Developing strong reading and writing skills is critical to accessing and responding to all areas of the curriculum – these are skills that children will use constantly throughout their education in primary school and beyond. In addition, confident speaking and attentive listening are key attributes of successful learners.
‘English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.’
The National Curriculum in England, September 2014
The National Curriculum focuses on five key areas of learning within English as a subject: reading, writing, spoken language, vocabulary development and spelling, punctuation and grammar.
One of the greatest gifts we can give a child is the ability to read. We believe that reading should be an enjoyable activity, and our approach to reading is based on this. We aim to develop a love of reading and therefore encourage our children to take books home and share them with you.
The National Curriculum places great emphasis on the importance of reading across a wide range of genres for purpose and for pleasure. Reading exposes children to different narrative styles and forms of fiction and non-fiction writing, which they can draw upon directly in their own writing; it also serves to stimulate their ever-expanding vocabulary. Supporting children in their reading at home enables them to make the best possible progress; it is also worth noting that while reading with a child is important, reading to a child is also valuable as it exposes them to texts and language that they might find hard to access independently. Children are expected to read daily out of school hours for:
…10 minutes in Reception and Year 1
…15 minutes in Year 2
…20 minutes in Year 3
…25 minutes in Year 4
…30 minutes in Year 5
…40 minutes in Year 6
Reading encompasses the decoding of words and texts as well as comprehension of what is being read. The document Progression in Reading sets out the expectations of what children should be accomplishing in their decoding of words and texts by year group. However, it is important to remember that children progress in their learning at different speeds. This document does not set out expectations for progression in reading comprehension (the child’s response to the meaning of texts), as it would be hard to summarise this meaningfully in this format. If you would welcome guidance on how best to share and discuss books with your child, please talk to their class teacher directly.
In the early years of a child’s education, there is great emphasis on teaching phonics, which helps children recognise the different sounds of the English language and match them to the (sometimes multiple) ways in which they are spelt. From there, children move onto reading whole words and sentences. A phonics workshop for parents is held every year in the Autumn Term; this is also valuable for parents of older children needing extra support in their reading or spelling.
The school has a well-stocked library, which each class visits weekly so the children can take out and return books. The books are updated annually.
The school uses the Oxford Reading Tree book scheme for children in KS1 and in KS2 for children who are still reading colour band books. We use a variety of books including Pearson's Bug Club books for Guided Reading in KS1.
A Book Week is held in February to promote all aspects of literacy and to enable children to immerse themselves in the enjoyment of books, language, words and characters, storytelling and drama. It also includes a staff production!
Progression in reading at Ashley School.
Each year, we run a workshop for parents designed to help them understand and support their child's knowledge of phonics and developing reading skills. If you were unable to attend the workshop, or if you would like to revisit any of the material covered, you can find it in the following Powerpoint presentations.
The National Curriculum splits writing into two competencies: transcription (handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar) and composition (structuring ideas in a piece of writing clearly and coherently, adapting their language and style for a specific purpose or audience). We believe it is important that children see their work as having purpose and that they regard themselves as authors of their work. The link between reading and writing is strongly emphasised.
Children are helped to develop the ability to express their thoughts and ideas and develop their communication skills through the written word. Every attempt is made to ensure that children develop a secure command of the building blocks of the English language, which includes punctuation, spelling and grammar. The document Progression in Writing (punctuation and grammar) sets out the understanding of punctuation and grammar that children should be demonstrating in their writing by year group. It is essential that this knowledge and understanding is firmly embedded before children attempt to move on to using more ambitious grammatical structures and forms of punctuation.
Progression in writing (punctuation and grammar) at Ashley School.
Punctuation and grammar are taught alongside composition in English lessons so that the children have the opportunity to practise a punctuation or grammar skill they have been focusing on in every piece of writing.
A cursive script (joined up) handwriting style is used throughout the school. We call this Ashley handwriting and believe that consistently accurate letter formation leads to legible and speedy writing. The new curriculum, which comes into force in September 2014, emphasises the importance of being able to write in a fluid, legible style at speed. The document Progression in Writing (handwriting) sets out the handwriting skills taught in each year group and the level of proficiency children are expected to achieve.
Progression in writing (handwriting) at Ashley School.
Talking is fundamental to a child’s learning. Children are encouraged and helped to talk clearly, confidently and with expression in order to communicate ideas and feelings. Similarly, and just as importantly, is the need to listen to others and respond appropriately. Once a month, each class has a Philosophy session to help them develop and put into practise their speaking skills.
All children are provided with opportunities in all areas of the curriculum to develop skills in speaking and listening, including through drama and role play.