At Hamstreet Primary Academy we believe English is integral to a child’s learning process throughout the curriculum. Our aim is to develop confident, passionate pupils, ensuring they have the ability to communicate effectively in speech and writing, whilst developing their understanding of language to create enthusiastic, responsive and knowledgeable speakers, readers and writers. We establish a home-school relationship with parents, who help support their children in reading and comprehension throughout their time at the school.
Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic phonics approach, using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. It is an approach to teaching phonics in which individual letters or letter sounds are blended to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form complete words. Children in Reception also use ‘Jolly Phonics’ actions to go with the sounds.
We use a combination of reading schemes which include Oxford Reading Tree and Floppy’s Phonics. These give a variety of fiction and non–fiction books to develop children’s reading range. Children learn to read at different rates. Once they finish the reading scheme, we encourage them to become ‘free readers’ and choose their own books.
Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. There are no big leaps in learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just ‘recognise’ them.
Phase one will have begun in nursery. This phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics. During this phase especially, we plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. We teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and read good books to and with the children. This helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books. The children learn to identify rhyme and alliteration.
We have a whole-school approach to English. As a school, we place emphasis on reading as a major priority from the earliest years. All teaching is delivered through Big Reading and Big Writing; we successfully use these programme’s methodology and practices consistently from Year 1 to Year 6, ensuring clear progression and continuity across the school so that every child succeeds. We believe this system encourages pupils to be keen, confident and able readers and writers. They establish good talking and listening skills, giving children excellent grounding in language comprehension. All staff are trained to a high level and parents are also given training opportunities to ensure continuity and support at home.
English skills are also used frequently throughout the wider curriculum. We use creative and diverse ways to stimulate writing in a variety of subjects, using carefully selected stories, plays, poems and real experiences to encourage children to write with excitement and interest. Children are given opportunities to draft and redraft their work, improving sentence structure, grammar and punctuation as necessary. Through the use of writing targets children are aware of what they do well and how to improve. To maintain standards, the Leadership Team, staff and pupils are all involved in monitoring and moderating work and we celebrate writing with special display boards at the entrance of the school for all to see.