‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.’
English is a vital way of communicating in school, in public life and internationally.
Literature in English is rich and influential, reflecting the experience of people from many countries and times.
In studying English pupils develop skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. It enables them to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate with others effectively.
Pupils learn to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama as well as non-fiction and media texts.
The study of English helps pupils understand how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Using this knowledge pupils can choose and adapt what they say and write in different situations.
At Aston and Cote our English curriculum revisits different areas and genres each year with an increase in complexity for example pupils learn how to write an explanation text but the topics used as a stimulus and language expectations become increasingly demanding.
Every teacher at Aston and Cote school is a teacher of reading and of language. We aim to develop a love of reading and to increase and develop our pupils vocabulary in every subject and everything we do.
We also offer a plethora of enrichment opportunities in the subject such as: poetry and writing workshops with visiting authors, book week/world book day celebrations, termly themed author focus in our new library and in the area outside Westerleigh and Reedy class as well as master classes at Henry Box and competitions such as BBC radio two’s 500 words and our own in-house writing competitions.
We use a ‘Cursive’ system for handwriting. We do this to ensure a uniform approach to letter formation, leading to a more effective, fluent and legible joined style. Through this new system, we raised standards in writing.
Cursive handwriting enables children to write with increased flow, allowing them to concentrate on the content of their work and correct spelling. Each letter starts on the line, so the pen flows and does not leave the page during a word.
We aim to teach the children this system when they are ready and support their development throughout the different stages of school. Once good practice is established, we will encourage children to develop their individual style.
Teachers and support staff will consistently model cursive handwriting in lessons. We have purchased a cursive font for typed work to enable everyone to become used to the cursive appearance.
Please read on to get an idea of how Cursive handwriting will be taught throughout the school. Even if your child is in Key Stage two and going straight to joined writing, it will benefit you to know the foundations in order to support your child at home.
In Kingsway Class the pupils will be introduced to a non-joined cursive formation in order to prepare the children for joined cursive writing alongside their phonic development. The children need to have clear recognition of letters in order to make their phonic links for reading and independent writing.
We will be calling the entry stroke ‘get ready’ and then teaching the letter formation using the ‘Read, Write Inc.’ scheme that we have used for the past year.
We believe the cursive system will enhance our normal practice, as the children will know to always start in the same place with their pencils whatever the letter!
*We always ensure a child is truly ready to write before introducing any kind of letter formation and sessions are always very multi- sensory and fun!
We will focus on ensuring children are well prepared to write. We are careful to establish whether they have strength in their hands (many are still developing fine motor skills), an effective and correct pencil grip and a good level of confidence for writing.
Much of our practice at this stage complements the work done in Foundation Stage, making the transition process as smooth as possible. The children will continue to develop their non-joined cursive letters in preparation for joining once they are ready to do so. They will also look at the new way to write a Z and an F!
In Year One, children will be introduced to joined cursive writing, which focuses on the exit strokes linking to the entry strokes. This process is carefully modelled by the teachers and teaching assistants. It should feel quite natural to the children, as they will have had a well-structured introduction.
In Key Stage Two children benefit from knowing that each letter starts in the same place (on the line) and enjoying the flow of their pen, as it never leaves the paper mid word!
At this stage, presentation should be a priority for children, we encourage them to value their work at all stages and to be proud of their efforts. By putting an emphasis on handwriting, we hope to raise standards in literacy and celebrate the written word through awards and displays.
Children progress and develop at varying rates throughout their primary education, so the expectations from us are always tailored to the individual. If your child is not quite ready to be writing with cursive joins, then we will recognise this and put in place the necessary interventions to help them get there.
If you have any questions or feel you would like more detail on how this system will look in your child’s class and how you can support at home, then please make an appointment to see your child’s teacher.
At Aston and Cote we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their literacy. RWI is a method of learning centred round letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.
Using RWI, the children learn to decode effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into composing what they write.
We carry out a simple assessment and children are placed in the place that they need to be in order to make the most progress. Our groups are small and pupils make excellent progress.
“The teaching of phonics is first rate. Teachers are very skilled and hold the highest expectations.” OFSTED 2018
When using RWI to read the children will:
- learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts
- learn to read words using Fred Talk
- read lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out
- show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions.
When using RWI to write the children will:
- learn to write the letters/letter groups which represent 44 sounds.
- learn to write words by saying the sounds in Fred Talk
- write simple sentences
- compose stories based on picture strips
- compose a range of stories based on writing frames.
Below is a link to a video clip which shows the programme in action and explains everything, especially ‘Fred talk’!
Below is further information on how you can support at home and most importantly a useful guide on how to pronounce each soundWhen our pupils complete the Read, Write, Inc phonics programme, they begin the follow on spelling scheme.
