Our aim is that every child will learn to become a writer through being exposed to ambitious texts which incorporate a wide range of vocabulary. Our writing curriculum is focused around writing for a purpose, with the key audience in mind. We also base this around carefully selected core texts which the children read during daily FASE reading sessions. Our writing lessons follow on from this. We believe that having a deep understanding of the texts that they read, whilst developing a rich vocabulary and having opportunities to use and understand ambitious word choices is central to all high quality writing. Opportunities to extend writing are woven through the whole curriculum.
Our writing curriculum takes into account two key components of writing; transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (planning, drafting, developing ideas, structuring sentences). We put emphasis on the writing process, ensuring that our children value each stage, drafting and re-drafting their writing throughout. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas and then organising them coherently for the reader, ensuring that the purpose of the text has been understood fully and is applied when writing.
In YR and Y1, children practice reading the words on the page by reading texts that are fully aligned to our phonics programme. These are different to what you might read at home because they are phonically controlled to ensure they are practising previously taught sound-spelling correspondences. It is vital that children develop their code knowledge to automaticity, so they will practice reading from the same decodable text for several days until they are completely fluent. In addition, they listen to texts read to them from our reading canon to ensure they experience a rich reading diet that develops their vocabulary and background knowledge. As their code knowledge increases, children begin to read aloud texts from the reading canon. When learning to decode, children will take home a phonically controlled text to practise the mechanics of reading, and they will also take home a language-rich text to share with a family member. Once children have learnt sufficient code, the texts they take home will be selected by them with support from their class teacher. Being able to read quickly and fluently unlocks comprehension of the written texts. Anything that occupies our attention limits our ability to think; if we have to spend too much time thinking about how to decode the words on the page, we will have reduced capacity to consider the meaning of those words. In order to optimise reading fluency, all children read aloud in whole class reading lessons. This may be individually, through echo reading or repeated reading. All children read the text as secondary readers, while the primary reader is reading aloud to maximise the amount of reading done by every child in every lesson. We pitch the texts above the national reading level for each age group in order to develop children’s ability to read effortlessly over large sections of academic text as they progress through the school. We set our expectations high and anticipate that children will meet those expectations. Reading is more than lifting the words from the page; children need a rich vocabulary and background knowledge to help them understand the words they are reading. Our reading canon has been carefully selected to ensure all children develop a broad and deep vocabulary and background knowledge to develop their reading comprehension. We also read in all curriculum areas to further develop this. Across the whole school, specific reading techniques are used to ensure that all children join in with reading aloud. These include repeated reading and close reading of sections of text. Additional scaffolding may be required for the slower graspers, for example, the teacher informs the child in advance which part they are expected to read, and children may pre-read the text with an adult ahead of the whole class lesson. Teachers plan in advance which child reads which part of the text in order to push the faster graspers with more complex vocabulary or allowing opportunities for fluency for the slower graspers. As well as whole class reading aloud, there are regular opportunities for ‘close reading’ and ‘art of the sentence’ where children are expected to answer questions and write specific sentences about the passage of text they have just read. After writing, the class then have an in-depth discussion about the passage they have just read. Teachers also carefully select vocabulary to teach explicitly and implicitly from the text and children are given plentiful opportunities to pronounce the word and use it orally in a variety of contexts. We give children child-friendly definitions and do not promote guessing definitions. We run our reading lessons in this way in order to expose children to high-quality literature and develop their fluency and prosody, as well as to increase their vocabulary breadth and depth.
At the end of Year 1, all children will sit the national Phonics Screening, and results will be submitted to the government as well as given to parents alongside their end of year report. Children who do not meet the pass mark in the Year 1 Phonics Screening, will re-sit the screening at the end of Key Stage 1.
Assessment Formative (at the point of teaching) assessment takes place in every lesson through regular quizzing of the children to check their understanding. This includes spelling tests from the statutory word lists and key vocabulary, as well as factual information of the context and knowledge of grammatical functions. Previous learning is revisited in the quizzes to embed the knowledge within the long-term memory. The children have termly phonics assessments (see phonics approach for details) to check for decoding ability and fluency testing using DIBELS. The research evidence indicates that generic reading comprehension tests assess children’s vocabulary and background knowledge more than their reading ability. We therefore do not use generic reading comprehension tests. Reading fluency tests are a better indicator of children’s reading progress. The DIBELS assessments identify whether children are reading at an age-appropriate level and give detailed diagnostic information on key aspects of reading, so that teachers know exactly where and how to give additional support. We assess pupils’ writing termly against our KLI (key learning indicators), and moderate within clusters across our trust. Additionally, every year group participates in a system called Assessing Primary Writing once a year, where children’s writing is judged anonymously and ranked with other pupils nationally. This supports our professional judgements and shows us how our children’s writing compares across the country.