At Monkshouse Primary School, we are extremely passionate about your child's English education and believe that it is the foundation to all of their learning. Children in our school learn lifelong skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing for a range of purposes. Children are enabled to express themselves creatively and imaginatively as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as of non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins and can use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking and writing across a range of different situations.
At our school, early English in EYFS and KS1 is learnt through developing work on spoken language, role play, early reading, daily whole class reading, weekly 1:1 reading and home reading books linked to the phonics phase and phonics teaching.
We use systematic and high-quality phonics learning that takes place daily at Foundation Stage & KS1 currently via the Sounds-Write programme. We believe that this programme of learning will equip our children with a range of decoding skills by the time they leave KS1, in addition to giving them a good grounding in spelling. This is built upon with statutory spelling guidance from Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum 2014. All children read regularly in Reception and KS1 and are placed on an appropriate book-banded reading level according to their reading fluency, decoding skills and comprehension. Individual reading to an adult also takes place at KS2 where children are given an appropriate book band level until they become free choice readers (after level 20). The children are assessed regularly to ensure that they are making progress. We value the involvement of parents in their children’s reading development.
A ‘Reading Record’ book is maintained from Reception - year 6. This is a home/school record where any adults hearing the child read will record the progress made. Comments may be made by parents or staff to communicate how the child is getting on and ideas as to how to develop reading skills further. Children will receive a certificate when they have read a certain number of reading sessions at home.
We believe that free access to books of all kinds is important in the development of the child’s interest in, and appreciation of, reading. To this end, all classrooms have reading areas, and also book displays and collections related to on-going topic work. In addition to this, children are encouraged to use the library, not just for research but also to choose books to read for pleasure.
For children in EYFS and KS1 who struggle with language acquisition or who are new to English, we offer the Welcomm package, which aims to develop basic spoken language skills at a quicker rate. It offers support with various barriers to vocabulary development and the understanding of the spoken word.
Our reading lessons are planned around high-quality texts from Nursery-Y6. These are carefully mapped out in our reading spines and adapted each year to ensure the children are exposed to a broad range of text types, including poetry and non-fiction. Children in years 1-6 are exposed to whole class reading lessons; in years 1 and 2, there are also guided group sessions alongside this for targeted, book band support. In KS2, all lessons are whole class: children read poetry, non-fiction, fiction, plays and graphic novels throughout their time in KS2.
At Monkshouse, we aim to embed the learning of writing skills across the curriculum, using real life contexts and topic related subjects where possible. The key skills of composition, planning and drafting, editing, punctuation, spelling, handwriting, grammar and standards of English and language structure are therefore taught explicitly in the context of English lessons, but also indirectly through cross-curricular writing tasks in other subjects.
Children are given the opportunity to develop their understanding of a range of writing through the exploration of modelled texts, reading and the use of visual methods including pictures and films. Through careful guidance, children learn to understand what makes a good piece of writing and how to acquire the skills to create these for themselves. Much emphasis is placed on the use of talk for writing, encouraging children to discuss their ideas with both adults and peers; this enables the development of imagination and independent learning skills. Great importance is placed on the children developing an ability to become analytical and critical reviewers of their writing, enabling them to develop lifelong learning skills.
Children enjoy the opportunity of having a real-life purpose for writing. Wherever possible, we aim to give true meaning to their writing through our curriculum topics. In addition to this, children are encouraged to write at home, through homework topics, and will enjoy working together with other family members on these. Class teachers will always be happy to provide information about what is being covered in writing each term and suggest opportunities where parents may wish to join in with their child’s writing at home.
We believe that having the opportunity to plan and complete an extended and largely unaided piece of writing is very important for the children’s development as writers. In view of this, teachers take the time to model high quality writing and make specific vocabulary and sentence structures explicit to the children. From this, the children will then write their, 'hot write,' where they can demonstrate the skills taught and modelled to them.
Lower down in the school, in EYFS, time is spent working on mark marking and developing the children's understanding of letter formation. Children use Dough Disco, the Scribble programmes, drawing club and story club so that the children progress in their writing. Throughout the whole school, Pie Corbett's talk for writing strategies are applied: the children learn a model text, create text maps and innovate structures. This starts from Reception.
We also offer a range of planned and specific interventions including ‘Language for Thinking’, colourful semantics, Tales Toolkit and Message Centres to support children who are struggling with their reading and writing.
Handwriting is a central part of the 2014 literacy curriculum. Even in this technological, computer-literate age, good handwriting remains fundamental to our children's educational achievement. We have now introduced the LetterJoin handwriting scheme, which ensures that appropriate early experiences of handwriting are offered before formal teaching begins. It then offers progression from 4-11 years to help teach and develop fast, fluent and legible handwriting.
LetterJoin is taught discretely three times a week throughout the school and is then applied in their writing - children who are struggling will be scooped for extra handwriting intervention. LetterJoin is a progressive scheme: children begin in year 1 learning their letter formation, are introduced to pre-cursive writing in year 2 and begin to join at the end of year 2.
At Monkshouse Primary School, we follow the Sounds-Write programme in Reception, Year 1 and 2 (please see Phonics & Early Reading page).
In KS2, pupils continue to use Sounds-Write to build upon their knowledge of polysyllabic words. The Sounds Write programme provides regular instructional teaching of spelling. Each day the children we participate in 20 minute spelling lessons, focusing on identifying sounds, building words out of different sounds and saying and writing polysyllabic words. Word and sentence level activities allow pupils to explore the etymology and morphology of the words, as well as to explore how each word is applied in different contexts. The children will receive words to learn each week but will not be tested weekly; instead, an assessment is carried out at the beginning and end of each half term to see which sounds and spelling rules the children need to focus on and which spellings they have mastered.
Children who need additional support with their phonics and spelling will receive additional boosters but will not miss out on the whole class teaching of spellings in their classroom.
We believe that children learn best in a creative, cross-curricular and integrated context. We therefore seek to make cross-curricular links with the learning taking place in English, with that in other areas, both at the planning stage as well as in response to assessments made.
We will aim to provide extra-curricular opportunities to enhance English skills, knowledge and understanding, such as drama workshops, visiting authors, educational visits and special book days.