Our approach to English at Barrow Hill continues to evolve as a result of the ever-changing needs of our children and best practice which is evidenced through action research and EEF guidance reports.
Competence in English enables children to communicate well in a range of settings and thus leads to improved life opportunities. Speaking, listening, reading and writing enables pupils to organise and express their own thoughts and gives them access the knowledge and ideas of others. In addition to this, the ability to respond to literature at a personal level enriches the lives of our children.
We aim to develop children’s abilities within an integrated programme of Speaking & Listening, Reading & Writing. Children will be given opportunities to develop their use, knowledge and understanding of spoken and written English within a broad and balanced curriculum, with opportunities to consolidate and reinforce taught literacy skills. Our ambition is for all children to leave Barrow Hill Primary Academy; reading and writing with confidence, fluency and understanding, using a range of independent strategies to self-monitor and correct; with a love of reading and a desire to read for enjoyment; with an interest in words and their meanings; developing a growing vocabulary in spoken and written forms; understanding a range of text types, media types and genres; able to write in a variety of styles and forms appropriate to the situation; using their developing imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness; having a suitable technical vocabulary to articulate their responses.
At Barrow Hill, oracy is a priority due to the deficit of language on entry of the majority of our children. Our oracy framework and the application of language structures, helps to support discussion and inspire effective communication. The ability to speak eloquently and listen actively is essential for children to articulate their opinions, ideas and feelings and respect those of others.
We believe oracy skills are fundamental to the development of reading and writing and underpins the whole curriculum.
Reading lies at the heart of the curriculum at Barrow Hill. We are dedicated to enabling our children to become lifelong readers and we believe that reading is the key to academic success.
We aim to provide children with a literacy-rich environment, high quality texts and inspiring learning opportunities, which will help them to:
- Gain a life-long enjoyment of reading and books.
- Read accurately, fluently and with understanding.
- Apply a knowledge of structured synthetic phonics in order to decode unfamiliar words with increasing accuracy and speed.
- Be able to read with expression, clarity and confidence.
- Discuss, learn and apply new vocabulary.
- Read and respond to a wide range of quality fiction and non-fiction texts.
- Develop a deeper level of emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education.
- Improve their writing as through reading high quality texts, writers gain a better understanding of language, grow their vocabulary and most importantly, find inspiration.
This strategy aims to ensure that there is coherence, continuity and progression within our teaching of reading throughout the school
Phonics and Early Reading
Early reading is taught through a systemic synthetic phonics programme ‘Read Write Inc’. This programme is used from Reception through to year 2.
Teaching high quality phonics lessons enables children to learn the sounds they need to read and then to use and apply them. Children begin by learning individual letter sounds (speed sounds set 1) and then how to blend these sounds into words. They then move on to learn digraphs/special friends and blend these within words. Once ready, children begin to apply their phonics knowledge to read word blending books and Ditties. When they are ready to progress, children will be introduced to reading books, which use the sounds they have been taught and allow them to apply their phonic knowledge and enjoy reading a book. As their phonic knowledge increases, so does the complexity of the books they read. The phonics progression of the decodable reading books matches the phonics progression of the programme. These books introduce new grapheme/phonemes correspondence (GPCs) in the same order as the teaching programme. The progression within books is cumulative so children can practice GPCs they have already learned earlier in the programme. Children apply this phonic knowledge to read and comprehend Storybooks that are carefully matched to the sounds they know. Children learn to read these books with a storyteller’s voice.
Spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development in the revised 2021 Early Learning Goals. At Barrow Hill Primary Academy, the aim is to reduce the language gap between children from language-rich homes and those who are not. The following three things make the biggest difference to reduce the language gap:
1. Reading aloud
2. Teaching children poems and songs
3. Talking with children
In Nursery, our children rely on read-a-lot, talk-a-lot, and sing-a-lot to develop their language skills. They experience reading books with their peers, adults and parents and a culture of ‘reading for pleasure’ is established. In the last term of Nursery, children are taught to say the sounds of letters with the help of mnemonics, to blend the sounds into words and read simple ‘blending books’. This gives them a flying start before starting Reception using the Read Write Inc Phonics scheme. In the last term of nursery, children experience 2 Storytime’s a day for 15 minutes. This is taught by teachers and trained professionals. Children are organized into small groups and their phonics progress is assessed half termly.
