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Dartford Bridge Primary

English

Dartford Bridge Community Primary School recognises that teaching and learning in English is an essential part of the whole development of all children, including SEN and disadvantaged children, for their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.

It enables them to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate effectively. The teaching of English is broken into three strands - Reading, Writing and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar, with reading being the key to developing the other skills together with skills and knowledge development across all other curriculum subjects.

Our teaching and learning in English is intended to help mitigate the barriers to learning identified in the School Development Plan. Speaking and listening skills are encouraged at every opportunity through all lessons especially English and reading lessons. The expectation that any written work, including for topic work, is of the same standard as the writing in the children’s English books. Reading across the curriculum is also encouraged with topic related books being available in each class to help children relate their learning in English to learning in the foundation subjects.

At Dartford Bridge we aim that all pupils will leave Year 6 reading and writing with confidence, fluency and understanding, using a range of independent strategies to take responsibility for their own learning including monitoring and correcting their own errors; with a love of reading and a desire to read for enjoyment; with an interest in words and their meanings.

We teach English – both reading and writing - daily from Nursery to Year 6 and base the content of our curriculum on National Curriculum guidelines.

By connecting our British Values through the teaching of English, we explore issues that affect us all in our lives and this helps the children develop skills they will need to be effective citizens now and, in the future,?e.g.?tolerance and respect are modelled through debates and discussions.

Speaking and Listening

From the very beginning of their time in school, children are encouraged to develop their speaking and listening skills through role play, discussions and debates. These extend the children’s vocabulary, strengthening the connections with their learning in English, foundation subjects and maths. These communication skills are further developed through to the end of KS2 by class discussions, paired and group work about reading books and in all lessons.

Reading

All the pupils in the diverse DBCPS community, including SEN and disadvantaged pupils, will develop a lifelong love of reading throughout their time at DBCPS.  The curriculum will build on what children have learnt before and develop a passion to learn more in the future.  They will develop their reading and comprehension skills by reading engaging and exciting texts.  These texts will enable them to develop knowledge of themselves and the world around them and extend their vocabulary.  We encourage children to read at home regularly by providing appropriate level texts which are matched to their reading ability.

At DBCPS we aim:

  • To provide a literacy-rich environment, high-quality texts and inspiring learning opportunities.
  • To develop all children’s word reading and comprehension skills.
  • To encourage children to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction.
  • To develop vocabulary.
  • To encourage a love of learning.

We do this through:

  • Daily guided reading sessions in Year 2 to 6
  • Daily RWI sessions in Reception to Year 2
  • Daily class story
  • Whole school texts used for English
  • High-quality texts used for guided reading and class storytime
  • Lexile scored class library in KS2
  • Book banded or Lexile scored reading books
  • Weekly school library visits
  • Book fairs
  • Book Week
  • Reading across the curriculum
  • Parent reading workshops
  • 100 read certificates
  • Reading assembly

In Nursery, the children are encouraged to learn texts which are read repeatedly.  The nursery staff use nursery rhymes to build key vocabulary and phonic awareness.  The children engage in a language and print rich environment.  This enables children to make connections between sounds and letter symbols.

In Reception, the children have short, focused daily phonics sessions as part of the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme of systematic synthetic phonics. This continues throughout the year, becoming more formalised from term 2 (November).

In Key Stage One, the RWI programme is used daily, with children working in small groups with a trained adult. As part of this programme children learn to read real and ‘alien’ words and to write the corresponding graphemes for each sound.  During these sessions, children also read quality texts using their phonic awareness which enables them to embed their learning.  The children work in small groups according to their confidence and competence.  These groups are reconfigured on a regular basis in order to match the pace and progress of each child.  These regular reconfigurations also allow class teachers to identify where 1:1 interventions may be required.

In Key Stage Two, if children have not completed the RWI programme, they work in small intervention groups or one-to-one with an adult in order to close the gap.

Throughout the school, from Y2 to Y6, there are daily reading skills lessons using the Reading Gems (One Education) which aims to develop the children’s reading skills in all areas – decoding the text, understanding word meanings from context and comprehension including inference skills. The gem focus for each year group is Define, Infer, Predict, Retrieve and Sequence.  Each year a new gem focus is introduced.

