English

Our vision at St Michael’s Infant School is to ensure our children are equipped with the building blocks needed to communicate effectively in the wider world, whilst developing a joy for literacy, in its many forms, that will stay with them for life.

It is our commitment that all children are taught the tools to become competent, confident and fluent readers who can not only articulate their thinking about what they read, but can extend this to the wider curriculum and beyond. From the earliest opportunity, we expose our children to a rich array of stories, songs and rhymes so that, throughout their time in our school, the curriculum is language rich and reading is a pleasurable and rewarding experience for all.

It is our belief that, through engaging children in rich, purposeful discussions and oral rehearsal, we build the foundations for children to develop a strong command of the spoken and written language. We value the contributions of our children and regularly seek opportunities to show them they have their own voice with which they can form their own opinions and express them through discussions, demonstrations, presentations and debates.

The National Curriculum for English underpins all that we do. In all years, we share high-quality texts as part of whole class shared reading, alongside guided reading and opportunities for children to develop their fluency. Literacy is taught every day in Key Stage 1 and in the Early Years. Units of work are planned around exciting and engaging texts and topics, with opportunities identified along the learning journey for written outcomes as well as skills development and application. As well as daily phonics and spelling, the children are taught fine motor and handwriting skills every day.

We recognise that reading regularly, and from an early age, is an important indicator of academic achievement in later life. We encourage parents to support children in developing this important skill by reading daily at home and communicate this via home reading diaries. There are incentives to encourage our families to engage in this, through a reading reward maze. To further support parents, we offer opportunities for them to engage in reading with their children through workshops.  

Some children start school needing support with speaking, and we have a variety of interventions, such as Talk Boost and with our Speech and Language therapist. We also provide lots of opportunities for children to practise and develop their speaking skills through play, both with other children and with adult intervention. Children's speech and language skills are assessed both formally and informally so that we can ensure they are making the required progress. 

Phonics

Daily phonics teaching supports our teaching of reading and of spelling.  This academic year we have introduced the 'Little Wandle' Letters and Sounds revised program.  Children in YR are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and Phase 3 GPC's (grapheme, phoneme correspondence)  and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4).  In Y1 children review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught the Phase 5 GPC's.  In Year 2 children will continue to revise these if needed.  Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep Up support, taught by a fully trained member of staff.  Keep Up lessons match the structure of class teaching with the same mantras and resources used, but with more repetition and smaller steps.

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:

  • are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
  • use books matched to the child's secure phonics knowledge (for those children who who are not able to use and apply the Phase 5 GPC's) and are matched using the Little Wandle assessments and matching grids
  • are monitored by the class teacher, who works with each group regularly

Each practice session has a clear focus linked to the three reading skills: decoding, prosody (teaching children to read with understanding and expression) and comprehension.

 We value the 1:1 time that parents can spend reading with their children, and we expect children to read a minimum of three times a week at home and ideally every day. Currently the YR and Y1 children who are not yet fluent with the Phase 5 GPC's are sent an e-book to read at home.  All children also take home a library book that they have chosen with our library assistant.

 Writing

 Many children aren't ready to write with a pencil when they start school so we encourage them to practise their letter shapes by writing in the air or in sand which helps to develop their arm muscles as well as helping them to learn letter shapes. 

Regular practising of handwriting throughout years one and two helps children to master the skill of letter formation. Spellings are often practised at the same time as handwriting.

The national curriculum has a focus on the correct use of grammar, and on children knowing the correct terminology for grammatical terms. We teach grammar by using ‘grammar games’ and also during the teaching of reading. 

In Summer 2019 the percentage of Y2 children attaining expected standards or above in both reading and writing exceeded the national average, and the percentage achieving greater depth standard in reading and writing also exceeded the national average.

 

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