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Mill MeadPrimary SchoolAn inspirational learning community, where our children thrive today and tomorrow

English

 

English at Mill Mead

English sits at the heart of our curriculum and our approach seeks to fully prepare children for a life full of reading and writing. 

Reading Intent 

At Mill Mead, reading lies at the heart of our school. We aim to instill a lifelong love of reading, encouraging our children to step into, and explore, the many different worlds that books can offer. In doing so, we develop skills that enable our pupils to express themselves both creatively and imaginatively; communicate effectively and confidently; and develop empathy for themselves and those around them. It is these skills that are not only at the forefront of what it means to learn at Mill Mead, but equally essential in ensuring our children achieve their potential in life, far beyond primary school. 

 

Our curriculum intent and our school values, to be Honest   Respectful   Resilient   Kind   Brave  Responsible   Reflective, both inform and enhance our approach to the teaching of reading. Social Justice, Equity and Resilience are embedded in school life at Mill Mead, particularly within our chosen texts and the way in which we approach reading (see writing map). In partnership with parents, we aim to promote high standards of both spoken language and comprehension of the English language. We believe that our approach ensures the personal development of each and every child, with the ultimate aim of cultivating their love of reading and learning. Our core texts across the school are chosen carefully to instill all these aspects: things that make learning to read here at Mill Mead different to any other school. 

 

Our Implementation 

Mill Mead’s implementation of the reading curriculum is shaped by the needs of our children, our intent and our school values. The detail below outlines how we implement our intent towards reading, and should be read alongside our phonics and English maps for further detail. 

 

Phonics 

Here at Mill Mead, phonics is taught using Bug Club, a fun and engaging approach to learning letters and sounds. Using this as a basis, we personalise the Bug Club approach to ensure it caters to the unique needs of our cohorts and school. 

 

In Reception, we provide a systematic, synthetic phonics programme, which ultimately teaches our children how to read and write. Our approach instills an understanding of the main sounds, which then leads to blending sounds into spoken words. This equips children with the skills they require for reading and writing, providing a stable foundation to build upon throughout their school journey. 

 

Details of of progression of phonics teaching can be found in the reading folder on our website on the document entitled ‘Phonics Phases and Sounds at Mill Mead’.

 

During discrete, daily lessons, children in reception are exposed to 5 new sounds a week in reception, on average, quickly progressing through all necessary sounds to access books. These are then recapped and revisited in order to consolidate, support and challenge individual children. By the end of Reception, children will have been exposed to all main sounds: the integral building blocks of reading. 

Within a Phonics lesson, children are taught:

  • Grapheme-phoneme (letter-sound) correspondences 
  • The skill of blending (synthesising) phonemes in order to read words
  • The skills of segmenting words into their constituent phonemes to spell
  • That blending and segmenting are reversible processes
  • How to articulate phoneme clearly and precisely 

 

In Year 1, the key sounds are revised and consolidated in preparation for the Phonics Screening Test. In year 2, phonics is still taught to those children who require support with their phonological awareness and understanding.

 

Whilst we recognise and promote the importance of phonics as a foundation to enable children to read confidently, we also recognise how critical it is during early reading exposure that children listen to, and enjoy, a variety of stories and texts. Our texts, documented within our English map, represent the books we feel all children here at Mill Mead should read and, additionally, are linked to our curriculum intent and school values. In a similar vein, we also use this exposure to core texts to develop and enhance children’s comprehension of what they are reading or listening to.

 

Daily Supported Reading (DSR) - Reception, Year 1 and Year 2

Within Key Stage 1, alongside synthetic phonics, we use Daily Supported Reading (DSR) to embed our approach to early reading at Mill Mead. The approach aims to inspire and challenge children from the start of their reading journey, ensuring, and maximising, individual progress. Subsequently, we strive to create fluent readers, who are independently motivated. Every day, a trained adult works with a small group of children, exploring books that are specifically matched to their current reading attainment, and employing techniques used to enhance autonomy and independent problem solving. Each group reads two carefully selected books across Monday-Thursday, which leads to rapid progress and exposure to a large volume of varied texts. On Friday, the children partake in a “Bigger Picture” lesson, in line with our use of DR in KS2, focusing on whole-class comprehension, using a class extract or text. Children then move through the banded books, until they become a “free reader”.

DSR (+ whole-class comprehension) is used, for age related children as detailed below:

 

Reception - from Spring Term

Year 1 - all year

Year 2 - Autumn term

 

Our curriculum is founded upon high-quality texts that have been carefully and deliberately selected for each cohort. Within Key Stage 2, we use Destination Reader (DR) to inform our approach to teaching reading, whilst ensuring the texts used are personalised to our curriculum, mapped to ensure progression and reflective of our values. DR is a whole class approach to reading which ensures that all children, even less-confident readers, are exposed to high-quality texts and teaching. Reading lessons occur daily, with the aim of deepening the children’s understanding of the texts they read, through the systematic use of strategies focusing on: predicting, making connections, asking questions, evaluating, inferring, summarising and clarifying whilst also exposing children to relevant and challenging vocabulary. Talk forms a central part of these lessons, further promoting collaborative learning alongside independent development. Bigger Picture lessons on Friday focus on comprehension, where children are able to apply the skills they have been focusing on in lessons. Where possible, the texts used are mapped to class History and Geography foci and, therefore, can further influence writing pieces to create a cross-curricular approach. 

 

Assessment of Reading

At Mill Mead, we believe that assessment should be ongoing and varied. Phonics is assessed every half-term, in line with our Bug Club approach. For children in Reception, KS1 and those yet to be assessed as a “free reader”, we Benchmark students at the start of the year and for subsequent data drop weeks. For those children involved in DSR, assessment is continuous, recorded across the week and then discussed with the other trained adults at the end of the week. This enables us to encourage children to progress quickly and to ensure that all groups remain targeted and attainment-focused.

