Mr Moss is our English Leader
What is our approach to English?
At All Saints Multi Academy Trust our intention is to ensure all children are provided with a full breadth of skills within reading and writing using the National Curriculum as a minimum. We tailor our writing curriculum to work alongside our other curriculum areas such as ‘Take One Picture’, ‘Sports Week’ and our ‘Bilberry Residential.’ This ensures all of our children are given purposeful and meaningful opportunities for writing. Our children are engaged and inspired through our use of ‘Talk for writing’ teaching strategies, which are used to challenge and to explore a range of texts from a variety of authors across many different time frames. Our objective is to develop a curiosity for both reading and writing, examining modern and classical texts as a source for discussion, analysis and writing development. We are committed to ensuring that children leave their respective key stage with the appropriate skills they need to grow as writers as they move through their academic life.
What does English look like in the classroom?
In order to implement this our teachers are trained in house and outside of the academy using various talk for writing training courses and are given relevant and up to date information on current texts and pedagogy to expand their subject expertise. Assessment within the academy ensures our children are actively involved with their learning, using an editing process, which trains children to work together with peers and to independently improve their work.
The active encouragement of reading for pleasure is a core part of all our children’s curriculum entitlement using extensive reading and exposure to a wide range of texts to generate a higher contribution to students’ educational achievement.
We run regular parent inspire workshops where parents are invited in to work alongside teachers and their children, reading class texts, using phonics strategies and taking part in creative writing games to nurture their passion for Literacy outside of school.
Formative and summative assessment occurs through-out each year group using: Baseline tests in year Reception, phonics tests in year 1, national curriculum assessments in year 2 and year 6.
We challenge children to respond to questioning using full sentences and the language appropriate to the subject material, impacting their long-term learning. As a whole-school approach we use an agree, build upon and change questioning strategy in which children can dive deeper into their peer’s responses and expand their vocabulary across all curriculum areas. Within the classrooms, vocabulary displays show the progression of key language through each phase group and are referred to as a teaching tool within the lessons.
We have implemented a new reading strategy as of September 2019, which focuses on key skills within reading and comprehension and ensures it now has a clear triangulation with the children’s drafting and writing work through whole-class teaching sessions. Using our ‘reading monsters’ children are now engaged and excited about examining texts and are now linking the appropriate vocabulary to their comprehension and commentary as both a reader and as a writer. In conjunction with this we have been updating our reading materials with phonics books that link precisely to our ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. Together with this we have also been incorporating brand new texts that children have suggested themselves as a source of exploration within whole-class teaching.
How do we measure success in English?
In order to develop, our teachers and leaders are required to reflect on the effectiveness of their teaching. Examining our teaching strategies we have identified key areas, which have needed sufficient support and training within the teaching of reading and writing. One area in particular has been our greater depth writers. We now use a strategy of challenging our writers where possible using blue challenges, these can be completed and used as a skill within their writing using a focus on grammar manipulation or developing their own writer’s voice drawing on examples they have read within the teaching of reading.
The impact on our children is clear: progression, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing and drafting journey being well-established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in Upper Key Stage 2, different genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.
What is our approach to Reading and Phonics?
At All Saints Multi Academy Trust we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our children to become life-long readers and to have a love of literature in all forms. We recognise that mastery in phonics is fundamental to children being able to access a broad range of fiction and non-fiction texts, across the curriculum. We aim to achieve this by teaching phonics systematically with a relentless drive to address the needs of all learners.
Within our context, ensuring children have the cultural capital and experiences to become engrossed and immersed in reading is vital. Our objective is to develop a curiosity for both reading and writing, examining modern and classical texts as a source for discussion, analysis and writing development. We are committed to ensuring that children leave their respective key stage with the appropriate skills they need to grow as readers as they move through their academic life.
What does Reading and Phonics look like in the classroom?
We use synthetic phonics and follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme; this is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. ‘Phonics Play’ materials are used alongside ‘Letters and Sounds’ to support visual, kinaesthetic and auditory learners. We recognise that quality teaching in phonics is the essential first step in improving outcomes for all children. With this in mind, we ensure that teachers and teaching assistants are kept up to date on the latest initiatives and news. This is through continuous professional development by outside providers and within school (such as local authority networks and TA training). In response to monitoring, evaluation and review outcomes, weaker areas in staff subject knowledge and pedagogy are developed through in house training and on courses available on teaching and impact of phonics.
As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions in small groups where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their starting points and developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge. Children in Nursery begin with Phase 1, which provides a range of listening activities through play, to develop their listening skills and in the Summer Term are exposed to Phase 2’s ‘sat, pin’. Progress is tracked at the end of each term alongside the EYFS learning objectives.
When children move into Reception they continue to build upon the listening activities and are introduced to Phase 2, which marks the start of systematic phonic work. Grapheme-phoneme correspondence is introduced. The process of segmenting whole words and selecting letters to represent those phonemes is taught, writing the letters to encode words. Phase 3 completes the teaching of the alphabet and then moves on to cover sounds represented by more than one letter, learning one representation for each of the 44 phonemes. On entry into Reception, parents/carers are welcomed into school and supported through weekly parent teacher workshops on phonics and early reading. Supplementary resources and guidance are provided and parent/carers are directed to links to activities and recommended apps.
Children enter Year 1 with a solid foundation in Phase 3 enabling them to quickly progress in to Phase 4, where they start to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants. No new phonemes are introduced at this phase. Whilst in Year 1, children will complete Phase 5, broadening their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They will learn alternative pronunciations and spellings for graphemes they already know. It is expected that children entering Year 2 will recap Phase 5 and begin Phase 6, which develops a variety of spelling strategies including homophones (word specific spellings) e.g. see/ sea, spelling of words with prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters where necessary.
Many activities take place which promote pre-reading skills. Children become aware of print in their environment and match pictures and words. Language comprehension is developed by talking and reading to the children. Initially, as children learn to read, they are given a picture book with no words with the intention that they will share the book and take part in a conversation generated by the pictures. Gradually as the children's knowledge of letters and sounds develop they begin to phonetically decode words. Children within Nursery and Reception are given daily purposeful and meaningful activities, which promote their use of phonics in the classroom and the world around them.
As part of our new reading strategy, children are given home readers which are fully phonetically decodable and linked to the phonics phase the child is on so their learning is practised and reinforced at home. Children are also given tricky words and homework appropriate to their phonics phase to work alongside their reading inside and outside of school. Our reading books are organised into coloured Book Bands.
The school spelling program complements the phonics learning from Reception through to the end of KS2. The spelling of high frequency and tricky words are taught continuously throughout the phases
How do we measure success in Reading and Phonics?
Ongoing formative assessment takes place within each phonics lesson. This includes: teacher observations, questioning and discussions. These outcomes are fed forward into timely teacher intervention and subsequent planning to ensure gaps in phonological knowledge are closed and progress is not limited. Children are regularly moved onto the next Book Band when their fluency and understanding show that they are ready. The national Phonics Screening Check is performed in June of Year 1. The purpose of the screening check is to confirm that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. The children who did not meet the required standard for the check in year 1 enter again in year 2 with additional support. As children enter KS2, provision is made for those children still requiring daily phonics. Pupil progress will also identify precise actions and objectives for targeted focus children, including the lowest 20% who are not likely to meet the required standard of the Phonics Screening Check.