English & Phonics
The skills of reading and writing are essential for life-long learning. Having an understanding of the written word allows children to access and understand the world around them. Our intent is to ensure quality first teaching of English throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1 and 2, so that children achieve, or exceed, national expectations.
We believe that a quality English curriculum will develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion.
At the heart of the Early Years Foundation Stage is the teaching of early reading, which includes a systematic approach to the teaching and learning of phonics. This continues into Key Stage One allowing them to become confident and fluent readers. We strive to immerse all of our children in a language rich environment; ensuring that they have the linguistic skills required to succeed in life. We will inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening. This will support them with developing a positive attitude towards communication in all its forms, independently expressing their opinions, emotions and their ideas.
Our children will be inspired to have an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts.
We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. A secure basis in oracy and literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society. Through our English curriculum, we strive to teach the children how important their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills will be in the real world. By giving this context to their learning, the children understand the value of English to them now, and in their future.
English at Bishop John Robinson CofE Primary School
Reading and writing have a high profile in our school. We believe that teaching children not only to read and write successfully, but to enjoy the journey, is key in enabling them to reach their potential. This will also help them to develop a lifelong love for English.
We believe in using good quality texts with our pupils, to expose them to different styles of writing and a wide range of vocabulary. Over time, children gradually build their bank of well-known texts, supplemented by picture books, novels, poems and non-fiction books. Gradually this living library of language begins to equip the children with the words they need to express themselves. In the same way, the ability to manipulate that bank of texts increasingly enables children to create new versions and become inventive, blending and experimenting.
Shared writing also develops writing habits within the class community of writers. The aim is that each year, new strategies and techniques are introduced, building on previous learning and giving children confidence as writers.
We have a whole school commitment to make sure that every child is able to read and read well. We want our children to become enthusiastic, engaged readers and to develop a life-long love of books. We introduce the children to a range of good quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry books through our whole-class, core-text approach to teaching reading, and during their weekly guided reading session.
In the early stages of reading, we teach children to decode words using phonic skills as their main approach, alongside teaching sight vocabulary. Once grasped, the focus for developing reading is on understanding and comprehension. Children will regularly read individually with adults as well as participate in group guided reading sessions, where they are given various opportunities to improve their reading skills, such as inference and comprehension by talking and coming to conclusions.
Reading at Home
We encourage children to read daily and to discuss the books they have chosen. We actively encourage our pupils to change their book regularly and expect them to read at home daily.
Parental support is hugely important for developing their reading skills, confidence and understanding. Even if your child is an independent reader, it is still important for you to read with them, listen to them and discuss the books they are reading.
How to support developing readers at home
- Try to listen to and read with your child regularly, 10 minutes a day is better than a longer session once a week. It can help if a regular time is set aside so that it becomes part of a routine.
- Find a quiet place to share books where you can feel comfortable and relaxed – learning to read needs to be a positive experience - build their confidence by praising their efforts.
- Encourage your child to have a go at reading words, by using phonic skills to read any unfamiliar words, and by working on building up their sight vocabulary.
- Talk about the meanings of words to help to develop your child’s understanding and use of language.
- Encourage your child to read a range of texts such as stories, newspapers, comics, labels, poetry, non-fiction, tickets, signs, leaflets etc.
- Read books to your child as well; if they see you enjoying a book it will encourage and motivate them to want to learn to read.
- Ask them questions about the text to develop their understanding.
Reading Eggs at BJR - Learning to read can be easy and fun
We are pleased to announce that we have purchased a licence for all of our children for Reading Eggs which makes learning to read interesting and engaging.
It has great online reading games and activities. And it really works! Children love the games, songs, golden eggs and other rewards which, along with feeling proud of their reading, really motivate children to keep exploring and learning. Reading Eggs materials are designed by experienced educators and they teach the children phonics, spelling, vocabulary, sight words and more using colourful and interactive apps.
Before starting to use Reading Eggs, it is necessary to undertake a short placement test which will identify where your child should commence on the teaching programme. Your child can then work independently through the levels at their own pace. The levels include comprehension activities that will extend children through to KS3 (Year 9).
Once your child has an active account, the Reading Eggs Learn To Read app can be downloaded to other devices for free using your current login details.
Our school’s phonics programme, Success for All Phonics, is both stimulating and challenging. It teaches the skills of reading and encourages children’s thinking which creates enthusiastic, life-long readers who share in the joy of reading.
Synthetic phonics is taught on a daily basis throughout Early Years and Key Stage 1. It teaches the skills of reading and encourages children’s thinking which creates enthusiastic, life-long readers who share in the joy of reading.
In September 2022, we introduced "Success for All" Phonics throughout our infant classes, with all staff fully trained in how to teach the sessions and use the wonderful resources. We are looking to sharing more information about this with families through coffee mornings and parent workshops.
The skill of handwriting needs to be taught. The foundations are laid from a very early age through the development of gross and fine motor skills.
Our handwriting policy is based on a style that is quick and easy to learn. It should be neat, legible and fast. Children should eventually develop the ability to produce letters without thinking. An automatic style releases the brain to concentrate on other ideas, i.e. spelling, grammar, syntax, style and content. We are very proud of the many children across Key Stage 2 whose excellent handwriting has been rewarded with a pen licence!