 

Within DR lessons, assessment is also ongoing. Teachers use “selfies” three times a week to assess how well children can apply the focus skill. These are documented within our Reading Journals and simply refer to a short, written task designed to target a specific skill, which also encourages self-assessment. Additionally, our Bigger Picture lessons aim to assess the independent application of reading skills, providing teachers with a tangible measure for assessment. 

 

Within both DSR and DR lessons, an adult will read with each child at least once a week. This is documented within the children’s reading records, to carefully assess fluency and comprehension and, additionally, to create an open communication channel between home and school. 

 

Home Reading

At Mill Mead, we provide and encourage regular opportunities to read independently, following lines of curiosity and interest, yet still ensuring our books are mapped to each individual’s reading attainment. We expect children to read regularly at home and ideally ask for minimum times as detailed below to be used to read daily with their parents or carers. 

 

Reception will be given a phonetically decodable book to take home, which will include sounds that they are currently studying in their phonics lessons. This enables them to practice their phonics outside of the classroom setting. Children will bring a particular book home until they are ready to progress on to the next set of sounds. In addition, children will progress onto banded books, matched to their current reading attainment levels. This allows children to start developing their comprehension skills alongside practicing their phonics/reading knowledge. Banded books will be changed weekly. Finally, following a bi-weekly trip to the school library, children will be given the freedom to choose a book of their choice, in order to promote reading for pleasure and encourage them to follow their curiosities. We ask that children in Reception read for 10 to 15 minutes daily. 

 

In Key Stage One, some children will continue to bring home phonics books as they embed their phonological awareness. All children will bring an appropriate banded book home which will be changed weekly. We ask that children in Key Stage One read for 15 to 20 minutes daily. 

 

We expect most children to reach ‘free reader’ level within Year 2 and from then, into Key Stage Two, they will bring home a free choice book from the library alongside an age-related book from their class book corners. These books have been divided into those pitched at age-related expectations, and those which aim to stretch and challenge children working at a greater depth. We ask that children in Key Stage Two read for at least 20 to 30 minutes each day. 

 

Our Library and Book Corners

Our desire to promote a lifelong love of reading extends beyond the access to the books detailed above. We truly believe that children should be exposed to high-quality texts, which strike a balance between ensuring they have autonomy in choosing what to read, and those which are pitched at the appropriate reading and content level for their age. 

 

With that in mind, children visit our beautiful school library twice a week and can choose any book from a vast array of fiction and non-fiction titles. 

 

Within each classroom, there is also a dedicated book corner that is stocked with age-appropriate books, primarily engaging fiction texts, which provide an appropriate level of both interest and challenge. Throughout the book corners, we also ensure that our values and curriculum intent can be explored further by children too. Our age-appropriate books tackle a wide range of issues surrounding our inclusivity and diversity agendas. 


 

Writing Intent

 

At Mill Mead, we strive to help our children develop into imaginative and articulate communicators, across many different means of communication. Alongside a love of reading, we aim to instill a love of language and the written word, encouraging children to express themselves effectively and creatively through writing. Our writing curriculum links closely to our reading curriculum, regularly using the high-quality, carefully-selected texts to inspire various writing outcomes across a number of different genres. In turn, with the texts often complementing history and geography topics nicely, our writing plan is wonderfully cross-curricula, integrating multiple aspects of the children’s learning and, therefore, making writing at Mill Mead both purposeful and individualised. 

 

Writing Implementation

We believe that all elements of effective writing, including grammar and punctuation, should be relevant and meaningful. As such, we study different genres of writing and how writing techniques vary across them. We teach core components of successful writing, whilst exploring how these can be adapted and manipulated to write effectively for different purposes and audiences. It is this understanding of purpose and audience that drives our writing curriculum, showing children that their own words can have real impact. Subsequently, we encourage children to take ownership of their writing, seeing themselves as real writers, and enjoying the composition process. 

 

The genre units are carefully mapped out across all year groups, ensuring effective coverage of both genre and skill school-wide. Each year group studies a variety of fiction and non-fiction. Within a unit, children explore a model text, carefully constructed using our personalised progression documents. Children follow a clear composition path, first immersing themselves into the text, familiarising themselves with key features, planning their own, writing their own and then editing their final piece.  Despite units covering a number of weeks, children will complete an independent piece of writing every week as a minimum. 

 

Our feedback policy works nicely alongside the editing process. At Mill Mead, we believe children should have full ownership over their work and their books. As such, teachers do not write in children’s books. All feedback is given verbally, through the process of conferencing. Conferencing occurs throughout the drafting process, either individually or in small focus groups, giving children personalised and meaningful feedback which enables them to constantly reflect on and improve their work. Children then write down what they have discussed with their teacher and the impact of this conversation is often visible immediately, through the use of purple pen. 

 

Handwriting

At Mill Mead, we are very proud of our pupil’s handwriting and take particular care in our handwriting style. We use Letter-join’s on-line handwriting resource as the basis of our approach to the teaching of handwriting. More information about handwriting can be found in our handwriting policy.

 

Spelling 

We use Spelling Shed, an organised progression through the Spelling and Grammar objectives outlined in the English National Curriculum, to teach spelling. Pupils receive a weekly spelling lesson, introducing new words, their definitions and addressing similarities between spellings and/or sounds. At the end of the week, following engaging activities, children will be tested on these words to assess and consolidate their learning. 

 

Oracy

We promote oracy throughout the curriculum and teachers ensure these critical skills are taught progressively. We focus on four main strands: physical development, language development, thinking and cognition, social development. At Mill Mead, we believe that these areas of oracy will aid our children in becoming effective and creative communicators.

 

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