  • Year 3 - introduce Explore
  • Year 4 - introduce Compare
  • Year 5 - introduce Relate
  • Year 6 - consolidate all skills

Texts are chosen at a level appropriate for the majority of the class with provision being made for children with additional needs. The PoS is structured with appropriate amounts of time being spent on the different skills for each Year group.

Reading at Home

  • Home reading is strongly encouraged and parent meetings and letters keep parents and carers informed of the school’s expectations and provision.  The Go Read App is used by Key stage 2 parents to record home reading
  • Home readers are banded so that children are given books that match their phonic knowledge which will enable them to read with confidence.  They are also expected to reread them and become familiar with them. In KS1, children take home a banded book and a library book of their own choice. The library book is a book that parents can share with their child. They also take home the RWI book which they have been reading in their RWI group.
  • In KS2, children take home a banded book or an appropriate Lexile rated book and can choose another book from the school library which can be shared at home with parents. In this way, independent reading at home is a manageable challenge and is supplemented with other books to increase the enjoyment of reading a wider range of texts.

All children from Year 2 to 6 have a Scholastic Reading Pro account. Three times a year they sit a Reading Pro test which assesses the child’s decoding and comprehension skills in a series of differentiated questions. At the end of the test, each child receives a Lexile score and this will enable them to create a personalised reading list of texts which interest them. These texts are available either as a physical book or online eBook in the Scholastic Library. Once read, there is a quiz which checks the child’s comprehension.  Staff are also able to assign books of interest to each child.

Writing

At DBCPS we believe that writing is a key skill for life which is why it is a key feature across all the subjects taught within the school. The writing curriculum will enable our children to acquire transferable writing skills that will be built on each year and throughout each key stage and prepare them to be confident, independent writers ready for secondary school. Through using high quality texts and core stimuli we encourage children to write for a range of purposes and audiences, giving them opportunities to apply their skills in a variety of different contexts. Through our BRIDGE values of self-belief, independence and excellence, we aim for ALL our learners to reach their full potential in writing and we are committed to providing the scaffolding and challenge needed in order for our children to achieve this.

At DBCPS we aim:

  • To provide a language -rich environment with high quality texts and core stimuli inspiring learning opportunities.
  • To develop fluent writers who can express their thoughts and ideas imaginatively to range of audiences.
  • To embed ambitious vocabulary so that it can be used to communicate effectively and imaginatively for different purposes
  • To encourage real life writing opportunities through poetry day, book week, author visits and theme weeks
  • To secure high expectations through developing a range of writing styles
  • To develop all children’s handwriting, spelling, grammar and punctuation skills

We do this through:

  • Daily SPAG sessions from Year 2 to Year 6
  • Daily RWI sessions in Reception to Year 2
  • Daily English lesson
  • Whole school texts, core stimuli such as film clips, images and picture books
  • Modelled and shared writing experiences
  • Exposure to different writing genres
  • Making connections to our wider curriculum topics
  • Developing the writing process through drafting, editing, up levelling, redrafting and publishing
  • Recognising features of different genres.
  • Using talk partners for peer and self-assessment

 

In EYFS, children are taught the letter graphemes as they learn the sounds in RWI and are encouraged to have a go at writing by sounding out words and recording the sounds they hear. This takes place during teacher led sessions and there are also plenty of opportunities during child-initiated sessions, with a range of materials and writing prompts available.

From Year 1 to Year 6, the teaching of writing is strongly connected to the current curriculum topic so that children are immersed in the topic and they are provided with a range of stimuli including relevant vocabulary, books, PowerPoint images, pictures etc

We follow the 2014 National Curriculum for guidance as to what is taught in each year group and, from this, have devised a specific structure for our school, detailing end of year expectations year by year. Units of work are based on different genres, and a purpose and audience for each piece of writing is decided from the outset. We ensure progression in complexity of tasks and expectations year on year.

