INTENT - Why do we teach this? Why do we teach it in the way we do?
At Hill Top CofE Primary school, we believe that literacy and communication are key life skills. Through the English curriculum, we will help children develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language and equip them with the skills to become lifelong learners.
Literacy is at the heart of all children’s learning. It enables children both to communicate with others effectively for a variety of purposes and to examine their own and others’ experiences, feelings and ideas, giving these order and meaning. As Literacy is central to children’s intellectual, emotional and social development, it has an essential role across the curriculum at Hill Top and helps children's learning to be coherent and progressive.
At Hill Top Primary School we strive for all of our children to be literate. By the end of Year 6 we aim for all children to be able to:
- be effective, competent communicators and good listeners;
- express opinions, articulate feelings and formulate responses to a range of texts both fiction and non-fiction using appropriate technical vocabulary;
- foster an interest in words and their meanings, and to develop a growing vocabulary in both spoken and written form;
- have an interest in books and to read for enjoyment, engaging with and understanding a range of text types and genres;
- be able to write in a variety of styles and forms showing awareness of audience and purpose;
- develop powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness in all areas of literacy;
- use grammar and punctuation accurately;
- understand spelling conventions;
- produce effective, well-presented written work.
IMPLEMENTATION - What do we teach? What does this look like?
At Hill Top CE Primary and Nursery we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We aim to inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often. We recognise the importance of cultivating a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the arts of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to develop their learning. We believe that a thorough grasp of literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
As a school from EYFS to Year 6, we follow the ‘Pathways to Write’ mastery approach, which is an English long term planning tool that school has purchased. Pathways to Write provides children with specific “keys” for the children to focus on in their writing. These include skills the children have mastered in previous years –gateway keys- and new targets called mastery keys which are taken from the year group that the children are currently in. Each class has a visual display of these keys and the children regularly refer to them in all writing.
From Y2 – Y6 we use the Bug Club Reading Scheme as the approach to reading, which provides children from Y3 to Y6 with the skills to equip them through the reading process to become competent and fluent readers. Reading lessons are linked to high quality texts and staff plan to provide engaging and purposeful reading lessons.
Our school uses a variety of teaching and learning styles in English lessons and all staff follow the ‘mastery’ approach to the teaching of English. Our principal aim is to develop children’s knowledge, skills and understanding in language, reading and writing. At Hill Top, we do this through a daily lesson, where we adapt our teaching styles to suit the needs of the individual child. Throughout the week there are daily phonics lessons for Foundation Stage and KS1 children and any children in KS2 that need continued phonics support.
In all classes, children have a wide range of literacy abilities. We recognise this fact and provide suitable learning opportunities by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this through a range of strategies. Children requiring additional support receive this through small group sessions, which are facilitated by a teacher or teaching assistant and aims to consolidate or re-teach learning objectives following a revisit, review, teach and apply structure.
We also provide a wealth of enrichment opportunities, from residentials, author visits, visits to places of interest which give our children experiences they may otherwise not have, book week, school library, theatre visits and other visitors who inspire and engage our children to have a love of reading and writing.
IMPACT - What do we want to happen?
As a result we have a community of enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy skills. They are confident to take risks in their reading and writing, and love to discuss and share their ideas.
Teaching early reading and writing
At Hill Top ‘Monster Phonics’ is the chosen accredited provider used to teach phonics, high frequency words and to support early reading development. Monster Phonics teaches children to read by enabling them to identify the individual graphemes (letter combinations) and blend the sounds (phonemes) together to read the word. It is a fun way to teach phonics, since it is multi-sensory. Sounds are categorised into ten colour groups, and each colour has a corresponding monster character. Monster Phonics is a highly advanced multisensory scheme. This creates interest and engagement from the children.
Through the teaching of Monster Phonics the children are taught the essential skills needed for reading. Phonics is taught daily to all children Year 3 who have not passed phonics screening at KS1. Here Phonics is delivered in a whole class format because it enables staff to ensure application across subjects embedding the process in a rich literacy environment for early readers. In other Year groups extra support is provided in the form of planned interventions for those children who are working below expected levels. Staff systematically teach learners the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them. Pupils have regular reading sessions with an adult to ensure the pupils are regularly practising and applying their phonics knowledge. Teachers regularly assess the pupil’s phonics knowledge using the planned Monster Phonics assessments.
What is phonics?
Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read and write. Phonics is all about sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which we put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter, like ‘t’, and some by two or more, like ‘ck’ in duck and ‘air’ in chair.
Children are taught the sounds first, then how to match them to letters, and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling.
Synthetic phonics refers to ‘synthesising’, or blending, the sounds to read words. It is based on the idea that children should sound out unknown words and not rely on their context.
At Hill Top, we recognise that reading for pleasure at school is a vital part of the jigsaw when enabling children to learn to have a life-long love for reading. We enjoy sharing our love of reading in school by engaging in events and initiatives. We love to celebrate World Book Day each year, we have author visits, trips to the library, every class shares their favourite 'reads' on their 'Doorway to Learning' (classroom door) and in our entrance area are a box of great books for visitors to enjoy while they wait. Also, in every class, every day, from Nursery to Year 6, we have a dedicated time where we relax and enjoy a class story from our fantastic book spine (a core set of books that develop a love of reading).
Each class from Early Years to Year 6 also has a specific session on their weekly timetable where children are given a chance to talk about books, share recommendations and read for pleasure; whether this be magazines, e-books, fiction and non-fiction. It is important to us that children can take the time to choose and share books of their choice.
We use the Bug Club Reading Scheme to teach and support reading throughout school. We also ensure each child takes home a book that they can read or share with an adult at home for pleasure. We record each child's reading journey on the Go Read App, where staff, parents/carers and child can record the books they have read.
Please click on the links below for how support for your child.:
Sooper Books - Free School library
Sooper Books has kindly donated all of their award-winning stories and audiobooks to our school. Please use the following links to access the stories and audiobooks free of charge from school or from home:
Bedtime stories — a selection of the world’s best 5-10 minute bedtime stories and audiobooks
Fairy tales — a selection of classic fairy tales retold in a modern and fun way
Sooper Series — a selection of original stories in episode format. Each episode is a separate 10-15 minute story
Rhymes & Poems — a selection of 3-5 minute funny rhymes
Aesop’s fables — a selection of 3-5 minute moral tales, retold in a fun and modern way
We follow a Mastery approach to English through the programme ‘Pathways to Write.’ Units of work are delivered using high quality texts and children in all year groups are given varied opportunities for writing. Skills are built up through repetition within the units, and children apply these skills in the writing activities provided. Many opportunities for widening children’s vocabulary are given through the Pathways to Write approach and this builds on the extensive work we do in school to provide our children with a rich and varied vocabulary.
You will find the end of year expectations for writing, reading and spoken language for each of our year groups in the attached documents. For further detail on the skills that your children are learning on a termly basis, please contact your class teacher.