At Wickford Junior School, our aim is for the children in our school to become confident and skilled communicators to enable them to participate fully in society. Consequently, we seek to provide to rich experiences that prepare them to participate fully in society.
Literacy incorporates the essential skills of reading, writing (including spelling and a secure understanding of grammar and punctuation), speaking and listening. The skills are needed in all subjects. Literacy skills should be seen as a “toolkit” that can be used in all lessons.
At Wickford Junior School, we base all teaching and learning on the National Curriculum (2014). The children have daily Literacy lessons and additional daily reading sessions and apply Literacy skills throughout the curriculum.
The key areas of teaching and learning for Literacy are:
- Writing composition
- Writing transcription – spelling
- Writing transcription- handwriting
- Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
- Spoken language
The ability to read is an essential foundation of all aspects of learning. Our school has a strong reading culture, where reading is valued, rewarded and celebrated.. Children’s reading skills should enable them to access all areas of the curriculum, both in junior school and as they move on to their secondary education. Additionally, we aim to foster a lifelong love of reading.
The National Curriculum 2014 identifies word reading and comprehension as the two aspects of reading, both of which need to be taught and mastered in order for children to be considered successful readers.
Word reading involves decoding of new words and the ability to recognise familiar words, both of which rely on a secure understanding of phonics, based on the Letters and Sounds document (2007)
At Wickford Junior School, we recognise the essential role of phonics in reading and continue to build on children’s foundation from Key Stage 1. Children must be able to confidently blend sounds in order to read. Phonic skills should be embedded by the beginning of Year 3, but we recognise the different starting points of our pupils and the need for some pupils to complete the six phases of letters and Sounds. Therefore pupils continue to be taught phonics in Year 3 (and beyond if necessary) should continue.
At Wickford Junior School, we also value the role of other strategies, for example the recognition of “tricky words” which do not follow phonic rules, using pictures (for early readers) and contextual clues to support decoding. When children are able to combine these skills and phonics independently, we consider them to be fluent readers.
Comprehension involves the understanding of words and grammar and knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher and reading and responding to a range of texts..
At Wickford Junior School, all children have a daily reading lesson in addition to Literacy lessons. These lessons take the format of shared reading (teaching of specific reading skill or strategy to whole class), individual reading tasks to practise skills with regular guided sessions (led by an adult with specific focus). Sessions conclude with the sharing of a class reading book to promote the love of reading – this may also be read at other times of the day. Children have a dedicated reading activity book in which to record their learning. In addition to this, children are given the opportunity to read for sustained periods to develop their ability to focus on longer texts. Reading skills are also be taught and consolidated through other curriculum subjects.
We recognise that in the future, pupils will be accessing more and more texts using information technology tools and use a range, including our computer-based reading resource Bug Club(which pupils can use at home), through which children can access a wide variety of texts online.
At Wickford Junior School, we take every opportunity we can to encourage and celebrate reading. This includes encouraging participation in the Keep On Reading project (set up to encourage parents of Year 3 and 4 children to continue reading aloud to their children). The yearly reading award (carried out over the course of a month) rewards individuals and classes for regular reading. We arrange book events and for authors to visit our school. Reading clubs also take place, including reading ambassadors which encourages boys in Years 3 and 4 to read by working with a mentor. All children regularly visit the local public library and parents are asked to provide them with library cards.
We appreciate the vital role parents and guardians play in developing children’s reading. Information on strategies for supporting reading at home are provided. Reading is part of each child’s homework and parents are expected to assist their child. Each child has a reading journal in which reading at home should be recorded and teachers monitor this regularly. Parents are encouraged to discuss any concerns about their child’s reading with the class teacher.
Initially, most children will work through banded books which will be at the appropriate level for their reading ability, organised with coloured stickers. When children have progressed through banded books and are fluent readers, they are taught strategies for choosing books at the right level ie they are able to access them independently but also be challenged by them. The ‘Five Finger Rule’ is a suitable strategy (a separate document is sent to Year 3 parents).
