At Annfield Plain Junior School, we aim to prepare pupils for their next stage in education and life. We aim to develop the skills and knowledge to be life-long readers, writers and to be able to communicate effectively in a range of situations.
At Annfield Plain Junior School, we aim to make learning in English engaging and enjoyable. The teaching of English includes: speaking and listening, reading, writing, GPS (grammar, spelling and punctuation), vocabulary training; as well as handwriting. Children are encouraged to communicate their ideas through writing and speaking which includes: drama, performance, creative writing, poetry and prose. Children’s work is celebrated both in school, through display, as well as through publications and competitions.
Reading is a life skill and an integral part of English teaching; it is taught both discretely and with opportunities for reading throughout the curriculum. School uses consistent strategies to teach reading skills and fluency, in order to develop a deeper understanding of the purpose and meaning of a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, as well as developing fluency to ensure each pupil’s reading age ensures they are able to access the age-related curriculum.
At our school there are five strands to the teaching of reading:
1. The development of the fluency of reading: Fluency is the bridge from phonics to comprehension. All pupils, who are working at developing fluency of reading, access the personalised online program Reading Plus, at school and at home. Targeted pupils, who are unable to access this program, receive additional intervention such as Letters & Sounds. Pupils across the key stage access a school’s reading spine which includes a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts in lessons, as well as whole school texts which are linked to enjoy & achieve weeks and life skills week. In addition, each class study a class novel each term. School’s reading spine is chosen to enthuse, engage and challenge learners- all pupils use a range of genre through the key stage: poetry, children’s literature, biography, fantasy, folklore and folk tales, myths and legends, historical fiction, realistic fiction, non-fiction. Cultural capital is enhanced with the range of books used for developing both reading comprehension and reading for pleasure. It includes: classics, modern, traditional and books with morals. Books reflect current issues, cultural diversity and the interests of the pupils.
All children progress through the school’s graded home reading levels. For some pupils, needing to catch up, this may start with early reading phonics books, matched to the phase of phonics the pupil is at. Fluency of reading progresses from level 5 early readers through to level 13+, independent readers. After 13+ a pupil will be deemed to be a free reader, able to choose books from level 13+ or the school’s well-stocked library. Pupils are encouraged to read daily at home and expected to read at least 3 to 4 times a week at the minimum. Parents and carers are encouraged to hear pupils read their scheme week or reading plus online and sign the reading record in their child’s planners. Planners also have a list of suggested questions for parents to ask their child when hearing reading, to check for understanding. Parents may write any comments in the planner too. Children also take home a reading for pleasure book/magazine/newspaper, to read to themselves either from the school library or from the class stock of books.
2. Decoding and comprehension is taught in every class. All staff are trained, through Fischer Family Trust’s reading training, in using the same approach to ensure reading skills develop across the key stage using a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts, understanding each genre’s layout. Reading skills taught are: how to use effective skimming, scanning and close reading; reading to locate or infer the meaning of unfamiliar words; how to annotate text and understand the main ideas; distinguish between fact and opinion; how to make predictions; how to summarise understanding; understanding the author’s intent and inference used by the author etc. Each reading skill is taught progressively across the key stage.
For pupils with SEND and pupils needing catch up, a range of targeted interventions are used to support their learning. These sessions are delivered, in addition to their reading lessons. Additional Literacy Support (ALS) and Read, Write Inc/ Freshstart (RWI) are used for pupils whose early reading is not fluent or who may need additional phonics support. Reciprocal Reading (guided reading) is also used for pupils who are identified as not making sufficient progress, from their assessment tests in September, February and June; this is to ensure pupils are given the opportunity to catch up.
3. Book Talk is used to support children’s ability to talk about books, develop their confidence to offer ideas and re-shape them in the light of contributions. Book Talk is delivered using the school’s reading spine. Staff encourage pupils to develop a variety of reading skills, with pupils becoming book detectives. This includes: posing and finding answers, using prior knowledge, investigating themes and deeper messages, developing inference, making predictions; as well as investigating author’s intents, characters, relationships, vocabulary and the structure of genres for fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Book Talk is delivered using school’s progression tables and supports the skills needed for written comprehension.
