‘After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.’

Phillip Pullman

Not only is English our national language and a core subject in the curriculum, it is also the means by which we think, dream, imagine, invent, explore, create and communicate our thoughts and character with the wider world.

Our approach to teaching English is called ‘Text-Based Teaching’ because children learn the best language and communication skills by internalising the very best models on offer in speech and writing. In our school, we carefully select high quality texts that not only tell a wonderful story, but which do so by playing with adventurous vocabulary and sentence structures. We are therefore able to work holistically and to discuss and replicate the examples offered by the very best writers and authors. We also use our texts to teach spelling, grammar, punctuation, author voice, genre features, structure, turns of phrase, levels of formality, creative thinking, playfulness and imagination. A good book is a veritable treasure trove and we treasure them in return. Our texts also enhance, inspire and enable our Topic work wherever possible whilst avoiding tenuous links.

We also offer a plethora of enrichment opportunities in the subject such as: poetry and writing workshops with visiting authors, book week/World Book Day celebrations, termly themed author focus in our library as well as master classes at Henry Box and competitions such as BBC Radio Two’s 500 words and our own in-house writing competitions.

HANDWRITING

We use a ‘Cursive’ system for handwriting. We do this to ensure a uniform approach to letter formation, leading to a more effective, fluent and legible joined style.

Cursive handwriting enables children to write with increased flow, allowing them to concentrate on the content of their work and correct spelling. Each letter starts on the line, so the pen flows and does not leave the page during a word.

We aim to teach the children this system when they are ready and support their development throughout the different stages of school. Once good practice is established, we will encourage children to develop their individual style.

Teachers and support staff will consistently model cursive handwriting in lessons. We have purchased a cursive font for typed work to enable everyone to become used to the cursive appearance.

In Kingsway Class the pupils will be introduced to a non-joined cursive formation in order to prepare the children for joined cursive writing alongside their phonic development. The children need to have clear recognition of letters in order to make their phonic links for reading and independent writing.

We will be calling the entry stroke ‘get ready’ and then teaching the letter formation using the ‘Read, Write Inc.’ scheme that we have used for the past year.

We believe the cursive system will enhance our normal practice, as the children will know to always start in the same place with their pencils whatever the letter!

*We always ensure a child is truly ready to write before introducing any kind of letter formation and sessions are always very multi- sensory and fun!

We will focus on ensuring children are well prepared to write. We are careful to establish whether they have strength in their hands (many are still developing fine motor skills), an effective and correct pencil grip and a good level of confidence for writing.

Much of our practice at this stage complements the work done in Foundation Stage, making the transition process as smooth as possible. The children will continue to develop their non-joined cursive letters in preparation for joining once they are ready to do so. They will also look at the new way to write a Z and an F!

During Year One, children will be introduced to joined cursive writing, which focuses on the exit strokes linking to the entry strokes. This process is carefully modelled by the teachers and teaching assistants. It should feel quite natural to the children, as they will have had a well-structured introduction.

In Key Stage Two children benefit from knowing that each letter starts in the same place (on the line) and enjoying the flow of their pen, as it never leaves the paper mid-word!

At this stage, presentation should be a priority for children; we encourage them to value their work at all stages and to be proud of their efforts. By putting an emphasis on handwriting, we hope to raise standards in literacy and celebrate the written word through awards and displays.

Children progress and develop at varying rates throughout their primary education, so the expectations from us are always tailored to the individual. If your child is not quite ready to be writing with cursive joins, then we will recognise this and put in place the necessary interventions to help them get there.

If you have any questions or feel you would like more detail on how this system will look in your child’s class and how you can support at home, then please make an appointment to see your child’s teacher.

READ, WRITE, INC.

At Aston and Cote we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their English. RWI is a method of learning centred round letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.

Using RWI, the children learn to decode effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into composing what they write.

We carry out a simple assessment and children are placed in the place that they need to be in order to make the most progress. Our groups are small and pupils make excellent progress.

“The teaching of phonics is first rate. Teachers are very skilled and hold the highest expectations.” OFSTED 2018

When using RWI to read the children will:

learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts
learn to read words using Fred Talk
read lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out
show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions.

When using RWI to write the children will:

learn to write the letters/letter groups which represent 44 sounds.
learn to write words by saying the sounds in Fred Talk
write simple sentences
compose stories based on picture strips
compose a range of stories based on writing frames.
Below is a link to a video clip which shows the programme in action and explains everything, especially ‘Fred talk’!

http://www.oup.com/oxed/primary/rwi/aboutrwi/video/

Below is further information on how you can support at home and most importantly a useful guide on how to pronounce each soundWhen our pupils complete the Read, Write, Inc phonics programme, they begin the follow on spelling scheme.

READING

“ A book is a gift you can open again and again.” (Garrison Keillor)

At Aston and Cote CE Primary books are at the heart of our curriculum. We are passionate about fostering a love of reading. Our aim is for every child to not only acquire the essential basic reading skills, but to become a life long reader.

“Pupils across the school benefit from reading high-quality texts in class. They are strongly encouraged to read a wide range of literature, enthused and inspired by their teachers’ recommendations. In return, teachers are held in high esteem for their love of literature and, in particular, their ability to find just the right book.” OFSTED 2018

We are always looking for new ways to refine and improve our provision in this area.

We aim for our children to develop a life-long love of reading during their time at our school. They can borrow  non-fiction books from our newly refurbished library and we have also recently re-vamped the reading areas in our classrooms to ensure that these spaces are enticing and stimulating for our readers. There is an expectation that all of our children will read daily, both at school and at home.

We expect our children to read in every lesson, we timetable ‘Reading for Pleasure’ throughout the week and we require children to read at home daily. Reading journals are used in some of our younger year groups and, in Key Stage 2, interactive reading displays are in use in all classrooms. Pupils can use these displays to celebrate their achievements, to look for peer reviews and to discuss their recommendations with the whole class. Teachers additionally use these displays to get children talking confidently and publicly about great books.

Celebrating Book Week or World Book Day is a very popular annual event during which teachers use a book as inspiration to plan a whole range of activities in all areas of the curriculum.

We also hold a Book Fair each year and have recently introduced a Book Swap – children can bring a book which they no longer want to school and swap it for a book which has been brought in by someone else.

We use Read, Write, Inc. as our core phonics and  reading scheme throughout Key Stage One and as an intervention programme for struggling readers in Key Stage 2. Training by nationally recognised instructors has ensured that our teachers and TAs are equipped to deliver this highly effective programme.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you know, the more places you’ll go.” Dr Seuss

WRITING AND GRAMMAR

‘The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary.’

JK Rowling

Text based teaching

At Aston and Cote we develop pupils’ writing using an approach called text based teaching.

Teachers use high quality texts to inspire the children’s writing in a range of genres, including both fiction and non-fiction. These are often linked to the class topic.

After reading an exemplar text and analysing its features, the children plan their own writing using typical vocabulary for that genre. Children draft, redraft, edit and finally publish their work.