In reception, children learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. They experience success from the very beginning. The lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases. Along with a thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice.
Children work in small groups according to their progress which is assessment half termly. Early reception group sessions last for 20 minutes but session times quickly build to 1 hour taught by a teacher or teaching assistant who has received high quality training.
Year 1 and Year 2
Children in Key Stage 1 continue to build on the strong start they have made in reception. They are assessed half termly and work in small groups matched to their progress. Sessions last 1 hour and are taught by teachers and teaching assistants. Alongside phonics, the children learn ‘red words’ that are exceptions to the phonics rules (non-decodable words) they learn for example the words ‘the’ or ‘what’. We ensure that decodable words and Common Exception Words are taught before the children read them in books for the first time.
Whilst learning to decode words, our children also have to develop an understanding of their reading and will talk about what has happened in the text, who the characters were and predict what they think will happen next. All these skills build the foundations that they will use throughout school, as they become competent and enthusiastic readers.
Whilst children are expected to read decodable books which are carefully matched to their phonetic knowledge, they also have opportunity to experience reading, sharing and enjoying books of interest – fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
Phonics in Key Stage 2
Children who start year 3 but have been identified as below the expected level or with gaps in reading knowledge may still continue with the Read Write Inc programme accessing learning in a group suitable to their needs and progress. Children in years 5 and 6 who still need phonics are taught using the Fresh Start strand within the Read Write Inc programme.
Read Write Inc Speed Sounds
Read Write Inc Expectations
The progress of all children is closely tracked and monitored. The lowest 20% receive targeted intervention through 1:1 tutoring. Children who are below the expected level are also targeted for daily tuition to ensure they make rapid progress. Formative assessment takes place during all lessons, quickly identifying who has or had not picked up on a new sound, informing future planning. If a child has not kept up during a phonics session then this is addressed through 1:1 or small group intervention. Summative assessment takes place each half term using the Read Write Inc assessments. Knowledge of each sound is checked, as well as reading high frequency and tricky words. Children in Y1 are also assessed termly using the Screening Check. Targeted interventions based on question level analysis of the screenings are implemented. Children who do not pass the phonics screening check at the end of Year 1 continue with explicit phonic teaching and complete another phonic screening check at the end of Year 2. Children who have not achieved the relevant standard at the end of Year 2 are placed in a specific phonic intervention in year 3. Children who are new to school are quickly assessed across school and put into appropriate phonic groups. Traveller children who join our school and have gaps in knowledge are assessed quickly and placed into an appropriate group. If it is not appropriate for the child to access a younger group, targeted tutoring is used to boost progress.
Expectations of children in each year group
In EYFS and Year 1 children are allocated reading books according to their Phonics ability and in line with the RWI scheme. When children have passed their phonics screening test and completed the RWI scheme, they will be benchmarked and allocated an appropriate reading book. They will then follow the benchmarking and colour bands accordingly.
At Barrow Hill Primary Academy, we use a digital reading record, GoRead, to record when children have read to an adult and track progress through the book bands. Book band levels are recorded termly on the EAZMags tracking software.
Key Stage 2
Once children have moved on from the RWI scheme, they have a daily reading lesson. There is a long-term plan to follow for English which covers the objectives from the National Curriculum.
