English at Ravenswood
At Ravenswood, we want every child to enjoy English. We want them to be confident and successful in their use of language to support them on their learning journey. Our children should be able to communicate clearly and effectively, using both spoken and written language, for a variety of purposes and audiences across the curriculum. We are determined that every child who leaves Ravenswood is a fluent, confident reader as their ability to decode and comprehend information is the key to unlock future learning.
The skills for English are taught in a variety of ways to deliver the National Curriculum and the Ravenswood Curriculum. We believe that using high quality, engaging texts (using CLPE’s ‘Power of Reading’) alongside other stimuli such as film narrative (e.g. Literacy Shed) not only motivates children to read and instils in them a love of literature, but also supports their ability to comprehend and communicate effectively through their discussion and writing. These texts are sometimes linked to our topics to help children to become familiar with the context, make connections and build new schemas through their learning. Expanding children’s vocabulary across the whole curriculum is a key focus from EYFS to Year 6, with staff modelling the use of higher-level vocabulary in their own teaching. Children are encouraged to voice their ideas as we recognise that sharing and explaining concepts enriches learning.
At Ravenswood, we use a wide range of summative and formative assessment strategies, based on NC objectives, to measure the impact of our English curriculum on children’s outcomes. These include:
- Termly Progress Trackers to assess progress against National Curriculum objectives supported by Pupil Progress Meetings to track the progress of each child in reading and writing across the year.
- Summative data including termly assessment and end of year Optional SATS tests. End of year tests support teachers’ assessment judgements and highlight any areas of the curriculum that need reinforcing. This is shared with the next teacher allowing for continuity in the children’s learning.
- Y2 and Y6 SATS tests.
- Baseline and Early Learning Goals in Reception.
- Phonics check in Year 1.
- Comments/records for weekly one to one reading in reading records.
- Book looks, Learning Walks and Pupil Voice
- Planning checks
- Regular catch ups with TAs delivering interventions either with class teacher or SENDCo.
- Moderating writing across a phase and key stage in school and in Y2 and Y6 with other schools
Enrichment opportunities include:
- Year 6 and reception buddies sharing stories together
- reading or poetry weeks
- World Book Day
- reading challenges
- book fairs
- book swaps
- Author and story teller visits
- Drama clubs in Y1, Y2/3 and Y5/6
- ‘Play in a Day’
- Trips, visits and visitors
- Newspaper Club
We aim to inspire and encourage children into becoming lifelong readers on a journey from learning to read to reading to learn.
At Ravenswood, we love sharing exciting, relevant stories and books to help children become fluent readers who comprehend well. Our aim is to immerse children in a wide range of stories, poems and non-fiction from a wide range of cultures to develop their imagination and sense of the world. During their time with us, children will encounter many different authors and genres through our selection of ‘Golden Books’ in each year group. Time is prioritised each day for children to listen to teachers read these books as well as others which interest the class. Teachers, teaching assistants, and our ‘Reading Army’, model fluent and expressive reading as well as their own, independent reading time, as we want our children to read for pleasure and to develop into lifelong readers.
In Nursery, children begin their phonic journey using Phase 1 Letters and Sounds. They concentrate on developing their speaking and listening skills and lay the foundations for the phonic work that starts in Reception and KS1. Children learn to read using the ‘Read, Write Inc’ phonics scheme. This is a rigorous, systematic scheme which teaches children how to decipher the alphabetical code alongside key blending, segmenting and letter formation skills. Fluency and confidence in decoding is practised at school with each book read three times across the week. This practice continues at home through books that are carefully matched to each child’s current phonic and reading ability. Through the scheme, children become proficient at tackling the reading and spelling of unfamiliar words.
Please see the phonics policy for further detail.
Once children have completed the Read, Write Inc programme, they develop their reading fluency further and progress onto colour banded reading books which correspond to a child’s ability level. Teachers closely monitor their progress and determine when best for children to move onto the next colour, ensuring that a range of titles and genres have been explored and understood. (See reading appendix for age related colour bands.)
They continue to develop their comprehension through weekly guided reading sessions. Pupils are encouraged to share ideas and engage in reading with a range of age appropriate texts. Children are encouraged to find the evidence and explain their ideas in the text using VIPERS (Vocabulary, Inference, Predict, Explain, Retrieve, Summarise) with teachers choosing which part of VIPERS to prioritise.
In Year 3, children continue to work on fluency and comprehension skills using VIPERS in guided reading sessions with a view to moving onto the ‘Reciprocal Reading’ format by the end of the year. At the start of Year 4, all children who are fluent readers take part in ‘Reciprocal Reading’ comprehension lessons to further support the skills of Predicting, Clarifying, Questioning and Summarising. This may or may not be linked to the text/film being studied. Older children in Years 5 and 6 continue to develop their understanding of texts through structured discussions often related to the ‘Power of Reading’ text studied. At times, discrete lessons, depending on the needs of the class or the comprehension objective to be covered.
