Literacy at Tansley Primary School
Regularly reading aloud to an adult remains a vital part of children’s learning throughout KS2 as it develops fluency, expression, accuracy and comprehension. Children in KS2 are expected to read at least 3 times per week and at least one of these times should be to an adult; they can record their own reading as long as their ‘Reading Log’ is dated and signed by an adult. Reading logs will be checked regularly in class.
‘Books take you to places you haven’t yet been – it’s like diving into an unknown world.’
In Tansley Primary School, all children encounter a wide range of reading learning opportunities.
Whole-class teaching takes place and texts are used as a stimulus for further literacy based activities. Our children love to listen to stories! In Guided Reading sessions, pupils work in small, adult led groups to explore texts, building particularly on comprehension and inference skills.
At Tansley Primary School, our books are banded into colours. This provides children with a pathway of progression in reading.
In order to foster a love of books and an interest in reading we begin the children on a journey of reading with the books and characters from the Oxford Reading Tree Range. Details can be found at www.oxfordowl.co.uk From the early days this scheme is supplemented by numerous other books to increase vocabulary, genre range and exposure to different authors.
Pupils read regularly to ensure both accuracy and understanding. We are fortunate in that we are supported by a committed team of volunteers comprised of parents and grandparents.
Each year in March we celebrate World Book Day, by enjoying different themed reading activities. We are continuously developing new and exciting ways to encourage reading for pleasure across the school, placing a high focus on our wonderful library, such ways include the Buddy Reading Scheme that is currently running across school.
The English curriculum at Tansley Primary aims to develop children’s skills in reading, writing and speaking and listening in a robust and responsive way. It also aims to develop a love of reading, writing and language which will last our children a lifetime and enable them to fulfil their potential once they leave us.
A love of reading is encouraged by an ever increasing range of provision such as:
- Weekly library slots for classes and all children able to take a library book home
- Author visits
- Whole-school events and celebrations
- Reading buddy schemes
- Competitions and class-based rewards
- Reading of a class story for pleasure
Children are exposed to a wide range of high-quality texts throughout the school. In the Early Years and KS1 this is supported by a core book which links with the termly planning. These books are read to the children regularly so that they become familiar and the language and vocabulary begins to be embedded in the children’s own language patterns. The core texts also form the basis of play-based activities in early years to allow children to use the language patterns in their play. In addition, the core books may also include a range of nursery rhymes and poems to ensure that children experience a range of these in their time here.
In KS2 the texts children are exposed to are based on the topic specially selected for a particular class. This forms the basis of their writing by providing hooks into writing using the language from the high-quality texts to improve their writing. Children are immersed into texts through activities such as role play, real life experiences and art, encouraging a greater depth of understanding and engagement in the texts.
It is important for children to access texts that are appropriate for their ability in reading to enable them to apply the skills taught in phonics as well as other reading skills. Books for individual and guided reading are banded according to class and children’s abilities. Phonically decodable books are also used and these are banded by phonic step. It is vital that early reading is done through the use of phonically decodable texts and therefore we ensure that the first books children receive to read at home are matched to the phonic step they are on and contain graphemes that they will be familiar with at any point in their learning. A variety of reading schemes are used in school including: Oxford Reading Tree (which is the main scheme used), Big Cat, explore and song bird phonics.
Children are regularly assessed to ensure that their reading level is correct for them and this is done using running records and reading assessment benchmarking, which are done termly.
The important skill of decoding is taught using the ‘Read Write Inc’ programme. Children in Reception and KS1 receive daily interactive phonics lessons to embed the skills of recognising graphemes and blending to read unknown words. There are also additional groups to repeat parts of the programme as needed up to Year 3 during a phonics intervention group.
Reading for meaning is embedded in our teaching of reading across the school. This is reinforced during all reading sessions where children are given time to discuss their thoughts about books and guided reading sessions happen daily for year 1-6. Starting from the initial understanding that all children bring to text, teachers facilitate discussion, provide modelling and use book talk to deepen understanding of what is read.
In EYFS and KS1 this discussion is verbal with some recording beginning in Year 2. KS2 use Guided Reading books to give children the opportunity to write their ideas about what they have read. They also provide a progression in the type of questions that children will answer in line with the National Curriculum requirements for comprehension.
