English is central to the curriculum at Minster CE Primary School. We recognise this by giving a substantial amount of time to teaching the essential skills involved in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Reading is an extremely important skill. The carefully planned teaching we give in school must be supported by plenty of individual practice at home. Our reading scheme books, which come from a number of different sources, are accurately banded according to colour band levels with smaller structured steps within the level. We have combined a range of different schemes to allow experience of a wide range of genre, interests and authors for all levels, and have included real books and books which support and develop topic learning and literacy within the classroom throughout. We also have a lending library for children which offer books from a wide variety of genres.
Children progress through the book bands at their own pace. This is monitored by assessing children’s reading through Benchmarking to ensure children are reading books where they are 90% to 95% accurate; this is called an ‘instructional’ level. In addition, on-going assessment occurs during weekly Guided Reading sessions where we work with a small group of children to develop reading strategies.
Children are asked to take reading and library books home in book bags, which are available from the school office. To ensure good communication about children’s reading, we give each child a contact book which should be taken home every afternoon and returned every morning. Teachers will sometimes write comments in the book. When you read with your child please comment, initial and date so we know that your child has practised. Reading targets will also be displayed in the books. It will help your child reach their target/progress if you sometimes work towards it.
Children are given many opportunities to read and share a variety of texts, in connection with other subjects, for comprehension and for simple enjoyment.
Some children require more support if they are to become fluent readers. We have Reading Recovery and Better Reading Partnership schemes to provide these children with the opportunity to read every day with a trained adult, developing their confidence. You will be notified if your child is placed on these programmes.
Each year we hold a book fair. This is a visiting book shop, which stays with us for a week. Families are invited to come and browse and the school receives a substantial commission on all purchases. We also regularly send home a book catalogue; which again gives the school commission to spend on books for the school.
Writing is taught systematically throughout the school. We follow the Revised Framework for Literacy. Children are given writing targets which will be shared with parents at consultation meetings and on annual reports. Many opportunities are offered for children to develop their writing skills across the curriculum both in class and for home learning. FS children are given a wide variety of opportunities to develop their writing through play which allows them to practise the skills they are taught in teacher directed sessions. Further to their literacy books, children have Golden Books for regular sustained writing. The children are asked to assess their own writing in these books to help them understand where they have succeeded and where they need to improve further.
It is important that children are taught the proper way to write their letters. We use a simple form of cursive script.
We follow the Letters and Sounds phonics scheme. Foundation Stage and KS1 children are taught a discrete phonics lesson every day. We measure progress across Foundation Stage and Year 1 to ensure that children are well prepared for the year 1 Phonics Screening, which takes place in late June. In year 2 we continue with phonics to further skills and embed previous learning. In KS2, where children still require additional phonics input, this is usually given by skilled teaching assistants in small groups. As well as discrete phonics lessons, children are encouraged to apply their phonic knowledge in their reading and writing across the curriculum. In KS2, phonics teaching is changed to spelling strategy work through a programme called Support for Spelling. Year 6 children are assessed through a national Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar test.
Speaking and Listening
Children have many opportunities to discuss, debate and relate events in order to become confident speakers and listeners. Drama techniques are often used to at the beginning of a teaching unit to help children empathise with characters are express ideas. Role play areas are seen as very important in FS and Year 1 to encourage children to explore language connected to their current theme of learning.