English

Reading

At Alexander McLeod Primary School, one of our key priorities is to establish and nurture a lifelong love of reading in our children; that they can use and enjoy texts for a range of purposes throughout their lives.

Children should:

  • read for pleasure as well as study
  • read a wide range, including media and online texts and texts from a variety of cultures and traditions
  • develop the ability to understand layers of meaning
  • learn to respond critically to what they read
  • explore meanings of text through drama

Adults should:

  • promote a love of reading by modelling engagement with a variety of texts
  • equip children with the skills they need to read with literal and inferential understanding
  • introduce children to texts that capture their imagination and encourage critical thinking (having a good knowledge of children’s literature)
  • provide a range of meaningful opportunities for children to engage with texts

 

In our school, all children read 1:1 with their class teacher at least once a fortnight, as well as in guided group sessions once a week. On other days, independent tasks are set for the children in order to encourage a greater depth of understanding. Story time is an essential part of every single day in school. It is during this time that adults and children can embark on the journey of a story together, discussing and comparing their responses.

Home Reading and Reading for Pleasure

In our school, it is an expectation of children that they read at home for a minimum of 20 minutes every day.

Reception and Key Stage One:

Children should read with a parent or carer every day at home. This should be recorded in their Reading Diary, which should be checked weekly by an adult in school. The books that children take home for this purpose should be chosen carefully by an adult in school and changed twice a week.

Key Stage Two:

Children should read independently every day at home, and with a parent or carer at least twice a week. This should be recorded in their Reading Diary, which should be checked weekly by an adult in school. Children should be taught how to select appropriate texts for their level of understanding, and this should be monitored by adults in school.

Phonics

At Alexander McLeod, phonics is taught daily to all children in Reception and Key Stage One.  We use the Letters and Sounds sequence, supported by songs and actions from Jolly Phonics.

The children are taught to read words by blending, which means saying each sound and then pushing all the sounds together to make a word. The children are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words and writing down the sounds they can hear.

By the end of Reception children are expected to know all Phase Three sounds. By the end of Year One all children are expected to know all Phase Five sounds. By the time they have finished Key Stage One, most children at Alexander McLeod are secure in Phase Six sounds. This phase moves away from learning sounds and focuses on spelling rules and patterns. 

At the end of Year One all the children in the country take a test called a Phonics Screening. They have to read 40 real and nonsense words using their knowledge and understanding of phonics.

Writing

High quality texts are used at the heart of our English curriculum, and teachers plan for meaningful writing outcomes using the 3 phase model. Often, core texts are used to provide contexts for these writing outcomes. Units typically last 2 weeks and are split into 3 ‘phases’:

  • Phase 1 – Immersion in the text type. The objectives covered in this phase enable the children to become familiar with the features of the writing outcome they are working towards.
  • Phase 2 – Context / SPAG tools. During this phase, the objectives covered equip the children with a meaningful context for their writing outcome. There are often drama activities planned for this phase, in order to encourage the children to explore perspectives for their writing outcome. Sometimes it is also necessary to teach discrete SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar) objectives so that children are able to apply this in their independent writing.
  • Phase 3 – Writing. This phase covers the entire writing process, including writing, self or peer assessing, editing and publishing.

All classrooms at our school have an English Learning Wall which provides scaffolds and models for the pupils’ writing, including: examples of relevant and rich vocabulary; models of a range of sentence types and shared or modelled examples of the quality written outcome that the children are working towards. The learning walls are updated continuously over the course of a writing unit to support our pupils’ learning.

Drama

We believe that speaking and listening is a fundamental part of learning in English, and therefore children of all ages are provided with opportunities to participate in a range of different drama-based activities in lessons. In Reception and Key Stage One, the children have role-play areas in their classroom which help stimulate learning.

We value the role of drama in our curriculum in enabling children to explore a range of perspectives and communicate ideas effectively, as well as working collaboratively with peers. We strive to ensure that children learn in a safe and engaging environment, in which they can feel comfortable and confident to share their ideas and take risks in their learning.