Language and literacy
“One-third of all children are not working securely in speech, language and communication by the time they reach five years old. One in ten children have long-term speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). In some areas of deprivation, more than 50% of children start school with SLCN.”
Language and literacy are the building blocks for success in school, work and life. That is why our Academy gives more time to literacy teaching than other schools.
We also develop all of our teachers to be aware of possible barriers to learning and how to support children if additional help is needed.
Read Write Inc. Phonics: A strong foundation for literacy
Read Write Inc is a teaching programme for 4-7 year-old children learning to read and write, and for 7 and 8 year-olds who need to catch up. It builds children’s knowledge of letter sounds to support their early reading. It also develops handwriting and spelling skills. Children learn to read simple texts out loud in class with partners or in small groups to help them become fluent, expressive readers. Additional one-to-one tutoring support is also provided to ensure that all students progress.
All the children have a class reading text and access daily story time. This whole text sharing experience develops the comprehension skills of our pupils as well as a love of reading.
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In both our Early Years and Year 1 we foster a love of reading with our children through:
Talk Through Stories
A programme developed by Ruth Miskin and focus’s on comprehension and building the understanding of tier two words.
‘…Our aim is to provide them with the breadth and depth of vocabulary they’ll need to understand the books they’ll soon read for themselves, and the conversations and discussion they will have with their teachers and friends…’ Ruth Miskin
English – Novel Study
Once our children have completed the phonics programme in Year 2, they are transferred on to our Novel Study approach. Pupils study an age appropriate challenging text on a half term/termly basis that exposes them to a range of themes, linked to the Topics that they are studying.
The Novel Study approach is delivered on a two weekly cycle, first starting with a ‘carousel lesson’ whereby pupils are encouraged to practise vital skills needed in order to perform well as an independent reader. The activities covered throughout the carousel lesson are text annotation and summarising, how to answer SATs style questions linked to content domains, vocabulary work focusing on morphology and etymology, as well as small group guided reading using a link extract, which is a piece of text or extract of a different text/genre whereby the children have to work out the link to the main text. Children are grouped according to need, e.g. pace, stamina and teachers use this time to guide them forward in this area.
Upon introducing a text for the first time, children experience a ‘Launch Day’ whereby activities from the text are brought to life or clues regarding the plot emerge in front of the children in order to hook them in. This ensures that children have some prior knowledge to fall back on before accessing the text. Once the text has been launched, the reading week commences, focusing on the KS1/2 reading content domains, ensuring skills are being built upon throughout each key stage. Knowledge of themes and vocabulary as well text genre and plots are developed with the children progressively each year, to ensure the pupils experience a deep, rich and varied diet of literature throughout their time at RHPA.
A consistent pedagogical approach towards the teaching of reading is delivered, which consists daily of some form of reading (either independent reading – using a dialogic approach, teacher reading, pre-reading, reading for fluency or accuracy or pace), discussing prior knowledge alongside the main themes arising from the text, annotating and summarising, activities that encourage precise predictions, as well as teaching how to answer questions precisely linked to content domain coverage.
Fluency is taught using the ‘echo approach’. This is where the teacher focuses upon a small extract from the class text, reads the extract using expressions and volume, whilst focusing on pace, smoothness and phrasing. A diagnostic rubric is used in order to ensure the children have individual fluency targets that are worked on throughout these sessions. There are two echo reading sessions built into the novel study, reading week. The first session allows the children to text mark, using consistent symbols to pinpoint the use of the four specified fluency elements discussed already. Children are then given time with their partner to read the extract fluently, working on their targets, supporting each other to deliver their best ‘performance’ read to the group. Metacognition is used in order to move children’s learning forward. In the second echo reading session, children are given an opportunity to do their best performance read again, allowing transferral to the long term memory.
The second week in the novel study cycle focuses on the development of writing, following the weekly carousel lesson. Throughout the 4 days, children are exposed to good examples of the genre/style of writing that is expected of them by the fourth day. Children read these examples whilst comparing and contrasting them and learning about structure and format. Grammatical structures are taught throughout this week, as well as editing skills in order to up-level work, resulting in a ‘best’ piece of writing.
As previously mentioned, grammar is taught during the writing week of the Novel Study cycle, so that the grammatical structures can be seen in context of the genre of writing. Working walls can be seen around school that showcase what a good piece of work should look like, clearly labelling the grammatical structures in context.
At Richmond Hill, we also deliver discreet grammar and spelling lessons, of which we follow the Rainbow Grammar and spelling progression programme, ensuring knowledge is built from reception upwards using coloured cards to symbolise grammatical parts of a sentence.
Research is used at RHPA in order to ensure staff are using teaching strategies that have the most impact. Vocabulary is taught with a consistent pedagogical approach from year 2 onwards using the teaching of morphology and etymology. (Research taken from Mary Myatt, Alex Quigley and Kelly Ashley). Tier 2 words are carefully selected from each chapter of every novel study text, in each year group, ensuring children understand the meaning of the parts of the word as well as the origins of the word, to further enhance exposure to new vocabulary.
Each year group also revisit selected words taught from the previous year group, using distributed practise to ensure that the definitions are secured in the long-term memory. It is expected that the words focused upon through the teaching of morphology and etymology are revisited not only in the children’s writing, but also revisited through the carousel lessons.
Let’s Think in English
Additional to our Novel Study approach, children are exposed to a fortnightly Let’s Think in English lesson. These lessons are specifically designed to develop children’s critical and analytical thinking skills. The programme has been developed in London, steeped with over 50 years of research linked to cognitive acceleration and cognitive science. Children are exposed to a stimulus, which could be in the form of a text (not linked to the novel studied in the reading lesson), a short film or a series of photographs, for example. Children are asked to collaborate to form an answer to questions as to what they think might be happening in the scene or the plot and they are then asked to justify their answer. Children are taught oracy skills, as they are expected, from year 1 through to year 6, to listen carefully to the thoughts/opinions offered by their peers and then are expected to answer stating whether they agree, or disagree or would like to add on to their peer’s idea. Throughout each lesson, the scenario presented will always include an element of cognitive conflict, whereby there is no right or wrong answer. The children are expected to give their views alongside their peers and they are allowed to change their minds after listening to others’ views, as long as they can reason why. This process of cognitive conflict aids children’s inference skills, therefore supporting their comprehension skills when reading. The Let’s Think in English lesson is a vital part of our English curriculum at RHPA.