Literacy at Timbercroft

At Timbercroft Primary School we recognise that communication is the key principle for effective learning. Teaching children the skills to communicate through spoken and written language empowers them to communicate creatively and imaginatively as well as allowing them to make sense of, and engage with, the world at large. English is a core subject within the National Curriculum (2014) and a prerequisite for educational and social progress.

At Timbercroft Primary School we aim to provide stimulating and inviting learning environments where writing models, ambitious language and the children’s imaginative and creative ideas are displayed and used as interactive learning tools inspiring and enhancing their education. Our broad creative curriculum is central to our exciting and unique projects where the children work towards and build up to an extravaganza, for example-

 

  • Year 1- Teddy Auction
  • Year 2- Australia Day
  • Year 3- Zoo with visiting penguins and snakes
  • Year 4- Wizard Games
  • Year 5- Upcycling furniture and ‘Tat to Tadah’ Auction
  • Year 6- Victorian Christmas Fair

These creative and entrepreneurial projects provide the children with real life experiences where they can use and apply their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills to make their projects successful. This also gives each learner a goal, ensuring their spoken and written language is enriched with purpose.

All of our projects incorporate the National Curriculum breadth of study and also provide opportunities to practise and consolidate taught literacy skills.

 Phonics

As a school, we know the importance of phonics as the main tool for teaching children to read quickly and skilfully.

Phonics is taught on a daily basis in Foundation Stage and KS1, in a systematic approach and learning is visual, interactive and investigative.

We use Letters and Sounds to ensure structured progression towards fluent reading and the ability to pass the Year 1 phonics screening. When children reach year 2, phonics lends more to the spelling patterns found in phase 6, which gets them ready for KS2 where the Support for Spelling book is used to move the focus towards accurate use and application of grammar, punctuation and spelling rules.

We follow the planning process- Revisit and ReviewTeach, Practise, Apply and Assess and Review.

Children are taught how to:

  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make;
  • blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘decode’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Learning phonics helps your child to learn to read and spell. Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of letters and letter combinations will help your child decode new words as they read. Knowing phonics will also help your child know which letters to use as they write new words.

Letters and Sounds

  • Phase 1- Nursery
  • Phase 2- Reception Autumn Term (plus children who have been identified to be at the correct stage of development in Nursery)
  • Phase 3- Reception
  • Phase 4- Reception Summer Term (consolidation learning)
  • Phase 5- Year 1(new content in line with 2014 National Curriculum)
  • Phase 6- Year 2 (new content in line with 2014 National Curriculum)

 Reading and Guided Reading

Timbercroft believe that reading for pleasure is crucial in producing independent and successful readers.

In our school, reading is taught through individual, paired, shared and guided reading sessions.

At FS and KS1 the initial method of teaching will be through phonics using Letters and Sounds with accompanying actions from Jolly Phonics.

Children of all ages will meet a range of reading materials including books from different cultures. In guided reading sessions the books will be matched to the children’s ability. Children will enjoy a variety of reading activities across the school week including an in-depth guided reading session with the class teacher. This might include longer discussions around key texts, comprehension questions, analysis of the authors language and much, much more. In guided reading the teachers use the Learning Ladders to assess each child against the relevant reading assessment objectives. Where possible teacher will also use guided reading sessions as an opportunity to enhance and enrich other areas of the curriculum.

All classrooms have a rich, well-resourced and attractive reading area, actively promoting books, reading and literature. Books are sorted into a variety of genres e.g. poetry, non-fiction that will encourage independent reading opportunities.

Children can select books daily to read at home from the classroom collection. At FS2 and KS1 these books are graded into Book Band stages and are part of the Storyworlds Scheme of books by Heinemann.

Children may have the opportunity to share books with other adults such as TAs, nursery nurses and parent volunteers during morning reading sessions. Children also have the opportunity to share books with children from other key stages called paired reading. this ususally involves an older, more confident reader supporting a younger child with different aspects of reading.

Parents are expected to read regularly with their child at home and support the school’s reading ethos.

Writing for a purpose

Teachers follow a specific Planning model as shown below:

  • Immersion and familiarisation of the text genre;
  • Talk for writing- imitation and innovation;
  • Modelling the writing- invention and remodelling;
  • Referring back to the success criteria and immersion language;
  • End of unit sustained independent writing or Big Writing:

Teachers use a wide range of writing genres through modelled, shared and whole class writing activities. Writing skills are further developed through guided writing sessions, shared writing in groups and supported writing in pairs.

Pupils from years 1-6 have regular opportunities for independent sustained writing which may be cross-curricular and may be delivered in the form of The Big Write.

