Brooklands Primary School

Brooklands Primary School Maritime Academy Trust
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English

                Today a reader, tomorrow a leader. – Margaret Fuller

 

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 books are driving tools for creative outcomes, where the writing is closely linked to an end of term extravaganza. These have included Art and Music, Festivals, Galleries and Museums, performances, cafes, fashion shows and even a Science Exposition.

Making the English so immersive and engaging, means each project the children complete is purposeful, ambitious and child-lead. Our most recent project ‘Plastic, Not so Fantastic’ is a good example of where the children mind-mapped ideas, discussed and debated the issues they felt most passionately about, voted on the main problems and even produced some exciting new inventions to tackle the world problem on plastic.

These projects are also taught alongside a teaching programme called ‘Let’s Think English’. These sessions, usually two per half term, develop the children’s reasoning skills and higher-order skills, to make them successful learners in English and other areas of the curriculum. All texts and clips are similarly picked for their captivating and engaging appeal and the lessons stimulate the reasoning patterns which underpin deeper understanding of English relating to the writer’s intentions narrative structure, figurative language, symbolism, genre, etc.

Writing

                             

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.

Phonics

 In EYFS and KS1, we teach synthetic phonics, following the government scheme ‘Letters and Sounds’. Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching English reading which first teaches the letter sounds, and then builds up to blending these sounds together to achieve full pronunciation of whole words. This way of teaching phonics is taught systematically over a period incorporating a range of skills such as blending sounds, segmenting sounds for spelling, learning to read the common exception words, moving through the phases to learn all 44 phonemes and then moving onto alternative sounds.

At Brooklands, we also assess each child at the beginning of the academic year to ensure we personalise the learning to each individual child and their needs. 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.

This is supported by our reading system, where emerging and developing readers can change their books regularly and teachers can monitor their progress and how they apply their phonics skills in reading sessions.

Key points of our phonics teaching:

  • 30 minutes every day
  • Taught by teachers and TAs
  • Grouped according to progress
  • Half termly assessments

Reading

          

In reception and year 1 we teach reading through guided reading. The fundamental purpose of Guided Reading is to enhance each child’s understanding of what they are reading and help develop children’s ability to apply strategies independently.Guided Reading sessions take place every day for forty minutes in reception and year 1 and compliment the phonics teaching.  Teachers plan and teach a range text genres throughout the year in order to give children extensive reading experiences. The sessions teach a range of skills including word recognition (decoding and encoding), understanding and interpreting texts and engaging and responding to texts. To ensure a continuous bank of books and reading activities engage and extend both our eager and reluctant readers, Brooklands has subscribed to Bug Club. Bug Club is an extensive whole-school on-line reading programme.

From year 2 onwards, 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. 

Model reading

 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.

Comprehension

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.

Whenever relevant, pupils are asked to do an activity about what they read. This may be linked to other literacy skills and to pupils’ grammatical knowledge. It could consist of creating a vocabulary list, writing a short character’s description, mind mapping the read part of the story, or analysing some grammatical feature in the text. Teachers decide which activity to do, according to their class’ needs, and in order to make effective links with the rest of the literacy curriculum.

Discussion

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.

Prediction

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)

With the strong focus on grammar, punctuation and spelling in the new National Curriculum, children need to be confident in each of their language skills. Grammar and punctuation are taught both as part of the literacy lesson and discretely.

The word-lists for Years 3 and 4 and Years 5 and 6 are statutory. The lists are a mixture of words pupils frequently use in their writing and those which they often misspell.

Occasionally, topic words related to their English lessons are set for children to support the children during the unit of work. In KS1 and KS2 spellings are uploaded onto Edmodo each week for the children to learn. The children are tested every week. The results are sent home for parents/carers to review.