Becoming Readers, Writers, Speakers
23 “I wish someone would write down everything I say. I wish my words were written on a scroll.
24 I wish they were carved with an iron tool into lead or scratched on a rock so that they would last forever. (Job 19: 23-24)
At Whitegate School, we support children in developing a love of the English language, through both the spoken and written word. We believe that literacy is not just an end in itself; it provides the key to unlock all other areas of learning, preparing children to take advantage of life in all its fullness.
We believe passionately that all children are entitled to a rich and exiting range of books to inspire their imagination, allow them to delve into new worlds, see life from the perspective of others and develop a life-long love of reading. Our book rich environment is central to our philosophy of providing resources of the highest quality to nurture restless curiosity as children explore the world in which they live and in preparation for living life in all its fullness.
Each classroom has a discrete ‘reading area’ from which attractively displayed books can be selected to read at home or school. These areas contain a mixture of fiction and non-fiction texts, which are refreshed regularly, to reflect the current learning intentions or projects. We subscribe to the Education Library Service, which enables us to borrow book and resources to further support our curriculum.
Learning to read, and becoming a confident and competent reader, is enabled through children reading individually with adults in school, undertaking group ‘guided’ reading and through whole-class sharing and reading of texts, extracts and poetry. There is dedicated daily time for reading during the school day and this dove-tails with daily home reading so that children’s growing skill and understanding of books is, both independently and cooperatively, nurtured to enable mastery of this key skill. This is central to the unlocking of worlds beyond their own leading and to the development of analytical readers and competent authors.
Our youngest readers are taught using the Collins Big Cat scheme, which matches the phonics stage of individuals. This ‘colour banded’ scheme ensures that children learn the skills to decode words effectively and develop the resilience to explore phonetically decodable texts, rather than being over-faced by too many unfamiliar words. This is further supported by a wide range of picture, story and information books, which can be shared with a more able reader or adult.
Children in Acorns’ class are encouraged as readers by their ‘reading buddies’ in Oak class and, of course, they love the opportunity to read with Buddy, our school dog!
If you have any questions about our reading curriculum, please contact Mrs Corcoran (subject lead) on firstname.lastname@example.org
Being able to express oneself clearly and succinctly is a necessary and empowering life skill and one about which we are passionate, at Whitegate. From their first days at school, children will learn, day by day, how to develop and hone their skills as a writer for a wide range of purposes and, in doing so, learn to express themselves creatively and imaginatively.
Central to our curriculum is a focus on the development of a rich vocabulary and this is evident in classroom displays and in our carefully planned sequences of lessons. Children are immersed in high-quality texts, where rich and varied vocabulary is taught explicitly and modelled by adults in school. This ‘modelled’ and ‘taught discretely’ approach to the acquisition of vocabulary supports the closing of the vocabulary gap for our most disadvantaged children and, in doing so, creates writers of the highest standards.
We use a ‘read to write’ approach in our teaching where children are taught to write with an increasing awareness of their audience. Using carefully selected, vocabulary-rich texts as a vehicle for teaching reading and writing, children are encouraged to use taught skills to practise their writing within and across the curriculum. They follow clear, sequential episodes of learning, based around model texts, which allow the development of vocabulary and contextualised spelling, punctuation and grammar. Throughout the writing process, the teacher models writing and undertakes shared writing and guided writing to develop the children’s knowledge and skills, in readiness for independent writing and with growing resilience to explore exciting challenges.
Through working independently and collaboratively, in a range of writing opportunities, children are able to draw on their taught skills to adapt their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
The explicit teaching of editing skills is incorporated into our sequence of lessons and pupils are encourage to work independently and collaboratively, with a peer, to refine word and sentence level skills and to develop coherence within and across sentences, paragraphs and entire texts.
In each class, units of work follows the same structure, which is detailed below:
If you have any questions about our writing curriculum, please contact Mrs Mackenzie (subject lead) on email@example.com
We follow 'Letters and Sounds' to deliver phonics and ensure children learn the skills to decode words effectively. The teaching of Phonics starts in the Autumn Term of Reception and continues throughout the school until the children are secure in all phases. Sometimes this is delivered as bespoke or Wave 3 (1:1) support. Phonics is taught daily with the expectation that children use their learned decoding skills when reading and writing. In Key Stage 1, while spelling is reinforced in English lessons, punctuation and grammar are also taught within English lessons. In Key Stage 2, spelling, punctuation and grammar are taught explicitly and within English lessons.
If you have any questions about our phonics curriculum, please contact Mrs Ross (phonics lead) on firstname.lastname@example.org
Spelling is taught explicitly and within reading and writing lessons. Discrete lessons, and units of work, are supported by Babcock’s No Nonsense Spelling scheme. Spelling rules and patterns are taught sequentially across year groups, along with National Curriculum year group spellings and vocabulary specific to a curriculum subject or project. Each half term, children will have a list of spellings to learn at home. These will be tested regularly, in class, and children will use a range of multi-sensory strategies to learn.
We aim to enable every child to develop a legible style of handwriting and to take pride in their presentation of work.
The children will be taught a cursive style from Foundations stage.
Children will be taught to use serifs from an early stage to enable them to begin to join letters whilst still in Key Stage 1. Children in Year 1 who are correctly forming letters, will be taught to begin each letter from the line, or if ready, will be taught to join their writing. Handwriting is practised every day. Children who have not mastered correct formation in Foundation Stage, will practise correct formation in handwriting books each day during handwriting sessions, beginning every letter from the top with the exception of d and e. They will practise formation in letter formation groups:
anti-clockwise c a d o g q s f
down-up-over r n m h b p
down-up l t i u y
diagonals v w x
horizontal e z
others k j
Once ready, the children will be taught to begin each letter from the line, unless ready to join, in which instance they will be taught to join their handwriting.
Children will be encouraged to develop an increasingly mature style of handwriting during Key Stage 2 with increasing attention being paid to presentation of work, bearing in mind the purpose and audience of the writing. Handwriting is taught discretely, focusing on individual letters or joins and as part of other lessons.