For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…Literacy is the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential.
- Kofi Annan
All children can express themselves confidently, creatively and independently using spoken and written words. They have a thirst for reading a diverse range of books to develop their imagination and learn new things.
When you read, you can let your mind be free and create a whole other world in which anything is possible.
Year 6 Pupil
At Penwortham, we believe in providing all children with the skills and enthusiasm to become lifelong readers. From the beginning of school life in Nursery to Year 6 we have a ‘WE ARE’ approach, where we believe that reading should be a positive and relevant experience for all children.
Our classrooms provide an environment grounded in our school values, Rights Respecting and the six principles of nurture, providing all children with a safe space to feel confident when reading individually and as a class.
Our ethos is based on a whole school determination that every child will learn to read age related texts regardless of the social and economic circumstances of their neighbourhoods, the ethnicity of the pupils, the language spoken at home or any special educational needs or disabilities.
All children will leave our school with the skills they need in order to become avid readers and communicators, to ensure they can fully access the curriculum and continue to thrive at secondary school.
Children are engaged with and feel inspired by the wide range of books available in school. A variety of text choices (including written, audio, film and picture texts) allow children to craft writing for different purposes: to inform, to entertain, to persuade and to discuss.
The strong reading culture across the school supports all children in becoming confident and passionate readers and communicators, and ensures language acquisition is central to learning. Children feel empowered to use their English skills to become an active citizen by addressing both global and local issues.
What do the children learn and when?
Research shows us that to become a good reader children need to practise reading regularly. At Penwortham, we ask that children read every day with an adult throughout their time with us. Children who read for pleasure go on to do better in many areas of their academic career. It is one of the most significant indicators for success in life beyond school.
The reading journey for every pupil begins at home. Click the images below for some recommended reads, top tips, parent workshops and our virtual library.
Children are immersed in a range of high quality text. They are encouraged to join in with stories, act them out through role play and take part in listening and rhyming activities. They have continuous access to an engaging book area and a whole school library in which they can look at a range of fiction, non- fiction and poetry books freely. They also have the opportunity to take books home to share with their families and carers.
How do we teach reading?
Reading is embedded throughout the curriculum at Penwortham to provide children with multiple opportunities to practice their fluency, deepen their understanding and make links between different texts and their own experiences. We understand that children need to develop a number of complex skills in order to become skilled readers.
From Spring term in Nursery, the children begin to learn the phonic knowledge and skills needed to read and write. At Penwortham, phonics is taught every day through a well structured daily phonics programme called ‘Sounds Write’. We follow this from Spring term in Nursery, throughout Reception, Year One and Year 2. It is also used for interventions throughout the rest of the school.
The programme begins by teaching an ‘Initial Code’. The children learn that:
- sounds can be represented by spellings with one letter
- that some spellings are written with a double consonant
- some spellings are written with two different letters
Once the children are confident with applying this understanding in their reading and spelling, they move onto the ‘Extended Code’ towards the end of Reception and into Year 1 and 2.
- a spelling can represent more than one sound
- the most common sounds represented by the target spelling
- how to manipulate alternative sounds in and out of words
The skills they learn will continue to be applied in their reading and spelling throughout Key Stage 2. The programme also continues to make close links between reading, spelling and writing.
At Penwortham, we regularly assess the children’s phonic knowledge and skills through the continuous one to one reading sessions and daily writing activities. Every term in EYFS and Key Stage 1, we undertake a more thorough assessment using the Sounds Write scheme. This assesses a child’s code knowledge, segmenting, blending and sound deletion skills. In conjunction with our regular observations, these assessments help to identify children’s progress and any gaps in their knowledge and skills.
Fluency: all children are given opportunities to develop their reading accuracy and prosody (intonation/expression, phrasing, fluidity, punctuation) in a variety of ways:
- Echo reading
- Shared reading
- Paired reading
- Challenging but accessible texts
Comprehension: at Penwortham, we teach children to monitor their comprehension using the principles of ‘Reciprocal Reading’. Beginning in small groups in Early Years, a few skills are slowly modelled and practised at a time. They are gradually built on throughout KS1 and KS2 through whole class teaching four times a week, using our reading skills progression map - click here to read more.
This allows children to deliberately practise comprehension strategies in a classroom environment before applying them in their independent reading. Texts are chosen carefully to ensure challenge and diversity. Lessons are all discussion based and allow children to respond to each other’s ideas; they provide the ideal platform for children to strengthen their speaking and listening skills by sharing and debating opinions.
