We put reading and writing at the heart of our learning at King Athelstan and we are very proud of our English curriculum. Over the years we have put a lot of work into how we deliver a rich and engaging English programme, linked to curriculum topics, classic literature and grammatical skills, ensuring progress and enjoyment for all.
Reading for pleasure is at the top of our reading agenda at King Athelstan and we have worked hard to create a positive reading environment.
‘Research finds that reading for pleasure can result in increased empathy, improved relationships with others, reduced symptoms of depression and dementia, and improved wellbeing.’ - The Reading Agency
How do we promote reading at King Athelstan?
As parents and carers you can support the love of reading at home by listening to your child read and reading to them daily. Bedtime stories and reading at home, not only increase academic ability, but also help to strengthen family relationships and foster a lifelong love of books. Please see the attachment below "The Importance of Daily Reading".
The Book Trust have some amazing resources to help you with reading at home:
Sign up free to Oxford Owl for free eBooks online:
At King Athelstan we teach children to read and write using phonics. Phonics is a way of matching the small units of sound in spoken English to the letters or groups of letters which represent that sound in writing.
As a school we follow the Ruth Miskin, Read Write Inc. (RWI) programme, which links every phoneme (sound) to a picture and a phrase to help the children remember it.
For example: the letters a and y, once joined together, make the sound ‘ay’ and the phrase we use to remember it is: ‘May I play?’
RWI is taught explicitly from Reception to Year 2 to support the early stages of reading and spelling. Reception children take home 'Pocket Rocket' stories each week with the sounds that they have been learning and KS1 children recieve phonics homework to help recap sounds learnt each week.
As soon as children have completed the RWI phonics programme, they move on to learning alternative spelling rules and reading more complex texts.
Using pure sounds is imperative when children are learning to blend for reading and segment for spelling. This video will help you with articulating the phonemes (units of sound):
Please see the Parent Workshop slides on the left dropdown menu for more information about how to support your child with early reading and writing at home.
Once children have developed their decoding skills, they can move onto our guided reading programme.
As mentioned before, the ‘love of reading’ is vital to the wellbeing of our children, so we have designed our reading curriculum to be engaging, comprehensive and most of all, fun. We are very proud of the fact that when studying a book, we have enough copies of the paperback for one each, so that the children experience the joy of holding a real text when reading.
We use different teaching techniques such as: guided reading, shared reading and independent reading to develop their comprehension and fluency skills, with a real focus on paired talk and partner work to support vocabulary development.
To ensure all children are enthusiastic about writing, we give every writing task a purpose: whether that be writing a letter to someone in the community, creating a missing poster for a character they are reading about or making a story for the book corner. Children enjoy writing if there is a reason – and we plan our writing curriculum with this in mind.
The teaching of handwriting starts with mark making in Nursery and is then inextricably linked with the teaching of phonics in Reception and KS1. At King Athelstan we use phrases like ‘Birdy Fingers’ to remind the children of their ‘Tripod Grip’, which means they initiate their pencil grip with the shape of a bird's beak. Please see attachment below for the 'Birdy Fingers' or 'Tripod Grip.'
We also use ‘letter families’ to teach children how to form each letter correctly
Once they are confident with their pencil grip we set children handwriting targets and they move from bronze to gold. Once they have achieved their gold award they are presented a 'pen licence' which means they can move from writing in pencil to writing in blue pen. In KS2 when their handwriting is immaculate, they move on to a fountain pen!
Grammar and spelling are fundamental to the teaching of writing and this is taught through daily modelled writing, specific marking, feedback and targeted lessons to teach new skills.
To become confident and articulate readers and writers, children need to learn new vocabulary to enhance their writing to engage the reader and learn new words to understand what they are reading. We use drama and role play to support children’s language development alongside complex vocabulary word banks to extend children’s previous knowledge.
Parents and Carers can help with language development at home by chatting about their day, talking about the environment when they are out and about and reading stories to their children.
‘Children who read plenty of memorable stories avidly and repetitively, or are read a regular ‘bedtime story’, will implicitly internalise language patterns. Many of these children have the skill to draw on this resource for their own writing. Traditional tales are significant because they loiter in the mind powerfully due to their rhythmic, repetitive language but also because of their powerful images – wolves and trolls tend to hang around!’ - Pie Corbett
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