At Alumwell Infant School we aim to help all children develop a love for the English language through the spoken and written word. We believe that literacy and communication are key life skills. The acquisition of literacy skills enables pupils to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, to communicate effectively with others, and thereby participate with confidence, awareness and success in the communities in which they live.
Alumwell is very much a multi-cultural community. This is reflected in the variety of languages and experiences that our pupils bring with them. Recent trends show an increase in the number of EAL learners at school, and the variety of languages that are spoken. We are an inclusive school, and aim to meet the needs of all our children in literacy.
At Alumwell Infant School we want children to be effective communicators through both spoken and written language.
We aim for all children to be able to:
We teach reading/phonics across the year groups using the “Read, Write Inc.” programme. This is a structured programme which teaches reading through a synthetic phonic based approach. The children are able to keep all of their reading material from the scheme, allowing their parents/carers to share in their achievement.
Children are taught in small ability groups, by trained members of staff. The children are monitored and assessed on a regular basis, which informs future groupings based on identified need.
Staff following the programme are responsible for their own planning. As children complete the RWI programme they continue with shared and guided reading sessions based on objectives from the Primary Framework for literacy.
As well as the RWI reading material, the children are able to choose a ‘home reading book’ each week from a selection which has been carefully matched to their current level of phonological knowledge. Parents/carers are able to write comments on their child’s reading in a home reading diary.
All children are given a book-bag on entry to reception and are also given the opportunity each week to choose a book from the school library.
As part of their literacy lessons the children follow the writing activities set out in the RWI programme. This ensures that children are writing at a level that is appropriate to them. These activities include writing words, dictated sentences and extended writing where the children compose and write their own ideas. Staff are able to enhance the writing opportunities afforded by the RWI books and base their planning on the children’s needs.
They also make links with cross-curricular themes where appropriate. Extended writing lessons take place every week.
The marking of children’s work should follow the school marking policy. Comments should focus on the learning objective, and any correction of spelling should be appropriate to the level the child is working at.
Foundation stage The teaching of handwriting in foundation stage is linked to RWI teaching, using the letter formation prompts from the programme. It forms part of the daily RWI lesson.
Key stage 1 Handwriting is taught with teachers modelling correct letter formation and handwriting families. Our aim is for pupils to begin learning joined handwriting in Y2.
In their early writing, children are encouraged to use their developing phonic knowledge to support the spelling of words. The teaching of common exception words or “red” words (not phonetically decodable) is ongoing in RWI lessons, and children’s spelling of these words should reflect their current level. Teachers are responsible for setting spelling homework for their group, when appropriate.
We also recognise the importance of using multi-sensory spelling strategies, and an investigative approach to spelling patterns and conventions, as found in “Letters and Sounds” phase 6.
“Children’s growing understanding of why words are spelt in a particular way is valuable only if they go on to apply it in their independent writing” –Letters and Sounds
Speaking and listening
We recognise the importance of speaking and listening in developing children’s language skills.
“A recurring message from the research into spoken language is that talk is fundamental to children’s development and learning and has a central role to play in developing their knowledge and understanding” – the new primary framework.
The use of sentence stems to model and rehearse correct language structures is used across the curriculum.
Partner talk is key to encouraging all pupils to feel secure in making contributions to paired, group and whole class discussions. In RWI lessons children read and answer questions with their partner, before sharing ideas with the whole group. This practice continues into other areas of the curriculum, where children are given opportunities to talk about what they are doing/ have done to both peers and adults. The children are made aware of social rules governing speaking and listening-e.g. taking turns, not interrupting, paying attention and respecting the speaker’s contributions. Inappropriately spoken English should be correctly modelled by the teacher when necessary.