We provide a range of books to cater for all areas of the curriculum and for the wide range of reading levels of the children. These include:
In class reading book collections, there is a selection of genres including non-fiction – pupils are encouraged to read a range of texts. The reading material is the pupils’ free choice but teachers will need make sure that the book is suitable to the child’s ability. The children may take these books home. The online resource Bug Club also provides a range of texts children can access at both home and school at an appropriate level.
We aim to enable our pupils to:
- write with confidence, fluency and understanding
- know and understand the features of a range of genres including narrative, non-narrative and poetry and use these features successfully in their own writing
- change the way they write to suit different purposes and audiences.
- develop their creativity and vocabulary through written tasks
- write successfully for all subjects, knowing that writing skills should be applied in all curriculum areas
- use writing in a range of contexts, including real-life situations wherever possible
- enjoy writing
Writing in the National Curriculum is divided into writing composition and writing transcription (spelling and handwriting). Children are also taught vocabulary, grammar and punctuation skills.
At Wickford Junior School, we recognise the link between articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing. The Talk For Writing strategy is therefore a highly valued strategy that is used throughout our school. (See Spoken Language). Planning, revising and evaluating are also important parts of composition.
Children are taught skills in the following areas:
- Sentence structure
- Punctuation and syntax
- Organisation of text, including links within and between paragraphs
- Ideas, details and author viewpoint
- Interest for the reader and purpose
- Evaluating, editing and responding to feedback
The experience of writing happens in a range of contexts. Great consideration is given when planning units of work to ensure children are as engaged as possible, particularly boys. We consider making writing relevant to children as the best way to achieve this. Wherever possible, real-life contexts are used and an audience provided eg writing a story to share with pupils in another year group. Opportunities to publish finished writing are given to value the children’s efforts, for example to celebrate writing by using displays. This should be done in a variety of ways, including the use of ICT – these are likely to be the skills children will need in their working lives. Cine-Literacy (the use of film or television as a basis for writing) is used throughout the school to inspire and support the teaching of writing.
The close link between reading and understanding texts and then being able to write in the same style means we use the Reading Into Writing Journey to ensure children have the skills they need to write successfully. A range of texts within a genre are read first, then their features are analysed before children write in the style. New writing skills such as different sentence structures and using new vocabulary are taught and practised before writing a whole text. Modelling using Writer Talk and shared writing is used to help children learn more about the process of writing itself.
Pupils have frequent opportunities to discuss their work with peers throughout the writing process. Talk For Writing also involves the opportunity for oral rehearsal (enabling children to practise and improve what they are going to write before committing it to paper) which children are encouraged to do.
Each classroom has a vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation (VCOP) board. This is interactive and is regularly updated to match the genre being taught. These four areas are those identified as the most likely to stop children from progressing in writing. Through regular use, children should be taught how to use the VCOP display to “up-level” their writing.
In order to communicate ideas accurately in writing and focus on composition, good transcription skills are important. These skills are divided in Curriculum 2014 into spelling and handwriting.
An important aspect of communicating ideas in writing with clarity is competent spelling. Early acquisition of spelling skills is therefore key and at Wickford Junior School we provide an environment in which children are enabled to become confident and competent spellers. This is not only through specific spelling tasks and tests, but also in writing compositions and throughout the curriculum.
However, we also recognise that spelling is only one aspect of writing ; great writers can find spelling a challenge. Children should not be “afraid” to spell words incorrectly. It is far better to use adventurous vocabulary and spell it incorrectly than stick to simple words. Spelling is a work in progress – children cannot be expected to spell all the words they wish to use correctly – and life skills for learning and checking spellings are therefore taught. These are modelled by teachers, for example by checking spellings in the dictionary during shared writing sessions.