- Summarising: skilled readers need to continually summarise what they know so far in order to put new information into context.
- Clarifying: this is an essential skill for building vocabulary and evaluating texts. In addition, spending time on this skill tends to lead directly to high-quality writing. By encouraging children to clarify when reading independently, pupils will gain an awareness of their own vocabulary (metacognition) and ensure that any new language is thoroughly understood both generally and, more importantly for understanding, in the context of the text.
- Predicting: this skill can really help children become more invested in finishing books; they might either be satisfied with a correct prediction or surprised by the author’s plot direction. Children are always guided to find evidence in the text to support their predictions or make links and connections with their personal experiences or similar stories or texts they have read.
- Questioning: we structure our question using three types to help deepen children’s understanding of a text: looking, clue and thinking (see information below).
- Evaluating: helps children to form opinions about books they read. It also encourages them to listen to what the rest of their class like to read and guides them to realise that not everyone likes the same books or genres.
Fluency - once children have passed the phonics screening check, they are assessed using YARC reading twice a year so that teachers can measure against an age related text (normally end of Year 1 onwards). As reading is embedded throughout the curriculum, daily assessment of children’s reading skills is made by staff and used to inform teacher assessment.
Comprehension - analysing talk from reading lessons allows teachers to make judgements about children’s comprehension. Comprehension is assessed formally once children are able to decode (normally at the end of Year 1). We use the NFER reading assessments three times a year to support teachers’ own assessments.
It is my favourite thing to do because it is really calming and overall I just like to write.
Year 4 Pupil
At Penwortham children’s love of reading and writing is at the heart of our curriculum. We aim to ensure all children are equipped with the relevant skills they need to communicate their ideas with the world effectively. Throughout our English lessons, we encourage children to develop a love of writing.
What do the children learn and when?
Writing activities are embedded across the curriculum allowing pupils many opportunities to practice and apply the skills and knowledge acquired in their daily English writing lessons.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) skills are embedded throughout English lessons. As the children move through the school, new aspects of grammar and punctuation are introduced and previously taught aspects are revisited and developed.
Spellings build on the foundations of Sounds Write, and lessons continue to unpick, explore and spot patterns in the complex spelling of the English language. Rules and patterns are taught during spelling lessons and revisited throughout the curriculum. Weekly homework provides further opportunities to learn these rules.
How do we teach writing?
Understanding the purpose of our writing is the starting point for our children.
We define purpose as:
- What do we want to achieve?
- Who is our audience?
Examples include: performances, blogs, published stories, news reports, letters, postcards performing to another year group, sharing with the school community. The purpose of our writing is spoken about throughout the lessons.
Language exposure - Children are immersed in rich texts, which have been carefully selected by teachers. Children are encouraged to develop their ideas throughout lessons by taking part in engaging activities. By the end of the lessons they have been fully immersed in the language of the text and developed their ideas and vocabulary.
Modelling - Modelled, shared and guided writing takes place regularly in classrooms as a whole class and in small groups. The class teacher will select on these modelling strategies for the whole class input. It is then used to support children’s independent writing in the development of different forms, styles and genres.
Independent work - Once the children are fully equipped with all the technical skills that they need, they spread their wings and have a go at writing independently.
Editing - Editing is arguably one of the most important parts of the writing process. This is where children have the chance to look back at their work, reflect and make any improvements they feel are needed.
Publishing - Publishing is making sure that the purpose is fulfilled. We use different types of technology to publish, and children take pride in their finished work.
Pupil voice - This allows children to reflect on what they have learnt and share their opinions with the class and teacher.
The writing that pupils produce throughout the year is used as evidence and assessed by class teachers against the Department for Education's Assessment Framework for Writing.
Throughout the year teachers meet in their year group teams and with other schools across Wandsworth to discuss and moderate the children's writing. This ensures consistency and provides a forum for discussion and support.
At Penwortham our aim is for all children to develop a confident, clear and personal handwriting style. We encourage children to take pride and care in their handwriting. ‘Nelsons’ software is used to support the teaching and learning of handwriting. This allows for a consistent approach and progression of handwriting skills across the school.
Gross and fine motor skills are practised through a wide range of activities across the school.
Click the images below to find out more: