We are committed to developing literacy skills through uniting the important skills of reading and writing. Learning environments are rich and our text and enquiry-based curriculum enables staff to plan learning opportunities across the curriculum around a class text or extracts from carefully chosen texts from the Redwood Reading Spine. Children are able to apply their skills in a range of contexts through the use of these specifically chosen texts and this ensures that year group objectives are broadened and deepened in line with a mastery approach to teaching.
At Redwood, we know that the ability to read has the biggest impact on outcomes for children in their lives beyond the school gate. We believe all children need to leave primary school confident, secure readers and strive to ensure all children reach their reading potential. We teach children to read initially by using the Read Write Inc. phonics scheme supplemented by a variety of means as children’s skills develop. The children have the opportunity to select from a wide range of good quality reading books at an appropriate level which have been closely matched to their phonics stage. This ensures they are able to decode the words they are reading and increase in fluency and confidence. Once they have completed the RWInc phonics scheme, children stay on Read Write Inc books for an additional period of time to ensure they are proficient, fluent readers before moving on to banded reading books.
We also know that once children are able to decode fluently, the are willing and able to read for pleasure and make choices about the style of books and authors they enjoy. We believe this is a skill needed for life and is beneficial to wellbeing. Children are also encouraged to choose a book for pleasure from a well-stocked library and their own class reading areas to enjoy alongside their banded reading books. We have devised a list of Redwood Recommended 'Must Reads' for each year group and reward children who are frequent readers.
The link between reading and writing is supported further by guided comprehension and reciprocal reading which takes place daily throughout school. This deepens children’s knowledge of a text as well as promoting quality vocabulary that can be transferred into writing. Children are able to develop their ability to predict, read, clarify, question and summarise and will use these skills to analyse challenging texts in a range of styles. This is supported further by high profile reading characters that pinpoint specific skills children need to be real readers.
Children’s progress in reading and writing is carefully monitored throughout the school and every child in KS1 and KS2 has their own writing folder which keeps a record of independent work and showcases the progress made within a year. To help children progress in their learning and understand what they need to do to improve, each child has access to their year group objectives for reading and writing and these are discussed regularly with the children.
A variety of opportunities are provided across the curriculum for children to develop their writing skills in different styles. For example, writing reports, stories, poems, notes, plays, lists and diaries around a range of themes and topics relevant to the children’s current text or linked to their surrounding environment. Teachers refer regularly to the purpose and audience of writing so that children view their writing as meaningful.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar are an essential part of literacy and discreet sessions and homework are utilised regularly to enhance these key areas. Criteria for success are also given a high profile within every class so that all staff and children have the highest expectations of their writing. Spellings and key vocabulary is displayed in each classroom on working walls and word mats and children understand the importance of using these resources to enhance their writing.
Children are provided with regular opportunities to develop the essential skills of speaking and listening. This is done through discussion, drama and specific listening activities in pairs, groups and as a class. Good oral work enhances pupils’ understanding of language in both oral and written forms. Talk for Writing is also utilised to give children opportunities to learn model texts and become familiar with the structure and language used in a range of styles.
From Foundation Stage, children are taught letter formation and joins following our handwriting scheme, which enables children to develop an independent, mature style of writing. Good presentation is expected at all times and displaying children’s work is an integral part of this process. Ultimately we want each child to develop a fluent, legible and attractive style of handwriting with joined writing being expected from the start of KS2.