What is our Philosophy?
At The Winchcombe School, we strongly believe that the English curriculum should develop each child’s love for reading, writing, speaking and listening. We seek to immerse pupils in the wonders of quality books to instil a love for reading, a passion for discovery and a confidence to explore their imagination through chosen text suitable for each year group. We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in language and literacy, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum.
What is taught?
English lessons are taught daily following the National Curriculum programme of study for each year group. We have a robust and organised English curriculum, described further below; that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. These aims are embedded across our English lessons and the wider curriculum. We teach children the literacy skills they require for success in everyday life and for every child to leave school with the required age-related reading and writing skills.
How it’s taught?
Starting in Early Years, there is a strong oral approach. ‘Chatterboxes’ (themed boxes including books, visual aids and props to encourage children to speak) are used to help F1 children use their talking skills through group sessions in school as well as being available for parents to borrow. ‘Story sacks’ are also used within the Foundation stage. They contain a range of items, small toys or plastic characters from the book or related to a theme, which teachers use to help read stories, rhymes or songs. Children are encouraged to tell stories through Helicopter Stories, where adults scribe their stories in Child Initiated Learning.
Some staff are trained in the ECAT (Every Child A Talker) approach and all staff are aware of the importance of children talking. We identify children who would benefit from the ECAT approach and support them in group sessions, as well as in our interactions in Child Initiated Learning. Additionally, we use Makaton alongside songs and stories.
Moving into Year 1, children are encouraged to participate in class discussions, to listen to others and to express their ideas. To support the early stages of writing, children practise saying their sentence orally before using pictures or symbols to record their sentences as part of the ‘Talk for writing’ approach. Pictorial maps and reciting sentences out loud help children write in full sentences. The ‘Talk for writing’ approach is then continued throughout the school in English lessons, as well as using drama activities and talk partners to support writing for a range of purposes.
Our school vision is to move Oracy to the forefront of our learning, using the four strands of the framework: Physical, Linguistic, Cognitive and Social and Emotional. As a school we plan to incorporate learning to talk, through talk with debating, decision alleys and hot seating.
We follow the Letters and Sounds scheme, supported by the Jolly Phonics songs to help children learn the phonemes. Class phonics lessons are taught daily throughout Foundation, Year 1 and 2.
We start Phase 1 throughout F1 and F2. As a rough guide, we aim to start Phase 2 in the Autumn term, Phase 3 in the spring term and Phase 4 in the summer term. We quickly assess where the children are and we support children’s language development as well as introducing the sounds for those who are at this stage of learning. We work on oral blending and segmenting before moving on to reading and writing words.
Phases 2-4 are revisited in Year 1 and the children then move on to Phase 5. Teachers systematically teach the children the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them. Children are continually assessed and any children struggling are supported by the class teacher or LSA within the phonics lesson. These regular assessments inform planning and allow teachers to identify any gaps in learning. Pupils have regular reading sessions with an adult where teachers ensure the pupils are regularly practising and applying their phonics knowledge. The children have reading books which they are encouraged to read regularly at home which match their current phonics level.
Year 2 children start the year revising Phase 5 phonics before moving onto Phase 6 and the non-nonsense spelling scheme, which is an effective spelling programme for Year 2 – Year 6. Extra support is provided to those in Year 2 who have not passed phonics screening in Year 1 and interventions are planned for those children who are working below expected levels.
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school.
At The Winchcombe School, we see reading as the underpinning foundation of all other subjects.
Children read Oxford Reading Tree books, Fireflies and Floppy’s phonics books to develop their early reading skills. The reading scheme progresses into a broad range of quality novels and non-fiction texts, poetry and playscripts, which support children on their journey from early reading to confident, independent readers.
Whole-class guided reading begins in Year 1 and is planned using texts related to the topic or quality books to engage the children’s love for reading. Teachers read to the class, modelling expression and inference. Children are also given the chance to read out loud in class and opportunities to discuss new vocabulary, characters, story plots, author studies, non-fiction texts and reciting poetry are all part of our guided reading lessons. Children listen actively, discuss books with enthusiasm and develop good comprehension skills.
