Our strategy for reading can be broken down into two key strands:
- teaching children to read through decoding (phonics), comprehension and high-quality content knowledge
- developing a love of reading
Reading forms a key part of all learning experiences with a focus on extending children’s language. Children are provided with a wide range of reading opportunities, encouraging a love of reading that will stay with them throughout their lives. We want all children to form positive reading habits and become experienced readers before they move on to the next stage of their education. Our aim is for all children to see themselves as readers; who are discerning about what they like; who are adventurous in their choice of reading material and who are motivated to read widely and constantly.
At Poppyfield Academy we follow the Read Write Inc. phonics and spelling program.
Children begin their Phonics learning in Early Years where they are introduced to the phonemes (sounds) linked to the letters of the alphabet. Children use these to blend and segment simple words when reading and writing. Children then begin to learn the different phonemes, moving on to learning different ways of spelling each of the phonemes. Children use these phonemes to segment and blend more complex words, consolidating this by reading and writing simple sentences. At the end of Year 1 children will be tested on their phonics knowledge, using a national test featuring 20 real words and 20 pseudo words (nonsense).
Most children are ready to begin our Spelling program during Year 2. Read Write Inc. Spelling allows children to see connections between phonics, spelling patterns, rhyme and root words. This program moves progressively as children move through the school, building on previous knowledge. Each year group has a list of words and spelling patterns they are expected to be able to spell by the end of the year.
Children are taught phonics and spellings in short daily sessions, enabling children to build up the segmenting and blending skills they need for writing and reading.
We have aligned our teaching of reading with the teaching of writing using Jane Considine’s ‘Hooked on Books’ approach.
Children take part in regular Book Talk sessions where they read aloud with a group of their peers using different reading organisations. Children use the ‘Reading Rainbow’ to read and respond to texts through different lenses within 3 different zones of reading: The Fantastics, The Stylistics and The Analytics. Book Talk is key to developing oracy skills.
Writing at Poppyfield Academy is centred around a high-quality story that captures the children’s interest from the outset. The model that is used to teach writing is a personalised approach based around best practice taken from ‘The Write Stuff’. The school environment enfolds children in stories, settings and language. There is a focus on drama, oracy and language development, equipping children with fundamental knowledge and skills that will enable them to be successful throughout their lives.
The research of Jane Considine (The Write Stuff) was a development initiative in 2018, to enhance current provision and practice. The focus remains on a love of story, enrichment and language. Children are immersed in a key text, revealing plot points one at a time through the ‘slow reveal’ to maintain the excitement of revealing the story. This story forms the basis of the wider project and curriculum enrichment. We add clarity to the mechanics of the teaching of writing.
In Nursery and Reception, children are immersed in a language rich environment, with stories at the core of their learning and the Early Years Curriculum. Even before they can write, the children are securing their understanding of words and their meanings through ‘Picture Power’. The FANTASTICS are used to focus the children’s ideas about what can be seen, igniting their senses and broadening their vocabulary. The children are also taught ambitious word choices through ‘Word Collecting’ activities and Grandma Fantastic.
Once the children can segment sounds, they begin to label the pictures they see with words and soon they use these words to form sentences. The children are supported to apply their phonic learning to their writing, follow a simple sentence structure and to use basic punctuation. Not only do the children hear stories, they soon become authors themselves. They begin ‘Sentence Stacking’; connecting ideas about characters to create stories. By the end of their Reception year, the children are already on their journey as writers.
Children follow a method called ‘sentence stacking’. Sentence stacking refers to the fact that sentences are grouped together chronologically or organisationally to engage children with short, intensive moments of learning that they can apply immediately to their writing. Children learn to sentence stack, focusing on the style of the author and impact of words and sentences. The planning of these is based on the teacher’s assessment of the children’s learning needs. An individual lesson is based on a sentence model, broken into three separate chunks:
Initiate section – a stimulus to capture the children’s imagination and set up a sentence.
Model section – the teacher close models a sentence that outlines clear writing features and techniques.
Enable section – the children write their sentence following the model and have the opportunity to ‘deepen the moment’ where they can explore the plot point further and demonstrate their own creative sentences using their previous learning.
The Three Zones of Writing: The FANTASTICs (Ideas), The GRAMMARISTICs (Tools), and The BOOMTASTICs (Techniques) support their learning, precision and writing.
The FANTASTICs system, which is also used in the teaching of reading, allows children to identify the nine elements that all text types are comprised of. When pupils are familiar with these nine elements, they are able to ensure that they are incorporated into their writing. The FANTASTICs help children to sharpen their understanding of their own and others’ writing by encouraging them to be observant and reflective.
The 9 GRAMMARISTICs cover national curriculum requirements, capturing the broad spectrum of key grammar knowledge.
The BOOMTASTICs capture the ten powerful ways to add drama and poetic devices to writing. They help children structure their work, teaching them to showcase their writing voice, demonstrate originality and to take risks in a bid to capture the truth of a situation.
Handwriting is taught discretely using the RWI scheme and then through a cursive script model when appropriate.
All English based activities are extended with opportunities for Greater Depth, where children can take writing in their own directions. This includes NICER sessions, structure of English lessons, writing non-negotiables, assessment and marking.