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How do we teach English at St. Elizabeth’s school?

 

Reading

 

At St. Elizabeth’s, the EYFS pupils have a daily whole class guided reading session.  They also read 1:1 with the class teacher and teaching assistant.  From Year 1 onwards, the children have a daily class guided reading session and a daily group session, and read with the teacher or TA 1:1 at least once a week.  During these reading sessions, children experience a variety of carefully selected poetry, fiction and non-fiction texts.

 

The class guided reading session follows a format of:

Monday – acquiring new vocabulary and sharing opinions about the text.

Tuesday – fluency.

Wednesday – a focus on one of the reading domains, namely:  Explain the meaning of words, retrieve, summarise, predict, infer, vocabulary and effect, organisation and presentation, compare, writer’s viewpoint.

Thursday – teacher modelling of questions related to the domain being taught that week.

Friday – children independently apply their knowledge to answer questions on the taught reading domain.

 

During the daily group guided reading session, the children have the opportunity to do one of the following: read for pleasure, read 1:1 with a TA, answer questions about a given text (which will then be addressed with the teacher in the following group session), or read / answer comprehension questions in a small group with the class teacher.  Teachers adapt these sessions to meet the needs of their age group, the ability of the children and the domain focus.  These sessions are also vital to address decoding and fluency.  

 

When reading 1:1, children read a book associated with their level of decoding and comprehension.  The school books start with decodable Phonics books and progress onwards. Each class has their own set of ‘special’ books, which the children can access at any time.  These books have been selected by the class teachers to promote a love of reading.

 

 

 

Writing

 

To enable children of all ages and abilities to learn to write with confidence and creativity, we have adopted the ‘Talk for Writing’ approach which is based on a pattern of:

 Imitation – Innovation – Invention, put simply: I do - We do - You do.

 

Teachers start each new genre with a ‘Cold Task’ - where children have around 20 minutes to write in the style of the new genre, to show what they can already do.  This allows the teacher to assess the children’s initial strengths and weaknesses and plan meaningful lessons.

 

A ‘hook’ (something exciting!) is then done to begin the genre – for example an experience / a letter / a problem to solve - to stimulate the pupils’ interest and a sense of purpose for writing. 

 

All teachers start with a high quality text (either carefully chosen, adapted or written themselves) selected to appeal to the class.  The text includes all the writer’s tricks that the children will be required to imitate.  From here, the class will learn the text and its structure; learn and practise the writer’s tricks and experience similar ‘tricks’ in other pieces of writing.  This process is called Imitation

 

The teacher will go on to model how to plan and write a new, innovated version of the text, using the structure and writer’s tricks learnt from the modelled text.  Children are actively involved with this process, which is called Innovation

 

Finally the children will write their own version, using the planning grid and all the extracts and modelled writing pieces that have been accumulated during the sequence of lessons.  The class teacher and teaching assistant can support with editing.  This process is called Invention.

 

During independent work, children will work with resources and support to match their level of learning. Similarly, expectations are differentiated for each group and children are assessed against an assessment criteria that is suitable for their level of learning. 

 

At the end of each term, the children are given a writing task, chosen by the class teacher, which reflects a genre they have learnt during the term.  This enables the class teacher to see what knowledge has ‘stuck’ and what needs to be revised upon in the subsequent term.  This task may link to another subject area (for example an information text about learning completed in Science or Topic lessons, or a story written in response to a picture stimulus).  This task - as well as other writing completed during the term in English and other subject areas – allows a teacher to assess a pupil’s progression and plan relevant next steps.   

 

 

 

Phonics and Spellings

 

Phonics is taught daily in EYFS, Year 1 and 2.  After recognising the words, the children practise spelling them.  At St. Elizabeth’s, we follow ‘Letters and Sounds’ and use actions to represent the phonemes using Jolly Phonics.  In Reception, the children learn Phases 1 to 3 implicitly.  Year 1 recap Phase 3 and also teach Phase 4 and 5.  In Year 2, the children learn Phase 6 whilst also recapping other phases.  We equip children with the skills to be able to read real and 'non-real' words which is a requirement for the Phonics Screening testing, normally carried out in June, in Year One. If a child doesn't pass the test in Year 1, they get the opportunity to take the test the following year.

 

Phonics is tracked in KS1 and into KS2 when needed.  Some junior children may receive extra phonics intervention work, or a repetitive spelling programme intervention, with a teaching assistant.

 

The junior classes practise spelling patterns and the irregular words ordered by the Andrew Brodie spelling scheme.  Spellings are sent home weekly to be learnt and tested the following week. 

 

When writing, children are encouraged to find unknown spellings in handouts given, and practise a spelling in the margin or on a whiteboard and choose the best fit.  When marking, teachers may highlight up to 3 spellings for children to repeat 3 times at the end of piece of work. 

 

 

 

Grammar

 

Grammar is taught explicitly – often during the lesson starter, but lessons may also be dedicated to learning or reinforcing grammar rules. Where possible, teaching of grammar rules is applied to the context of the lesson and uses the texts learnt in English writing and reading. 

 

 

 

Handwriting

 

At St. Elizabeth’s, we recognise that children’s bones develop at different rates and some children find handwriting a challenge.  EYFS develop gross and fine motor skills through methods such as dough disco.  A focus on these gross and fine motor skills extend into Year 1 and Year 2 if necessary. 

 

We have created an intervention programme for children in our school who struggle with handwriting into KS2, and this is carried out by an experienced TA.  Children may be given extra homework to address handwriting as we feel parental involvement is crucial. 

 

Teachers model presentation at the beginning of writing lessons and set high expectations for pupil presentation in books.  

 

To provide a high quality Christian education for all children enabling them to achieve their full potential in a safe and caring environment.
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