At Tividale, we believe that by providing our children with rich and inspiring learning experiences and opportunities to develop their language and communication skills, they will benefit greatly in their personal development and become well equipped for social interactions.
We want our children to be able to articulate their thoughts and ideas fluently, imaginatively and creatively with great confidence. We therefore provide a range of exciting and meaningful opportunities for children to engage in speaking and listening, including drama and role-pay, presentations, debates, group work and peer discussions.
Our broad curriculum promotes high standards of literacy, by equipping children with a strong command of the spoken and written word and providing opportunities for children to read widely and write creatively across the curriculum.
Reading is the key to learning across the whole curriculum and at Tividale we develop a reading culture throughout the school, encouraging pupils to read widely both in school and at home. It is essential that by the time pupils leave us, they are fluent and confident readers over a range of genres and subjects.
We nurture pupils’ motivation to read for fluency, knowledge and pleasure at every opportunity, igniting a passion for reading and exposing children to a wide range of text types with rich and varied vocabulary therefore ensuring that we maximise the proven links between success in reading and success in writing. Our classroom displays are vocabulary rich as we endeavour to develop every child’s terminology across all subjects, providing them with the tools that they can then use to express themselves and communicate effectively. Every class has a dedicated reading area, displaying books that are rotated throughout the year, covering a range of genres and relating to pupils’ current topics and interests.
The National Curriculum programmes of study for reading consist of two dimensions:
- word reading
During our daily guided reading lessons, teachers focus on these two dimensions by providing activities that cover a whole range of reading skills broadly summarised by the acronym DERIC: decode, explain, retrieve, interpret and choice. These skills cover a huge range of ways for children to show their ability to comprehend, analyse and respond to the texts that they read. In order to further develop pupil’s comprehension skills, we incorporate elements of visual literacy into these sessions, including the use of films and images. In addition to these guided reading sessions, in every classroom there is a daily timetabled lesson for teachers to read a class book. This is an opportunity for pupils to immerse themselves in the language and experience a new book, whilst listening to their teacher model expressive reading.
Our home/school reading scheme is progressive throughout the school, matching the pupils’ phonics attainment in Key Stage One and their reading ability through Key Stage Two. Pupils’ reading is regularly heard, to ensure the book band they are allocated is accurate.
At Tividale, all of our pupils in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 are engaged in high quality daily phonics sessions that are intricately resourced to enable them to visualise, vocalise and write the letters and sounds that they are learning.
From the earliest year at Tividale, we use a fast paced systematic approach for teaching children to read, write and speak called Letters and Sounds. This is a phonics program published by the Department for Education and Skills. It is split into six phases, from starting to learn about sounds at nursery to becoming fluent readers around age 7. It is taught in different phases (Phases 1 to 6) that gradually progress in difficulty and it has been found to be one of the most effective ways to teach children to read and write the letters and sounds of the English language, using a phonetic approach.
At Tividale, we believe that becoming an accomplished, competent and fluent writer is vital for our pupils’ future successes. Writing is a process of communication: if reading is breathing in (absorbing words and understanding meaning), then writing is breathing out (presenting information, ideas and thoughts in an organised and accessible way).
Throughout their writing journey, from the earliest forms of mark making to being confident writers over a range of genres, pupils at Tividale learn that writing is an important and valued skill across all areas of the curriculum.
The National Curriculum programmes of study for writing consist of two dimensions:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting, which are mentioned below)
- composition (articulating and structuring their ideas).
Our writing units provide pupils with opportunities to become proficient in both of these dimensions, while learning the four purposes of writing:
- to entertain
- to inform
- to persuade
- to discuss
A range of genres are taught in each year group, with a progressive nature as pupils move up the school in terms of content of the genre and skills taught. Each genre is then planned out and taught over a period of weeks, culminating in a final piece of independent writing from each pupil.
At the start of each new genre, the purpose, audience and outcome of each unit of work is discussed with the pupils, so they have a clear understanding of where their writing journey is taking them. Pupils begin each unit by immersing themselves in examples of writing in that genre, studying the structure, language and features of each text in order to use them as a model for their own writing. This stage will include analysing the specific sentence types, grammar and punctuation that relates to each genre and these elements are embedded into lessons throughout the unit, so that pupils practise and learn these skills in context.
In each classroom across the school, there is an English Working Wall, which is completed with the pupils at this stage of their unit and referred to in lessons as a tool for pupils to use. It includes the purpose, audience and outcome of the genre being studied, as well as the features of the genre, sentence types, grammar and punctuation features and finally any useful vocabulary that the pupils select from the model texts.
As the unit progresses, pupils will move from imitating certain aspects of the genre to innovating and developing their own ideas to write in a similar style. Pupils are shown how to complete a structured planning sheet to help them to collect and organise their ideas, ready to write their final, independent piece.
Our pupils are taught that writing is an ongoing process and at each stage are encouraged to read through, check and edit their work where necessary. A specific lesson is dedicated to editing and revising their work, once they have written their final piece, to give them the opportunity to evaluate their writing and ensure that it is their best work.
At Tividale, we believe that when our children can both decode (read words) and encode (spell words), they have a much better grasp of language overall. Simply put, learning to spell helps our children become better readers and better writers.
Our teaching of spelling at Tividale is based on the overview in the National Curriculum of the specific spelling features that should be included in teaching the programmes of study from Year 1 to Year 6 and using the two statutory appendices in the National Curriculum, in spelling and on vocabulary, grammar and punctuation. The children are given opportunities and are expected to use a range of spelling strategies and apply them in their independent work and use correct grammatical terms.
At Tividale we believe that joined, neat legible handwriting is an essential skill which must be taught to all children. A consistently high standard of writing is fostered across school in order to establish a sense of pride and respect in work. In order for this to become an embedded skill, exciting opportunities are provided across the curriculum for extended writing so that it becomes an automatic process, allowing children to record their thinking fluently and legibly.
The National Curriculum (2014) English makes a clear reference to handwriting and forms part of the expected standard at the end of KS1 and KS2.
At Tividale, we have adopted the Penpals Handwriting scheme from Nursery to Year 6, which promotes the essential development of motor skills in the early years as well as adopting the correct posture for writing and correct pencil grip.
Using engaging warm up exercise and a variety of stimulating handwriting games and activities in the earliest years allows our children to work up from being at first confident mark makers, then on to learning to form letters correctly and fluently and from there progressing to a joined and consistent handwriting style.
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