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William Cobbett Primary School

English (including Phonics)

It is our intent for all children at William Cobbett to access an exciting, relevant and purposeful English curriculum that allows them to become life-long readers, writers and communicators. We intend to give children opportunities to showcase their creativity and imagination and express themselves in different ways. We strive to immerse children in high quality texts that will develop a love for reading and expose them to new words and meanings. We want to encourage children to be readers for life and we want to foster an innate love of reading. Furthermore, we want to ensure that our English teaching gives children the confidence to share ideas and feelings with others through reading, writing, speaking and listening and therefore equip them with the essential tools to continue to achieve and thrive after life at William Cobbett Primary School.

We aim for all pupils to:

  • read, write and communicate orally with confidence, fluency and understanding
  • have an interest in books and literature; whilst practising reading for enjoyment
  • discuss reading and writing comprehensively by expressing opinions, explaining techniques and justifying preferences about a wide range of literature, using appropriate vocabulary
  • understand a range of text types and genres; develop knowledge to appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write using a variety of styles and forms
  • use grammar and punctuation accurately
  • understand and apply spelling conventions accurately within all written work

Our overarching aim is to promote high standards of spoken and written language, high quality writing skills with an emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar and a life-long love of reading for learning and pleasure. 

Writing

We deliver English using Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing approach. By focusing on the oral retelling of various text types, familiar structures become fully embedded in the long term memory so that the children can later apply these structures to their own writing whilst developing the language techniques taught for the particular area of focus. For example, children may be writing using the structure of a portal story whilst developing their understanding of what makes an effective setting description.

Core quality texts stand at the core of our English planning, where we strive to intrinsically integrate the teaching of reading and writing. Children engage deeply with these carefully selected texts as we foster their ability to: read as readers, read as writers and finally write as readers and writers. In this way, we are able to assist the children in their development of a rich vocabulary and of texts which are written with careful precision to captivate their audience. Teachers create model texts for specific writing units which aim to demonstrate to the children the language techniques which are to be taught and developed. Typically, in a unit of work, the focus will be developed through internalisation and contextualisation of the model text where children deepen their understanding of a particular text type, exploring other examples through wider whole-class reading and later creating a ‘tool-kit’ for purposeful writing. Following sessions of deliberate practice, where children use ‘short-burst writing’ to develop the writer tools and receive timely feedback in order to improve, children then write independently in order to fulfil their planned purpose.

Phonics and Early Reading

We use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is as a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP), to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Reception and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge. 

How we teach phonics

  • In reception and Y1, children follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.
  • By the end of reception, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 4.
  • By the end of year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.
  • In Y2-Y6, for those children who have ‘gaps’ in their phonic knowledge, there are daily Rapid Catch-Up phonics sessions.

Reading practice sessions

  • Children in Reception and Year 1 will take part in small group reading practice sessions, in which they focus on an accurately matched phonics book.
  • These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 6 children in a group.
  • The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised and each session focuses on a different aspect of reading – decoding, prosody and comprehension.
  • The children then take the same book home to ensure their success is shared with their family.
  • Children in Y2-Y6 Rapid Catch Up sessions will take part in small group reading practice sessions twice a week.

How do we assess phonic knowledge?

  • In Reception and Year 1, at the end of each week there is a review session which recaps the learning from that week. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
  • In Reception and Year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term.
  • In Reception and Year 1, children who are assessed as having gaps in their phonics knowledge will have extra daily ‘keep-up’ sessions.
  • Towards the end of the academic year ion Y1 children will complete the statutory Phonics Screening Check.
  • Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will re-sit this in Y2.
  • In Y2-Y6, for those children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge, there are daily Rapid Catch-Up phonics sessions.

*Children in Rapid Catch-up sessions will be taught either individually or in groups, depending on their needs and/or gaps. They are assessed every 3 weeks and, depending on their progress, will either continue sessions or demonstrate that they have secured their full phonic knowledge.

If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources.

https://www.littlewandlelettersandsounds.org.uk/resources/for-parents/

Reading

In Years 2- 3, we have weekly guided group reading sessions to help the children develop their comprehension, vocabulary and love of reading. In group guided reading, the children will all read the same book at a level suited to them. These sessions will have a learning focus and will be largely discussion based and will feature a range of comprehension questions. In Years 4-6, there is a move to whole class reading; the children will read through a carefully selected text (book, image, video etc.) together so that every ability can access it. This will then be followed by discussions and questions around a particular objective to develop the children’s fluency, expression, ability to determine the meaning of words in context and their comprehension.

Class stories

We also encourage all classes to have daily ‘Story time’ where they may read a picture book or a chapter book over many sessions. During this shared reading, the children can access a text which may be challenging to them individually.