Speaking and Listening
Pupils take part in role play situations and develop imaginative play. They develop early literacy skills such as re-telling events or stories and handling and talking about books. They learn active listening skills and are encouraged to ask and answer questions, during discussions as a class; in smaller groups and with ‘talk partners’. Pupils are encouraged to speak and listen to a range of audiences, to help them to understand the need to adapt speech to different situations. They are given opportunities to evaluate and reflect on their own speech and encouraged to use the vocabulary and grammar of standard English whenever appropriate.
All pupils in FS and Y1 follow the Read Write Inc. (RWI) phonic programme. There are daily whole class phonic sessions during which pupils learn to identify the sounds made by different letters and combinations of letters. They learn how to segment (separate) and blend (put back together) the sounds they can hear in a word. They also learn how to count the sounds in a word to help them decode new and unfamiliar words. At the end of Y1 all pupils are screened using the national Y1 Phonics screening test; if pupils do not attain the nationally expected level they repeat the screening test at the end of Y2. Some pupils acquire their phonic knowledge easily but for others it takes a little longer. For pupils who join Y3 with weaker phonic knowledge we continue to teach specific sounds and we also run small group interventions. Through Y2 pupils will complete the RWI programme and move to guided reading groups with emphasis on vocabulary and reading comprehension. (See Phonics Policy)
Common Exception Words
In addition to developing their phonic knowledge pupils must also learn to read and write words that are frequently found but that cannot easily be sounded out such as the, there, said. These are sometimes called 'tricky' words.
Alongside the acquisition of phonic knowledge and common exception words pupils must start to learn the rules of spelling. This can be challenging as there are many rules to learn and many words that break these rules! At The Vine we have developed A Hand for Spelling to provide pupils with a range of strategies they can use when spelling an unfamiliar word, for example, listening for patterns. The most important point about spelling is that pupils have the skills to 'have a go' and feel able to choose their 'WOW' words to make their writing exciting. Not knowing how to spell a word should never stop anyone from expressing themselves.
At The Vine School we believe that becoming a confident, fluent reader is the key to accessing learning across the curriculum. We therefore encourage all children to read a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books and develop a reading habit; reading regularly with an adult throughout their primary school life. Every pupil has a Reading Record Book to record their reading. Pupils are given opportunities to read in school; reading for pleasure, independently, with a friend or with a Learning Mentor or Teaching Assistant. They also listen to class stories and poems, often before lunch and at the end of the day. In this way pupils develop a wider knowledge of authors and genres.
At The Vine we have developed a 'Rainbow of Reading' to provide a wide selection of fiction and non-fiction books for pupils to borrow. These books are broadly categorised by level of difficulty and interest and pupils are allocated a colour band to choose from. By inviting pupils to choose their own books they develop their preferences as a reader, learning to follow an author, to use illustrations to work out the genre and, of course, to read the blurb to find out more about their book choice. We also have a number of books linked to specific reading schemes, these are used for children who prefer a more structured approach, particularly for those who are finding it more difficult to develop their phonic skills.
In addition, English lessons include guided group reading and shared reading with the whole class. A lot of emphasis is placed on pupils discussing their reading and understanding how the author has constructed the plot, created the characters and used techniques to engage their readers. Pupils are helped to understand and respond to what they read using inference and deduction where appropriate. In this way, reading promotes high quality writing. If you want to be a good writer, you have to be an enthusiastic reader!
We believe that learning a cursive handwriting style enables children to become confident, fluent writers. Cursive handwriting enables writing to flow and, once mastered, looks beautiful; this helps pupils to feel really proud of themselves and of their learning. (See Handwriting Policy)
Pupils learn to write a variety of different genres including stories, poems, letters, reports, recounts, plays and diaries. Writing features across all curriculum areas such as writing a newspaper report as part of a historical study, a report of a science experiment or a poem in response to listening to a piece of music. Pupils are also shown how to evaluate and improve their writing. By the end of KS2 pupils need to be able to write independently for a sustained length of time, producing writing that is grammatically correct, well punctuated and interesting to read.