English at Northborough Primary
The ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.
All of our learners will leave Northborough School with the confidence and ability to read, write, and communicate effectively and fluently, enabling the foundation for life-long learning and participation in society. Children will work to the best of their ability and all children will view themselves as successful orators, readers and writers. Children will use language effectively to learn, think, and communicate across the curriculum. We will create opportunities for children to learn the skills they need in interesting, creative and engaging ways, also across the curriculum, seeking to instil a love of literacy, its uses and forms. Children will be inspired by the human experience discovered through books, and will explore meaning. They will treasure the power and creativity of language. We will ensure progression through the skills children need to learn to support them in this. Parents are encouraged to learn and understand about literacy taught at the school, and their support is encouraged through meetings with them.
Through the delivery of a robust early reading phonics programme, explicit teaching of reading skills and strategies designed to develop children’s interest in and understanding of quality texts, alongside scheduled assessments and timely identification of interventions needed, children are taught to read with confidence, fluency and understanding.
Phonics is taught using the ELS phonics scheme. All teaching and support staff have been trained using the online tools, with further ongoing training by the EYFS and Year 1 teacher. Children are assessed frequently in their phonics acquisition using an assessment format designed by the school. Under the new phonics scheme, intervention will be immediate and frequent until the child has caught up. At present, children who are identified as needing extra support have targeted intervention with the HLTA support assistant.
KS 2 children who have not acquired the necessary phonics by the end of KS 1, are tracked and are taught phonics in an additional session to their timetabled spelling lessons until they are secure. Children will read phonically decodable books until they are secure in using phonics to read fluently.
Across the school, reading lessons are planned using the skills progression from the Scholastic Comprehension books. Children in EYFS and Y1 are taught in small groups and children in Y2 upwards are taught comprehension skills as a class. We draw heavily on Power of Reading philosophies and ideas, such as Literacy Circle and Book Talk, promoting discussion around the text and vocabulary within. We also use PEEL reports and Inference Training to develop skills such as inference, understanding background knowledge and vocabulary acquisition. Comprehension skills are taught at the start of the week in a longer lesson, with guided reading groups occurring 3 x week. In these lessons, children will apply the skill taught that week. They will also develop fluency using a range of quality texts.
A child’s fluency rate is tracked at least termly, alongside a reading profile where we discuss the child’s reading habits, favourite authors and targets. We recognise that automaticity, prosody and accuracy play a huge role in comprehension and actively seek to develop fluency using a range of the following teaching methods:
- Modelling fluent reading - light house reading/ guided reading sessions
- Repeated Reading - repeat what is read until mistake free and fluent
- Phrased reading – attending to punctuation, stress and intonation
- Reading Buddies - our reading buddies have been asked to focus on fluency
- Readers’ Theatre - perform a rehearsed piece. Reading from a text but practicing it to improve fluency, delivery and intonation
- Sight vocabulary and Phonics - these can both be a barrier to fluency, and are checked if fluency is low.
- Cloze –reading and missing out words to check children are following and are able to make sense of the text
- Using a bookmark - speed readers use this strategy. Book marks have also helped children who find tracking difficult.
SEND children who are struggling with fluency, but who are proficient in phonics, use the PM reading scheme which supports their fluency progress. These children are heard to read by the SENDCO and HLTA at least 3 x a week. Children with continued difficulties in reading will be assessed using the YARC reading assessment, administered by the SENDCO.
We are seeking to make the school dyslexia and working memory friendly - staff have been trained in both areas, so that we can use strategies universally to add to our quality first teaching. Children who are struggling with reading are identified quickly and read more frequently with an adult. We have Reading Buddies in most classes. Class teachers hear the bottom 20% of readers daily – supporting vulnerable readers with the most highly trained person available
Parents work alongside us to develop a love of reading in their children. They are invited to attend an early reading meeting in the first term of EYFS and Year 1. We send out parents’ letters about reading at the start of every year detailing the expectations for the year group and how they can help. Reading daily is expected of all children, and children are proud to share their reading with us and each other.
