Teaching & Learning English
We teach English skills through a carefully selected range of high quality children’s literature (using the Power of Reading model https://www.clpe.org.uk/powerofreading) to stimulate children’s imaginations. A variety of Talk for Writing techniques http://www.talk4writing.co.uk/ are used to immerse children in these texts, for example through role play, drama, ‘Book Talk’, story mapping and book making.
We encourage children to:
- Write for pleasure and express creative ideas in many forms including poetry
- Write for a variety of audiences including real audiences
- Write a range of genres and for different purposes
- Plan, draft, discuss and reflect on their writing
- Use cursive handwriting which supports correct letter formation and spelling
- Use correct grammar and punctuation.
- Use phonic awareness to help spell unknown words.
- Develop a good knowledge and understanding of spelling patterns and irregularities in English spelling
Handwriting is an important life skill that influences the quality of work throughout the curriculum. At the end of Key Stage 2, all pupils should have the ability to produce fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy joined-up handwriting, and to understand the different forms of handwriting used for different purposes.
Formal teaching of handwriting is carried out regularly and systematically to ensure Key Stage targets are met. For example, by the time they reach the end of Key Stage 1 (Year 2), pupils should be able to sit correctly at a table, holding a pencil comfortably and correctly; form lower-case letters of the correct size relative to one another, as well as capital letters and the digits 0-9. By the end of Key Stage 2 (Year 6), pupils should write legibly, fluently and with increasing speed.
At Dundonald we teach handwriting using the Letterjoin programme https://www.letterjoin.co.uk/. Letterjoin is a cursive handwriting scheme which develops children’s handwriting from pre-cursive line and pattern making exercises, through simple letter shapes and joins to fully cursive writing. It is a highly interactive programme, with animated videos of letter formation, iPad compatible, and also supports the children’s understanding and development of grammar, punctuation and spelling through practical tasks and exercises.
We aim to make handwriting an automatic process that does not interfere with creative and mental thinking. As a catalyst to speedy handwriting we encourage parents and carers to use the Letter-join resources at home.
Phonics and Spelling
In Year 1, children have a systematic, discrete phonics lesson each day, following the Letters and Sounds for Phonics programme. Children are given daily opportunities to practice and apply their skills in their reading and writing across the curriculum.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar are taught throughout the school and weekly spellings are sent home each week from Year 2 (Year 1 from spring term).
At Dundonald we enrich the reading curriculum through an annual book week, library visits, Wimbledon BookFest and visiting authors. Reading widely for pleasure and information is promoted throughout the whole curriculum.
We encourage children to:
- Develop a love and enjoyment of reading
- Read for purpose and information
- Use reading as an integral part of learning throughout the curriculum
- Develop and use different strategies to decode unknown words
- Have a secure understanding and knowledge of phonics
- Read easily and fluently with increased confidence and understanding
- Acquire a rich vocabulary
- Experience a full range of genres
- Develop individual’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development through the reading and sharing of quality literature
Throughout Upper and Lower school, children develop a range of reading skills through shared and guided reading. Children read to a teacher at least once a week, either in a Guided Reading session or individually.
We use a variety of reading schemes throughout the school. These include Oxford Reading Tree, Rigby Star, Rising Stars Rocket Phonics, Collins Big Cat and PM Starters.
Carefully planned guided reading sessions develop children’s ability to discuss and understand the texts they read. Children have a personal reading record which we encourage parents to write comments in. Comprehension skills are taught explicitly during reading and English sessions and consolidated through carefully planned learning opportunities across the curriculum.
Dundonald's '100 Books to Read'
The following book lists offer a selection of texts - classic and modern, fiction and non-fiction - that should appeal to children at different ages. They are not a 'best 100 list' and nor are they exhaustive (there are plenty of other great books available!) but there should be something for everyone.
In Year 6 we have introduced the children to quite a few of these texts in guided reading sessions and the children have voted for a book they would like to read as a class through a knockout Book World Cup. We are in the process of purchasing every book on the '100 Books to read in Year 5 and 6' list so that they can be displayed on a special bookcase and children get the chance to borrow and read as many as they like. We plan to extend this to other year groups in the school. Enjoy!
Mr McGavin (Assistant Headteacher Upper School)