Therefore we aim for pupils to :
- develop a positive and confident attitude to spelling
- have a secure understanding of phonics
- have a large bank of words (based on National Curriculum appendices) they can spell correctly
- develop a range of strategies that they can apply in order to be successful spellers including recognising and using common patterns/letter strings, words with prefixes and suffixes, visually identify misspelt words, recognition of root words
- efficiently proof read and edit their own work for spelling accuracy
- be able to use dictionaries quickly and efficiently
- be able to use ICT-based tools to support spelling eg spellcheck facility
- give children strategies to cope with real situations that require accurate spelling
Spelling at Wickford Junior School is based on the National Curriculum (2014) statutory appendices outlining spelling patterns and rules and word lists to teach for LKS2 and UKS2 . It also provides additional statutory word lists for LKS2 and UKS2 and additional teaching guidance. Other resources should still be used when appropriate eg Spelling Bank activities/Support For Spelling activities/Read Write Inc. resources/Spellit programme.
Spelling is taught explicitly, consisting of approximately five 15-20 minute spelling sessions per fortnight. These range from whole class and group activities to paired and individual work, based on the needs of the pupils. The teaching of spelling also happens during Literacy lessons and as appropriate in other curriculum areas.
Spellings are set weekly as part of homework. Teachers set these carefully, differentiating for groups and more and less able pupils as appropriate. The basis for these spellings are the appendices from the National Curriculum. However, for younger pupils or those who find it challenging, other words may be more appropriate eg those related to phonic knowledge/Letters and Sounds (2007) or high frequency words they have not yet learned. Learning spellings and using them in sentences (or a text for older and more able pupils) is part of homework for all pupils and parents are actively encouraged to support their child with this. Regular practice of spelling is a part of morning work too.
Teachers encourage the regular use of the Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check strategy for learning spellings. However, when teaching spelling, we understand children learn in different ways and so we use a wide range of multi-sensory strategies to effectively enable different types of learners to have their needs met. A range of teaching strategies therefore help all children to progress with spelling. These include:
- spelling bees
- through handwriting to develop muscle memory through fluent joined handwriting that facilitates a multi-sensory approach
- use of mnemonics
- practising writing dictated sentences (specifically mentioned for LKS2 in National Curriculum 2014)
- word games/ playing with words (Pie Corbett’s Jumpstart)
- word searches
Children are always be given the opportunity to proof read and edit their work (including for spelling) before completion. Teachers insist on correct spellings for all published work or work on the computer. However, in other written tasks, teachers use their discretion in correcting/identifying misspelt words, basing their judgement on whether they are common words and the child’s ability. Self-confidence may be affected if all incorrect words are identified.
We recognise the essential role of phonics in spelling and continue to build on children’s foundation from Key Stage 1. Children should be able to confidently segment sounds in order to spell. Phonic skills should be embedded by the beginning of Year 3, but we recognise the different starting points of our pupils and the need for some pupils to complete the six phases on entry. Therefore systematic teaching of phonics in Year 3 (and beyond if deemed necessary) should continue, based on assessment. Children not working at the expected standard for phonics are provided with additional support. ( See reading section).
Year 3/4 Spelling List
Year 5/6 Spelling List
Handwriting remains the most immediate and personal means of communication. A clear, legible style of writing helps communicate ideas without misunderstanding – judgements are often made based on the appearance of a text before it is even read. Therefore handwriting is an important part of the writing process, including publishing work that the children feel proud of. At Wickford Junior School, we aim to enable pupils:
- to write according to our school handwriting exemplar
- to write legibly, fluently and at an appropriate speed
- to apply handwriting skills consistently and in all curriculum areas
- to understand that handwriting requirements vary according to the task.
As they are closely linked, handwriting is taught alongside spelling. Although pupils should develop individual handwriting styles, children best develop their handwriting if it is taught within a structured approach. Handwriting is therefore explicitly taught by the teacher modelling specific letters, joins and words on the board so children have a secure understanding of how letters and words are formed. Teachers consider the following when supporting children with handwriting:
- Pen/pencil grip. A three-fingered grip is encouraged. Some pupils may benefit from using a rubber grip.
