Strong early literacy skills give children the essential foundation for future educational success, improve self-esteem and maximise life chances.
Teaching children to read and write confidently and independently, and to communicate effectively is one of the core purposes of our school. At New Milton Infant School, we aim to deliver high quality teaching and learning opportunities within an ambitious and inclusive curriculum, in order to enable children of all backgrounds and abilities, including those with SEND and the more able, to make the best possible progress. Our staff work tirelessly to ensure that all pupils learn to read widely, fluently and with good understanding, in order that they can then ‘read to learn’. In addition, we strive to instil a love of reading that will remain with children for life, enhance their imaginations and broaden their horizons.
We want children to perceive themselves as ‘writers’ and to be able to write clearly, accurately and coherently for a range of purposes and audiences.
Developing clear and confident spoken communication is a key priority at our school. We aim to enrich the vocabulary of all our pupils whatever their background and help them to articulate questions, explain themselves clearly and discuss their learning with others to enhance understanding.
At New Milton Infant School we follow the National Curriculum Programmes of study to teach English.
Systematic synthetic phonics is taught throughout the school on a daily basis. Our school phonics programme has been developed around the Letters and Sounds framework using a range of resources and strategies that we have found to be highly effective to help children make maximum progress in this subject. Within both phonics and reading lessons, pupils are reading phonetically decodable books matched carefully to their attainment level. Phonics is taught as a step towards word recognition, the automatic reading of all words (both decodable and tricky) is our ultimate goal.
We use a blend of different multi-sensory strategies to support learning, including songs, actions, visual prompts, magnetic letters and a wide range of games and activities which help children to apply their learning in a fun and active way. We teach words which cannot be read or spelt phonetically (tricky words) using a range of approaches including mnemonics, visual discrimination and looking for patterns within words. Within Key Stage One, spellings appropriate to the children’s current level are taught on a regular basis and sent home to be practised and assessed using dictation every fortnight.
If children are failing to make expected progress, we attempt to swiftly address this, through adaptions to teaching or additional interventions. The impact of these is regularly evaluated to ensure effectiveness.
The Hampshire Planning Tools for pupils with SEND in Reading and Writing help teachers to identify areas of need and select effective strategies and activities to support progress. These may include pre-teaching, Precision Teaching and overlearning. Tasks may be adapted or scaffolded to make them accessible for the learner whilst ensuring depth and rigour.
In Year R, children are encouraged to experiment with writing. Opportunities are provided within ‘Let’s Learn’ continuous provision to write for a range of different purposes and audiences,.
In Key Stage I children are taught to compose their own ideas for writing by orally rehearsing their sentences, recording and then re-reading to check their work makes sense. We use the phrase ‘think it, say it, write it, like it’ to encourage this process. Resources such as ‘Talking Tins’ can be used to aid children who require support in getting their ideas onto paper. Talk 4 Writing and Story Making are a key part of our literacy planning to help embed narrative structure and support the writing process.
Continuous cursive handwriting is taught from the beginning of school to aid a smooth transition to ‘joined up’ script in years 1 and 2. Videos demonstrating how we teach letter formation are available on our website. Discrete handwriting lessons take place at least three times a week in Key Stage 1.
Reading skills are taught through daily phonics lessons across the school and guided reading sessions. It is an expectation that our children enjoy a quality text read aloud to them daily.
We use a range of carefully chosen books from different reading schemes (colour banded according to reading ability) for the children to read both at school and at home.
Rocket Phonics– Reading Planet
Collins Big Cats for Letters and Sounds
Rigby Star by Pearson
Oxford Reading Tree including Songbirds Phonics
Bug Club – online reading program.
Our Library Bus promotes reading for pleasure and ensures children have access to a wide range of different texts to read at home. In addition, we invite authors, poets and puppeteers to school annually to help inspire and excite children’s passion for literacy.
We promote the use of Standard English and clear communication skills through teacher modelling, use of talk partners and drama. Poetry recitals take place once a week in assembly to develop recitation skills and we aim to enrich the children’s vocabulary through our ‘Words of the Week’ initiative.
Lesson observations, pupil surveys, data from our library bus and discussions with pupils demonstrate that our children love reading and can discuss their reading preferences. All children make the best possible progress from the starting points in reading and writing through an inclusive curriculum that provides challenge and engagement for all. By the end of Key Stage 1 our attainment data in Reading and Writing consistently exceeds national figures and is in line or exceeding County data. Our focus upon vocabulary acquisition means that the vast majority of pupils are able to write both accurately and creatively by the end of the Key Stage. Through high quality leaching and learning in literacy, phonics and reading and a focus upon literacy skills across the whole curriculum our pupils will be well prepared for the next stage of their education and future life.
J Clark 2019