During these sessions, children learn specific reading comprehension strategies based on EEF improving Literacy guidance (prediction, questioning, clarifying, inferring, summarising and activating prior knowledge). Quality age-appropriate texts have been selected as a basis for the reading lessons- these can be full texts or extracts. It is expected that all children will access the same text; for some struggling learners this will need scaffolds e.g. pre-read, pre-teach, supportive partner, TA support. Modelling of skills, the pre-teaching or post-teaching (Key stage dependent) of vocabulary and high-quality questioning are all features of our reading lessons.
During reading lessons, teachers will plan to cover all requirements of the National Curriculum. Part of this, but not exclusively, is the teaching of VIPERS (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Sequencing/Summarising). These are six key reading skills that will be modelled, recapped and discussed during text-based lessons throughout school. Children will be able to articulate what these skills are and what skills they need to use to answer specific VIPERS questions. Our approach is under development and further training for all teachers and support staff is scheduled for the summer term to ensure a consistent approach with questioning and vocabulary is used in reading sessions, whether that is whole class or 1:1.
Talk for Writing
At Barrow Hill Primary Academy, the Talk for Writing approach developed by Pie Corbett is used to develop children’s reading ability. This approach enables children to read and write independently for a variety of audiences and purposes within different subjects. A key feature is that children internalise the language structures needed to write through ‘talking the text’, as well as close reading. The approach moves from dependence towards independence, with the teacher using shared and guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively and powerfully. We underpin our English work by establishing a core reading spine of quality fiction, poetry and non-fiction that all children experience and draw upon. Imaginative units of work are developed to create a whole-school plan that over time becomes well refined.
The key phases of the Talk for Writing process enable children to imitate orally the language they need for a particular topic, before reading and analysing it, and then writing their own version.
Reading for pleasure
Reading for pleasure is a key driver across our curriculum at school. Children are provided with rich experiences and high-quality texts to encourage a love of reading. Through the Class Dojo reading blog, children are encouraged to share recommended reads with their peers. Reviews of books which the children have enjoyed reading are shared across school with staff and parents also contributing suggestions. Research suggest that reading enjoyment is more important for children’s success than their family’s socio-economic status. Providing children stimulating, engaging, multicultural and high-quality texts is a school improvement priority.
Individual reading logs are stored digitally on the school GoRead app. All staff have access to this and log when they have listened to a child read at school. Children have individual login details for the app and are able to log when they have read at home, any words they have found tricky or do not understand and when they have finished a book, they complete a book review. Parents are encouraged to log their child’s reading at home. Support workshops for reading will be offered to parents in the summer term to boost the profile of reading at home.
Every classroom has a well-stocked reading area with a range of exciting and engaging texts for children to borrow and enjoy. In EYFS, small-world displays and story sacks are also used to promote a love of reading.
Each class will read a selection of high-quality books across the year. The focus of this time is for teachers to model fluency and expression and for children to enjoy challenging texts.
Reading at home
At Barrow Hill Primary Academy, we recognise the importance of regular reading at home to promote word recognition skills, fluency and understanding of the texts. Reading at home and completing reading logs on the GoRead app are rewarded at school. In EYFS and KS1, children take home additional resources to support early reading. All children have a RWI book bag book (matched to phonics knowledge) book-banded or free reader book to take home to practice their reading skills. Children may also choose a book of interest to take home. This could be a picture book, a non-fiction book linked to foundation subjects, a poetry book or a book that has captured their interest. Across school, it is expected that children will change their book at least once per week unless the text they are reading requires a longer period of time (especially in upper key stage 2). For our youngest children and those in need of making rapid progress, we increase the expectation to twice per week. All children have access to our digital library, Oxford Owl, and are able to read eBooks at home. Class teachers are responsible for implementing the system in their classroom. The English Lead is responsible for monitoring reading at home throughout school.
Parental engagement is really important to us in all aspects of learning, but particularly in reading. In EYFS and KS1, parents are invited into school to share in both reading and phonics workshops. Parents are introduced into phonics activities to use at home and are provided with free resources to take home to practice. In the reading meetings, parents are shown strategies to support with reading at home.
