At Priors Hall ALC we strongly believe that all our pupils deserve the highest quality education in English. Through ‘quality first’ teaching, our children will learn to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, and through their reading and listening, they will understand and evaluate the views of others.
We encourage a love of reading in particular, as it will give our pupils the chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. We ensure we have a daily ‘protected’ story time for the children to listen to books being read by an adult. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. By exposing children to a range of high quality texts, we aim to increase and improve their vocabulary beyond that which they hear or use in everyday speech. In addition to this, every year group is introduced to a new ‘Word of the Week’, where the children develop a deep understanding of the word, which contributes to a rich bank of vocabulary.
All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society. Our pupils therefore, will learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently; they will be prepared for a future in which they have all the tools to succeed.
Our English team is made up of Mrs Ellis (Writing Leader), Mrs White (Reading Leader) and Mrs Brazier (Phonics Leader).
Reading and Phonics at Priors Hall ALC
‘Reading is dreaming with your eyes open’
At Priors Hall, we love reading! Reading is the gateway to knowledge and as such, we prioritise teaching our children the reading skills they need to succeed in all areas of their learning. Our pupils reading learning journey begins in Nursery and Reception, where our pupils are immersed in creative knowledge rich environments rooted in the quality texts they share daily. From Year 1 to Year 6, our pupils enjoy dedicated Whole School Reading Lessons, which focus on using reading VIPERS for the explicit teaching of the core reading skills; Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation and Sequencing/Summarising. As a school, we aim to provide our pupils with the knowledge, skills and experience to read broadly for not only academic success but for pure pleasure.
Phonics and Early Reading
At Priors Hall – a learning community, we have a clear, consistent, whole school approach to the teaching of phonics and early reading, delivered through the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ scheme. Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ is a DFE fully validated approach. It supports children’s awareness of aural discrimination, phonemic awareness and rhyme. Adoption of this scheme ensures that we provide a fully systematic and sequential approach to developing the skills needed for early reading. ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ ensures that our teaching supports children in developing their understanding of using the alphabetic code for reading and spelling, ranging from simple to complex words. This consistent delivery of the knowledge and skills needed for early reading is facilitated for our learners as their early reading skills develop. It encourages independent reading and spelling, through repetition and consolidation. Using this approach, spelling becomes automatic as children learn to segment words to spell and blend words to read. Children’s interactions with adults, across the curriculum, are rich in ambitious language and rhyme. This language rich environment for children ensures that they are immersed in literature and spoken word that broadens their vocabulary and understanding of reading, talking and writing. Spoken word and rhyme throughout all learning opportunities, when combined with daily, discrete and sequential teaching of phonics, ensures that our children develop confidence and can apply these skills to their own purposeful reading and writing in a range of contexts. We understand that high quality teaching of phonics, combined with consistent exposure to engaging stories and print, is the key to developing independent readers who demonstrate a ‘love of reading’. We strive for every Priors Hall child to be ‘a reader’, with an understanding of the opportunities that reading provides, and a love of stories and print.
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language.
We have an experienced Teacher and team of staff in Nursery who are trained in ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ progression, to ensure that Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers. Children make a strong start in Reception and teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term. The ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ progression document ensures that
- Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily keep-up lessons – Every Child as a Reader. Any child who needs additional practise has daily ‘keep-up support’, taught by a fully trained adult. ‘Keep-up’ lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
Phonics beyond Y1
We timetable phonics lessons for any child in Year 2, 3 and 4 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the keep-up resources at pace.
If any child in Year 5 or 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading, they will have a tailored approach to support their development in reading, exploring and understanding their barriers and challenges to fluency. This may be a combination of ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’, and ‘Action Words’, that offer a different approach to secure knowledge when reading.
Whole Class Reading
From Year 1 to Year 6, our pupils enjoy dedicated Whole School Reading Lessons, which focus on using reading VIPERS for the explicit teaching of core the reading skills; Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation and Sequencing/Summarising. These specific dedicated reading skills lessons are focused on not only age-related expectations but also on cross-curricular and wider cultural capital exploration opportunities for our pupils to acquire knowledge through text exploration. Each year group reads a class novel daily; this text is used to access deeper thinking activities during reading two of the week’s dedicated reading sessions. The remaining reading skills lessons are based on different text extracts; the extract themes vary to include fiction, non-fiction, notable people, historical themes, geographical themes, poetry, science, SMSC themes and more. Within reading skills lessons opportunities for discussion, individual thinking and presentation of opinion based on the text are created with the aim of enhancing oracy and aiding vocabulary development. Reading skills lessons also provide opportunity for all pupils to be heard reading by their class teacher weekly to support assessment for learning against age related expected reading outcomes. In turn, this also provides further evidence for triangulation of teacher assessments (teacher evidence, formal assessment and in lesson record) which are completed each term.
All children taking part in our chosen phonics programme (Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revisited) have a fully phonic decodable reading book matching the phonic phase and set of sounds the child is currently learning. Once pupils have passed the Year 1 phonics screening evidencing that they are ready to move beyond fully phonic decodable reading books, children select an Oxford Owl Reading Tree reading book. Oxford Owl Reading Tree books are grouped progressively in levels. Following appropriate assessment, an Oxford Owl Reading Tree level is assigned to children, who then select a reading book from their appropriate level to read and enjoy with adults at home. Children who progress through all of the Oxford Owl Reading Tree levels and linked assessments become free readers and as such choose from the wide range of age appropriate texts available in the Upper Key Stage Two area or the library.
Reading at home
Reading at home is an integral part of our children’s learning journey. Our expectations for reading at home are the same for all of our pupils. We expect children to read at home a minimum of three times a week but ideally five times a week. It is important that this is recorded in children’s planners.
Reading at home can be completed in a variety of ways. Children can and should read to adults at home, reading the reading book they bring home but also books, newspapers, magazines or electronic texts they may have. Children can also borrow books from our ever-growing school library. Adults can also read to children at home; bedtime stories, sharing favourite stories or novels form their own childhood or just reading any text together. Older children can read to younger siblings too. We encourage parents and carers to record this in reading records of children's planners.
Writing at Priors Hall ALC
As a school we have adopted "The Write Stuff" by Jane Considine and adapted this scheme to suit the needs of all of our children. "The Write Stuff" follows a method called "Sentence Stacking" which refers to the fact that sentences are stacked together chronologically and organised to engage children with short, intensive moments of learning that they can then immediately apply to their own writing. An individual lesson is based on a sentence model, broken in to three chunks:
- Initiate section – a stimulus to capture the children’s imagination and set up a sentence.
- Model section – the teacher close models a sentence that outlines clear writing features and techniques.
- Enable section – the children write their sentence, following the model.
Children are challenged to ‘Dig Deeper’ which requires them to draw upon previously learnt skills and apply them to their writing during that chunk.
"The Write Stuff" uses three essential components to support children in becoming great writers
The three zones of the writing rainbow:
- The FANTASTICs which are an acronym that summarise the ideas of writing.
- The GRAMMARISTICs is a classroom tool that enables the teacher to drive key grammar messages.
- The BOOMTASTICs which helps children capture ways of adding drama and poetic devices to writing in a vivid visual.