At Ravenswood, we believe that regular reading at home is an important tool in developing reading skills. In Reception and KS1, children also take home an additional book to share and read for pleasure with their family. Parents are invited to reading workshops to understand how to support their children at home and are encouraged to share their child’s progress in their home/school reading record. To further support reading for pleasure, all children have access to our wonderfully stocked library where they can choose a book of their choice and each classroom has a book corner or area with a range of books including any topic-related texts.
Assessment in reading is ongoing. Regular Read, Write Inc assessments (every 6 weeks), formative assessments in guided reading and comprehension lessons and termly summative assessments allow teachers to monitor progress. This enables teachers to quickly identify any child who may not be making expected progress. These children will then be identified for catch-up and intervention sessions.
Regular RWI assessments as well as teachers’ formative assessments quickly identify any child at risk of falling behind. Any child in R or Y1 who needs additional practice to ensure they are secure with their phonics has daily ‘Catch-Up’ support. In Year 2, children who are not yet fluent at reading or have not passed the Phonics Screening Check receive specific, targeted interventions up to 3 times per week to close the gap between themselves and their peers. Other children who have been identified as not meeting age related expectations may be given targeted 1:1 reading fluency practice, phonics support or a guided reading intervention to support decoding and comprehension.
At Ravenswood, we want every child to enjoy writing. We believe that writing is a key skill for life, both inside and outside of education and that is why it features across many of the subjects taught in our school. We aim to develop a child who writes with accuracy, confidence and increasing creativity, ensuring that they leave us being able to communicate confidently through their writing.
At Ravenswood, children are given opportunities to write regularly through a range of stimuli. These includes high quality texts, film narratives, cross curricular links, trips, visits and visitors. Each stimulus could be used as a basis for writing over a week, several weeks or half a term, depending on the age of the child and the stimulus chosen. Children explore and discuss the stimulus through creative activities and are given regular opportunities to orally rehearse their ideas. Our yearly overviews ensure children have the opportunity to write using a variety of text types and in different forms. Carefully planned sequences of learning support pupils’ retention of knowledge and skills.
Children begin their writing journey in EYFS. In Nursery, children use dance and large movements to develop their gross and fine motor skills needed for writing with many opportunities for mark making provided in indoor and outdoor learning. Once in Reception, children are taught letter formation and spelling using the ‘Read Write Inc’ scheme. Transcription skills are closely monitored for fluency, which the children practise independently during continuous provision. Oral storytelling is explored through Boxing Clever, Talk for Writing and teacher modelling.
In KS1 and KS2, writing is taught to the whole class. In Year 1, children continue to focus on the basics of correct letter formation and spelling skills taught through the ‘Read Write Inc’ programme. Shared writing opportunities are used to teach and model composition, including age appropriate grammar objectives, before children write simple sentences independently. In Year 2, children move on to the ‘Read Write Inc’ spelling programme. Increasingly fluent transcription skills enable children to write more detailed content, again modelled by the teacher. Children are given opportunities for shared writing, which then leads into independent writing.
‘Talk for Writing’ and ‘Boxing Clever’ continue to be used to develop storytelling skills in Key Stage 1 and children begin to use visuals to plan the beginning, middle and end of a story with grammar objectives either taught discretely or as part of the writing lesson
In Key Stage 2, extended writing takes place weekly either through a ‘Big Write’ or cross curricular writing tasks, with children encouraged to use their growing grammatical knowledge and vocabulary as they move through the key stage. Children in Year 3 continue to use ‘Boxing Clever’ to plan their fiction writing, and by the end of this year, are introduced to ‘OBPRSE’ (opening, build up, problem, resolution, ending), which continues in Years 4-6. All children in Key Stage 2 use the ‘squashed caterpillar’ format to plan non-fiction writing. Grammar is taught during English lessons, either discretely or as part of the writing lesson. The ‘Read Write Inc’ spelling programme continues to be taught; the same format of this is also used to teach the National Curriculum ‘common exception words’. Handwriting is taught discretely in a weekly session where children are taught to join their handwriting using the Nelson scheme.
Once a piece of writing has been completed, all children across both key stages are encouraged to check and edit their work before self-assessing against a set of success criteria. Teachers mark each child’s work against the success criteria. Assessment for learning is used to inform next steps for writing. Children are then given the opportunity to improve their work once it has been marked by the teacher using a purple polishing pen.
Children who are identified as not achieving age-related outcomes are supported in class. This may include small group work with an adult during lessons to model key skills, scaffolds created by the teacher to assist with completion of work and word banks/sentence openers provided to assist the child when writing. Children who haven’t met age related expectations in their transcription skills and spelling receive targeted intervention delivered by a trained TA out of class, separate to the English lesson.