The school uses Letters and Sounds as its phonics programme. This is taught in Key Stage 1 to help our children to develop their reading skills. Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven. Information on this can be found on the letters and sounds website by clicking this link.
The best readers read regularly and read a wide range of different texts. We encourage you to develop your child’s reading by exposing them to reading in lots of different contexts, be this through newspapers, comics, reading menus and signposts, reading online, looking at fiction and non-fiction books and of course regular visits to the library.
Reading has a very high priority at St James' and we encourage pupils to read as much as possible at home. We aim to develop children’s love of reading through organising units of lessons around motivating books and texts. We use a text-based, whole-class teaching approach providing opportunities for learning and reinforcing:
- word reading – as children encounter unfamiliar words
- grammar and punctuation – through seeing them in context and considering how they are employed for effect
- comprehension – through listening to, reading, and discussing challenging texts
- vocabulary and spelling – by encountering new language
- spoken language through participating in discussions about books, learning from both specific language modelled by the teacher and also that of their peers
A reading record diary is used by teachers, parents and children to make comments on all aspects of reading. In addition to whole class reading, the school teaches reading skills in small ability groups and pupils then take books home, matched to their ability, to practise what they have learnt. When pupils are first learning to read, they take home a colour-coded book, which has a controlled vocabulary, with the aim of encouraging reading fluency. In addition to this, pupils may also take home other books that they wish from the library.
Each Monday children have the opportunity to attend ‘Book and Biscuits’ with Mrs Fellows and Mrs Turner. This is a whole school reward for those children who read at home five or more times per week.
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and Listening is central to learning. Children are given opportunities to talk for a range of purposes to different audiences and are encouraged to listen attentively and respond appropriately to a range of speakers.
Pupils are taught to write for a variety of purposes for various audiences in different forms e.g. diaries, letters, stories, lists etc. We use ‘Talk for Writing’ across the school which is an engaging teaching framework based on the principles of how children learn. It enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version. This renowned teaching method encourages pupils to learn texts off by heart before trying to write independently.
Handwriting and Spelling
In Handwriting children are enabled to develop a fluent and legible style of printed and joined up handwriting. We teach a cursive style which starts with pre-cursive in the earliest stage. When your child first comes to school, they will learn to form every letter with an entry and exit stroke.
This is a solid foundation for teaching joined handwriting later on. Children are taught that every letter starts on the line. Next we begin to teach digraphs and trigraphs as joined letters. The first being
Constant repetition is the key, emphasising the correct entry and exit strokes every time. It is essential that your child gets into good habits early on and this includes having the correct pencil grip.
One of the advantages of the cursive style is that you can quickly identify when a child is forming letters incorrectly. For example trying to start a at the line and moving clockwise, rather than starting with the entry stroke and then moving anticlockwise from the top of the letter to the bottom.
Spelling is taught through a daily programme called ‘Attack Spelling’ which focuses on spelling patterns and irregular words. Every child in Key Stage 2 has an ‘Attack Spelling’ lesson every morning. Attack Spelling is a systematically structured and carefully programmed teaching aid designed to teach the basic skills of reading and spelling. A daily practise sheet is given to each child to practise and learn spellings for the next lesson.