Children in Early Years through to Year 2 are taught Phonics using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, which has been validated by the Department for Education. The school has the accompanying reading books: Collins Big Cat Phonics. Children in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 have daily phonics lessons, with intervention groups for any children who need extra help to keep up. They have additional guided reading sessions. Children are given opportunities to write freely. Much of our writing is taught through ‘Talk for Writing’, an approach inspired by Pie Corbett. Children are taught to write clearly using a cursive script and are expected to present their work neatly. Spelling is taught through a variety of strategies, including use of the Rising Stars scheme. The school has a clear marking policy.
In Key Stage 2, children have guided reading sessions focusing on the skills of retrieval, vocabulary, summarising, inferring, prediction, understanding the author’s intent, analysing and comparing.
At Ponsbourne St Mary’s, our aim is for children to develop a love of speaking and listening, reading and writing that will stay with them throughout their lives. We want children to be fluent readers who are not only competent to access the curriculum content, but who love to read and read for pleasure. We aim for our children to be confident in speaking and listening – key life skills. Our aim is for all children to write well, with a love of language, the ability to write for different purposes, and a clear grasp of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
In the Early Years, children have daily phonics sessions following Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, where they learn to hear, read and write sounds, which can be segmented and blended into words for reading and writing. They work from a class text (often a book), which inspires speaking and listening, as well as reading and writing. In addition, the teacher will read at least two picture books to the class a day. Children are given a home reading book to read for pleasure with an adult. In guided reading, Reception children work with the teacher in a small group reading books matched to the phonics they have learnt. They read the same book three times to build fluency in reading, comprehension and prosody (the music of reading). They then take this book home to read with an adult. Children often learn to recite stories, rhymes and poems, so they build a repertoire of story language. All this is underpinned by the constant provision of opportunities to read, write and speak across the setting within all child-initiated learning.
Key Stage One and Key Stage Two
In Year One, children continue with daily phonics sessions (there are also interventions for any Year 2 children who need extra support in phonics) following Little Wandle Letters and Sounds. Throughout Key Stage One and Two, quality class texts are used to inspire sequences of lessons which develop good skills in reading, writing and oracy. At least once per term, children follow the Talk for Writing approach and learn to recite a text, building an understanding of text structure, appropriate language and tone. Weekly spelling and grammar lessons ensure children have a firm grasp of the building blocks of quality writing. Neat, joined handwriting is taught through regular sessions planned to help children develop their skill.
Reading is a key focus throughout the school and all children have a reading book, which they are encouraged to read at home every night. We use Accelerated Reader to ensure children have a book with an appropriate level of challenge. We have also invested in a large number of non-fiction books to interest all readers.
In group guided reading sessions, children work with staff to practise fluent reading and comprehension skills. The sessions focus on the skills of retrieval, vocabulary, summarising, inferring, prediction, understanding the author’s intent, analysing and comparing.
Following participation in the Hertfordshire Reading Fluency Project, children who need extra support in reading have additional group sessions where they use echo and performance reading to aid with fluency and comprehension.
Each class has a ‘class reader’ – a story the teacher is reading to the class. We use the Pie Corbett Reading Spine to ensure these books are quality, engaging texts and appropriately challenging.
We make cross-curricular links where possible to further develop children’s English skills; for example, they may debate issues in geography or write explanations in science. Children often read to research in all subjects.