Extended writing is planned for to allow the children to develop the skills and strategies of writing different text types (fiction and non-fiction).  These skills are then expected to be transferred to children's writing in other areas of the curriculum. 

Pupils will be given opportunities to plan, revise and edit their own writing. There will also be lots of opportunities for peer, self and teacher assessment. Teachers assess using the Learning Ladders and using a range of Assessment for Learning techniques throughout the sessions. These assessment techniques ensure each learner makes steady progress whilst being challenged.

Children will write for a variety of audiences and purposes using a range of stimuli e.g. role play, video clips, pictures, artefacts.

All classrooms are well resourced for writing with a range of writing implements, word lists, alphabets, dictionaries, thesaurus etc. FS classrooms have a designated writing area that engages children in their learning. .

Each classroom from Reception- year 6 have English working walls where the appropriate resources are displayed to enhance the teaching and learning, as well as displaying the children’s thoughts, vocabulary and ideas to empower children to take ownership of their learning.

Each classroom will use a working wall to activate prior learning.

Children in FS will have frequent opportunities to write in play situations or child initiated activities.

Speaking and Listening

We believe language is an integral part of most learning and therefore is not just confined to literacy but takes place across the curriculum.

Speaking and listening, and reading and writing are interdependent and talk is a key factor in the development of literacy.

At Timbercroft we recognise the need to develop the confidence of children to enable them to represent their experiences and ideas. Speaking and listening skills are taught and encouraged to enable children to formulate, clarify and express ideas, to use vocabulary and grammar of standard English, to adapt speech when communicating to a wide range of audiences and demands and to listen carefully and sensitively to others.

At Timbercroft speaking and listening takes part in all parts of the literacy session. In whole class work children will engage in discussions when working on texts. Opportunities will also be given for paired and group work.

Teachers will refer to National Curriculum when planning for speaking and listening across the curriculum.

Drama is relevant to many areas of the curriculum and will be used in a range of forms e.g. role play, hot seating, freeze frames, improvisation, puppets, as well as more formal productions. Visiting theatre groups and visits to theatres are also arranged where possible.

Teaching should be:

  • Discursive – characterised by high quality oral work for example through the use of talking frames;
  • Interactive – pupils’ contributions are encouraged, expected and extended;
  • Well-paced – there is a sense of urgency , driven by the need to make progress and succeed;
  • Confident – teachers have a clear understanding of the objectives;
  • Ambitious – there is optimism about the high expectations of success.

Handwriting

At Timbercroft we understand the importance of Handwriting as a sensori-motor experience, crucial for the development of functional specialization of the brain for letters and leads to improve letter recognition and improved reading.

Composition length and complexity improves with handwriting automaticity so practitioners teach handwriting systematically throughout KS1 and KS2. Teachers demonstrate, model and expect the correct letter formations and joins alongside the age related expectations. We follow the Teaching Handwriting scheme to ensure a consistent approach across the school. Children are given functional tasks as well as those involving rote learning.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

We follow the new National Curriculum for Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. In KS1 and KS2 children practise their skills daily, sometimes discretely as a warm-up activity to their English lesson, alternatively they might spend a whole session learning about a particular skill in greater depth. This all depends on their age and ability. These important skills are taught in a fun and interactive way as well as giving the children lots of opportunities to apply their learnt skills in their independent writing. 

Spellings

Spelling skills are introduced through direct teaching, investigations, and studies of spelling patterns and conventions. We plan and resource our word lists from the Bellenden Spelling Scheme. FS2 and KS1 also use the Letters and Sounds book and KS2 also use the Support for Spelling Book. In KS1 and KS2 children will use a range of strategies to develop the correct spellings, including spelling logs, word lists, investigations, sorting activities and so on.

Children are assessed on their spelling knowledge on a weekly basis and are taught to apply the spelling rules as well as learn them by heart.

Homework

Regular reading is an important part of homework.

All children are expected to use book bags to take reading books home daily.

In FS2 and KS1 there are books for home reading that are banded according to Book Bands Stages. Each stage corresponds with our assessment Learning Ladders so their progress and attainment can be closely monitored. As children become more confident and independent readers, their reading progress and attainment is closely monitored, also alongside the Learning Ladders and children are given stage appropriate books or texts to read for homework as well as being actively encouraged to select home readers independently so they can develop a personal passion for their choice of books.  

Each classroom has a collection of books appropriate to that age group and the varying abilities within the class.

From Years 3- 6 all children are expected to keep a reading journal as part of their weekly homework. Teachers also set weekly spellings and other literary pieces of homework including those that enhance the learning taking place in school as well as creative pieces.