English at Smallwood
Writing: We believe that to be a good writer children need a rich and varied vocabulary and confident speaking and listening skills. We use Talk for Writing as the basis for our teaching. Children are introduced to top quality literature and explore how it is created. We use drama, creativity and active learning to bring texts to life and focus on understanding how they are structured in terms of composition, grammar, punctuation and spelling. Children initially model their own writing closely to the text they are exploring but we then teach them how to innovate and develop the text. As children become more confident they can adapt and develop features of texts that they love and begin to develop their own style as a writer.
Being able to speak confidently to a wide variety of different audiences is developed across the school. We encourage all of our pupils to speak in full sentences when talking and consistently promote good listening skills. We provide lots of opportunities to talk and present ideas both in class and through whole school sharing opportunities. Drama and role play are an integral element of our teaching and are used both to develop speaking and listening and to deepen understanding of different texts and writing genre.
Vocabulary development is a vital element of our teaching and supports both reading and writing skills. We focus on developing a rich and varied vocabulary throughout the work that we do. Developing children as enthusiastic and independent readers helps them to acquire an ever growing vocabulary and broaden their experience of styles of writing.
We regularly teach SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar) skills within the context of the texts that we are studying. We pay great attention to the importance of developing good grammar, spelling, punctuation and neat presentation within a variety of genres and text types.
Reading: We immerse pupils in high quality text. We teach skills through daily ‘guided reading’ sessions, alongside individual and class (shared) reading sessions. We want every child to develop a lifelong love of reading. Support from home is vital and we value the partnership where parents / carers spend time reading with and to their children. We ask every parent / carer to read regularly with their child and sign their child’s reading diary at least four times each week. As part of their Challenge Awards each year group has a book list of recommended texts and we encourage children to read as many as possible across the course of a school year.
Reading develops initially through phonics skills. Children in Early Years and Year 1 focus on learning to decode and blend letters so that they can confidently read and spell most common words. Reading then develops through gaining fluency and comprehension skills. Children need to be able to read confidently with good pace, flow and intonation. This fluency enables children to concentrate on the meaning of the text and develop their understanding. Comprehension is developed at an initial level by retelling, recall of sequence, characters and plot and at a more complex level by exploring motives, reasoning, inferring and making comparisons.
Speaking and Listening: Alongside talking to develop writing, we believe that speaking and listening are vital life skills. We want all of our pupils to be confident to express their opinion effectively and speak to many different audiences using clear intonation. We encourage class discussion, drama, role play, hot seating and debating. We provide a wide range of opportunities for pupils to present their learning and ideas to different audiences. We aim to develop confident and articulate individuals.