At Hatherley Infant School, English is at the forefront of all our teaching and learning. We firmly believe that its mastery is a prerequisite for life, since it empowers the learner and is essential for independent learning and most aspects of everyday life. We teach pupils to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes and to a variety of audiences which allows children to use language to learn and communicate ideas, views and feelings. It enables children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non fiction and media texts.
Our intent is for children to be self-motivated, enthusiastic learners who are supported and challenged to be successful in their learning.
At Hatherley Infant School we believe spoken language to be fundamental to the achievement of children. We strive to develop spoken language skills through the taught curriculum, the hidden curriculum, playtimes and lunchtimes, extra-curricular activities and the whole ethos of the school.
Children’s oral language plays a vital role in their reading and writing development. They need to have lots of opportunities to experiment with spoken language, and use talk to develop their ideas. If children can’t tell us their ideas they will never be able to write them down or express their understanding of a text.
Some of the ways in which we do this include:
- Playing with words e.g. making up rhymes and tongue twisters.
- Using puppets and props to retell favourite stories and to make up their own.
- Small world toys such as farm animals, train sets and doll’s houses to encourage children to use story or imaginative language.
- Encouraging children to speak in full sentences when describing something or asking a question.
- Extending their vocabulary by exploring the meaning of new words, with links made to both reading and writing.
- Providing lots of opportunities to develop the skills for joining in a conversation g. through circle times, the use of talk partners, small group work etc.
- Listening to a range of stories and poems throughout the year, so that children can make links with other areas of the curriculum, including writing.
When listening, children are encouraged to sit still, look at the listener and think about the same thing as everyone else.
It’s very important for us all to have some time away from the distractions of technology. Make time to talk to your child about their day and listen to them, ask them questions and really show an interest in what they have to say.
Creating a love of reading is one of the most powerful ways of improving children’s chances in school and creating a passport to the wider world.
The main way in which we teach reading is through synthetic phonics. At Hatherley we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their reading and spelling. RWI teaches children how to read sounds and the letter that represents each of these sounds (phonemes and graphemes). It then teaches children how to blend these sounds together in order to read a word. These are known as ‘green’ words. Some words cannot be sounded out, these are known as ‘red’ words which are tricky words that we just have to learn by sight.
Children are assessed according to their reading ability every half term and grouped so they can be taught in a group,learning at the same level. In EYFS RWI takes place every Monday to Friday from 9.00am till 9.30am. Across KS1, RWI takes place every Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 10.40am. A new sound is taught every day followed by a range of reading activities to build confidence with a text over time and increase fluency and expression. Children also develop the ability to answer comprehension questions from a text and work in pairs so they are all joining in. Children thoroughly enjoy the RWI sessions.
A series of information and tutorial videos explaining the basics of RWI can be found at www.ruthmiskin.com/en/parents
You can find out more about RWI on the official website www.oup.com/oxed/primary/rwi which provides all the information you need to support your child through the programme.
Children read a variety of texts in small groups to their teacher on a weekly basis across EYFS and KS1. In Year 2 those children who have passed the 'Phonic Screening Check' undertake a daily guided reading session with their class teacher. Children are grouped according to ability and read books at an appropriate level. Records are kept for each group, in which a learning focus and progress notes are kept. Children are assessed regularly so that groupings can be changed when necessary.
Shared reading takes place throughout the week. This is an interactive reading experience that allows children to share the reading of a book or other text while guided and supported by a teacher.
Children are encouraged to read independently to build fluency and become self-reliant readers. Our main reading scheme is ORT, which is complemented by Project X, Traditional Tales Hero Academy, In Fact and Explore.
We know that parents and carers are very busy people but there are ways in which you can support your child at home.
- Little and often is better than quantity when learning to read. Fun short bursts of reading every day will make a bigger difference to fluency than reading for long periods once a week.
- Read a variety of stories and books to your child to foster ‘reading for pleasure’. This will provide opportunities for modelling reading strategies whilst developing a wider vocabulary that can be applied in writing.
- We would also ask you to share your child’s reading book with them on a frequent basis. This is a good opportunity for your child to practice some of the skills and strategies that they have learnt at school. We would also ask you to spend time discussing the book. Prompts for discussion can be found inside the book covers. These are invaluable in developing your child’s comprehension.
- Don’t feel that children should only be reading the material we send home. Encourage them to read a range of texts as well as the print that surrounds them in their everyday environment.
At Hatherley, we use the ‘talk for writing’ approach as developed by Pie Corbett. This enables the children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version.
Writing is taught through daily English lessons. Further links are made through the teaching of other subjects, to ensure knowledge and skills are firmly embedded.
English has the most complex alphabetic language in the world due to our inheritance of other languages such as: Latin, French, Greek and German. It has many more ways of writing one sound. For example the long vowel ‘a' sound can be spelled ay, ai and a-e. We use RWI to support our teaching of spelling. Children in Key Stage 1 also have a weekly spelling focus. Spelling books containing activities connected to the spelling focus are sent home on a weekly basis. Activities include games, word searches, cross words, comprehensions and writing activities.
We recognise that handwriting is an important skill and children’s ability to write fluently for the rest of their lives depends on a good foundation of taught handwriting in the early years of their education.
We believe that children should be introduced as early as possible to the making of letters through pattern and then discover letter shapes and movements in these forms. The shapes and movements should then be developed into making letters in connected forms. We use a cursive script, copies of which are displayed in every classroom.
You can access letterjoin to support children’s handwriting at home. Please click here for more information.