Letter of Praise from Top Poet
One of our former pupils, who moved on to senior school in September was greatly surprised when he popped back to our school recently to find out that Mrs Clargo, his Year 6 teacher, had received a letter from famous poet, Roger McGough about his poem, The Time Collector, penned while he was in her class. Roger McGough is an English poet, performance poet, broadcaster, children's author and playwright. Mrs Clargo had been so impressed with his poem that she sent it to Roger, not really expecting a response. She received a handwritten note from the poet himself praising the poem and urging him to keep writing poetry. We certainly hope he takes Roger's advice!
We recognise the vital importance of listening and speaking skills in a child’s development and we try to give as many opportunities for meaningful discussion as we can. We encourage children to write and record their thoughts in many different ways and for many different purposes. Formal lessons on aspects of grammar, punctuation and spelling take place on a daily basis in all year groups as part of the English lessons.
At Winchcombe Abbey C of E Primary School, we consider reading to be of paramount importance for all of our children. We read for meaning and enjoyment and so alongside the teaching of reading, we aim to foster within every child a love of reading and an understanding of what it is to read for pleasure. This we do through our own enthusiasm for reading, by reading to the children and with the children, by creating an environment to stimulate reading and by providing a wide range of reading materials, well-matched to the children’s needs and interests. The love of reading is further enhanced by special events such as our annual Book Week. During Book Week, children have the opportunity to take part in a number of activities such as theatre presentations, book reviews and presentations, reading with parents and grandparents and book-based quizzes.
In the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) and KS1, children are taught to read using phonics. They have well-planned phonics lessons, based on ‘Letters and Sounds’ and the ‘Jolly Phonics’ programme, in differentiated groups four times per week and their progress is carefully monitored. Phonics lessons may continue into KS2 as required. Throughout the school, children participate in daily reading sessions. Within these sessions, each child will take part in a guided reading lesson, in a small group, once a week. In other sessions they will carry out reading-based activities. Guided reading sessions, along with whole class work on reading, provide the opportunity for children to develop their skills of comprehension. Children in KS2 who find reading difficult are supported by strategies such as the Better Reading Partnership.
We use a wide range of modern phonetically decodable reading books in the EYFS and KS1, from a variety of different publishers. These books also support the children in reading the high frequency words and ‘tricky’ non-decodable words appropriate for their age or level of reading. Our home reading books are organised using the ‘Book Band’ system. At KS2 home reading books are graded into levels to support progression and provide choice. Each class also has a book corner and class library.
We work closely in partnership with parents. Reading books and reading record books are sent home daily. We ask all parents to hear their child read at least 4 times per week, and to sign their reading record book. If this is done, the child’s name will then be entered into a draw each Friday when he/she child could win a book from our Treasure Chest. Regular reading with children is of vital importance to ensure they make good progress in all areas of the curriculum.
For the second year running we have received a letter from Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for School Standards congratulating us on the very high standard of achievement of our pupils in the annual phonic screening check. Very well done to pupils and staff involved.
Inspiring a Love of Reading
The Book Trust is a charity which exists to inspire a love of reading in children as they know that reading transforms lives.The charity has produced a list of the hundred best books for children from the last one hundred years. It is the ultimate booklist to read before you're fourteen. Click on the logo to find out what's on the list for children aged 0-5, 6-8 and 9-11.
How we teach writing
The purpose of writing is to convey meaning. At Winchcombe Abbey C of E Primary School we would like every child to enjoy writing and recognise its value. We teach our children to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. There are many skills involved in the process of writing.
Handwriting: In order to be able to form letters correctly and write with neat, legible handwriting, children must first acquire gross and fine motor skills. In the EYFS, children participate in a wide variety of activities and exercises to develop these skills. Work on gross motor skills continues throughout KS1 and KS2 as necessary, such as through the ‘Fizzy’ programme. Work on fine motor skills also continues, through regular handwriting practice and other activities. In the EYFS, children are given the opportunity to experiment with writing in a variety of forms using a wide range of writing implements. Letter formation is taught regularly. In Y1, when children are able to form their letters accurately, they are taught some basic joins. This continues in Y2 and throughout KS2. It is our aim that children should be able to write in neat, joined handwriting by the end of Y3. We use the WriteStart system of handwriting in which almost all lower case letters are joined. This has benefits for the learning of spelling.
Spelling: The main strategy for the learning of spelling in KS1 is phonics. Children are taught how to spell during their daily phonics sessions in the EYFS and KS1. They learn to apply in writing the sounds that they can identify and read. In addition, children are taught the spelling of ‘tricky’ words which are difficult to break down into sounds but are needed for writing and are used regularly. Spellings are sent home weekly. These may be words incorporating the sounds learnt in phonics groups or high frequency words. In KS2, spelling is also taught regularly through lesson starters as well as discrete lessons. Spellings are also sent home weekly. The spellings chosen are taken from the spelling expectations outlined in the New Primary Curriculum 2014.
Grammar and punctuation: Children are taught punctuation and grammar skills during daily English lessons, either as an integral part of a lesson or in separate discrete lessons. The skills we teach are taken from the expectations of the New Primary Curriculum 2014.
Creating Texts: One of the main strategies that we use when teaching how to create texts, both fiction and non-fiction, is ‘Talk for Writing’. This is based on the idea that if children learn a particular type of text by heart, they will then be able to adapt and use what they have learnt in their own writing. In every year group, children learn texts, both fiction and non-fiction by heart. This learning is supported by actions and story or text maps. They are then given the
opportunity to add innovations to the text and also to invent new texts of their own. We also use a ‘Big Writing’ strategy, which encourages children to write longer pieces independently. Writing is often linked to our creative curriculum topics and many writing skills are practised through the creative curriculum. We also try to encourage our children to write for real purposes and a variety of audiences rather than just themselves or their teachers. We believe it is important for children to write accurately and so we encourage them to edit their work to improve it and to proof read their work for accuracy. Where possible the children are given the opportunity to plan, draft and edit their work.
Marking, Assessment and Targets: Where possible we try to mark children’s work with them, particularly in the EYFS and KS1. In KS2 this is not often possible. However, in all key stages the process of marking and feedback is seen as very valuable for the development of writing. As well as teacher assessment, self and peer assessment is also used. Children are sometimes given checklists and criteria for writing in order to help them identify for themselves their own next steps. Each half term class targets for writing are set but the marking and feedback process also leads to the setting of individual targets. Expectations are based on those outlined in the New Primary Curriculum 2014.