At Starks Field Primary School we believe that literacy and communication are key life-skills. Through our English curriculum children develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language. We aim to provide a rich and stimulating environment where speaking and listening and reading and writing are an integral part of everything we do in order to foster a love of reading, writing and drama.
Every day children across the school take part in guided reading sessions to help develop their reading skills. Children in EYFS and Key Stage 1 are taught to read using the Read Write Inc phonics programme; this is a highly-regarded synthetic phonics scheme which is rigorously implemented daily by teachers and support staff who are trained in its delivery.
In Key Stage 2 teachers and support staff use a wide variety of texts for guided reading and comprehension in class. Suggested texts linked to current Cornerstones Curriculum projects are the launch point for guided reading activities aimed at developing children’s reading fluency and comprehension. To make the skills of reading explicit, teachers employ strategies outlined in the MIDAS training materials prior to children using a particular skill to answer comprehension questions. Staff consistently model and make explicit reading skills through thinking aloud their understanding across the curriculum.
Reading for pleasure is a guiding principle at Starks Field. We know that reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success. We aim to build a strong community of readers, which in turn will develop a culture of reading for pleasure across our school, with every teacher taking responsibility for promoting a love of reading. We have worked hard to develop our reading environment, ensuring that our book corners are comfortable and inviting, installing reading huts in our outside areas and holding regular story cafés and library events.
At Starks Field we understand that it is important for pupils to have control over their own reading activities by selecting books aligned to their developing reading interests, as this promotes reading motivation, engagement, effort and commitment.
Parents and carers are strongly encouraged to be actively involved in their children’s reading at all ages by listening to their children read, asking children questions about their reading, reading to their children and promoting a home environment where books and reading are valued by modelling reading for pleasure.
In Key Stage 1 the children in RWI phonics groups take home a RWI Storybook that is matched to their phonic knowledge. They take home one of the following at least every two days:
- The last RWI Storybook that they have read
- An earlier RWI Storybook
- A RWI ‘Book Bag Book’ that matches the last Storybook that they have read, as well as a picture book that they know well.
In Key Stage 2 children are encouraged to make free choices of books based on their own interests from the class book corner and from the school library. We are also currently rolling out the Enfield Reading Road Map reading scheme. This helps to ensure that children make more informed choices about the books they read by allowing them to follow genres they are interested in and to choose an appropriate difficulty level based on a traffic light system. Children receive certificates of achievement after reading certain numbers of titles. This competitive element has been proven to encourage more reluctant readers to get involved.
We are very fortunate at Starks Field to have a very well-stocked library. All children get to visit the library every other week to change their books and the library is open for all children each lunchtime.
Reading huts in the EYFS, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 playgrounds allow children a further opportunity to spend their free time reading for pleasure with their friends, again with a view to engendering a love of reading through a child’s active choice.
Listening to good reading aloud is vital to children’s development as readers and fosters a love of reading. With this in mind, every child in school hears at least 15 minutes of quality reading from their teacher every day.
Our English lessons are based around the study of a particular genre. Over successive weeks children are introduced to and immersed in a new genre; they look for key features in a variety of examples to understand the genre and then work towards producing their own piece of writing in that style. The rules of grammar and punctuation are taught as part of a unit of work. Children will also practise their speaking and listening skills through drama activities, which are included in the units of work.
Spellings and handwriting are taught as part of our English lessons. We use a cursive script for writing which children are introduced to from our Reception class and then throughout the school.
We are very fortunate to have a very well-stocked library. All children get to visit the library regularly and the library is open at lunchtimes for children to use.