Here are the spelling lists that we use for each year group in key stage 2:
“ A book is a gift you can open again and again.” (Garrison Keillor)
At Aston and Cote CE Primary books are at the heart of our curriculum. We are passionate about fostering a love of reading. Our aim is for every child to not only acquire the essential basic reading skills, but to become a life long reader.
‘Achievement in reading is a strength throughout the school’ OFSTED 2014
We are always looking for new ways to refine and improve our provision in this area.
We aim for our children to develop a life-long love of reading during their time at our school. They can borrow both fiction and non-fiction books from our newly refurbished library and we have also recently re-vamped the reading areas in our classrooms to ensure that these spaces are enticing and stimulating for our readers. There is an expectation that all of our children will read daily, both at school and at home. Reading record books are checked daily and we have a reward system where pupils can earn their Bronze, Silver, Gold certificates or the prized Diamond Badge for times read .
Celebrating Book Week or World Book Day is a very popular annual event during which teachers use a book as inspiration to plan a whole range of activities in all areas of the curriculum.
We also hold a Book Fair each year and have recently introduced a Book Swap – children can bring a book which they no longer want to school and swap it for a book which has been brought in by someone else.
We use Read, Write, Inc. as our core phonics and reading scheme throughout Key Stage One and as an intervention programme for struggling readers in Key Stage 2. Training by nationally recognised instructors has ensured that our teachers and TAs are equipped to deliver this highly effective programme.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you know, the more places you’ll go.” Dr Seuss
One of our lovely parents help to run our new library (pictured below). Each class chose a quote about reading to create a beautiful piece of artwork which is now displayed on the walls of the library.
‘The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary.’
Talk for Writing
At Aston and Cote we develop pupils’ writing using an approach called Talk for Writing.
Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it. Through fun activities that help them rehearse the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their writing, children are helped to write in the same style. It builds on 3 key stages:
Once the teacher has established a creative context and an engaging start, a typical Talk for Writing unit would begin with some engaging activities warming up the tune of the text, as well as the topic focused on, to help children internalise the pattern of the language required.
This is often followed by talking an exemplar text, supported visually by a text map and physical movements to help the children recall the story or non-fiction piece. In this way the children hear the text, say it for themselves and enjoy it before seeing it written down. Once they have internalised the language of the text, they are in a position to read the text and start to think about the key ingredients that help to make it work.
This stage could include a range of reading as-a-reader and as-a-writer activities. Understanding the structure of the text is easy if you use the boxing-up technique and then help the children to analyse the features that have helped to make the text work. In this way the class starts to co-construct a toolkit for this type of text so that they can talk about the ingredients themselves – a key stage in internalising the toolkit in their heads.
Once the children have internalised the text, they are then ready to start innovating on the pattern of the text. This could begin with more advanced activities to warm up the key words and phrases of the type of text focused on so the children can magpie ideas. Younger children and less confident writers alter their text maps and orally rehearse what they want to say, creating their own version.
The key activity in this stage is shared writing, helping the children to write their own by “doing one together” first. This could begin with using a boxed-up grid (innovating on the exemplar plan) to show how to plan the text and then turning the plan into writing. This allows the children to see how you can innovate on the exemplar text and select words and phrases that really work.
Demonstrating how to regularly read work aloud to see if it works is important here. This process enables the children to write their own versions through developing their ability to generate good words and phrases and also, hopefully, develops the inner judge when they start to decide why one word or phrase is best. If, during this process a teaching assistant (or in KS2 an able child) flip-charts up words and phrases suggested, these can be put on the washing line alongside the shared writing so when the children come to write they have models and words and phrases to support them.
Throughout the shared writing, the children should be strengthening the toolkit so they start to understand the type of ingredients that may help. Once they have finished their own paragraph/s children are encouraged to swap their work with a response partner. Then the whole class can also discuss some of the more successful work. Time is then found to enable the children to give their own work a polish in the light of these discussions and perhaps begin the dialogue about what works by writing their own comment on their work for the teacher to comment on.
The teacher now has the opportunity to assess the children’s work and to adapt their planning in the light of what the children can actually do. This stage often begins with some activities focused on helping the children understand aspects that they were having difficulty with and includes time for them to have a go at altering their work in the light of what they have just learnt so that they start to make progress. This stage will continue to focus on the next steps needed to support progress so the children can become independent speakers and writers of this type of text. Some more examples of the text are compared followed by more shared writing on a related topic and then the children have a go themselves on a related topic of their own choosing. Typically, teachers work with the children to set ‘tickable targets’ which focus on aspects that they need to attend to. Again this section will end with response partner and whole class discussion about what features really worked, followed by an opportunity to polish work.
‘If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’