At Beckington and Mells we believe that reading is the single most important skill we teach our children. It is the one skill that once set in motion has the ability to feed itself and all other skills. Phonics is a way of teaching about the letters and sounds needed in order to read and write. At Beckington and Mells we follow Ruth Miskin’s RWI (Read Write Inc) program. This programme focuses on both phonic knowledge and letter formation. The children across the school are assessed regularly and grouped accordingly. The groups are kept small to allow all children to work closely alongside an adult. They work systematically through the three sets of phonemes and graphemes with opportunities to practise both their reading and spelling skills. Once children have completed all three sets in the RWI programme they will move onto the spelling programme which explores adding prefixes and suffixes to root words. It is important that we focus on pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’, ’s’ not ‘suh’, etc) to enable the children to blend sets of phonemes into words more easily. To view correct pronunciation of the sounds please see the link below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J2Ddf_0Om8
As well as using phonics to help children to read and write, we also teach children to read and spell common exception words. These are words that cannot be sounded out so just need to be learnt. We do this in a variety of ways including mnemonics, learning by sight and learning by movement.
At both schools we view reading as vital to a child’s education and as such the ability to read well is integral to the good and outstanding progress of a child in all areas of the curriculum. This is reinforced by research showing that more able readers are more likely to become high achievers in life. At both schools the children read regularly to an adult in a group within a guided reading session and individually each week. The children choose from a variety of reading schemes, which are based on the book bands which children progress through once they have developed the relevant skills.
We believe that reading to children of any age is a valuable and enriching experience for both adult and child. So other opportunities which encourage reading with your children are the recently introduced read at home boxes where children can choose a book at the school gate for an adult to read to them at home. These are borrowed and returned using a library based process. In the New Year we will also be inviting parents in to school every Friday morning to come and read with and to their child. Those children who do not have a parent able to attend will be able to share in a story read by the class teacher. In key stage 1 the focus for their reading skills is letter recognition, blending and decoding as well as the development of their fluency skills. In key Stage 2 the emphasis is more on the children’s ability to understand what they are reading and in particular to use inference to interpret a text. The children complete regular assessments to track their progress, to assess both their reading ages and comprehension skills. These are completed on a termly and basis for assessment of a child’s comprehension and three times a year to assess a child’s reading age. The children are encouraged to read regularly through different reading incentives at both schools. We celebrate reading through a reading week each year with incorporates World Book Day. This encompasses a visit from a contemporary author and a book fair where our families have the opportunity to purchase books at reasonable prices.
In both schools we approach writing with the children through the stimulus of their topic work. This may include a visual literacy, through the medium of film, real life experiences, drama and role play, mock crimes scenes or educational visits to launch a writing focus. We study a variety of writing including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. These involve the exploration of a many different genres of writing through the key Stages including, diaries, letters, stories, newspapers, recounts, non chronological reports, instructions, information sheets and scripts. We believe the process of writing should be an exciting and inspiring one and at our schools we follow a structure based around Let’s Explore, Let’s Prepare, Let’s Write, let’s Improve, Let’s share. We always begin teaching a new genre of writing by immersing the children in a rich selection of quality examples of the text they are go to write. The children are taught about the specific features of each.
Through the progression of the unit of work the children are taught the relevant grammar, punctuation and composition skills required of the genre of writing they are studying. To enable the children to rehearse their ideas for writing they are given many different opportunities to verbalise their ideas through the medium of talking partners, group work and drama. This can involve role play, freeze frames, conscience corridors and acting in role as a character. This enables the children to be fully confident about the different features of writing and their structures to be able to write an extended independent piece of writing at the end of each unit of work to enable the children to show the new skills they have learnt and embedded. These independent pieces of writing are gathered in a Big Write book which provides a continuous assessment of a child’s writing progression. The independent writing is always peer edited and then an opportunity is also created for the children to share with others their final edited piece of writing.