English at Cookham Dean
Our 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 word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
We aim for our pupils to:
- 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.
- every child achieves their true potential in every subject which is underpinned by their understanding of the English language, both written and spoken.
At Cookham Dean we encourage all children to become independent, active and resilient learners and be confident in all strands of their learning.
The National Curriculum states that pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose and be encouraged to read for pleasure. Reading is singled out as of extreme importance since through it ‘pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually’ (p13) Reading allows pupils to ‘acquire knowledge’ and to ‘build on what they already know’ (p13).
The National Curriculum divides reading skills into two dimensions:
- Word reading/ decoding
We recognise that both these elements are essential to success and that these areas are clearly linked to the other aspects of English learning: speaking and listening, writing, grammar and vocabulary.
In Early Years and Key Stage One pupils learn to read through:
- daily phonics lessons and activities following Little Wandle phonics programme
- regular 1:1 reading to adults in school (using phonic reading scheme texts and topic books)
- guided reading sessions (using guided reading scheme texts and topic books)
- comprehension and inference activities
- through sharing stories
In Key Stage Two pupils progress and develop their reading through:
- regular guided reading sessions that incorporate comprehension tasks, analysis of texts using VIPERS (vocabulary, inference, prediction, retrieval and summarise)
- discussion tasks
Across the school pupils are encouraged to:
- read widely and, where possible, texts that support the class topic, both fiction and non-fiction.
- read for pleasure using quiet reading time and class readers.
- recommend and discuss books that they are reading with their peers.
- use the library for reading for pleasure
Shared reading experiences are encouraged between upper and lower school. We also have a variety of whole school reading experiences during the school year including a poetry competition, story telling evening and story telling and reading theme weeks.
What is Bug Club?
We use Bug Club to support our reading schemes and development of reading. Bug Club is an online reading resource that also has hard copies of books that the children can read in school and at home.
The children will be reading Bug Club books and using Bug Club books for guided reading and reading comprehension activities and the teachers will be using Bug Club reading assessments to assess your children’s progress and reading attainment.
The Bug Club scheme provides the children with a user name and password so they can participate in online reading activities and games at home. The children can access Bug Club via the Active Learn Primary Website, where they can select activities and books of their choice.
Throughout the year, teachers allocate electronic reading books to all children in their classes so the children can read at home via the website. If your child has read all the books in their allocation then please let their class teacher know.
At Cookham Dean Primary School we believe that for all our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.
We use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide effective, daily phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound and that these can be used in a variety of combinations to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Reception and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. At Cookham Dean we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum.
How we teach phonics
- In Reception and Y1, children follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.
- Phonics starts in reception in week 2 to ensure the children make a strong start.
- By the end of reception will have taught children taught up to the end of phase 4.
- By the end of year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.
- Reception lessons start at 10 minutes, with daily additional oral blending – increasing to 30 minutes as soon as possible.
- Y1 lessons are 30 minutes long.
- In Y2-Y3, phonic lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate – following the model of Little Wandle but plugging specific gaps identified through assessment.
- In Y2-Y6 there are planned phonic ‘catch-up’ sessions following a set model to address specific reading/writing gaps. These are short, sharp sessions lasting 10 minutes in length and taking place at least three times a week.
Reading practice sessions
- Children across reception, year 1, year 2 (and beyond if appropriate) apply their phonics knowledge by using a fully matched decodable reader in a small group reading practice session.
- These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 6 children in a group.
- The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
- The children then take the same book home the following week to ensure success is shared with the family.
- In reception these sessions start in week 4. Children who are not decoding, do a little blending lesson, following the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sound Revised.
How do we assess phonic knowledge?
- In reception and year 1, at the end of each week there is a review session, which recaps the learning. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
- Children identified in reception and Y1 as in danger of falling behind are immediately identified and daily ‘keep up’ sessions are put in place – sessions follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
- In reception and year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.
- The children in Y1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.
- Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will re-sit this in Y2.
