Communication and language development focuses primarily on developing an ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in written form. Therefore, our English curriculum includes reading, writing, speaking and listening, drama and the learning of a modern foreign language, French.
Reading and Vocabulary Development
Reading is the key to the rest of the curriculum, and we strive to ensure that all children to become fluent readers. Our desire is for all children to develop a love of reading and extensive comprehension skills in both fiction and non-fiction. Our reading scheme is structured using the Book Bands system and titles are drawn primarily from Oxford Reading Tree. The range of books on offer is supplemeted by additional titles to support the teaching and progression within phonics. Our reading spine sets out a range of high-quality, challenging texts for each year group. All children have access to these, and they are used within the planning and teaching sequences throughout the school. They are also used to ensure that children meet a variety of new words and build a rich vocabulary. Early phonics teaching progresses from letter sounds to spelling rules, and an understanding of grammar is built upon throughout the primary years so that children are able to communicate clearly for a range of different purposes and audiences.
Our Reading Spine and Recommended Reading Lists
Our reading spine lists key texts shared and taught in each year group. Our reading lists provide suggested titles for each year group for home, shared and independent reading. We hope that you will find them helpful.
Children can only write successfully if they have something to say, and our approach emphasises good models for speaking and listening as a starting point. We encourage children to talk regularly about their learning, and to engage in discussion throughout sessions. The development of vocabulary is also essential, and we teach children how to gather new words, explore their meanings and use them in their own writing. After each sequence of learning, children complete a ‘Write Away’ task, which gives them an independent opportunity to put their skills into practice for real purposes and audiences. Teaching in reading and writing are linked, and we encourage children to ‘read as writers’ and ‘write as readers’ in order to fully understand and interact with text.
Phonics, Spelling and Grammar
Encouraging children to be successful independent readers and writers is a fundamental part of learning at the Meadows. Children are equipped with all the skills they need to flourish in their reading and writing through fun, engaging and stimulating experiences. To ensure that all children develop into accomplished literary learners we continuously revisit and build upon vital concepts through our teaching of phonics, spelling and grammar.
In the early learning of reading and writing, we place great emphasis on high quality phonics teaching. As a school we follow the phonics programme that is outlined in the DFE document, Letters and Sounds. Progressing through the six phases of this, the children learn all the sounds they need in order to successfully decode, blend and segment unfamiliar words. These sounds are called phonemes and in order for children to develop as fluent readers, it is important that they can:
- hear and recognise each phoneme in isolation and within words
- relate each phoneme to letters or groups of letters (graphemes)
- recognise that words can be broken down (segmented) into sounds and rebuilt (blending)
At the Meadows, phonics teaching begins in Little Learners, where the children become attuned to the sounds around them and begin to develop oral blending and segmenting skills. During Reception and Key Stage One, the subsequent phases and sounds are introduced at pace through practical, enjoyable and active teaching strategies. Due to the fact that we value the importance of phonics as the foundation of successful reading and writing, we continuously revisit and consolidate the skills taught throughout Key Stage One, and into Key Stage Two.
At the beginning of their learning career, we encourage the children to use their phonic knowledge to aid them with their spelling choices. The children are constantly supported to hear the sounds in words they are trying to spell and make choices that are suitable to their stage. As the children become confident and secure with their sounds, we enable them to make more accurate choices in their spelling. Spelling patterns and rules are introduced towards the end of Key Stage One and are then built upon and developed throughout Key Stage Two. We have high expectations of the children’s spelling and therefore we encourage the correct spelling of high frequency words throughout all areas of the curriculum.
In order for the children to see themselves as accomplished writers, we value the importance of teaching grammar at The Meadows. It is vital that children learn a variety of writing structures and understand what does and does not make sense. This begins in Reception and Key Stage One with the introduction of the simple, but fundamental, writing tools: capital letters, full stops and finger spaces. As the children progress throughout the school, they are introduced to the terminology of different words, sentence types and punctuation, as we believe this allows them to make informed writing choices. The children are confident at talking about the grammatical choices that they make and the impact that this has on their writing.
When the children come to the end of their learning journey at the Meadows, we aim to have provided them with the toolkit to be successful readers and writers.