'Books are a uniquely portable magic.'
English has a pre-eminent place in both education and society. Atwood aims to offer a high-quality education in English which will teach our pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others through their reading and listening and so that others can communicate with them in return. Through reading in particular, our pupils will have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in our children’s development. Reading enables our pupils to both acquire knowledge and build upon what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; our pupils who do not speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised which is a position that no member of the Atwood team will accept.
Atwood follows the National Curriculum for English and we aim to ensure that all pupils:
- 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; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
Here at Atwood, we follow the government’s Letters and Sounds programme but we also augment this by using other phonics materials such as ‘Jolly Phonics’ and LCP Phonics Scheme. Our aim is to teach the children to recognise individual sounds in words, link sounds to actions and then use these sounds to segment in order to write and then blend the sounds together to read words. The teaching of phonics is broken down into 6 separate phases of either sounds or patterns. As the phases progress, so does the expectation of the sound or pattern.
Children have whole class phonics lessons each day in EYFS and Key Stage 1. Where teachers have identified extra support is needed, some children have extra small group or individual sessions so that we can ensure they are making rapid and sustained progress.
It is the expectation at Atwood that our pupils will be on phase 6 when they enter Key Stage 2, however some children may still require teaching from phases 2 to 5 which takes place in different ways depending on the needs of the children.
Our reading programme closely reflects our children’s own interests and experiences. At Atwood, the books in school are organised into levels of difficulty shown by ‘colour bands’. Some of these banded books are from reading schemes such as ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ and Project X. The class teacher guides the children to select books that reflect both their interest and ability from an appropriate colour level. We also believe in ‘real books’ and so children have the opportunity to read an appropriate colour banded book that is not from a reading scheme.
Atwood boasts a wonderful library which is well stocked with a wide range of books. Each class visits the library on a regular basis and they are able to borrow a range of books. If parents could remind children to look after these books when they are at home and ensure that they are returned in a timely way. Each classroom also has a selection of books for the children to access.
Here at Atwood, we wish to foster a lifelong love of reading and, as part of their daily routine, the children have opportunities to read for pleasure as well as part of guided reading sessions during the week. Our staff regularly read and tell stories in class and in assemblies and positively encourage the children to take their reading book home each evening and to read to their parents. We wish to foster the habit of ‘private reading’ on a regular basis so that they can derive the maximum pleasure from books at home as well as in school. Parents/carers and teachers comment on the children’s progress and communicate this through the ‘Home/School Reading Record Book’. Communication between home and school is fundamental in helping each child to develop to their full reading potential.
We believe that adults must be good reading role models as well. To this end, in the school reception area, we have set up a ‘community reading project’. On display are a range of books which anyone is able to borrow. We are always looking for suitable donations as well!
In writing, we use a developmental approach which encourages children’s independence from the first meaningful mark making through to making final, presentation pieces in the later stages of the writing process. This approach allows us to introduce and build rules of spelling and punctuation and grammar according to the child’s level of understanding and readiness.
We aim to provide a wide range of opportunities for the children to write purposefully for different audiences. We encourage children to see themselves as ‘real writers’ from the beginning, able to produce meaningful and useful work in a variety of situations, including in other curriculum areas.
Shared reading and writing within the classroom is a daily part of classroom practice as is the importance of ‘talk for writing’. Writing is taught across the school in three stages of writing: ‘Imitation’, ‘Innovation’ and ‘Invention’. Children begin by exploring a carefully chosen, high quality text and progress towards learning it off by heart through drama and story mapping. Children then explore ‘tweaks’ to the modelled text and experiment with making changes to the text before writing their very own versions. Writing lessons are designed to develop specific aspects of grammar that are appropriate to the year group, where grammar skills and books are carefully selected to ensure a clear progression of skills throughout the school.
We value good presentation here at Atwood and particular attention is paid to the development of cursive (joined) handwriting. Children at Atwood are taught to control a pencil and form letters correctly, starting in the right place and continuing in the right direction. Every class has formal handwriting practice on a weekly basis. 'Pen licences' in Key Stage 2 are awarded to those children with a neat, cursive script and it our expectation that all children use a handwriting pen by the end of Year 4. Please note, that we do not allow our children to write in Biro, instead we use blue Berol handwriting pens.
At Atwood, our children are encouraged to attempt their own spellings when drafting their work in order to encourage confidence and independence. Children and teachers proof-read writing and at this stage, there is the necessity to correct spellings. Our children are actively encouraged to use dictionaries as well as their own spelling journals and their own learning of spelling words and patterns in order to make such corrections.
At Atwood we follow the No Nonsense Spelling Programme which has a detailed curriculum for each year group. We provide lists of spellings to learn each week and these are tested regularly, but we also value the learning of spelling rules and patterns.
Expectations of Parents/Carers
Atwood expects parents/carers to be an integral part of their child’s learning. Therefore, we expect them to listen to reading regularly and help with the learning of letters and sounds along with the learning of weekly spellings and so support in any English based home-learning.