charts including phoneme and word banks. Lessons are planned with key phonemes and spelling choices in mind and the children can select from the range of spelling choices on the THRASS charts when learning new and unfamiliar words. Children have access to a smaller version of the THRASS chart in their Reading Records for them to use at home. THRASS songs are utilised to provide a more interactive approach to learning as well as games and inclusion of analysing and decoding words.
To prepare children in Year 1 for the Phonic Screening test, children are exposed to nonsense words which require them to recall and apply their knowledge and understanding of phonemes and how to blend and segment phonemes for reading. This has increased their confidence and their ability to read real and non-sense words.