English is an integrated and fundamental component of the whole primary curriculum. It is pivotal for all learning in every curriculum area. Our understanding of English incorporates speaking, listening, reading and writing. These elements of language are interdependent and integral to all learning. English should therefore be promoted holistically. English is fundamental to personal and social development and to life long learning. Good communication skills equip us for everyday life and enable use to survive and function in the community
The core aim of English at Welton St. Mary’s is that children:
- Read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- Use discussion in order to learn; children should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- Be competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
The overarching aim for English is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic phonics approach, using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. It’s an approach to teaching phonics in which individual letters or letter sounds are blended to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form complete words. Children in Reception also use ‘Jolly Phonics’ actions to go with the sounds.
We use a combination of reading schemes. These include Oxford Reading Tree, Phonics Bug and Jolly Phonics readers. These give a variety of fiction and non–fiction books to develop children’s reading range. Children learn to read at different rates. The children have access to a variety of books and in the early stages of their reading are supported by a variety of reading schemes that we have in school. As they develop we encourage them to become ‘free readers’ and choose their own books from books which are levelled using National Curriculum levels. In addition to this, every child has the opportunity to visit the library and select reading material of their choice under the direction of the class teacher and school librarian.
Our daily phonics sessions in Foundation Stage are fun, involving lots of speaking, listening and games. The emphasis is on children’s active participation. They learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play.
Using Letters and Sounds
Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. Children have time to practise and expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words that are not phonetically decodable e.g. ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just ‘recognise’ them.
Phase 1 will have begun in your child’s pre-school setting. This phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics. During this phase children are encouraged to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. Pre-school and nursery settings teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and read books to and with the children. This helps to increase the number of words they
know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books. The children learn to identify rhyme and alliteration.
Ways you can support your children at home
•Play ‘What do we have in here?’ Put some toys or objects in a bag and pull one out at a time. Emphasise the first sound of the name of the toy or object by repeating it, for example, ‘c c c c – car’, ‘b b b b – box’, ‘ch ch ch ch – chip’.
•Say: ‘A tall tin of tomatoes!’ ‘Tommy, the ticklish teddy!’ ‘A lovely little lemon!’ This is called alliteration. Use names, for example, ‘Gurpreet gets the giggles’, ‘Milo makes music’, ‘Naheema’s nose’.
•Teach them ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’.
During the Foundation Stage at Welton St. Mary’s the children continue to build on Phase 1 and move to Phase 2. This is where initial letters sounds are taught through a variety of songs, rhymes and games. We use “Jolly Phonics” as a scheme to support our teaching. The children are introduced to a new sound each day and bring the sounds home to practise.
The children continue to learn to read and spell new decodable and tricky words throughout the phase then move on to learning the sounds in Phase 3. Many of the sounds in Phase 3 are digraphs (2 letter spelling phonemes where a combination of 2 letters make one sound e.g. ch, th, sh ai). These are practised daily through games and songs and independent activities that the children will embark on during the daily phonics teaching session. Children are encouraged to read, spell and write these phonemes in response to their sound.
Phonics continues to be taught each day throughout Key Stage One. At the end of Year One, the children will take the government phonics screening check. This is a test made up of real and “alien” words (pseudo words) which aim to assess the children recognition and application of the phonics that they have learned in Phases 2-5.
For children who do not meet the required standard to pass the screen, phonics teaching continues at the appropriate level through Y2, where they are retested. When the children have passed the screen, phonics teaching moves to phase 6. In this phase of letters and sounds, the children are introduced to tenses and grammatical elements of language. This continues through Key Stage 2 in the daily teaching of SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar).
For children who do not meet age related expectation in our phonics program, appropriate intervention is put in place to ensure rapid catch up.