Reading is the single most important and valuable skill children can develop.
At its heart, our reading curriculum is designed to ensure children learn to read fluently but, just a importantly, develop a real love of reading. Reading unlocks learning for children and expands their understanding of the world around them. A good book can transport you away to another world and we want all our children to learn to love exploring through reading. Our curriculum does this by ensuring the use of quality texts and authors, and all adults playing a role in opening children’s s eyes to the beauty, emotion and excitement of reading. For it to be pleasurable for all, the curriculum gives children the skills to read and understand, whilst exposing children and teaching them to seek out quality literature.
Being able to read fluently and be proficient in reading skills such as retrieving and summarising key information, or understanding what characters might be thinking or feeling, gives children a toolbox which underpins learning in all other areas. Our curriculum is built on this importance and ensures that every child is able to develop fluency and a love of reading. As they progress, children learn, recognise and read the letters and sounds that make up the written English language. For all to make progress, the curriculum is rigorously structured to systematically ensure all build up this ability to recognise letters and sounds to be able to read. As well as developing fluency, children are supported to develop key reading skills that allow them to build an ever increasing understanding of literature, and allows them to become immersed in what they are reading. The curriculum is designed not just to equip children with reading skills, but to develop readers who love to read are inspired to continually expand and develop their reading.
The development of early reading focuses on children developing their understanding of phonics. This is a system of teaching reading where children hear, identify and use different sounds and learn the corresponding letters and combination of letters that form these sounds. Children engage in phonics lessons everyday where they learn a new letter/sound combination as they gradually build up a more and more complete understanding of letters and sounds. Alongside they learn and develop a bank of ‘tricky’ words that don’t follow convention. Guided reading sessions on a daily basis then give children the opportunity to practise and rehearse their phonic understanding as they learn to blend sounds and read words.
We currently follow the Letters and Sounds approach and through our tightly focused lessons ensure children work through the different letters and sounds in a highly structured way so their understanding is complete. The curriculum in KS1 ensures priority is placed on children being able to practice and rehearse their reading skills to build fluency. Through phonics and guided reading children are supported to read fluently at a level appropriate for their age.
By KS2, the reading curriculum provides opportunities for children to practise and rehearse reading fluently, to develop an expanding bank of vocabulary and to develop reading and comprehension skills. It’s designed to ensure children read fluently and understand on different levels what they have read.
Children work through a structured timetable of guided and shared reading. In guided reading, children have the opportunity to work in a focussed group with an adult to analyse text, and to work through a variety of reading-based activities. In shared reading, children are supported to develop reading skills through explicit modelling and direct teaching based on challenging texts. These skills include author choice, analysing vocabulary, compare, contrast and comment, retrieval, inference, summary and prediction.
Communication and the ability to express your thoughts and ideas through writing is a hugely valuable skill and our curriculum supports children to explore and learn from a rich variety of engaging and creative texts.
The curriculum ensures children become enthused with a wealth of different genres, and equipped to write and communicate effectively for a variety of audiences and purposes. Our curriculum recognises that writing is a process, and supports all children to engage in the creative journey of developing good writing.
Importance is placed on exploring great examples of writing, being able to articulate, develop and communicate initial ideas and then drafting and perfecting written communication. Speaking and listening opportunities run throughout the curriculum to support all children to develop and communicate their thinking. The ongoing development of vocabulary equips all to articulate their thoughts.
The writing curriculum supports children to develop as writers by equipping them at each stage of the writing process with skills, strategies and an ever expanding bank of ideas and vocabulary. As children move up the school, they build a framework in their minds of different writing genres and develop increasing sophistication in how they communicate their thoughts and ideas.
How is writing taught?
In practise, the writing curriculum is underpinned by ‘Talk for Writing’. This approach to writing focuses on children learning to write in a variety of genres. Across the school, different units look at poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing. Each year children have the opportunity to look at each genre and further expand their understanding of key features as they progress through the school. By Year 6 they will have been exposed to a full range of written genres, and be confident in communicating to meet the needs of the written purpose and its intended audience.
Each unit of 3-4 weeks follows a set pattern that starts with children engaging in speaking and listening activities to learn and imitate key language needed for the genre. It is at this point that they are exposed to a model text that shows them what a good example of writing in the genre looks like. Children spend time exploring and interacting with this text to learn and internalise the key patterns and features of it. The curriculum then supports them to innovate with their own ideas. At this stage, time is given to children to explore and develop written communication of their own ideas, and emphasis is placed on developing and refining use of vocabulary. Finally, children independently apply all they have learnt to write their own version of the model text. They are guided through the writing process to plan, draft and edit their work and produce a finished ‘Hot Write’ that showcases the progress made in the course of the unit.
This structured approach supports all learners by giving them a clear structure that they can use to plan their own writing. A key focus on speaking and listening opportunities helps all pupils to learn the structure of different genres and develop their own understanding. The mantra of ‘saying it before writing it’ is invaluable in supporting all to organise and express their ideas.