Lessons follow a sequence from a Cold Write, which is used to assess their achievement at the start, through a series of linked Learning Challenges including analysis of a good example of the genre. Grammar and punctuation, together with the structural features of each genre, are then taught through a series of lessons, starting with the basics of sentence construction including full stops and capital letters. Children begin to identify word classes early on (noun, verb, adjective and adverb) and use this understanding in their writing. Teaching builds term on term and year on year using prior knowledge.

The final piece of writing – the Hot Write- is then written using learning from the previous sessions. This is written in draft form, is then edited and improved by the children before being written out neatly and published. Children are taught these skills using age-appropriate strategies and children work with a purple pen to differentiate their work from adult marking.

Teachers provide regular constructive feedback through marking, which also promotes reasoning about the work that has been completed. Peer and self-assessment are an important part of our learning and peer discussion and marking is encouraged, with time planned into lessons for children to respond to marking and feedback.

 

Phonics

At DBCPS we follow the Read Write Inc Phonics programme.

The Read Write Inc. Phonics Programme

Learning to read is the most important thing your child will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible. 

We want your child to love reading - and to want to read for themselves. This is why we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read. 

How will my child be taught to read?

We start by teaching phonics to the children in the Reception class. This means that they learn how to 'read' the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well. We teach the children simple ways of remembering these sounds and letters. Ask them to show you what these are.

The children also practise reading (and spelling) what we call 'tricky words', such as 'once', 'have', 'said' and 'where'.

The children practise their reading with books that match the phonics and the 'tricky words' they know. They start thinking that they can read and this does wonders for their confidence. 

The teachers read to the children, too, so the children get to know all sorts of stories, poetry and information books. They learn many more words this way and it also helps their writing.

The following link explains how the programme is structured and the expectations for each year group from Nursery to Year 2: https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk/reading/reading-schemes-oxford-levels/read-write-inc-phonics-guide/ 

How will I know how well my child is doing?

We will always let you know how well your child is doing. 

We use various ways to find out how your child is getting on in reading. We use the information to decide what reading group they should be in. Your child will work with children who are at the same reading level as him or her. Children will move to a different group if they are making faster progress than the others. Your child will have one-to-one support if we think he or she needs some extra help to keep up.

We also use a reading test so that we can make sure that all our children are at the level they should be for their age compared to all the children across the country. 

In the summer term, the government asks us to do a phonics check of all the Year 1 children. That gives us extra information about their progress. We will talk to you about how well your child has done, and especially if we have any worries at all.

The RWI programme prepares our children for the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1 as well as providing a solid basis for children to build on. Below is a short video that will explain what the Phonics Screening Check is, how it is administered and why it is useful:

How long will it take to learn to read well?

By the end of Year 2, your child should be able to read aloud books that are at the right level for his or her age. In Year 3 we concentrate more on helping children to understand what they are reading, although this work begins very early on. This happens when the teacher reads to the children and also when the children read their own story book.

How do I know the teaching will be good?

All the staff have been trained to teach reading in the way we do it in this school. We believe that it is very important that all the teachers and teaching assistants work in the same way. Senior teachers watch other teachers teaching to make sure that the children are learning how we want them to learn.

If you are worried about the teaching or you have any questions, please come to school and talk to us.

What can I do to help? Is there anything that I shouldn’t do?

You will be invited to a meeting so that we can explain how we teach reading. Please come and support your child. We would very much like you to know how to help.

Your child will bring different sorts of books home from school. It helps if you know whether this is a book that your child can read on their own or whether this is a book that you should read to them. The teacher will have explained which is which. Please trust your child’s teacher to choose the book(s) that will help your child the most.

Help your child to sound out the letters in words and then to ‘push’ the sounds together to make a whole word. Try not to refer to the letters by their names. Help your child to focus on the sounds. You can hear how to say the sounds correctly by searching on YouTube for ‘Read Write Inc. Phonemes Pronunciation Guide’

Sometimes your child might bring home a picture book that they know well. Please don’t say, ‘This is too easy.’ Instead, encourage your child to tell you the story out loud; ask them questions about things that happen or what they think about some of the characters in the story.