Through our systematic approach to teaching phonics, children will become fluent readers and so can then focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment and progress are closely tracked and monitored through rigorous Read Write Inc assessments and children are assessed against the national standard in phonics screening check. At the end of Key Stage 1, National SATs assess children’s reading and comprehension. It is reported to parents if their child has met the expected standard in reading.
Children in Key Stage 2 are assessed termly using NFER tests. At the end of Key Stage 2, national SATs tests assess if the children are meeting the national expected standard, are working towards or are working at greater depth. This information is reported to parents.
All children will read with accuracy, speed, confidence, fluency and understanding, ready to access their next stage of development and to leave primary school prepared for the secondary school curriculum. Children will develop a lifelong enjoyment of reading and books.
Writing is a crucial part of our curriculum at Barrow Hill Primary Academy. By the end of Year Six, we intend our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively through the written word. We also intend to create writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, confidently using the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling.
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” John Keating
Children at Barrow Hill Primary Academy are provided with a stimulating writing environment in which we offer good quality modelling of writing, shared opportunities to write together and encouragement to write independently. We have clear expectations of writing and communicate these with the children. We provide scaffolds to support writing and gradually remove these as confidence grows.
Children are provided children with exciting, purposeful and inspiring reasons to write. We aim to create passion for writing and create an environment where children can identify themselves as writers. Extended pieces are written in each child’s ‘Author’s Anthology’. These books progress through school with the children maintaining a journal of progress and enabling the children to see themselves as authors of their own work.
In order to for our pupils to become effective and successful writers, we aim to teach them to:
- Read like a writer and write like a reader, making links between books they have read and linking it to their own lives.
- Understand the power of writing and equip them to use it well.
- Enjoy writing
- Be competent, confident and not to hesitate in putting their ideas on paper.
- Recognise the need to adapt their writing to suit a range of audiences and purposes.
- Use the most appropriate form of writing for a given task.
- Use spelling and grammar accurately and with confidence.
- Use a fluent and legible handwriting style.
- Revise and edit work in progress.
- Write independently and produce high quality writing across our curriculum.
- Write imaginative, interesting and thoughtful texts.
Read Write Inc
In EYFS and KS1, children are taught the mechanics of writing through Read Write Inc. Children learn how to form letters using mnemonics to help them. They learn to spell correctly using their Fred fingers and they learn to compose their own writing - drawing upon ideas from the story they’ve just read. Everything knits together: The phonics supports the reading and writing; The reading supports the writing; the writing supports the reading. That’s why Ruth Miskin called it Read Write Inc.
Throughout the indoor and provision areas in EYFS, children have opportunity to mark make and write. This provision is built up over time as children’s fine motor skills and physical dexterity develop.
The children write every day, rehearsing out loud what they want to say, before spelling the words using the graphemes and ‘tricky’ words they know. They practice handwriting every day: sitting at a table comfortably, they learn correct letter formation and how to join letters speedily and legibly. Children’s composition (ideas, vocabulary and grammar) is developed by drawing on their own experiences and talking about the stories they read.
Key Stage One
In Year 1 and Year 2, there is a strong emphasis on application of RWI skills in all lessons across the curriculum. Children are encouraged to use their Fred Finger’s and Speed Sound Charts for spelling unfamiliar words. Checking, editing and improving writing is built into all writing opportunities and children use their knowledge of ‘tricky’ words when writing outside of the RWI session.
Talk for Writing
At Barrow Hill Primary Academy, we use Talk for Writing in order to support our children’s literacy skills. Talk for Writing was originally created by Pie Corbett and supported by Julia Strong and is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn.
Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading it and analysing it. Through fun activities to help them rehearse the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their genre, children are helped to write in the same style.
Talk for Writing is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before they begin reading and analysing it and then writing their own version. It builds on three key stages:
Stage 1 – Imitation
Stage 2 – Innovation
Stage 3 - Independent Application
Further exemplification of these stages can be found in Appendices 5.
