At The Oaktree School we recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children develop secure foundations in phonics using a systematic synthetic phonics scheme, as well as fostering a culture of reading for pleasure and to acquire information through a wide variety of stories, poems, rhymes and non-fictions books. We believe that children should take pride in their writing, write clearly and accurately, and adapt their language and style for a range of audiences and purposes. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and use discussion and role play to communicate and further their learning and language development. Building solid foundations in all literacy skills is crucial to a high-quality education and will give our children the tools they need in their next steps of their education and to participate fully as a responsible member of society.
These aims are embedded across our literacy lessons and the wider curriculum. Our well organised English curriculum provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and the development of children’s vocabulary and language comprehension. Teachers adapt planning as appropriate to their class and make cross curricular links where appropriate. Our curriculum closely follows the aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014 and Spoken Language which underpins the development of reading and writing.
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
We place a high importance on developing children's phonics skills and use the highly successful and structured Read Write Inc scheme to support this. Within our Nursery children's phonological awareness is developed. Reception children are taught Phonics from the beginning of the year and ongoing assessment across all year groups ensures that children are supported at all stages. In Reception Read Write Inc sound sheets are sent home at the end of each week so that parents are aware of the sounds taught and to enable children to further embed their phonic knowledge at home.
We incorporate the five RWI principles throughout all lessons.
The Five RWI Principles of -
5. Positive teaching
Children will hear, share and discuss a wide range of high quality books to develop their love of reading, broaden their vocabulary and develop their understanding of a range of experiences. We believe that it is important for children to hear and discuss stories, poetry and non-fiction at a level beyond that at which they can read independently in order to develop pleasure in reading, increase their vocabulary and awareness of grammar, and develop skills of inference.
Our Reception children develop their reading skills through individual and shared reading in groups and build fluency through reciting and performing poetry using 'The Poetry Basket'. Guided Reading lessons take place in Year 1 and Year 2 and support children with their reading fluency and the acquisition of reading comprehension. Reading targets are aligned to children's home reading book band to support their further reading development. Parents are asked to record their child's progress against the targets in their child's Reading Diary for home/school communication. Children take home a reading book every day and will be able to choose from a wide variety of engaging texts. At the early stage of reading these books will be phonically decodable.
Recommended Books to Read, along with those recommended through our Power of Reading texts -
Bug Club is a whole-school reading programme which provides online reading books.
Guided by the Power of Reading, developed by CLPE, we select and use quality children’s literature and creative teaching approaches to develop a high quality literacy curriculum to foster a whole school love of reading and writing. We recognise that when children are exposed to high quality texts they are exposed to a wealth of new experiences, vocabulary and imagery, providing the opportunity to develop as creative writers.
To ensure a consistent and progressive approach to handwriting we use the mnemonics from the RWI Phonics scheme and the online resource letterjoin. Across the school handwriting is carefully modelled by the teacher in all lessons. The children use handwriting books to record and practise their handwriting. To support the development of their handwriting, children within Reception are provided with a range of different opportunities to develop their fine motor skills. A high standard of presentation is always encouraged and expected in children’s written work across the wider curriculum.
At The Oaktree School spellings are taught using a whole class approach. High frequency words have been grouped to form ‘houses’ which have been further grouped to former ‘streets’. There are eight spelling houses in the blue street and eight spelling houses in the red street. Individual houses are taught depending on the children’s stage of learning. The focus house is displayed within the classroom so that children are able to refer to it in their writing. Words on the focus house are ‘quizzed’ weekly or bi-weekly and spelling houses form part of the non-negotiable five finger check.
The Wider Curriculum
Children are exposed to a range of different opportunities and experiences within their foundation subject teaching to excite, inspire and engage them in their writing across the curriculum.
Our aim is for children to enjoy reading and read fluently by the end of Year 2, enabling them to fully access learning at Key Stage 2 and beyond.
We continue to monitor teaching and learning and assess reading and writing in the following ways:
1. Statutory Assessment
Reception: Prime areas of Learning and Literacy ELG
Year 1: Children take part in the Phonics Screening check.
Year 2: Children are assessed in Reading, Writing, and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) as part of the end of Key Stage 1 Standard Assessment Tests (SATs).
2. In School Assessments
Regular phonics assessments take place to ensure that children are keeping up and no gaps in learning are developing.
Children in Year 1 undertake NFER reading tests in the Spring and Summer term and in Year 2 undertake termly assessments using the NFER reading tests. Progress is measured using standardised scores.
We also use a consistent whole school approach to assess fluency in reading from Reception to Year 2. This informs children's next steps as readers and indicates the accuracy of their reading within each book band.
Writing assessments tracker sheets are used half termly to assess and monitor learning, using an independent piece of writing at the end of a scheme of learning.
3. Informal assessments
Teachers continuously assess children’s attainment and progress during individual and whole class phonics, reading and writing sessions. Pupil voice is used to assess children's attitudes towards their learning of English.