At Giffard Park Primary School phonics is taught daily across each year group. These lessons are taught using the ‘Read Write Inc Programme’ which is split into individual phases. Children in Year 1 and 2 are taught phonics together in small groups lead by either a Teacher or TA. Children are grouped according to the phase level that is appropriate for them and working with children in a different year group allows them to challenge and learn from each other. Children take home reading books which are closely matched to the phonics sounds that they have been learning within the sessions to ensure that they are able to feel successful in their reading at home.
Following on from the RWI for phonics programme, children move onto the comprehension programme which develops their fluency and comprehension skills. Each module has specially written texts (one fiction and one non-fiction) that develop children’s ability to summarise, infer and retrieve information quickly, as well improving their writing through cumulative vocabulary, grammar and spelling activities.
At Giffard Park School we strive to develop children’s love of books and reading for pleasure and enjoyment. There is a growing body of evidence which illustrates the importance of reading for pleasure for both educational purposes as well as personal development. Through becoming critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as of non-fiction and media texts, children will gain an understanding of how language works. Reading is part of school life at Giffard Park and involves all staff members. Children enjoy a range of themed book days throughout the school year, with World Book Day being a particular highlight. They take part in reading competitions, enjoy author visits and spend time reading with children in different year groups across the school. All classrooms have reading corners with a selection of fiction and non-fiction texts available for the children to explore and enjoy. All classes visit the school library once a week where they can select a book to take home and share with their family members. Daily story time with class teachers is incorporated into each class timetable and children enjoy listening to their teachers read aloud to them. Reading books are colour banded and consist of a collection of schemes and real books. Children are encouraged to read these books at home and will be entered into a reading raffle each Friday at school if they have read four times within that week. One child from each class will win a book to take home in our ‘Celebration Assembly’ to motivate and encourage reading across the school.
Writing is an essential tool in the learning process. Children write to express their emotions, to convey their thoughts and opinions and to present evidence of research. By developing these skills we can equip our children to use writing across the range of curricular activities in which they are involved. At Giffard Park we encourage our children to be proud of the work that they produce. At the end of each unit of work children complete an ‘Exciting Writing’ task. During this time children are given the opportunity to produce writing based on all that they have learnt across the unit of work. This writing is recorded in a special book that children take with them as they move through each year group. They are given time to share this work with their peers should they wish too, so that their writing can be celebrated. At Giffard Park children are given opportunities to write in a range of genres. They are taught to think about the audience, purpose and form of their writing. Children plan, edit and redraft their work with focus on presentation and handwriting and they are taught how to structure their writing using sentences, paragraphs and headings as appropriate. Examples of various forms of writing are displayed in all classrooms and are discussed regularly so that children become familiar with the structure and language features of these writing forms.
At Giffard Park we believe that a flexible, fluent and legible handwriting style empowers children to write with confidence and creativity. Efficient handwriting leads to high quality writing and as such, we actively teach it as part of the English curriculum. Formal handwriting skills are taught regularly and systematically through the use of the PENPALS Handwriting scheme (Cambridge University Press). Five stages of handwriting are identified and these form the basic organisation of the scheme: readiness for writing: gross and fine motor skills leading to letter formation, beginning to join, securing joins, practising speed and fluency and presentation skills. Handwriting sessions at Giffard Park typically include a physical warm up to prepare the body, a physical activity engaging the gross motor skills required for the letters and joins taught that lesson, a clear description of the skill being taught, modelling from the class teacher and then time for children to practice. By providing frequent and regular handwriting sessions the skills learnt will then transfer into children’s wider work.
Speaking and Listening
At Giffard Park we believe that the ability to speak and listen is a fundamental life skill for pupil’s language and social development. It is an essential tool for all areas of the curriculum, as talk underpins learning and thinking. Children at Giffard Park are provided with many and varied contexts for talk, as well as direct teaching in the skills of speaking and listening so that they are able to use their knowledge, skills and understanding across a range of different situations. Class teachers play a vital role in modelling dialogue by offering opinions and inviting responses. Teachers model listening skills to their classes so that they understand the importance of turn taking and respecting the views of others. Children have a variety of opportunities within their lessons to use talk for learning. They are encouraged to demonstrate what they know as well as ask and answer questions in their talk partner pairs. They play an active role in directing their own learning by making decisions about how to approach a task and they are given opportunities to engage in speaking and listening by reading out loud work that they have produced or from a book. Children use language creatively and imaginatively through role-play, hot-seating and storytelling and teachers plan opportunities for ‘talk for writing’ for children to learn and rehearse texts orally and then invent their own versions.