Read Write Inc. Spelling is for children in Years 2 to 6 who can read accurately, with increasing speed. With 15 minutes of daily teaching, children develop confident spelling. Although the teaching of phoneme-grapheme correspondence underpins this programme, it also develops children’s knowledge of word families, how suffixes impact upon root words, and provides mnemonics to remember the trickiest spellings. The teaching revolves around instruction (with the help of online alien characters), partner and group practice, and competitive group challenges that help children commit new words to memory.
Punctuation and grammar is taught through the RWI session to Y1/2 children and during the English lesson for KS2 children. As children approach a new genre, they are given 3 SPaG specific targets to work on. These are explicitly taught during the target teach part of the lesson then are assessed later in the journey. It is expected that once taught and learnt, it is applied across all pieces of writing.
During Read Write Inc lessons in reception and KS1, there are regular timetabled slots for handwriting to ensure that children build up their handwriting skills every day. We make the physical process of writing (handwriting) enjoyable from the start, so children see themselves as ‘writers’. We use mnemonics (memory pictures) to help children visualise the letter or join before they write it down. Children practise handwriting under the guidance of a teacher so they do not develop habits that will be difficult to undo later.
There are three handwriting stages.
These lessons are taught while children read the Red, Green, Purple, Pink and Orange Storybooks.
The online ‘checklists’ for each letter are in the Handwriting files in Read Write Inc. Phonics Online.
Stage 1a: Children practise correct letter formation.
Stage 1b: Children learn where to place the letters on the writing line.
These lessons are taught while children read the Yellow, Blue and Grey Storybooks. The online
‘checklists’ for each letter are in the Handwriting files in Read Write Inc. Phonics Online.
Children learn a mature style of writing that will lead to joined-up writing.
These lessons are also taught while children read the Yellow, Blue and Grey Storybooks. The online ‘checklists’ for each letter are in the Handwriting files in Read Write Inc. Phonics Online.
Children learn the two basic joins: the arm join (diagonal) and the washing line join (horizontal) and the two variables for each join.
Teach children that when you use the handwriting signal they automatically go into the perfect handwriting position:
- feet flat on the floor
- bottom at the back of the chair
- body one fist from the table
- shoulders down and relaxed
- back leaning forward slightly
- left/right hand holding the page
- left/right hand ready in a tripod grip
As children move into KS2, they continue to develop their handwriting by practicing daily. This reduces to weekly as their style develops and they become more fluent writer’s. For children in KS2 who find handwriting challenging, regular small group or 1:1 sessions are provided.
Children in Key Stage Two have the opportunity to earn a handwriting once they have met the following criteria:
- Writing on the line
- Starting each letter in the correct place
- Keeping letters the same size
- Leaving appropriate gaps between words
- Clear ascenders and descenders
- All of the above using a pencil in all pieces of writing
- Application of bronze using a handwriting pen in handwriting practice
- Cursive style during handwriting practice and in Author’s Anthology
- Application of bronze whilst using a handwriting pen in Author’s Anthology book
- Neat, joined, legible, cursive style during all pieces of writing
- Write with increasing legibility, fluency and speed
- Choose which shape of a letter to use, and decide whether or not to join specific letters.
- Choose the writing implement that is best suited for a task – handwriting pen available to use in all books
- Children who earn pen licenses write with an ink pen not a biro.
Children will enjoy writing and will be well equipped to organise their thoughts and ideas and communicate appropriately to a range of audiences. Children will be ready for their next phase of learning and will be well prepared for the secondary curriculum. Regardless of their backgrounds, starting points or additional needs – all children will succeed during lessons because appropriate scaffolds and supports are in place. Children will use writing to share the knowledge they have acquired across the curriculum and share experiences that shape their lives. Creativity, imagination and will be celebrated and all children will feel their work is valued.
