At St Thomas à Becket, we are dedicated to encouraging all children to be passionate about reading and writing. We are determined that ALL children will become highly competent readers and writers by the end of their time with us. It is our intention to immerse pupils in the wonders of quality texts to instill a love for reading, a passion for discovery and a confidence to explore their imagination.
During their time at St Thomas à Becket, all children will be exposed to a high-quality education in English. Pupils will learn to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and, through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.
The English curriculum is built on the principle that skills are the product of fluency of knowledge in specific areas. Relevant knowledge is a necessary precursor to the development of skills.
In EYFS and Key Stage One, phonics is taught using the systematic synthetic phonics programme Letters and Sounds. We provide a multi-sensory, active and participatory learning experience which excites and motivates the children as they learn to read. By the end of their Reception year, our children will have engaged in daily phonics lessons covering Phases 2, 3 and 4. They will then move on to Phase 5 Phonics in Year 1, before revisiting Phase 5 and moving into Phase 6 in Year 2. Staff assess children’s segmenting and blending skills termly, as well as their ability to decode the necessary phonemes in each phase. As a result of this, any children who are not making expected progress are swiftly identified and able to receive a short daily booster session to close any gaps in their phoneme knowledge. Our phonics teaching is supported at home with the Collins Big Cat fully decodable reading books. These books allow all children to practice the graphemes in a step by step progression which reflects the sequence of sounds taught in school. Children are encouraged to apply their phonic knowledge across the curriculum, including throughout the 7 areas of learning in the EYFS. This may be through adult-led tasks, independent work or continuous provision.
At St Thomas à Becket Primary School, we strongly believe that reading is a key life-skill that underpins learning. Reading develops and broadens children’s language skills and vocabulary, and is key to achieving success across the curriculum. Here at St Thomas à Becket, we encourage children to develop a love of reading and we provide varied opportunities for children to enjoy reading for pleasure as well as for learning. Enabling our children to become fluent and confident readers is very important to us and whilst children are here, we ensure that they have opportunities to experience reading a wide variety of text types from a wide range of authors.
Children develop reading skills through a whole class reading approach. We use VIPERS to focus on the comprehension aspect of reading: Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval, Sequencing (KS1) or Summarising (KS2).
Our daily class read is 15 minutes of pure indulgence in a really good class book. The children treat this as ‘sacred time’ and this is where a true love of reading is really fostered. The children can enjoy the roller coaster ride of a story together, creating lots of opportunities for ‘book talk’ and interest in further reading by similar authors.
Progression of Reading:
We provide opportunities for children to write for a variety of purposes including: instructions, stories, poetry, explanations and even letters to Santa! Through use of Talk 4 Writing, The Write Stuff and Literacy Shed Plus, children learn to plan, draft, edit and present their work.
EYFS and KS1
In Skylark Class, we use Pie Corbett’s Talk 4 Writing as a tool for teaching English. This follows a three-week cycle in which children imitate a text, innovate a text and then invent their own text:
- Imitate – learn and retell texts following creation of text map so that children have a bank of tales they know by heart.
- Innovate – adapting a known story or text in order to create a new one based on the imitated text.
- Invent – drawing upon the range of stories and texts learned to create something new.
Talk 4 Writing consists of book talk, writer talk, learning and remembering texts. Through use of text maps, painting, drawing, teacher modelling of the story/text, discussion, drama, role play, retelling, memory tricks and games. This approach allows children to internalise language patterns, build blocks of narrative, internalise the flow and pattern of sentences and vocabulary, and then to reuse them as an independent writer. Alongside Talk 4 Writing, we follow the Letters and Sounds programme. Children are taught each of the phases and learn how the different phase sounds are applied in order to spell different words.
In Chough and Kestrel classes, we use The Write Stuff approach and Literacy Shed Plus writing plans. The Write Stuff is based on two guiding principles; teaching sequences that slide between experience days and sentence stacking lessons. With modelling at the heart of them, the sentence stacking lessons are broken into bite-sized chunks and taught under the structural framework of The Writing Rainbow. Teachers prepare children for writing by modelling the ideas, grammar or techniques of writing. We use Literacy Shed Plus to allow for more opportunities for independent writing linked to texts or short films.
At St Thomas à Becket we use the Better Handwritten handwriting scheme. Letter formation is taught from Nursery and we encourage children to write neatly, in a legible style using cursive script from the Better Handwritten handwriting scheme. Pupils in EYFS and KS1 develop a legible style, focussing on correct letter orientation, formation and proportion. In Year 2, children will begin to join their handwriting with the expectation that the vast majority of children will be joining by the end of Key Stage 1. The target for children in Key Stage Two is to produce a fluent, consistently formed style of fully cursive handwriting with equal spacing between the letters and words.
Agreed Letter Formation Using Better Handwritten Scheme
Capital Letters and Lower Case Letters