Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening skills are very considered very important, especially since we have a high EAL (English as another Language) proportion of children. Children are encouraged to listen, take their turn in discussions and are given opportunities to develop confidence and the ability to express themselves clearly in a variety of situations e.g. class assemblies, role play, talking to the class about their hobbies and interests, reporting and storytelling.
Learning to read is given priority at St. Josephs as this skill is fundamental to all other learning. We have developed our own three-part lesson (English Hour) approach based on the teaching of synthetic phonics (Letters & Sounds) , comprehension and writing (sentence structure/spelling/ handwriting). The English Hour is taught daily in EYFS and Year 1. This approach has been used for a number of years and proved successful in developing competent reading for pleasure as well as laying the foundation for writing skills.
During the phonic session the children are taught aural discrimination, phonemic awareness, rhyme awareness, segmentation and blending as well as to read and write all 44 graphemes in the English language.
Teachers in Year 2 onwards build on the strong reading skills developed through the ‘English Hour’ approach and follow the Oxford Reading Tree scheme. We compliment this scheme with other scheme books including a large variety of ‘real’ books. All children follow a structured reading scheme, which is colour-coded (banded) for different levels of difficulty. St. Joseph’s regularly sends home reading books, and parents are kept fully informed of progress in a reading record book which goes home and provides a valuable link between home and school.
To foster a reading culture throughout the school,
- Teachers select a variety of genres of books to read to the class for pleasure and enjoyment. There is a designated ‘Class Book’ which is read every day. This time from Year EYFS to s treated as an exciting ‘time out’ of the busy school day when everyone can come together and be entertained by the ‘written word’. The Class Books are read expressively and with actions where appropriate.
- Teachers select quality texts which compliment termly learning in other subjects
- Children visit the school library regularly to choose their own books to read in addition to the school reading scheme books. Children in Key Stage 2 are also given the opportunity to become librarians.
- Enrichment events are promoted i.e. World Book Day, Book Week and performers are invited to enact the classics.
How parents can help with their child’s reading at home?
We strongly encourage all parents to take the time to read with their child every day. We ask parents to write a comment and sign their child’s reading record daily as a way of sharing their child’s reading journey at home. If you have any concerns about your child’s reading or how you can help them, please put a note in their Reading Record book, or speak to the class teacher.
In the early years, picture books words and reading books are sent home so children may share reading with their parents. We ask that parents talk about the pictures, read story and then listen to their child read the story. This book is kept for at least two days as re-reading is VITAL to help develop reading and comprehension skills. You are welcome to use the following guided FICTION or NON-FICTION reading questions at home.
Another educational activity which is helpful in developing reading is to change the story line slightly. So instead of the story taking place in a castle, it could take place in a cave or forest. You could even slightly change the characters. This activity will also improve creative writing skills as they are starting to make up their own stories based on a known storyline.
At St. Joseph’s there are daily opportunities for reading and there is ready access to a variety of books in our school library. Progress is carefully assessed and recorded through ‘Benchmarking’ as well as formative assessment.
Phonics – Letters & Sounds
We use the DfE’s Letters and Sounds Phonics Programme in school which is extended using a variety of resources. The sessions are integrated into our ‘English Hour’ and are rigorously structured and taught in an engaging way, taking the children through a sequence of phonic development.
The key features of this systematic (or synthetic) approach to teaching phonics are:
- grapheme/phoneme (letter/sound) correspondences (the alphabetic principle) in a clearly defined incremental sequence.
- to apply the highly important skill of blending (synthesising) phonemes in order, all through a word, to read it.
- to apply the skills of segmenting words into their constituent phonemes to spell, that blending and segmenting are reversible processes.
Reading is consolidated by books and activities used in the rest of the curriculum. Boxes of banded reading resources are available in every class and children are encouraged to choose books from both class and school library.
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation
Skills in grammar, punctuation and sentence construction are taught separately and are developed in creative writing sessions. Spelling is taught in a systematic way and spelling tests are an integral part of the development of correct spelling. The school teaches the spellings laid out in the New National Curriculum 2014.
Handwriting skills are practised regularly and correct orientation is taught from Reception onwards. In Reception the children print words and then start to join them in Year 1. It is essential to orientate each letter correctly. We also ask parents to encourage their child to write their name in lower case letters with only the first letter in capitals.
To help your child develop their handwriting you can download the following handwriting pages.