"The English language is nobody's special property. It is the property of the imagination" - Derek Walcott
At St. Matthew’s Primary School we believe that Literacy is a fundamental life skill, contributing to all aspects of academic, social and emotional development. Literacy develops children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes and with varying effects and intentions. Children are enabled to express themselves creatively and imaginatively as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as of non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking and writing across a range of different situations. Links are drawn between Literacy and other areas of the curriculum, ensuring pupils feel there is purposeful meaning and intention for their efforts.
Speaking & Listening
Drama, speaking and listening permeate our curriculum and we feel strongly that successful literacy learners are competent speakers, with a keen ability to listen. Opportunities to communicate verbally, through conversation, presentation and drama form a key feature of the literacy curriculum. We encourage all children to find their voice, develop a broad and appropriate vocabulary and have an ability to listen and respond. Drama is used as a tool to explore and communicate ideas in a verbal and physical manner, promoting empathy, imagination and play.
At St. Matthew’s, it is our aim:
• That all children will become readers.
• To reinforce that books have meaning and reading for meaning is our top priority.
• That children become independent readers who choose to read for many different purposes throughout their lives.
How is reading taught?
Children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 are taught phonics in Read Write Inc. (Ruth Miskin Literacy) lessons. Children are taught letter sounds (speed sounds) and how to blend letter sounds to read words. They practise their blending skills by reading RML phonic books. An important part of lessons is discussing the books and particularly learning new vocabulary. Children also practise applying their phonic skills to spelling and writing activities. Children are grouped by reading ability for these lessons.
Literacy and language lessons
Year 2 – 6 children access literacy and language lessons, whereby, the first half of each unit is dedicated purely to the skill of reading.
This programme has been created in conjunction with world-renowned children’s authors who have been asked especially to create engaging stories and non-fiction texts that our children will love! And they do!
Children in Nursery take home a book for parents to read to them. In Reception, Key Stage 1 and 2 children choose a fiction or non-fiction book at their reading level to read at home. Parents are asked to complete a reading record when they have read with their children at home.
Children who need support with reading may have additional one-to-one reading lessons with a specially trained teaching assistant. We also have many additional adults that hear readers from outside of school.
Handwriting and Presentation
Pupils are taught and encouraged to form lower and upper case letters correctly from their first days in school and as they develop, to write in a joined style.
They are taught to use a comfortable and correct pencil/pen grip and to use a handwriting pen for some tasks in the juniors.
Pupils are also given opportunities to present their work on word processors. Good presentation of written pieces is expected across the curriculum.
Spelling skills are introduced through direct teaching, investigations, and studies of spelling patterns and conventions and homework.
Spelling is taught differently at both key stages:
• Key Stage 1 - Read Write Inc. from Reception to Year 2
• Key Stage 2- Older pupils learn about spelling patterns through Get Spelling! (Read Write Inc’s spelling programme for juniors)
Writing is a focus in school and because of this we have dedicated staff development time to raising standards in both writing and grammar. From Year 2 upwards, our pupils access the Literacy & Language programme (Read Write Inc’s junior writing programme).
At St. Matthew’s, writing is taught by:
• Teachers model writing of all genres through shared writing activities.
• Writing skills are further developed in group guided writing and modelled writing sessions.
• Pupils practice writing through independent writing tasks.
• Pupils are given opportunities to plan, draft, revise and edit their own writing
• Pupils use their writing skills to communicate across the curriculum
Reception upwards follows Read Write Inc. phonics, where children are in ability groups from reception to Year 2. Read Write Inc. phonics (also known as Ruth Miskin Literacy) is a phonic programme that gets children reading and writing fast. The programme includes teaching children to:
• Understand phoneme-grapheme correspondence for reading and spelling. This is taught quickly and effectively using mnemonic associations.
• Read single and multi-syllabic words containing specific phoneme/grapheme correspondences.
• Children use phoneme-blending (or ‘synthesising’) for word-reading, progressing from the simplest level to more complex levels.
• Read phonetically irregular words. Children are taught to read the small number of words that that do not follow a regular phonic pattern.
• Read texts containing carefully controlled phonic and irregular vocabulary. These are very lively texts that are written to include a range of fiction and non-fiction genres. They have been specially written to help children practise reading words containing a controlled and cumulative phonic vocabulary. Once children can ‘decode’ the text, they are then helped to re-tell, summarise, read with appropriate intonation and discuss key questions about the text.
• Spell words containing a gradual build-up of phoneme-grapheme correspondences. Children learn to spell a controlled and cumulative phonic vocabulary using a simple system that has proved highly successful. They are also taught to spell the small number of irregular words.
• Develop a wide range of vocabulary for writing. Although the texts are phonically regular, a wide range of vocabulary is introduced to broaden children’s spoken and written vocabulary.
• Write in a range of genres. Children are helped to write independently step-by-step. Both teachers and children are supported with ideas, structures and writing frames. Marking rubrics are used for assessing the quality of writing so that children have a clear idea, as they write, about their audience, purpose and the form their writing will take. The writing, generally, ties in closely with the texts they read, but further support is given to teachers to develop writing in the afternoons.
• Develop a clear handwriting style. It is vital that children develop a clear and fluent handwriting style as soon as they learn to write. Once they have mastered clear individual letter formation they are taught to join letters into a fluid script.
Grammar is another focus for St. Matthew’s and because of this, we are dedicating development time for all staff to ensure our pupils receive the very best grammar teaching.
We teach grammar through:
• Contextualised lessons in the Language & Literacy programme.
• Additional grammar lessons whereby our children quickly learn new terminology and have the chance to apply it.