Being an Author
At Four Acres Academy, we aspire for our pupils to speak, read and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others effectively. These core skills are then transferable across the whole curriculum and their lives beyond school.
The teaching and learning of language skills have a high priority in our school and where possible the wider curriculum and ICT are as tools. Our overarching aim for English is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
We aim for our pupils to:
• read easily, fluently and with good understanding
• develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
• acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
• appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
• write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
• use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
• are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
At Four Acres Academy we encourage all children to become independent learners and be confident in all strands of learning. The children will be given opportunities to speak in a variety of contexts and learn to listen to and value the views of others.
We follow The National Curriculum 2014 which sets out the statutory requirements for English year by year. Please click the link below for more information:
Spoken Language: For us at Four Acres, speaking and listening is a key aspect in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum, it underpins the development of reading and writing. Pupils are taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. Where necessary, children’s spoken language is repeated back to them correctly through teacher modelling. This is re-enforced in our writing approach which focuses on oral rehearsal of stories and nonfiction pieces of text, giving our children access to high-quality vocabulary, rhyme and sentence patterns.
Children will be given the opportunities to:
• develop the skills to justify ideas with reasons
• ask questions to check understanding
• develop vocabulary and build knowledge
• evaluate and build on the ideas of others
• select the appropriate register for effective communication.
Through the wider curriculum pupils are taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding by speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. This will enable them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing.
At Four Acres, reading is woven throughout our curriculum, with books and stories sitting at the heart of it.
The school places a strong emphasis on the development of reading. The principles upon which we base our teaching of reading begin with a love of books. We aim to produce fluent readers who enjoy reading and discussing a range of texts and can answer questions about a text confidently. We highly promote reading for pleasure and encourage children to widen the genre of their reading, seeing books as a source of enjoyment as well as information.
This begins with the youngest children in EYFS. In pre-school, children develop a love for reading by asking and answering questions about a story or a large picture stimulus. This is then further explored in provision through role play, puppets, story sacks etc.
Early Reading: considerable time is given to the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics (please see Phonics Policy); small group guided sessions and a wide variety of spoken language and play activities.
Our phonic sessions:
• set up processes for identifying letters.
• allow children to acquire a store of essential phonic rules, processes to link graphemes to phonemes and blend phonemes into words.
• help establish a store of familiar words that are recognised immediately on sight and linked to their meanings.
• develop children’s vocabulary by exposing them to a range of unfamiliar words and addressing their meaning.
Our classrooms are well resourced with a wide range of engaging, fully decodable phonics sets to ensure that children practise their reading from books that match their current phonics knowledge. These books are carefully matched to the children’s reading ability and are sent home for parents to practice with their child. We also have a wide range of ‘sharing’ books which are sent home alongside individual reading books so that children can enjoy being read to at home by an adult.
Reading Through the ‘Book Bands’: Once children have graduated from the fully-decodable phonic scheme (Pink-Turquoise), they continue on their journey to reading fluently by following our book banded scheme. This offers a range of high quality fiction and non-fiction readers covering a wealth of genres and topics.
Reading books are sent home for children to share with parents/carers in the evening with all children expected to read every day at home. We encourage children to read their book five times a week to practice reading tricky and common exception words on sight and improve their fluency.
Class teachers record when each child has read at home by checking their Reading Record books. Where this happens, the child is recognised and praised in class and entered into our reading incentive scheme where they can win a free book. However, we recognise that not all children have the facility to read at home daily and teachers identify and target these children with additional reading support in school – either before/after the school day or during the day with a designated adult.
The slowest readers in each year group are identified and tracked during pupil progress meetings. Teachers and senior leaders then decide on which level of intervention is appropriate – this ranges from specific precision teaching, 1-1 reading, Lightning Squad, group reading or comprehension support.
Comprehension: Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. We develop children’s comprehension skills through a book study approach, planning opportunities for pupils to experience high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. We encourage all pupils to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum.
We use texts which challenge the children’s vocabulary, allowing them to encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. We model good reading through using strategies such as read aloud-think aloud, mirroring the strategies used by competent readers. We also call on the children to use their background knowledge to make links to texts and hypothesise about, and justify, what may happen and why.
Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds – each class has a class read which the teacher reads regularly, modelling good reading and promotes a love for reading and books. Throughout the curriculum, children are engaged and actively participate in shared, guided and independent reading.
Key Stage Two have daily book study sessions which focus on a high-quality text which they can delve deeper into. They will follow a 5-day process in which they will explicitly teach and model the following skills: summary, retrieval, inference and word meaning/authors use of language. Reading has two dimensions – word reading and comprehension.
