English is at the heart of the curriculum and underpins all other subject areas. At Avenue Primary School, we provide a rich and stimulating language environment so the children can use and develop their reading, writing and speaking and listening skills in all aspects of their learning.
Speaking and Listening Skills
It is through talking that children clarify their understanding. Children learn to express themselves clearly and need to acquire a wide vocabulary to communicate effectively verbally and in writing. Listening skills are equally vital and the children are given many opportunities to use both these skills in a wide variety of ways, including through drama, poetry and discussions.
Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 staff are fully trained to teach a phonic scheme called Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC). The scheme is a success in many city primary schools and has already enhanced our phonics teaching, having a positive affect on learning. Children in Early Years Foundation Stage, Year 1 and 2 receive a 30 minute daily phonics lesson. They are taught at an early age to listen to sounds, music and talk about what they can hear. Children progress to learning sounds and we teach the children to say the ‘pure’ sounds for each letter as well as the letter name. Each phonics session involves reading, writing and applying the skills that they have learnt. Children who need additional support in Key Stage 2 also follow a KTC style phonics program.
We aim to provide a broad and varied choice of reading material. This is developed through individual reading with carefully structured books in a reading scheme (home readers) and through guided and shared reading in English and other subject areas.
At Avenue reading is central to the curriculum. It is a source of pleasure and enrichment in itself, but also a primary means of obtaining information and building many key skills such as retelling information. Children are given many opportunities during the school day to increase their reading skills. They visit Avenue Library and select books to read at home for both leisure and to extend their understanding of topics taught in school.
In class children experience a range of texts through English lessons as well as other texts their teachers read and discuss. Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 and 2 staff have all implemented a new style of shared and guided reading through the Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC) This scheme is linked closely to the KTC phonics and brings the two skills together. All children read in guided reading groups with both teachers and teaching assistants. Across the school we use Oxford Reading Tree, Pearson's Bug Club and Collins Big Cat reading schemes to support and apply our phonic/reading skills. Talented readers in Key Stage 2 are also provided with a list of novels to read.
To encourage reading at home, KS1 and KS2 classes race against each other every 2 weeks to see who can get the most reading miles and reach first position on our 'Reading Miles Racetrack'. This is celebrated in an exciting and tense assembly led by a team of Year 6 pupils every fortnight who also have the responsibility of monitoring reading miles for each class.
Reading is also celebrated at a special Celebration Assembly which is held at the end of every term. One pupil per class who has made good progress is rewarded with a book from their class teacher to celebrate their reading success.
Year 6 pupils take part in The Best Book initiative, along with other city primary schools. Classes receive 20 books in September which they read and discuss. They then choose their favourite 5 in December, and by June, their top three. At the end of June the winning book is announced at an awards event at the Tigers stadium.
There have been and continue to be many other fantastic reading activities at Avenue including numerous author visits, author workshops, library trips, 'New to English Parents and Child Reading Club', 'Family Learning Reading Workshops', DMU students completing paired reading and reading buddies involving EYFS, KS1 and KS2! We are proud of our reading culture at Avenue and are always looking to build and develop upon it.
We value writing and encourage children to produce work of quality and depth across the curriculum. Pupils are given many opportunities to write in a wide variety of ways using the work of professional writers as a model.
As with reading, writing is also at the core of the curriculum. Children need to write as a means of communication, as a way of clarifying their thoughts and as a method of recording their opinions and ideas.
In Early Years Foundation Stage, children are encouraged to develop their gross and fine motor skills in order to be able to learn to write. All children experience writing from an early age, from making marks with chalks, water and other mark making materials. Our classrooms each have an area for independent writing and children are encouraged to use the variety of resources to explore and practise their skills.
In KS1 and KS2 various types of writing are introduced to the children, enabling them to select the most appropriate for the task in hand. Children take part in a range of classroom activities (including drama) which help to improve their writing and they learn to plan, draft and produce a final piece for each unit of work that they study in English. They also write across a range of other curriculum subjects.
We make full use of the National Curriculum to teach the skills of reading and writing in a very focused way (see link below).We also stress the importance of good spelling, sound grammatical structure, neat handwriting and quality presentation, and all children follow the school policy in these areas.
National Curriculum - English KS1 and KS2
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
Spelling and handwriting are important tools in writing and a structured programme is in place. In Key Stage 1 and 2 children are taught key punctuation, grammatical terminology and how to structure grammatically accurate sentences.
At Avenue we stress the importance of good spelling, neat handwriting and quality presentation. From years 2 to 6, children receive at least three twenty minute lessons each week based on ‘No Nonsense Spelling’ and the new National Curriculum. Children are taught how to build on their phonic knowledge from KS1 in order to become effective spellers. We support our pupils to become confident spellers by teaching the strategies, rules and conventions systematically and explicitly, and helping pupils recognise which strategies they can use to improve their spelling. Within each session children have the chance to practice previously learned spelling rules, learn a new spelling rule and apply these new skills accordingly. We ensure that our spelling sessions are short, lively and focused.
National Curriculum - Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335190/English_Appendix_2_-_Vocabulary_grammar_and_punctuation.pdf
Useful links and resources