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.
In line with the Department for Education guidance, children in EYFS and KS1 are taught how to print their letters using the Little Wandle formation phrases, which make a link between the mnemonic and the letter.
Children in KS2 who have developed their handwriting style are taught cursive joined 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
At Dundonald, we follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised as our systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme to teach early reading and spelling. We teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent different sounds, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing.
Children in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 have a systematic, discrete phonics lesson each day. Children are also given daily opportunities to practice and apply these skills in their reading and writing across the curriculum.
Our phonics programme teaches through the following six stages:
- Foundations for Phonics (Taught in Nursery)
- Phase 2 (Begin teaching in Reception Autumn 1)
- Phase 3 (Begin teaching in Reception Spring 1)
- Phase 4 (Begin teaching in Reception Summer 1)
- Phase 5 (Taught throughout Year 1)
Programme Overview for Reception and Year 1
Further guidance for parents/carers can be found on the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds website.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar are taught throughout the school and weekly spellings are sent home each week from Year 2.
At Dundonald we enrich the reading curriculum through an annual book week, library visits, Wimbledon BookFest and visiting authors (including remote visits). 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
Reading practice sessions
Children across Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 apply their phonics knowledge by using fully matched decodable Collins Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised books. Once the children have a secure understanding and are ready to progress from these fully decodable books, they will begin reading Collins Big Cat books.
- are taught by fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
- are 15/20 minutes long and happen three times a week
Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
- prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text
The children then take the same book home the following week to ensure success is shared with their families.
In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
The decodable reading practice books are taken home to ensure success is shared with the family. Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents/carers to share and read to their children.
Whole Class Guided Reading
From Year 3 onwards, children take part in Whole Class Guided Reading (WCGR). This is based on the VIPERS acronym, standing for Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Summarise or Sequence - representing the key reading skills contained in the National Curriculum. The children learn the key skills needed to answer different types of questions through regular practice and discussion. Children who are not working at Age-Related Expectation have additional 1:1 or small group reading sessions with class teachers and Teaching and Learning Assistants and, if necessary, continue their phonics learning.
The books and extracts we read in WCGR lessons are carefully chosen quality texts, often on a theme or connected to a topic that we are studying in class. The extract is read by the class teacher and discussed by the children who then answer a range of VIPERS questions about the text. The advantage of this approach are:
- Children are able to access a range of quality texts at a higher level (about 12-18 months above their reading age) without the cognitive load of reading it for themselves.
- Specific VIPERS reading skills and techniques for answering them are taught
- Teachers can model reading fluently with intonation, pace and expression
- Children learn from each other – through class discussion, paired and group work
- Whole class discussion is particularly beneficial for children with Special Educational Needs (SEND) or English as an Additional Language (EAL)
- The WCGR system is much more time efficient and reduces teacher workload
- We have seen greater pupil engagement through the use of film, animation, song lyrics and poems
- Our topic-based themes add to pupils’ subject knowledge
Dundonald's '100 Books to Read'
The ‘100 books to read before you leave year 2, 4 & 6’ are a kind of self-service mini library for KS1, lower and upper KS2. We have recently refreshed the list, buying dozens of new titles to provide a more up-to-date and diverse choice reflecting our multicultural and inclusive school.
The lists offer a selection of texts - classic and modern, fiction and non-fiction - designed to 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 is something there for everyone.