Literacy encompasses reading, writing and speaking and listening.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and we believe enabling children to develop a love of reading is vital to their enjoyment of learning. In Foundation and KS1, we use a book band reading scheme which enables children to choose books based on the phonemes that they have been taught. Children are assessed frequently to ensure their book-band is at the correct level. In KS2, children who have become ‘free-readers’ are able to choose their own books from the selection provided within the classroom, with support from an adult when required. Parents are encouraged to read with their children at least 3 times a week. Stories and non-fiction texts are available in all classes and teachers plan in opportunities for shared reading and listening to stories across all age groups. Children read widely as part of their daily class time either during whole class, small group or individually with an adult. Guided reading is taught at a whole class level to enable high quality modelling and teaching of key skills for comprehension. Skills are taught in KS2 which give children the tools to think deeply about what they have read and to be able to answer comprehension questions confidently. Additional 1:1 reading is offered for children who require further support with comprehension and/or are still working on decoding. We are fortunate to have a pool of trained volunteers who hear our children read on a weekly basis.
All children have access to our library, where a wide range of books are on offer. They are supported and encouraged by teachers to choose appropriate books which will support and develop their reading skills and encourage them to develop a life-long love of reading.
Reading books are graded by difficulty by reading levels known as Book Bands. Each Book Band has its own colour. Progress through the bands is not automatic and it is important to ensure that children working in the early bands have secure understanding so that they remain in control of the task and well-motivated as they move on to more challenging texts. This is particularly important for children at the early stages of reading. Once a child can read a book fluently and can answer questions confidently about a text, they can move up a book band. There will be a wide range of reading abilities in any school year. Children reading above Book Band 11 (lime) will be deemed “free readers‟ and they can choose an age appropriate book from the library.
Phonics is the first stepping stone to children becoming competent readers and writers. Phonics is taught from Foundation stage to Year 2 and interventions are planned in for children in KS2 who have not meet the expected standard in phonics by the end of year 2. We teach a synthetic phonics approach at Newton Ferrers in which children are taught letter sounds first.
At Newton Ferrers, we use Letters and Sounds program for consistent lesson structure and learning models. Children also use the ‘jolly phonics’ mnemonics, which includes songs and actions to reinforce the relationship between letter sound. We use this combination of approaches to suit the wide variety of learning styles present within a classroom.
In foundation letters are taught in a pre-cursive script which supports the transition to cursive letter formation in Year 1 and then throughout the school. We also use a singalong cursive program which uses songs to reinforce the letter shapes.
Speaking and Listening:
At Newton Ferrers C.E Primary School speaking and listening skills are paramount for both effective learning and also to help children feel valued as individuals. From the first day in school, pupils are encouraged to share ideas, use description and expressive language and to develop confidence and clarity when speaking to a range of audiences.
Writing is enjoyed by children at Newton Ferrers and it is highly celebrated in our learning environment. Every child has a piece of writing on display on their class Writing Window which is updated half termly. Units of work are planned by taking into account the ‘Learning topic’ of the term, and to ensure a wide coverage of genres and skills. A high-quality text is used as a stimulus for discussion and analysis within these units. Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) is a key part of our writing curriculum and planning to teach these skills are seen as high priority for each year group within an appropriate unit of work. Where appropriate, children are taught separate SPAG lessons to introduce a new skill or consolidate learning that has taken place. Spelling is usually taught in discrete sessions, and children are expected to apply the rules learnt within their independent writing. In upper KS2, additional spelling support is offered for children who require it through the use of the spelling programme ‘Nessy’.
As children become more familiar with the skills required, lessons are planned to give children opportunities to apply these in their extended writing. Extended writing is taught through engaging and exciting lessons which are language and talk rich, giving children opportunities to discuss their writing and support their peers during editing tasks. Links to their topics and other subjects are made, and real life outcomes are planned for to give purpose to writing such as writing poetry for a performance to parents; writing letters to the Head of Teaching and Learning; and writing stories to be published within the Parish Magazine. Children are taught about grammar, punctuation, text structure and organisation and how to write with a fluent, joined handwriting style. We teach a cursive handwriting style across the school. We emphasise to our children that the quality of their writing, in terms of presentation and content, is equally important in English lessons as in all other learning opportunities; history, geography, RE, science etc. Pupils are given regular writing targets and individual ‘pupil conferencing’ with an adult so that they have a clear idea of the ‘next steps’ required to further improve.