'Believe Achieve Succeed'
The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum 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.” National Curriculum, July 2014
Here at Millbrook Primary School, reading is a highly valued aspect of the curriculum. Reading provides the opportunity for children to develop their vocabulary and imaginations; give opinions in class discussions; take ideas to use in their writing; and, ultimately, interpret and become engaged in the world around us.
During the school day, children regularly encounter a variety of texts in a range of settings: early morning work; English lessons; guided reading; topic lessons; assemblies; school library browsing time; the classroom book corner; or through listening to a story as At Millbrook we believe that small, daily acts of reading matter. For this reason, all children end their day with a story. This often starts with picture books and stories in our nursery, through to reading a class novel in KS2.
Children progress in early reading through the use of the Letters and Sounds phonics programme from reception – year 2. Children across the school follow our structured staged reading program, which starts in KS1 with phonetically decodable books from the Oxford Reading Tree. From Year 4 onwards, children migrate onto the Accelerated Reader program. Our pupils also have access to well-stocked book corners in each classroom and our school library, where they can borrow books to enjoy at home. We also provide a wealth of enrichment opportunities, such as author visits and workshops; attending the Wantage Children’s Literary Festival each year, and weekly librarian sessions at our local library. This ensures that children benefit from access to positive role models from the local and wider community. Our aim is to promote a love of reading amongst our children, and our regular whole school events, such as World Book Day celebrations, book fairs and access to the First News children’s newspaper serve to support this goal.
At Millbrook, we aim to develop confident, fluent and passionate readers and writers from an early stage. We use synthetic phonics as the initial method for teaching children to learn to read words. This is a process that first teaches the letter sounds, building up to blending these sounds together to achieve full pronunciation of whole words. Our phonics teaching also includes the modelling of how to segment sounds in a word. This allows children to hear the sounds that they need to write when spelling a word. Phonics is taught in a systematic way across the school using the Letters and Sounds programme and follows the Revisit à Teach à Practise à Apply approach.
Children access daily explicit phonics sessions from Year R to Year 2, with further support being provided in KS2 if necessary. Phonics is taught in a multisensory way, providing children with fun, interactive opportunities to learn through using physical resources, visual cues, singing, dancing, games, ICT, articulating sounds and making choices.
Our school library is open every day to children from Year 1 upwards. Children are allowed to borrow any book within the library, giving them access to a greater range of genres than those found in their class book corners. As well as fiction, we have weekly newspapers, graphic novels and an extensive non-fiction section. The library is also open every break and lunchtime (except Wednesdays) for children to come and read or partake in reading inspired activities. The library is staffed by our librarian Mrs Hinder and our team of 'Junior Librarians'. Their responsibilities include: Restocking books when returned, helping issue books during lunchtimes when the library is open, helping children choose new reading books when they are stuck, Sorting new books into their correct placements, Tidying the library, ensuring it looks as neat and as inviting as possible.
“You can make anything by writing.” C.S. Lewis
At Millbrook, we use a text-based approach to teaching writing. Using quality, language-rich books to ‘hook’ the children, not only embeds reading in our English curriculum, but inspires their writing. Each chosen text acts as an ‘umbrella’ under which the children are taught to write for a clear purpose (writing to entertain; writing to inform; writing to discuss and writing to persuade) and known audience, using a range of fiction and non-fiction writing opportunities.
We have high expectations for handwriting and presentation across the school and we teach the children to use a cursive script from Foundation Stage upwards.
Our writing curriculum has been developed with fine attention to ensure that as children progress through the school, their skills develop in both an age and stage appropriate way. Each unit of writing develops progressively within a 3-stage writing process.
Children first enter the Stimulate and Generate phase of writing. Here the unit begins with a rich text stimulus and provides opportunities for children to explore spoken language, word level work and develop cultural capital (through visitors, trips, images, props). The next stage of the learning journey is the Capture, Sift and Sort phase. Here children explore the skills needed for the final outcome (planning; exploring genre and form; embedded grammar, punctuation and spelling). In addition, the children complete apprentice writes. The final stage of the writing process is the Create, Refine and Evaluate phase where teachers continue to teach skills and behaviours of a writer and children create a written outcome for a known audience. This is the phase of writing where children proof-read and edit their work: our learners are challenged and encouraged to take risks and view mistakes as another part of the learning process. The learning journey finishes with opportunities for children to publish their work ready for celebration and/or presentation.
Working walls are an important part of the learning process as they provide children with a form of continuous provision that they can refer to throughout the journey. These should detail the purpose for writing, vocabulary, skills being taught and modelled examples. During the process, the working walls should be referred to regularly and often. Key parts of the working wall should remain after a learning journey so children are reminded and encourages to use these skills in other writing.
For each journey, children will be introduced to new words. These words should be relevant to the work being produced within the English learning journey. Children will expand their vocabulary and knowledge of vocabulary. We believe that deliberately building vocabulary is one of the most important things that we can do as teachers. There must be a minimum of 6 new words introduced to the children during each learning journey. These words should be introduced as part of the ‘Stimulate and Generate’ phase of writing.
These words should be displayed in classrooms and should include the definition of the word; what the type of word class it is; an example of the word within a sentence (related to the stimulus) and synonyms for that word.
Grammar and Punctuation
The explicit teaching of Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation is essential to the development of children’s speech and writing. Children from Year 1 to 6 learn key grammar and punctuation concepts in the context of writing. Having a firm understanding of these allow children to be confident in building and manipulating interesting and varied sentences. Furthermore, they can then discuss and analyse their own language and grammar choices, as well as those of others, using the appropriate terminology. While this knowledge prepares the children for the end of KS1 and KS2 SATs tests, it also helps them to write with improved accuracy and confidence.
In KS1, Year 1 continue to follow the Letters and Sounds phonics programme, whilst Year 2 children initially follow this scheme, and then progress to learning simple spelling rules and patterns from the National Curriculum. In KS2, Spelling is taught daily through short interactive games and investigations of spelling rules and patterns. This allows children to embed their newly-learned skills by practising a
Each week, children will be taught a spelling rule/pattern based on the curriculum. Spelling will go home based on the rule, along with words from the Year 3/4 and Year 5/6 curriculum words.