Children will apply their knowledge of spelling, grammar and punctuation to write coherently. Progress and attainment will be measured using termly unaided writing opportunities, end of Key Stage One and Key Stage Two SATs. It is reported to parents if their child is meeting the expected standard, working towards the expected standard or working at greater depth.
The teacher’s role in modelled writing
It needs to be emphasised that the teacher is in total control during modelled writing. Ideas and suggestions from the children are not sought. The expectation is that the actions and strategies modelled by the teacher might be deployed in their own independent writing.
The children’s role in modelled writing
The children are observers of the actions and decisions of the teacher in a modelled writing session. This might seem passive, but a skilful teacher will engage them by asking them to watch for and note the strategies being employed, consider why they are being drawn on and whether they are effective - all with a view to utilising such strategies and performing such actions in their own writing.
Teachers may model writing skills such as punctuating, rehearsing, proof reading, editing, word selection, sentence construction and paragraphing.
- All stages of the writing process should be modelled at some point across the year.
- Set out the intent for writing
- Clear focus for teacher model
- Ensure modelled writing fits appropriately within teaching sequence. Can be used at different stages- model using plan, model using word mats, model edit and improve etc.
- Short and effective (No more than 10 minutes in KS2 and less in KS1)
- Balance of both handwritten models and typed models
- Reinforce basic skills such as capital letters
- Correct terminology should be modelled
- ‘Think aloud’ with explicit thought processes
- Am I using the best word here?
- Could I rewrite that in fewer words?
- What impression will this phrase give?
- Model errors
- Models to be read back to check for sense and against writer’s checklist
- A record of modelled writing is in books/working walls/flip charts- this should be kept
- Modelled write displayed on working wall
The teacher’s role in shared writing
The purpose of shared writing is to model the thought process involved in writing. The teacher, acting as scribe, frees children from that aspect of the writing process so that they can focus exclusively on the thinking involved in writing.
The children’s role in shared writing
Apply what has been modelled and/or shared. Children are allowed to engage in and focus on the process. This is a shift from the teacher as model as the children are doing more of the thinking, composing, explaining and working as writers.
- Need to have modelled first and the children now take more control/ownership over the writing
- Have a focus. Focus your shared writing session on a particular aspect or aspects of writing.
- Keep it short.
- Encourage ideas from children
- It is a collaborative use of the writing strategy
- Clear routines need to be embedded for sharing so that it isn’t hectic
- Refer back to writing plan
- Shared writing is completed as a precursor to the class writing more independently.
- The teacher is constantly balancing the focus between pushing children to ‘generate’ ideas and then judging what works best
- Teachers pause to reread and listen to the flow of composition so the next sentence can be composed.
- .Display the work on working wall
Role of the English Lead
The English lead will monitor the quality of learning and provision for English. Along with members of the Senior Leadership Team, monitoring will take the form of:
- Lesson observations and feedback;
- Learning walks and pupil voice conversations;
- Planning scrutiny followed by support where necessary;
- Book/work/digital media scrutiny
- Monitoring of book band progression and 1:1 reading via GoRead
- Quality of learning environments including reading areas across school
- Purchasing and organising resources
- Keeping up to date with research and best practice
The English Lead conducts staff audits and along with SLT, designs appropriate Professional Development for staff in school. The English Leader models excellent practice leading by example and supporting colleagues in school to develop their knowledge and skills of the subject.
Role of the Read Write Inc Manager
The Read Write Inc Manager’s key responsibilities include:
- To lead and manage the organisation of the RWI programme across the school.
- To plan and provide model lessons for RWI and cover as necessary.
- To lead and manage the training and coaching of staff in the teaching of the phonics programme.
- To lead and manage regular assessments of the RWI children.
- To liaise with the Read Write Inc consultant and English Hub to organise monitoring activities and training opportunities
- Meet with the English Lead to ensure smooth transition for children moving from RWI to class reading
- Purchase and organise RWI resources
- Keep up to date with research and best practice