We know parents and carers are very busy people. But if you can find time to read to your child as much as possible, it helps him or her to learn about books and stories. They also learn new words and what they mean. Show that you are interested in reading yourself and talk about reading as a family.

Does it matter if my child misses a lesson or two?

It matters a lot if your child misses school. The way we teach children to read is very well organised, so even one missed lesson means that your child has not learnt something that they need to know to be a good reader.

What if he or she finds it difficult to learn to read?

We want children to learn to read, however long it takes us to teach them. We will find out very quickly if your child is finding reading difficult. First, we move children to a different group, so that we can make sure that they have learnt what they need to know. If they still struggle, we give them extra time with an adult, on their own. These adults are specially trained to support these children. Your child will still be in the same group with the other children and won’t miss out on any of the class lessons.

If we have any serious worries about your child’s reading, we will talk to you about this.
Some children take a bit longer to learn to put sounds together to read a word, e.g. c-a-t to make the word ‘cat’. At our meeting, we will explain how you can help your child to do this.

What if my child turns out to be dyslexic?

The way we teach reading is especially helpful for children who might be dyslexic. This is because we use a very well-organised programme that has a strong focus on phonics. This is very important for children who find learning to read difficult. If you are worried about your child, please come and talk to us.

My child has difficulty pronouncing some sounds. Will this stop him learning to read through phonics?

This isn’t a problem for learning to read as long as we know what sound the child is trying to say. This is not something to worry about. Many children have a few sounds that they can hear clearly but find it difficult to say, particularly the l-sound, r-sound, w-sound, th-sound, s-sound, sh-sound and j-sound. Often they say a t-sound for the c-sound; “tttssh” for the s-sound; “w” for the r-sound and “r” for the l-sound. You can help your child by encouraging him or her to look at your mouth when you say the sound. Whatever you do, do not make your child feel a failure. They can easily learn to read, even if they find one or two sounds difficult to say.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns. We are here to help.

Spelling

Our spelling lessons use the Twinkl spelling programme that follows clear patterns to aid understanding. Throughout KS2, a spelling rule or new letter sounds are introduced and relevant spellings are taught, e.g. through mnemonics, word sorting and spelling activities.

Key word banks, high frequency words, dictionaries and topic related vocabulary resources scaffold children as necessary. When marking, spellings are identified by teachers and support staff using an agreed code.

Handwriting

At DBCPS we want our children to develop a neat, fluent handwriting script therefore as soon as they have learnt to print each letter of the alphabet using the correct formation, ideally by the end of the Early Years, we introduce the continuous cursive script. There are many advantages to learning this style of handwriting including:

  • As Continuous Cursive letters naturally join, children only have to learn this one font for lower case handwriting.
  • Continuous Cursive letters flow rhythmically from left to right, aiding the speed and fluidity of the writing.
  • The starting and finishing points for all Continuous Cursive letters are easier to remember (they all start on the line and, other than a few exceptions, all finish on the line), which can be especially helpful for children with specific learning difficulties.
  • Teaching Continuous Cursive letters in family groups reinforces the shapes and directional pushes and pulls of the pencil needed to handwrite and can limit letter reversal issues, such as b & d.
  • The transition to joined writing is simple and occurs sooner, allowing children to concentrate on the composition of the writing, because they no longer have to think about how to form the letters.
  • Words are written in one set of movements, without the pen being taken off the paper, helping the motor memory store spellings. This is especially important for those irregular spellings which so many children find hard to commit to memory.

When assessing the quality of a child’s handwriting we look for the following points:

  • Correctly formed and orientated letters including lower and upper case letters and digits.
  • Letters positioned correctly on the line with clear ascenders and descenders.
  • Consistent size and spacing of letters and words.
  • Joined fluent style.

As children develop their own handwriting style, they will naturally adapt their letter style. You can see this in the samples of handwriting from Reception to Year 6 below. These samples were taken from activities carried out during Literacy week. Children were challenged to do their best handwriting while copying out a choice of poems. The focus was purely on handwriting so you may spot one or two spelling errors and one piece isn’t quite finished.

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