An Introduction to English at Winnersh Primary School
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
At Winnersh Primary School, we aim to develop our children’s literacy through a high-quality English curriculum. During their time with us, we encourage our children to become articulate speakers, thoughtful listeners, enthusiastic readers and imaginative writers. These vital skills will enable them to express themselves effectively and communicate meaningfully – tools which they will need in order to participate fully as members of society. We want our children to be able to read and write fluently so that they will be able to access all areas of the school’s curriculum and show what they have learnt. By offering our children a wide range of quality books, we strive to foster a lasting love of reading for pleasure and information, so that they can acquire new vocabulary and knowledge, as well as building on what they already know. In English lessons and throughout the wider curriculum, we create opportunities for our children to write in response to quality texts or real experiences for a wide range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Drama, discussion, presentations and debates also support our children to explain their understanding and ideas clearly. We ensure that our children are able to master the key writing skills effectively through the teaching of handwriting, phonics, spelling and grammar. By the end of Key Stage 2, children will be able to spell the words from the National Curriculum spelling lists accurately and will be confident to use their previous phonics knowledge to read and spell new and unknown words successfully. At the heart of all that we do is the aspiration to set our children off on a life-long learning adventure by nurturing an enthusiasm for language and literature which will excite their imaginations, deepen their knowledge and help them to become confident, expressive speakers, writers and thinkers.
At Winnersh, we believe that being able to read well is a vital life skill, fundamental to our children’s development into fully participating members of society. As they progress along their learning journey with us, they gain reading skills which enable them to discover new facts and knowledge, enrich their vocabulary and ensure that they can access all areas of the school’s curriculum. We also know that reading for pleasure is invaluable to each child: not only does it shine a light on a world of new stories, experiences, ideas and opportunities, but it also benefits social and cognitive development, wellbeing and mental health. Reading diverse, imaginative fiction and literature can transport readers to different worlds and stimulate their creativity. It encourages the development of imagination and empathy, and allows the reader to relate to and understand the experiences of characters with different backgrounds and perspectives.
Reading is a lifelong learning tool which opens doors to knowledge and new worlds. By the time they leave us, we want all of our children to be readers for information and for pleasure so that they can build on their existing knowledge, gain a deeper understanding of the world around them and appreciate the pleasure of getting lost in a good book.
How do we teach reading?
In the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, reading is taught through the Monster Phonics scheme and are supported by reading books which match the phonics that the children are learning. From Year 1 to Year 6, children have daily dedicated guided reading lessons, using carefully chosen texts which complement the topics they are studying. We have also chosen reading books carefully which match the children’s phonic or reading ability and appeal to a wide range of interests. In the Upper Phase, Recommended Reading Books and the corresponding individual bookmarks give children ownership of keeping a record of books they have read and allows them to enjoy reading from a wide range of books that have specifically been chosen for their year group. In Key Stage 2, children follow the Master Reader guided reading model, which aims to improve fluency, to develop language capabilities and to establish reading comprehension strategies through modelling and supported practice. Most importantly of all, we strive to embed a culture of reading for pleasure by encouraging children to borrow books from the school library and, as part of their home learning, children are encouraged to respond to books they have read by creating a piece of work to be shared with their classmates as a means of recommending books to each other. Teachers celebrate and display these in a class scrap book so that each class can chart their reading journey throughout the year. We think it is vital that the children see all of the adults at Winnersh as readers, so we each display the book we are reading at home ourselves as well as recommending age-appropriate books that we think the children would like to read. Each week, every member of the school community takes part in a ten-minute DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) session, and classes buddy up with each other so that reading partners from different year groups can share a book once per half term.
By the time they leave Winnersh, our children will:
- have a love of reading
- read frequently, for both pleasure and information
- read a wide range of fiction, non-fiction texts and poetry
- read accurately, fluently and with understanding
- use their phonics knowledge to decode unfamiliar words
- read with expression, demonstrating their secure understanding of grammar, punctuation and vocabulary
- acquire a rich vocabulary which they can use in their written and spoken English to express themselves and their ideas articulately
We believe that being able to write well is of utmost importance to our children during their time at Winnersh and beyond. Writing is a fundamental means of communication and being able to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings clearly in writing is crucial for our children to be successful in all areas of the curriculum. During writing tasks, children learn how to organise their thoughts logically, use correct grammar and punctuation, spell words accurately and structure their writing coherently. Through daily independent writing, children increase their resilience through editing and redrafting, and realising that they can effectively convey their thoughts and ideas on paper can boost their self-esteem. Writing creatively allows our children to articulate their ideas imaginatively, encourages them to explore new concepts and perspectives, and fosters individuality and self-expression. When writing to inform, advise, persuade or argue, our children are taught how to research and organise new information and ideas, and to consider different viewpoints before committing their ideas to paper.
Being able to write well is not only crucial for our children whilst they are at school, but will be an ongoing vital skill in their everyday lives. By equipping our children with the ability to write well, we set them on a path to success in both their academic and personal lives, down which they will travel long after they have left us.
How do we teach writing?
In the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, spelling is taught through the Monster Phonics scheme and is supported by reading books which match the phonics that the children are learning. In Key Stage 2, spelling is taught daily using a structured sequence of lessons following the No Nonsense Spelling programme.
We have developed a model for teaching writing, the Winnersh Writing Project, which is followed throughout the school. This model encapsulates our school ethos ‘Where Learning is an Adventure’ as each unit starts with a hook to excite the children and capture their interest, and is based around an engaging text which inspires children along their writing journey. Teachers aim to motivate children to write creatively or informatively for a range of audiences and purposes with these high-quality books which are linked to their topic. Lesson planning is done collaboratively in year groups using the appropriate writing assessment framework(s) to ensure that skills and knowledge are embedded, to inform next steps and to ensure that children are making good progress. Through teacher modelling and the promotion of high standards of language and literacy, teachers equip the children to acquire a wide vocabulary and an understanding of grammar and spelling, and to incorporate these into their compositions. Working walls in each classroom display modelled writing by the teacher and celebrate pieces of children’s work that demonstrate good practice. To further support the children to write independently, teachers ensure that sound mats, word lists and scaffolds are available, and that the SPAG focus, toolkit and key vocabulary are displayed clearly on the working wall. All teachers have high expectations of the writing that is produced by the children and they are taught to propose changes to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to enhance effects and clarify meaning. Live marking takes place whenever children are writing, which means that teachers and Learning Support Assistants are able to give ‘in the moment’ individual or whole-class feedback to address misconceptions before they become embedded. This discussion leads to children coming to their own conclusions and being able to edit their writing immediately, promoting high standards and independence.
By the time they leave Winnersh, our children will:
- develop a coherent, accurate and articulate style of writing
- acquire and use a wide vocabulary; have a secure comprehension of grammar; apply spelling patterns and rules
- write effectively for a range of purposes and audiences, adapting language, punctuation, grammar and style appropriately
- convey knowledge, ideas and emotions effectively through writing
- use a range of punctuation accurately
- use verb tenses consistently and correctly
- reflect on what they have written and propose changes to edit and improve it
- maintain a joined, fluent handwriting style even when writing at speed
Links for Children and Parents