Speaking and listening
Beginning in Reception and continuing through all Primary years the children develop their capacity to express themselves effectively for a variety of purposes. This is fostered in our Communication Friendly Spaces, as well as through carefully structured lessons. Working with adults and other children, their activities include listening, giving opinions, replying to instructions and questions, describing experiences and feelings.
Junior children extend these skills to recount events, tell stories, take on dramatic roles, report, summarise and predict. Children are also provided with opportunities to compose, recite and perform poetry. All classes take part in literary events, where published writers work with the children to enrich their literary skills. Both KS1 and KS2 children take part in annual dramatic public performances. The infants will be performing a Christmas nativity this year, and the juniors will end the year with a summer show.
Children learn not just the mechanics of reading, but to become accomplished, comprehending readers; developing the habit of silent reading and a love of reading for life. Each class has a designated reading area to help promote the love and high importance that reading holds in our school. They can enjoy exploring a wide selection of reading books, which helps them to develop an appreciation of our rich literary heritage.
This year we are continuing to embed the 'Power of Reading' scheme into our curriculum. This has placed high quality literature at the heart of our English lessons. We have seen a marked improvement in motivation and attitude towards reading, especially amongst reluctant readers.
From Reception phonics is taught through the use of Letters and Sounds, via the Read, Write Inc. scheme, and this is then continued through Y1, and Y2. Across school we use a range of reading schemes, which incorporate fiction and non-fiction texts. Book bands are used to grade the texts according to the national book-banding scheme. Guided reading is also an integral part of our English curriculum, where groups of children engage with a number of carefully planned sessions working with a teacher or independently, exploring the meaning of the books being read.
As well as daily Guided Reading sessions, a reading comprehension scheme called: 'Cracking Comprehension' is used alongside whole class readers to explore a thorough understanding of what's being read.
The Reading Buddy scheme has been running now for the last two years, and has certainly ignited a love of reading amongst our children. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Reading Buddies from two of our four houses take turns to bring a selection of books out onto the playgrounds, (or into classrooms if it’s raining), and share books for pleasure with each other. The Buddies have special bags, and they choose which books to take out – helped by the Y6 Librarians. The younger children look forward to sharing books and stories with older siblings, and the older children enjoy helping their fellow pupils learn to read. It is wonderful to see our children of differing ages coming together over a good story. This is peer support, run by the children for the children.
The Reading Buddies and Librarians are superb advocates of promoting reading for pleasure and certainly contributed towards our Liverpool Reading Quality Mark accreditation.
Please consult the information below on how to help your child become a first class reader.
Spelling, Handwriting and Composition – These strands go hand in hand throughout the Curriculum. As they mature, children develop a growing ability to write in different styles, for different audiences and purposes, e.g. stories, diaries, letters, invitations, captions, posters, plans, reporting on projects and poetry. Cohesively planned, modelled and implemented by all staff, writing genres and conventions are creatively developed throughout both key stages. Emphasis is laid upon drafting, as a process to encourage children to improve the construction, spelling and layout of their written work. All classes have access to computers, which are also used to develop the children’s writing. Much of their writing is developed from the use of high quality literature, as the children respond to plot, character, illustration and ideas.
They are taught the rudiments of grammar, progressively from Reception through to Year 6, both discretely, as well as in the context of the literature they are studying. Attention to grammatical rules being studied are also noted as they are encountered in all areas of the curriculum. The handwriting scheme 'Letter-join' was introduced to complement our teaching of handwriting. We have seen pleasing improvements in the presentation and cursive writing skills across the whole school. Furthermore, we have now acquired the 'Home/school edition', enabling the children to practise their letter formation at home on PC's I-pads or android devices.
The teaching of spelling is enhanced by our 'Fizzy Grammar' ethos. These are 'physical' activities that help children retain and apply their spellings. We also subscribe to 'Read Write Inc. - Spelling', which introduces all the required spelling rules, by way of a lively, interactive series of cartoon characters and on screen activities. We constantly strive to create a variety of daily spelling activities, which are visual, auditory and engaging for the children. Our aim, over time is to ensure our children become accomplished proficient spellers - much needed in these days of text speak.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives. We hope that as children move on from us to further their education and learning that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations, which we have nurtured here ar Our Lady's, travels with them and continues to grow and develop as they do.