Writing: The development of writing begins with our youngest children. In EYFS children are given many opportunities to mark make using a range of tools including pencils. They develop the skill of discussing and explaining the marks they have made and within continuous provision are given many opportunities to be independent writers by writing lists, captions, recipes, letters etc. The children are encouraged to speak in sentences and this is modelled by all staff.
As they enter Reception and are confident and proficient at verbally speaking in sentences the children write about things that interest them and events of personal experience. There is a focus on writing a simple sentence with the letters clearly written using full stops, finger spaces, and if ready, capital letters. Children are then challenged to extend their sentences and have planned opportunities to write in all areas of the classroom. It is also vital in EYFS that children see staff as writers and modelled writing of some type occurs daily.
Children are introduced to writing for a range of purposes and audiences across the curriculum. Skills are taught and developed during the lessons where pupils are taught how to take notes to plan their ideas; teacher then model how to transform notes/planning into coherent writing; finally, children are given the opportunity to edit and evaluate their work. There is a great emphasis on oral rehearsal and a Talk for Writing approach is often used.
When developing opportunities to write across the curriculum, the expectation of the quality and content of the writing remains consistent, regardless of the lesson in which the writing is being produced in; pupils are given a real purpose for writing.
Opportunities are given for independent work, as well as more structured guided writing sessions. Teachers model good quality writing through shared writing.
Grammar & Spelling: Grammar is taught through our writing aprroach from Y1 (although FS2 can introduce it in the summer term). This is usually the first fifteen minutes of each English session or a whole discrete session and focuses on the identification, understanding and application of grammatical and language features in a fun and active way. It also allows teachers to ensure children are being exposed, and reading, high quality texts, full of rich vocabulary.
Spelling is taught following the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage and the National Curriculum guidelines. We teach spellings through discrete lessons. The spelling lesson has an explicit ‘teach’ section that looks at rules and strategies to learn how to spell the week’s words. This includes phonology, graphology, orthography, morphology and etymology of words. Teachers also explicitly teach children strategies that will help when attempting spellings. Teachers use and model these strategies within other lessons in the curriculum. Staff use spellings in context, ensuring children can use them within a sentence. Staff also have a bank of games for children to use when practicing their spellings. Once children have graduated from the RWInc phonics scheme, they are tested once a week/biweekly. Words are tested in dictated sentences, again using the word in context.
Handwriting: Handwriting is taught through RWInc. It is taught on a regular basis with emphasis being placed on the teaching of handwriting not simply its practice. EYFS concentrates on getting children ready for handwriting by: • Building the gross and fine motor skills needed for handwriting through structured games and activities • Building the spatial awareness, visual and motor memory skills needed through non-pencil and pencil activities • Supporting the children through the developmental pencil grip stages; including hand dominance identification • Developing the children’s ability to correctly push and pull the pencil to be able to form letters correctly, firstly through pre-handwriting patterns and then single letter formation Key Stage 1 concentrates on learning to handwriting by: • Continuing to build the gross and refine the fine motor skills through handwriting warm up exercises and PE warm up and cool down activities; • Supporting the children through the developmental pencil grip stages so that they can comfortably hold the pencil in a tripod pencil grip; • Reinforcing the correct sitting position and teaching the correct position, tilt and movement of the writing paper; • Refining the handwriting letter size and teaching the joining of letters to form words. Key Stage 2 concentrates on refining handwriting skills by: • Continuing to build the gross and refine the fine motor skills through handwriting warm up exercises and PE warm up and cool down activities; • Revisiting sitting correctly, pencil grip and paper position and tilt if necessary; • Refining the handwriting letter size and teaching the joining of letters to form words; • Building speed and fluidity using dictation activities and sentences.
Inclusion: Through differentiation and the support of Teaching Assistants, all children will receive high quality teaching and appropriate support in order for every child to reach their full potential. Children may receive additional support if necessary outside of the English lessons through interventions such as Lexia, Lightning Squad and vocabulary building sessions.
Classrooms should have displays and English learning walls which:
• Ask questions to promote thinking.
• Contain key vocabulary.
• Are an integral part of teaching
• Offer challenge
• Celebrate children's achievement.
Book banding is used for reading, pupils have a choice of books from within the band they are reading. As children become ready, they have a free choice of reading material. Children are encouraged to choose from a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books. Teachers hear children read regularly through individual or guided reading sessions. Teaching assistants, students and volunteers also hear children read when possible. Children are encouraged to read regularly at home using Bug Club, an online reading app or taking home book banded books from school.
Related policies: • SEND • Teaching and Learning • Curriculum • Behaviour • Equalities • Assessment • Homework • Marking & Feedback • Presentation • Early Years Foundation Stage