We enhance and engage reading through author visits, whole school events such as World book day and hosting book fairs. At The Winchcombe School, we encourage all children to read regularly at home. Rewards are given and recorded at the back of each reading record for 50, 100, 150 and over 200 reads during the year as well as certificates of achievement for those children who read more than 200 times.
Parents are strongly encouraged to support and help children with their reading at home. Early on, parents are invited to a meeting with Foundation staff to help them work with their children. We also encourage children to take books home from the library to develop their love for reading.
Understanding and using new vocabulary is central to all aspects of our curriculum. Every year group uses the 'Frayer Model' - a graphic organiser - to help develop each child’s vocabulary understanding. This technique targets key vocabulary from each subject; children learn the meaning of the word, using pictures, illustrations and sentences definitions. They then apply their knowledge by generating examples and non-examples of the word. This helps children to build a richer vocabulary to use in spoken and written language.
We use a wide variety of quality books or texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children’s writing. In Foundation stage, children have opportunities to make marks and write through Child Initiated Learning. We also have teacher led sessions to help children put their learning from phonics into developing their writing.
Each unit of writing in KS1 and 2 always begins with a clear purpose and genre. The focus of each unit of writing will be led by a high-quality book or text, topic links to other areas of the curriculum or through experiences from school trips and excursions. Each year group have a yearly overview of the writing genres, both narrative, non-fiction and poetry, that they will learn. These have been planned to ensure correct coverage of the key genres as well as building on skills from year to year.
Across all year groups, we teach our pupils to speak clearly, to convey their ideas fluently and confidently and to ask questions; teacher modelling writing and the use of Talk for Writing activities across the school supports this. Children are encouraged to use a wide range of vocabulary within their writing. We develop writing skills so that our children have the stamina and ability to write at the age expected standard.
Grammar and Punctuation
Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are taught through English lessons as much as possible. Teachers plan to teach the required skills through the genres of writing that they are teaching, linking it to the genre to make it more connected with the intended writing outcome. Teachers sometimes focus on particular grammar and punctuation skills as stand-alone lessons, if they feel that the class need additional lessons to embed and develop their understanding or to consolidate skills.
Children are taught spelling alongside phonics lessons starting in FS2. Then throughout all KS1, teaching spelling through phonics and handwriting help children see links between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes. As well as teaching spelling using phonics, tricky words are taught and common exception words for each year group. KS1 children learn spellings in school and at home.
The Winchcombe School follow No-nonsense spelling from Year 2 – Year 6. We have designed daily spelling lessons which teach spelling rules and common exception words. Children are encouraged to learn and practise spellings at home and in school and are regularly tested. During each writing unit, time is given to edit and improve spellings mistakes by using a dictionary or a thesaurus to make better vocabulary choices.
Handwriting is taught daily in FS2 starting with the basic letter formation in Foundation, they use Read, Write Inc images and rhymes to introduce each letter family in turn.
In Year 1, handwriting is taught daily. Children are introduced to cursive letters which incorporate entry and exit points. They continue to use the same rhymes from Read, Write Inc to ensure continuity between year groups. Children then begin to learn the continuous cursive handwriting letter joins in the Spring and Summer term. Handwriting is planned alongside phonics lessons to help children revise and embed learning.
Children in Year 2, have daily handwriting lessons which start with a revision of each letter family and then progress using the ‘continuous cursive’ six joins. Our aim is that all year 2 children have developed a continuous cursive handwriting style by the end of the year. Children who are struggling, will be given extra support to help them develop a neat handwriting style.
Throughout LKS2, handwriting is taught every week. Children build stamina for writing, whilst practising letter joins. Confident Year 4 children, then have the opportunity to start writing in pen.
We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing, in part by developing a joined handwriting style by the time they move to secondary school.