At St Leonard’s, we aim to inspire a deep love of reading and writing independently, as well as teach children vital grammatical skills and knowledge. We know that reading can create joy and entertainment as well as knowledge. It is for these reasons that our aim is to develop passionate readers for life.
At St Leonard’s, we believe that writing should be purposeful, rich and enjoyable for all. Children are given the skills to write for a variety of styles, whether it be a story, a formal letter or a personal diary entry. This is so they continue to explore and apply their writing skills to many other parts of their lives.
Phonics and Reading at St. Leonard’s
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex, it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. At St Leonard’s, pupils start phonics lessons in the Early Years Foundation Stage. For this, we follow 'Letters and Sounds' in Nursery for phase 1. From phases 2 - 6 we use the ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ programme.
Children cover phase 1 in the Nursery and phases 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Reception where they learn initial letter sounds and then progress to digraphs and trigraphs. Children are taught how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for early reading and also helps children learn how to spell. When pupils move into Key Stage One, they continue their phonics journey. They review prior knowledge taught in Reception and are then taught phase 6. Phonics is taught in an engaging and multi-sensory way on a daily basis. Pupils take part in active lessons focused on a specific sound to help develop their reading skills. They learn to apply sounds to both real words and nonsense words to show they have a thorough understanding of certain sounds. Along with this, children are taught 'harder to read and spell' words and high frequency words such as ‘my,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’. The 'Essential Letters and Sounds' programme gives access to weekly decodable texts to help support the children's application of phonics. Also, we use Bug Club for children to have even more access to books at the correct stage. This completely matches the new DfE criteria for quality synthetic phonics resources.
In the Juniors, the children continue to focus on spellings that they have learned in the infants and then move onto learning more about grammar and punctuation.
Learning to read is one of the most important things your child will learn at our school. We believe that everything else depends on it. That’s why, here at St. Leonard's, reading plays a huge part in the broad and balanced curriculum that we offer and we take great pride in this. Our aim is to promote high standards of literacy by ensuring that every single child is equipped with the skills required to learn how to read. It is hoped that through this, pupils grow with a passion for reading and develop a love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
The national curriculum states that through reading, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. They go on to say that reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know.
At St. Leonard’s, we teach and encourage reading in different ways across the school to ensure that pupils of all ages are given the opportunity to thoroughly improve and develop their reading skills.
We use a scheme called Bug Club which is the first whole-school reading programme that joins books with an online reading world to teach today's children to read. On this platform, children are able to collect books online and can go back and re-read books that they have enjoyed.
Using Bug Club books, children in the EYFS engage in daily 1:1 reading sessions with the class teacher. The class teacher will then discuss the text with the child and ask questions to check understanding. In Key Stage One, pupils continue to use books from the Bug Club scheme to engage in guided reading sessions.
During these sessions, one group of children reads with the class teacher whilst the other groups of children work on various literacy based activities in a carousel format independently or with the class teaching assistant supervising. Examples of activities prepared for the carousel would be journal writing in their ‘News books’ or playing a fun game of ‘high frequency words’ Bingo.
In KS2, reading is taught in a whole-class reading format. This means that instead of guided reading groups and a carousel of activities, pupils have daily reading lessons as a whole class. These lessons are built around the teacher reading high-quality and challenging texts, which are dissected by the class through high-level questioning and discussion. This ensures that pupils at St. Leonard’s are regularly immersed in high-quality children's literature. Pupils are also given the opportunity to read parts of the text during lessons which helps to boost their confidence, skimming and scanning skills and fluency. Whole class reading lessons also include a range of activities – not all of which have to have a written outcome – that enable pupils to develop their vocabulary and comprehension skills.
Writing at St Leonard's
At St Leonard’s, we recognise that spoken language is essential for writing. In Reception, there are a range of inspiring opportunities given to develop children’s language throughout every day. Each week, there is a new theme with new experiences and vocabulary for the children to explore. As well as this, they are taught phonics daily, which supports the children when moving from mark making to writing words and sentences.
In Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, we use an approach called ‘Talk 4 Writing’ created by Pie Corbett. This places speech and language at its heart to develop fluent and creative writers. It allows children to imitate the language orally for a book or theme. As well as focusing on key texts, children are given motivating experiences, to promote high quality writing across the whole curriculum.
The writing curriculum for each year group has been planned carefully to ensure all different genres are covered, including fiction texts (e.g. adventure stories, fairy tales, stories from other cultures) and non-fiction texts (e.g. newspaper reports, diary entries, instructions).
Teachers plan a ‘learning journey’ for each genre/key text covered, which is shared with the children. This is so they understand the purpose for writing and what they are building their skills towards.
The learning journey follows the format below:
Here is an example of a Year 2 pupil's work from each phase.
Spelling and Grammar
At St Leonard’s, we firmly believe that a sound understanding of grammar will lead to an improved understanding of English and how written and oral language works. Grammar is taught in isolation 3 times a week. In these sessions children are given a chance to explore new grammatical features; working collaboratively and orally. At St Leonard’s, we know that the right grammar can make writing powerful. That is why we embed a focus on grammar in their writing. It helps children to truly understand the purpose behind the grammatical choices they make.
Spelling is taught twice a week. Each week, children are given a spelling rule to learn about and practise at home. In addition to this, there is an emphasis to key words across the whole curriculum. These key words are discussed and displayed in classrooms for children to use.
English Learning Zone
- For support on teaching reading and spelling with your child
- Bug Club
- Oxford Reading Tree
- Oak Academy