Our English overview
We believe in the improtance of using quality texts to support the teaching of reading and writing at Ark Castledown. Our English Overview for 2019-2020 Can be seen here:
Castledown English Overview. pdf
Learning to Read
Ark Castledown is commited to putting reading at the centre of our curriculum and ensuring that every child is a reader.
We believe that the underpinning foudation stone for this is the ability to decode. We teach children to decode phonetically through the Read Write Inc. programme. All children will be part of the phonics programme until they are confident, fluent readers.
The programme is taught for 45 minutes a day in Reception and Year 1. With a provision for early readers in Year 2. In addition, children recieve a 10 minute speed sound review to practise and consolidate prior learning.
This is proven to develop:
- fluent, enthusiastic readers, deep comprehension of texts, confident speakers and keen writers.
- Young readers develop at different rates and the ability of readers in a class can vary therefore we set our pupils by ability for these sessions. Regular termly assessment allows us to track our pupil’s attainment and consequently our phonics groups are regularly reviewed and changed.
Read to Succeed
Every child in Year 1 upwards participates in Read to Succeed sessions, teaching them to develop their reading comprehension skills, whilst becoming immersed in rich and broad vocabulary. Within the Read to Succeed sessions, children are taught the skills to analyse the authors intent with an emphasis on the understanding and use of vocabulary. Children will also learn how to make links and connections between texts and be able to discuss themes, make deductions and discuss their feelings and preferences towards the text studied. Year groups have selected a spine book for each term to work from to extend the children’s understanding of authors and genres. As a result of this, these books play an integral part in supporting the development children’s writing skills.
These daily Read to Succeed sessions teach the children the skills required to become independent readers enabling them to foster their love for reading.
Reading for pleasure
At Ark Castledown we are striving to become a reading school where all children and adults read for pleasure and can share in the joy of books. All our children have access to a shared library, well stocked with a wide variety of quality texts which are continuously updated and reviewed. These books are discussed and recommended as a class, during the Reading for Pleasure sessions. Children make informed choices about their own reading preferences based on the discussions in class. In order to promote reading for pleasure, we designate specific weekly timetabled slots. We ensure that during these times children can read books of their choice for uninterrupted and sustained periods of time. Discussion about texts read will also play a vital part in these sessions. All classes have Reading Champions that have been chosen to help promote the love of reading in the school by recommending books and authors and sharing stories with their peers and organising book events.
Reading at home
We understand the most effective thing any parent can do to help their child succeed at school is to read with them regularly. Children in all year groups will be expected to complete home reading and this will be recorded in their reading record book. A guide in the centre of the reading records will enable parents to understand the expectations for their child’s home learning and how this will support them at school. This may include practising phonics, logging tricky words and using the question prompt guide to discuss what has been read.
Learning to write
At Castledown, writing begins from a very early age, from as soon as a child can pick up a pencil and mark make. Gross and fine motor skills are developed through our provision within EYFS leading on to the ability for children to form letters (taught in Read Write Inc). The association between the phoneme (sound of a letter) and the grapheme (the written form) is developed further through Reception with an emphasis on forming words and short sentences.
In Key Stage 1 children will be taught the skills of writing through oral storytelling and discussion. This supports them to structure the text and independently write in the chosen genre.
In Key Stage 2 the children write in various genres for a range of purposes. They analyse the model text and unpick the grammatical features and organisation, in order to apply these in their own writing.
Throughout both Key Stages the Reading Spines are used as the foundation for contextualising their writing as well as support them in the application of vocabulary, structure and genre. Alongside the links to reading, children are given enrichment opportunities linked to their topics to promote and inspire writing of a high quality.
Teacher modelling explicitly demonstrates to the children how to craft well defined sentences and paragraphs, initially scaffolding their learning to allow them to practise the skills for them to write independently. Intentional monitoring is used throughout the lessons to provide the children with timely and constructive feedback, having immediate impact on their learning.
In Key Stage One children receive daily handwriting sessions to teach: correct letter formation, correct letter size and overall presentation. In year 2, children will begin to learn to join up their handwriting. In Key Stage 2 children continue to work on presentation, receiving a pen when they can fluently write in a neat cursive style.
All children complete a termly Handwriting Hero check, in which they write a short piece for the Handwriting Hero display. This enables children to celebrate their achievement over the year.
Our spelling curriculum follows on from the Read Write Inc Programme taught in Reception and Year 1, developing the children’s understanding of the rules of spelling and the common exception words required in each year group. For children in Years 2-6 they receive a 15-minute spelling lesson on a Monday where they are systematically taught the spelling rules and requirements before embedding them throughout the week through transitions, do now activities, starters and plenaries. Children will also be taught the National Curriculum common exception words for their specific year groups.