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The skills of oracy (speaking and listening), reading and writing, underpin all our teaching and learning in English and the broader curriculum including maths. It is through our innovative approaches to the development of these skills that we are best able to prepare our children for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Reading

We are passionate about reading at Rectory Farm. As it is so important, we invest heavily in making sure that the children have the best possible books available to them and it is a focus throughout school. We believe that providing greater access to a wide range of expertly written, content-appropriate, engaging REAL books is the single most effective way of improving standards of receptive and expressive language for children - in terms of expanding vocabulary, deepening comprehension, sharpening authorial technique, nurturing a love of stories and a thirst for knowledge.

Planning for English lessons is usually based around quality whole class texts, where children are introduced to real books. We use the Power of Reading approach and ensure children encounter both fiction and non-fiction. This drives the learning throughout the term: providing stimuli for oracy activities, securing reading comprehension through our Critical Reading sessions, grammar focuses as well as real opportunities for writing outcomes for a variety of audiences.

During the school day, the children have time to change their home reading book; additional times are available for those enthusiastic readers and devourers of books. We are fortunate to have a school librarian, who supports the children with their reading choices and each class has a time to visit the library and learn how to access the reading material.

In addition, we have a team of committed volunteers including Beanstalk helpers, who are invaluable in helping our staff, in ensuring our children develop a lifelong love of reading.

School and home partnership

According to recent studies individuals, who are good readers at school, are more likely to earn better wages when they are older and are more likely to be happy. Evidence shows us that those children who engage in either - reading to an adult or listening to an adult read - for 20 minutes a day are more likely to do well. This 'Magic 20' is the basis for our collaboration with parents. We promise to read with your children for 10 minutes every day and we ask parents to do the same.

Please spend time reading with and talking to your child about what they read, and help them to use their Reading Log to record their enjoyment of reading.  Pupils can earn rewards for using their Reading Logs effectively and reading regularly- we do recommend that children should be sharing a book with an adult at home at least four times each week.

As part of everyday practice a RFPS every child will read with someone for at least 10 minutes every day: this could be sharing a class novel with a peer, reading their Reading Stage book or finding knowledge in the broader curriculum. This happens at a time that best suits the rhythm of each particular class.

In the early stages of reading, we teach children to decode words using phonic skills as their main approach, alongside which we teach sight vocabulary.  The children have additional Critical Reading sessions, which focus on developing reading as understanding and comprehension.

Phonics

At Rectory Farm, phonics is taught daily to all children in Reception and Key Stage One.  The children are placed in attainment phase groups along with a dedicated fully phonics trained adult. We use the Letters and Sounds programme to teach children the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds.  We also include songs and actions to help us remember our sounds. 

Here is Lilly saying our pure phonic sounds:

The children are taught to read words by blending, which means saying each sound and then blending all the sounds together to make a word.  In addition, the children are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words and writing down the sounds they can hear.

Once the children have mastered their sounds the focus progresses to spelling rules and patterns.  A good website for playing phonics games. www.phonicsplay.co.uk

At the end of Year 1, all the children in the country take a test called a Phonics Screening.  They have to read 40 real and nonsense words.  We call the nonsense words ‘Alien words’ and the children practice reading these style of words regularly as it supports their learning of the phonic sounds.  

To see an example of the test click here.

Spelling

We understand that good spelling is an essential skill, which allows the children to communicate their understanding in all curriculum subjects. In order for pupils to develop into effective and confident writers they need to develop and use a range of applicable spelling strategies. In addition, we realise the important links made between decoding words and blending sounds: how these support children in building their own vocabulary bank. By providing the children with a range of strategies, we equip them with the independence to attempt spellings before asking for adult help.

Spelling is taught using an investigative and collaborative approach, focusing on spelling patterns, prefixes and suffixes, as well as knowledge of word origin and root words. 

We particularly want the children to develop a love of language and the confidence to spell more challenging and ambitious words. In allowing them opportunities to develop a rich and exciting vocabulary, we are enabling them to become effective communicators.

At the end of Year Two and Year 6, children will have a spelling test as part of their Statuary Tests. 

Please see the leaflet at the bottom of this page for the spelling rules and patterns that we teach in each year group.

Writing

We use core texts to plan quality written outcomes.  This high quality literature is used to engage and inspire the pupils, and provide rich models of writing for them to imitate in their own independent writing, through style, voice and language structure. 

At the start of a writing unit, time is spent on the first stage of the writing process - inspire, immerse, analyse and practicing skills, then they move onto planning, quality written outcomes, editing then publishing.  Time is then devoted to producing the final high quality written outcome.

All classrooms at Rectory Farm have an English Learning Wall, which provides scaffolds and models for the pupils’ writing, including higher-order vocabulary, examples of a range of sentence types, along with models of the quality written outcome that the children are working towards.  The learning walls are updated continuously over the unit to support pupil learning.

Grammar and Punctuation

At Rectory Farm, grammar and punctuation is taught during English sessions through contextualised learning linked to the core-text. Grammar, language and punctuation skills are taught through analysis of the author’s use of effective vocabulary choices, language structures and writing style, and by using the core-text as a model during the writing process. Children are given opportunities to imitate the author’s style, reflect on why the writing is effective, then to practise and develop their own writing style using the skills they have learnt.

Please see the leaflet at the bottom of this page for the punctuation and grammar that we teach in each year group.

Making handwriting automatic

To support the children’s handwriting from Foundation Stage to year 6 we use the Kinetic Letters handwriting programme.

This is what is behind the Kinetic Letters ethos…

Automaticity – Formation, orientation and placement of letters becomes automatic which frees up space in the working memory.

Achievement – Fast, legible and fluent handwriting underpins success in every curriculum area.

Confidence – Good handwriting creates a positive initial judgement.

Creativity – When handwriting is automatic, the brain can concentrate on content.

Reading – Writing and reading are reciprocal skills, so improvement in one, helps the other.

Phonics and Spelling – legible handwriting means children can read and correct spelling.

Our Kinetic letters handwriting approach also supports the motor skills area of spelling. Ensuring our children develop a fluent, efficient and legible handwriting style. Kinetic Letters script is taught from Reception onwards through handwriting sessions taught every day. This approach ensures children have a strong body position and are able to form and orientate letters correctly, which develops into an automatic, fluent, and joined style.

Pupils who consistently show the Rectory Farm expectations for handwriting and presentation in all of their books can earn the highly coveted pen license enabling them to use a handwriting pen in their Topic books. Children are also encouraged to produce quality presentation pieces that include art and writing together throughout the year.