Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.
At Brooklands Primary School, we pride ourselves on developing a creative approach to English. The learning journey usually begins with a ‘hook’ such as a carefully chosen piece of literature, or a film, or clip, and where possible a first-hand experience, immersing pupils in a world of language and imagination. Many of our shared reading books are driving tools for our writing, but often our writing is closely linked with the foundation subjects we are focusing on each term (in Geography, History and RE).
The teaching of writing follows a sequence which is broken into different stages, enabling students to rehearse orally before writing, share ideas, strengthen and collect high order vocabulary, and practise the skills needed to apply in their writing. They are exposed to high order detailed modelling by the teacher who demonstrates the highly aspirational outcomes the pupils can then produce.
Our main principles in English are to:
Maximise the opportunities for writing
Daily writing is at the heart of learning how to write.
Alongside the main extended writing activities, opportunities must be made to create shorter pieces of writing.
To build up pupils' confidence and stamina for writing, and develop their understanding of audience and purpose.
In EYFS and KS1, we teach synthetic phonics, following the government scheme ‘Letters and Sounds’.
Phonics is taught in streaming groups across reception and year 1. Throughout the year, we continue to assess the children’s progress to ensure challenge and pace in our phonics sessions, and to move children up according to where they need to be.
The children write every day, rehearsing out loud what they want to say, before spelling the words using the graphemes and ‘tricky’ words they know.
They practise handwriting every day: they learn correct letter formation and how to join letters speedily and legibly.
Key points of our phonics teaching:
30 minutes every day
Taught by teachers and TAs
Grouped according to progress
Half termly assessments
We use a shared reading approach.
Teachers make time to ‘herald’ new words before they start reading; they introduce- and constantly model the use of vocabulary at a much higher level than the children are using in their own conversations.
80% of the reading done during the shared reading session is done by the teacher and not the pupils. This is firstly because the chosen text is of a higher reading level than the actual reading level of pupils. This is the time in the curriculum where pupils are given an opportunity to be exposed to texts, which they wouldn’t otherwise access. The teacher reads aloud to the pupils whilst the pupils follow up on their own books. Pupils have a copy of the book in their hands whilst listening to the teacher read. Teachers explicitly teach their own reading strategies, as they read (pauses, expressions, voice, reading ahead).
As the teacher reads, pupils are asked to drop in and read aloud as well. This usually keeps pupils attentive to teacher’s reading, but essentially real engagement of pupils is a result of high quality modelling of the teacher’s own expressive reading skills. Our teachers are enthusiastic, clear and emotional about what they read.
There is a comprehension focus for the teaching in each shared reading session. There will be pre-planned questions, displayed on the whiteboard ready for each session. This could be a question of the text, or an inference or deduction question. It could involve pupils activating their prior knowledge of the story and relating to what has just been read, as well as asking pupils to summarise what happened. Pupils may be asked to explain their mental images of what they read, and make predictions, or to sequence a series of given events for the read chapter. Pupils could also be asked to empathise with a character and give their own opinion and judgement. Otherwise pupils might be asked to comment on author’s use of language, and to reflect on the effect the author’s choices of words have on them, as readers.
In-depth understanding of a text requires time and ‘cognitive space’- teachers at Brooklands, provide opportunities for high quality dialogue about what’s been read. Pupils are encouraged to ask questions of a text, and to explain which thoughts, ideas, and feelings came into their mind after reading. Teachers listen very carefully to pupils, in order to build on what the children are saying. This discussion is mainly pupil led, and pupils have more speaking time than their teachers at this stage. The teacher however, helps pupils extend their thinking and responses.
At the end of the shared reading session, pupils are encouraged to make predictions about the story. This keeps pupils keen on reading the rest of it, and allows them to be enthusiastic about their shared reading experience, leaving them looking forward to their next session.
Reading for enjoyment is hugely important at Brooklands. Research consistently shows that one of the most effective strategies for fostering a love of reading in schools is the creation of a classroom book corner, as it serves as a constant reminder for the children to pick up a book and start reading. With this in mind each classroom has an eye-catching and inviting book corner with a wide range of books. Children are encouraged to choose books to read at their leisure.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG)
We have dedicated time in the weekly school timetable to teach Grammar and Spellings.
We follow the Nelson scheme of work for both our teaching of Spellings and Grammar.
Nelson Grammar enhances and embeds essential grammar skills for Years 1-6. It is fully matched to the latest UK curricula to help our children meet the higher expectations.
Introduces spelling and grammar rules, structures and patterns in small steps, and in Reception is fully in line with Letters and Sounds
Offers three levels of differentiation with plenty of writing practice and a clear record of progress for every child