English has many different elements that weave through the entire curriculum. These include speaking and listening, reading, phonics, writing, spelling, handwriting. Each one of these is important but none of them work in isolation as each affects the others.
Much of our English teaching comes from using high quality fiction and non-fiction texts which engage the children's interests. We use digital literacy and drama and role play to further develop children's understanding and engagement.
The children are taught to read using systematic synthetic phonics following the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. However, they are also encouraged to use other cues to decode texts, most importantly, enjoying learning to read and gaining pleasure from reading and sharing books.
We continually add to our range of reading scheme and 'real' books to encourage children to read a wide variety of texts confidently and with expression. We teach a mixture of guided reading and reciprocal reading, allowing the children to both understand how to read words but also how to interpret meaning from these words and discuss their wider understanding of what they read.
We place a high value on reading and children are encouraged to read every day. We visit both the school library, at least once a week and the local library too! We also hold regular reading events such as World Book Day, special poetry weeks and events involving parents and carers. We invite visits from local and international authors, poets and storytellers.
Each classroom has an inviting reading area where children can relax and enjoy reading a book of their choice. The children are taught to respect the books in the reading areas and every child takes responsibility for looking after the books in these areas for future children to enjoy as much as they have. We regularly update the books available to the children so that they remain fresh and interesting.
At Westmeads, we teach a wide range of genres and spelling which progress through the year groups. Children are inspired in their writing by a wide range of stimuli including links with our themes. Children are taught to explore their understanding of key texts and high quality stories through multi-sensory experiences including role play and drama, group work and hands-on activities and events.
Children begin to check and edit their own work and they are actively involved in the next steps in their learning. They take pride in their presentation and work towards handwriting badges as this progresses.
Phonics is the knowledge of letters and the sounds they make. As mentioned earlier, our phonics is taught through the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. In the Early Years Foundation Stage, additional actions are taught to help the children remember the sounds.
The children are taught the skills of blending sounds together to read words and segmenting the sounds in a word and choosing the correct letters needed to spell it.
The children work on the 'Letters and Sounds' programme from phases 1-6, according to the phase of 'Letters and Sounds' they are working on. They receive at least 15-20 minutes focused phonics teaching each day.
Our phonics work is carefully tracked for each individual child so that additional support can be given where needed.