Children's ability to communicate with and understand each other makes a crucial contribution to how they think, imagine and develop as successful learners. English underpins achievement across the curriculum and lays the foundations for active involvement in cultural life, society, work and lifelong learning.
We believe that a secure and confident knowledge of English (as a reader, writer and verbal communicator) opens up greater possibilities in life. Being able to articulate our thoughts, feelings and opinions clearly is a very important element in being a successful learner. Evidence has shown that using and learning languages enables children to engage with different cultures and increases their imagination, creativity and ability to access other curriculum areas.
Exposure to a wide range of literature helps develop a rich and varied knowledge and imagination and enables children to see and learn about the world through the eyes of others. Studies have also proved that children who read regularly have a wider vocabulary which they are able to use in other contexts in other curriculum areas.
Developing children's participation and enjoyment of reading is part of St Andrew's School Development Plan 2019-20. On this page we aim to provide more information about some of the initiatives that we use in school in order to try to raise the profile and importance of reading.
Comprehension and Reading
Children practise their comprehension skills through daily taught reading sessions. Teachers discuss vocabulary and generate ideas from the text. These lessons enable the teacher to model expression, fluency and reading for punctuation. Strategies for reading unfamiliar words are taught and practised. The emphasis on comprehension in the National Curriculum has given opportunity to develop children's inference and deduction skills, using the VIPERS reading techniques.
All classes also have daily exposure to literature through our class reading book. We believe that listening to the teacher read models good reading as well as providing opportunities for children to enjoy different styles, themes and authors. Sometimes, the class reading book will be linked to the curriculum but we also try to give children access to a wider range of subject matter.
Spelling and Phonics
Every day, children are taught a Spelling and Phonics lesson. This enables them to practise their spellings, learn key patterns or rules and develop strategies to be able to spell confidently. Sessions look at definitions and etymology of words, graphemes and phonemes and word classes. Time is given to practise spellings and use them in context (e.g, sentences or dictations).
St Andrew's Junior School uses a developmental scheme endorsed by the Somerset Literacy Network (programmes of study are attached below).
For those students who need to consolidate their phonics knowledge more rigorously, we also teach SoundsWrite. This is a phonics-based scheme which focuses on identifying and using sounds during spelling, including the use of graphemes to break words down. Teachers who lead SoundsWrite sessions have been trained in the teaching of this programme.
Every term all the children have the opportunity to write about a whole-school theme. This will often be a curriculum-themed link or to mark a specific cultural or historic event.
Recent themes have included National Poetry Day, 'Footsteps in the Snow', 'The Legend of St George' and World War 1 Centenary poetry. We believe that such themes help to support children's interest in the world and highlight cultural events. Our most recent work is taken from 2020's National Poetry Day, on the theme of 'Change'.
All students are given the opportunity every year to take part in the Young Writers scheme. Children who have their writing selected are offered the chance to have their work published.
The Highbridge Festival is an annual event celebrating the Arts. All Year 4 children take part in the 'class poetry recitation' category and opportunity is given for individuals in Years 5 and 6 to participate in the individual event.
Students complete termly written assessments in reading and SPaG, using the PIRA and GAPS schemes. Teachers can monitor progress and address areas of misunderstanding. Children also complete an online termly STAR reading assessment which is used to inform progress in comprehension and monitor reading levels.
At St Andrew's we used the Accelerated Reader programme. Children take a quiz after finishing their reading book, enabling teachers to check their understanding and to discuss book choices.