As a school we recognise that it is essential for all children to learn to read and we provide a range of interventions to ensure that no children are left behind. These include the phonics interventions, phonics workshops, additional guided reading pre-reads, Inference Training, ability book groups for guided reading and comprehension sessions and 1;1 reading.
We aim to develop enthusiastic writers who can use their writing skills in a variety of contexts and for a range of purposes. This includes developing language and transcription skills but also we aim to ensure children feel ‘like a writer’ not just someone who can write.
Children are taught spellings in an interactive way through a variety of activities. They begin with learning to spell the ‘non-negotiable’ first spelling list alongside their phonics in reception and KS1. In KS2 children are taught spelling rules according to the programme devised by Twinkl and they receive a comprehensive spelling list for each term, at the begging of the term. Weekly spelling tests are carried out at KS2 on a Friday, where children have the chance to show what they’ve learnt during the week from developing their spellings at home and in the classroom.
The spellings and rules being taught are displayed clearly in the classrooms and are referred to by adults and children at the point of writing and during shared writing sessions. Feedback given by adults will included spellings and these will be corrected by the child using the resources in the classroom.
The teaching of handwriting skills starts in EYFS where activities are provided to develop the gross and fine motor skills needed later when writing letters begins. Mark making is highly valued and a wide range of tools and contexts encourages children to experiment with it.
From Year 2, children are taught to write fully cursive script through regular handwriting sessions. Those who need support in developing their motor skills are identified for interventions and there are also intervention groups across year groups giving focused support with letter formation.
Grammar is taught in KS1 and KS2 during the teaching sequences for the different genres of writing. Once an aspect of grammar is taught it is then modelled through shared writing before being included in the success criteria or writing toolkit for use in independent writing. Any discrete teaching of grammar must be used in context through writing.
All writing in Tansley Primary begins with reading. Whether a core book in EYFS or KS1 or a Reading text in KS2, the children are immersed in the language of quality text as a starting point for their own writing. This text then provides hooks, or reasons to write as well as providing new vocabulary, language patterns or text structures which will be used in children’s own writing.
The children are taught to write in a variety of genres both fiction and non-fiction and these are taught using a clear progression through the year groups.
Within years 1 to 6, children will write each non-fiction genre at least once during the year which will then be applied in cross curricular work.
There are 6 basic pure genres:
- Non-chronological report
Early Years and KS1 use a school’s ‘writing process’ approach to teaching writing. This includes a focus on oral rehearsal of text using actions to reinforce the key language. Once children are able to imitate the text they move onto shared writing where the text is modelled and they innovate to make a new story with similar language patterns. Children will also work on short burst writing which aims to develop strong sentence level skills within the text type. Children are encouraged to invent stories through their play when they can make story maps and use role play to tell their own stories. Invention is also done through shared writing once a week where teachers model the writing process and use children’s ideas to develop class stories.
In KS2 the key features of a text type are constructed by the children through looking at model texts, real life examples of text and work on the text type from previous years. This then forms the success criteria for their own writing. Short burst writing and oral rehearsal of sentence structures is followed by shared writing. Once children have these tools they are ready to write independently, edit and improve and then publish their work.
Speech and Language:
We recognise that communication are crucial to future success for our children and the development of excellent speaking skills underpins our curriculum in all areas at Tansley. Vocabulary is explicitly taught through topic work and in guided and shared reading.
Opportunities for developing confidence and skills in communication are built into every lesson. At the end of each topic children may share their learning and this is used to provide audience and purpose for speaking in increasingly formal contexts - from talking about art they have made, to becoming experts in an exhibition, to delivering assemblies to a hall full of people.
Julia Donaldson’s top reading tips
Julia Donaldson has written some of the most popular and best-loved children’s stories including The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom, The Highway Rat, Zog and Stick Man. At Tansley primary school, these are books that we have available for children to enjoy in school when reading for pleasure and to support learning during lessons.
Julia Donaldson is also the author of the popular phonic Songbirds series, part of Oxford Reading Tree published by Oxford University Press.
Watch these videos (link attached) of Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson talking about some simple and fun ways you can help your child with their reading at home. Guaranteed to make reading fun and help your child develop a love of reading.