4. Reading for pleasure is a key aspect of developing children’s reading skills. The school library, run by pupils, is open on lunchtimes . Children may borrow books for home use or can read in the library. The well-stocked library has a range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazines and children’s newspapers to choose from. Various activities and competitions take place to enthuse pupils to read. We regularly invite authors, illustrators and storytellers into school, to inspire children to read for pleasure.
In class, reading for pleasure sessions are used to develop an understanding of the vast range of reading material available, in order to develop positive attitudes to reading and personal preferences. Popular authors and poets will be shared, with Book Talk used to support explanations of personal choices.
Pupils take a reading for pleasure book/comic/magazine home to read on their own, as well a scheme book which they read to parents/carers.
5. Vocabulary teaching ensures the acquisition of and command of a language rich vocabulary. This is taught both as discrete lessons and integrated into all four aspects of teaching reading. It also supports the development of all aspects of English.
Pupils in all classes read a class novel each term, which include both classic novels and novels with specific links to cross-curricular work. In June, all classes spend a creative literacy fortnight exploring and producing work around a book. Each term, the whole school delivers work through an “Enjoy and Achieve Week”,where pupils all read the same book/texts, enjoy visitors (storyteller, magician, illustrator/author, drama teacher), produce writing, take part in maths and science challenges. In the autumn terms the theme is linked to developing environmental understanding: “Our Amazing Planet”, “Plastic Fantastic”, “Make a Difference – Inspiring Environmentalists” with visits from storyteller and author Adam Bushnell, the Environmental Agency and artist Susan Warlock in recent years. In other terms themes have included: “The Circus” with visits from illustrator & author Liz Million and circus skills workshops from Bell & Bullock; “Detective Cluedo: solving mysteries” with a visit from Yorkshire Trails, to investigate clue writing. Themes vary and often involve the production of a whole school publication, such as education trail leaflets around the village, “Our Community, Our Responsibility” and “When I Grow Up -The World Of Work” publications.
Ofsted in January 2020 stated, “Leaders have selected a wide-ranging list of texts. This challenges pupils’ thinking and encourages their thoughtful debate.”
School assesses reading on entry into a new year group, mid-year and end of year using NFER tests for Years 3,4,5 and past SATs papers for Year 6. This allows the progress of each pupil to be tracked and the identification of pupils needing interventions. Reading levels are assessed each term. Each child takes a schonell reading test annually, to analyse their progress in meeting their chronological reading age.
Reading support is offered to parents, in reading workshops, to provide support for parents/carers to help their child to read skilfully and for pleasure. In addition, opportunities change year on year, where parents can enjoy reading sessions with their children e.g. in world book day quizzes, reading afternoon teas etc.
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening is delivered through Philosophy for Children (P4C). This is delivered initially through discrete lessons and also through cross-curricular themes in other subjects e.g. R.E., life skills etc. All staff are trained in delivering P4C, which provides consistency across the key stage. De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats are also used to aid pupil’s ability to explain their thinking. Speaking and listening progress is assessed annually through teacher assessment. For pupils needing additional social and communication support, the interventions “Talkabout” and “Socially Speaking” are used.
Writing involves the teaching of fiction, non-fiction and poetry genres. Varied resources are used: on-line scheme Wordsmith (Pearson), Jane Considine’s writing units, on line resources such as websites, current affairs programme “Newsround” and children’s newspaper “First News”, poetry textbooks. Publishing for an audience is an essential part of writing, with pupils writing for a purpose e.g. to share through displays, competitions, on the school website, in the community newsletter “Annfield Appletree”, in whole school publications such as the “When I Grow Up…Project”. Writing is assessed on entry, mid-year and end of year, through joint moderation of pupil’s independent work in books. Moderation of writing also takes place with cluster schools, to ensure it is accurate.
Grammar, punctuation and spelling
Grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS) are taught, where possible, through writing and reading. There are times when discrete lessons may be appropriate and we use a variety of resources, including the No Nonsense Spelling scheme. Assessment for GPS takes place on entry, mid-year and end of year, using NFER and SATs papers. Spelling rules are taught, the content is dependent upon ability. Spellings and spelling rules are taught at least three times a week in school. Pupils are encouraged to learn spellings at home and spelling lists are sent out each term/week, depending on the class.
Handwriting is taught through Senter handwriting – a scheme of handwriting used by both Annfield Plain Infant School and ourselves, in order to provide consistency across the two key stages.