Whole school reading for pleasure sessions are held daily and children take some of this time to update their knowledge of trending titles and recommended reads. We have a weekly sharing assembly where children nominate their favourite reads and recommend their favourite books to friends. This assembly is a platform for sharing library events and reading challenges for the week. We have links with the local librarian who speaks with us to promote the use of the local libraries. Children in KS 2 use a Padlet to record book reviews outside of the assembly, and in KS 1 and EYFS, classes keep a scrap book detailing books they have shared and their thoughts and feelings around the story. They also collect vocabulary from the books here. We are proud of the engagement we have in reading – parents are supportive, children are motivated to read and are lucky enough to be bought books for birthdays and Christmas. We have loan libraries run by children for each other, and books outside for those who wish to read outdoors.
We have restocked the library recently, and it is full of beautiful books, a collection of the top 100 books and the recommended reads from the weekly assembly. We bought new reading books, including phonetically decodable books for EYFS and KS 1, and others who need them throughout school. We are members of the Oxford Owl e-books, and the RNIB book share for those that need it. Reading has its own page in the monthly school newsletter. Children use the library to change their books and share a story time, each class having a designated weekly slot.
At Northborough School, we want our children’s love of, and skills in reading to go hand in hand with developing their writing skills. Through a structured learning journey that identifies purpose and audience, and includes planning, sharing, drafting, editing and revising until they are happy with their work, children craft their writing to produce their published work or performance.
Writing is based around topic research or a quality text. Every class writes to a range of text types. We use ideas to invigorate writing teaching from the Power of Reading strategies. We believe that children write better when they have explored the themes through role play, drawing and discussion, as a class, group or pair, and when they write collaboratively. Planning uses the Box Success criteria, which emphasises the purpose of the grammar used to reach the desired effect on the reader. Children are confident about what they need to include in their writing because teachers display and refer to the key elements for their year group, explicitly teaching the function of the grammar that is needed to enhance their writing. Editing and redrafting are supported throughout the writing process, with the support of editing stations, peer marking and teacher feedback. We feedback as we work with children where possible, upskilling, redrafting and editing work as we go in pairs, as a class or with the class teacher. If needed, remote feedback for children is via green and yellow highlighter and is assessed against the year group expectations.
We formally track children’s fluency in writing at least termly. Children work on their writing fluency, focusing on, and developing their transcription skills. Children are supported in their spelling with their own spelling log and SPAG log. We believe children need to use spellings correctly in their writing regularly and consistently to develop their spelling. We use an investigative approach to teaching spelling, and teach spelling and grammar explicitly, based on the 2014 Curriculum guidance, the Scholastic Scheme as a resource and our own progression detailed in long term planning. Parents receive a spelling leaflet detailing the core strategies we, and they, can use for spelling.
We monitor books half termly in a peer book scrutiny, assessing against a focus linked to the School Development Plan. The English Subject Lead carries out book scrutinies and we moderate internally termly as a school and externally in key year groups. Children’s work is assessed against the Teacher Assessment Framework which have been developed for each year group.
Our language rich classrooms and displays support children’s understanding of language and encourage independent learning skills. Through our cross curricular approach, children confidently use the language of different subjects and we encourage them to speak like scientists, historians, mathematicians etc. Children have knowledge organisers and word mats to support with new topic vocabulary. We are introducing a new vocabulary programme, ‘Talk for Stories’ - into EYFS and KS 1. Whilst our children show a great use of vocabulary already, next steps will include a more formal scheme in KS 2.
Children practise debating in philosophy assemblies and are encouraged to express their views clearly and eloquently. Children are taught to listen carefully and elaborate or disagree with points raised. Children use role play and drama as part of their writing lessons, to both support their language development and ensure creative, well thought out and detailed writing. Children are encouraged to talk about the books they are reading and are explicitly taught to look for unfamiliar or exciting vocabulary in their reading sessions, Literacy Circles and Book Talk.
Given the consistency in teaching across the school, children have sustained learning and acquire transferable skills. Achievement data is consistently at or above national EXS, in Year 2, both in reading and writing. Last year, Year 6 also achieved above national in both areas.
Cross curricular writing skills are improving and children are re-gaining their confidence and stamina in writing since covid, particularly given our focus on transcription development and a reduction in cognitive overload during writing for fluency.
Our children leave Northborough, equipped with the skills to question, debate, discuss, express opinions, research and present their ideas eloquently and clearly. They are encouraged to achieve their best work with enthusiasm and a willingness to share: they share their pride in their reading and writing in equal measure through assemblies and work in class. They leave Northborough Primary understanding the power and purpose of the written and spoken word.