- Children who are in Y2-Y6 and need ‘catch up’ sessions are assessed through teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.
If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources.
The National Curriculum states that pupils should:
- Develop the stamina and skills to write at length
- Use accurate spelling and punctuation
- Be grammatically correct
- Write in a range of ways and purposes including narratives, explanations, descriptions, comparisons, summaries and evaluations
- Write to support their understanding and consolidation of what they have heard or read
The National Curriculum divides writing skills into two dimensions:
- Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- Composition (articulating ideas in speech and writing)
We recognise that both these elements are essential to success. We recognise that these areas are clearly linked to the other aspects of English learning: speaking and listening, reading, grammar and vocabulary.
Writing is taught, developed, modelled and supported across the school through:
- The teaching of daily discrete grammar lessons, grammar objectives and skills are then used during writing through other curriculum subjects. This gives purpose to grammar skills and allows children to apply grammar skills that they have been taught.
- Extended writing is a feature of our English lessons where children are taught how to plan, write at length and edit their writing.
- Spelling patterns are taught systematically according to the objectives set out in the National Curriculum and Spelling Shed. Focus spellings are taught and tested on a weekly basis.
- Extra spelling lists are sent home when required by individual children.
- Grammar errors are highlighted by the teacher but corrected by the child.
- Termly topics guide the genre of writing and the writing is closely linked to each topic
- Children are encouraged to read their work to their peers.
- We use checklists for pupils to self assess or peer assess, when appropriate so they can evaluate effectively.
- We use modelling and shared/ collaborative writing to demonstrate good practice.
To measure the impact of our curriculum, we regularly use pupils’ books to capture an insight into the effectiveness of our curriculum. Pupils’ work demonstrates the effectiveness of the curriculum where age-appropriate grammar knowledge and writing skills are developed over a sequence of lessons which lead towards pupils writing independent pieces.
In addition, we regularly collate pupil voice to ensure our curriculum meets the needs of the children. As a result, children are exposed to a varied menu of genres and write for a range of audiences and purposes, with high quality models derived from a range of texts used to inspire their own writing.
Through pupil interview, children can articulate the resources they have access to in order to improve and establish themselves as authors in their own right.
Pupils’ gain cultural capital through the carefully crafted choice of texts used – the exposure to a range of genres, authors and novels allows for pupils to read often and widely and provide a stimulus and high quality model to inspire pupils to have future aspirations as authors, journalists, editors and beyond.
Examples of high quality work derived as a result of the writing, grammar, punctuation and spelling are used on our displays as a learning showcase. This ensures pupils are proud of their work and strive to work towards achieving the same high standards. Impact in the curriculum can also be seen through the Statutory Assessment Tests and through termly summative assessments across school which enables pupils’ progress and attainment in the subject matter to be evaluated.
Throughout the year we have our Everybody Writes days. These are days when the whole school works on the same theme or stimulus for writing. Each class will approach and carry out the writing in a way that is most appropriate their age group and curriculum aims. Parents are invited into each class to work with their children on their piece of writing.
We aim to use engaging and stimulating hooks for the writing tasks. We have had a mysterious door appearing outside school, the teachers putting a play for the children based on a well know story and we have alternative versions of traditional tales.
Look out for the dates of Everybody Writes Days in the school newsletter.
Mysterious door appears outside Cookham Dean!
Reception and Key Stage One love having Mystery Readers!
The aim of ‘Mystery Reader’ is to show children that adults love reading too so we would like to invite parents, grandparents or other family members to come into their child's class to read a children's story. This could be a book you particularly enjoyed reading when you were growing up, a current children's book brought from home or a book selected from the school library. The children will not know who is coming into their class for each session so it will be a surprise when their reader arrives.
We look forward to seeing you and hearing your stories!
Listening to readers
If you have some spare time during the day and would like to come into school to listen to readers then please speak to the class teacher and the class reps and Ms Harvey in the office so she can ensure that all safeguarding procedures are followed.