- Correct posture
- Left or right-handed?
- Correct letter formation for both upper and lower case letters, including ascenders and descenders
- Joining letters correctly and consistently
Although our expectation is that children should come from Year 3 joining letters or with the strokes needed to do so, we find many do not. As a result of this, our starting points should differ based on pupils’ abilities. Some children need more support – additional individual or small group sessions with a specific focus, based on a scheme to support them or practising fine motor skills in a different context.
Children use pencils until the teacher is confident that the child is able to use a pen correctly. This transfer will normally be during Year 3, but may be later, dependent on the progress of the individual. Children should use only handwriting pens which are on sale at cost price from the school office.
We also recognise that in the future, our pupils will use ICT-based technology an increasing amount and so we include regular opportunities to develop typing and other ICT presentation skills.
Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
At Wickford Junior School, we aim for our pupils to be able to in both spoken and written tasks
- understand and use a wide range of vocabulary appropriately
- use appropriate vocabulary based on audience, purpose and context
- use their understanding of spelling, grammar and punctuation correctly in order to communicate their ideas clearly
- use standard English and ensure writing is grammatically correct
- use the language of grammar correctly
- be prepared for using this skills in real-life situations
Teaching of VGP is based on the National Curriculum non-statutory glossary and additional guidelines. VGP is not be taught as a separate skill, but on an ongoing basis throughout the teaching of Literacy. There may, however, be occasions when VGP lessons are taught.
Children are encouraged to use Standard English within the classroom.
Assessment of writing composition, transcription and VGS
Writing is assessed by teachers across a range of independent writing tasks, assessing a variety of skills. Progress and attainment writing is shared with parents at consultation evenings and in end of year reports. There is no externally marked test for writing composition at the end of Year 6. However, there is an externally marked test of grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS).
At Wickford Junior School, we acknowledge that speaking skills underpin communication and learning and place a very high value on them. In essence, the best speakers make the best readers and writers. We aim for children to:
- speak confidently and appropriately in a range of situations and for different audiences
- use Talk For Writing skills across the curriculum (see below)
- listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
- ask relevant questions
- build their vocabulary
- articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
- give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives
- speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
- participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
The National Curriculum 2014 provides statutory requirements for spoken language which apply to all year groups from 1 to 6 and are therefore revisited every year. These form the basis of teaching and learning.
We have successfully been using the Talk For Writing strategy at Wickford Junior School for a number of years now and know it has a profound impact on the quality of spoken language, reading and writing. Many of its aspects are embodied within Curriculum 2014. Therefore, Talk For Writing strategies remain a cornerstone of our teaching of Literacy:
- Book Talk
- Writer Talk
- Oral rehearsal – to develop ideas, practise and improve before writing
- Word games
- Role play
- Using a text as a basis for writing using imitation, innovation and invention
Spoken language is taught throughout Literacy and other lessons eg by reading compositions aloud to partners, groups and the whole class or sharing opinions about a class text. Teachers plan carefully to provide a range of speaking opportunities.
ICT is used to support the development of spoken language skills wherever possible, for example pupils should record their own performances on ipads and then watch them back in order to evaluate them.
Supporting pupils with additional needs
Pupils who are finding reading, aspects of writing, spelling or spoken language challenging also have additional sessions in one to one or small group sessions in order to develop their skills, for example additional Read, Write Inc. activities or focussed precision teaching. These activities are tailored to the pupils’ specific needs and, if appropriate, in consultation with the SENCo.
Similarly, more able and gifted and talented pupils are provided with opportunities to further develop their Literacy skills, for example through extension groups, lunchtime and after-school clubs.
Miss Styles, Literacy Subject Leader