Speaking and Listening
Oral communication is an important skill that children in all year groups are encouraged to develop at Fitzmaurice. Younger children will learn to articulate their thoughts and feelings through role play and discussion.
This continues as the children travel through the school, developing their questioning, while they learn to explain their understanding and ideas.
By year 5 and 6, children will be given opportunities to give formal presentations and participate in debate, when they are taught how to challenge the views of others courteously.
We teach phonics daily using Letters and Sounds in a multi-sensory way. Children’s phonic knowledge is tested in Year 1; this is statutory testing and was introduced in 2012 by the Department for Education who say:
“High quality phonics teaching gives children a solid base on which to build as they progress through school. Children who master the mechanics of reading are well-placed to go on to develop a love of reading.
The phonics screening check is a short and simple assessment of phonic decoding. It consists of a list of 40 words, half real words and half non-words, which Year 1 children read to a teacher. Administering the assessment usually takes between four and nine minutes per child.
The check is designed to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard and have grasped the essential skills that underpin good reading.”
Reading is more than just words. At Fitzmaurice we teach reading using a phonic and sight vocabulary approach using systematic banded books that enable children to enjoy success at every stage. Our reading scheme consists of fiction, non-fiction and poetry from a mixture of different publishers to give children a wide range at every stage.
Children are taught reading in school through guided reading sessions and they have the opportunity to practice their skills by reading individual at home and at school. At school we have a number of dedicated volunteers who provide the opportunity for children to practice their reading skills on a 1:1 basis.
The school environment is rich in examples of language, and children are provided with opportunities to see adults writing; this is particularly important in the Early Years Foundation Stage where the children are encouraged to experiment with writing themselves, for instance in the role-play areas.
The children begin to be formally taught writing after completing phase 2 of Letters and Sounds, although before that writing is modelled by the teachers and pupils are given many opportunities to write when choosing. Children are taught through emergent writing, not copy writing and throughout the school are encouraged to “have a go” in order to develop and reinforce their writing skills.
In Key Stage 1 and 2 the children continue to develop their writing skills with them being encouraged to bring together all the different elements that exist in writing. In key stage one and lower key stage two the children are taught a focus text using Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing. This process takes place over three weeks. In the first week (Imitation) the children will learn to orally retell the text using a text/story map helping them to internalise the pattern of the language required. During this stage they also undertake drama activities to understand characters and events. The second week (Innovation) children innovate the story. Initially this is modelled through the use of shared writing where key characters and events are changed and further detail is added but retaining the original patterns of language used. In the final week (Invention) children apply their new writing skills to write a new version of the text. The children are encouraged throughout the two latter stages to proof read and evaluate their own work in order to improve it.
Children are taught grammar, punctuation and spelling using a variety of methods including mental oral starters and Ros Wilson’s VCOP to help children consider and improve the vocabulary, openers, connectives and punctuation they will use in their work. They are helped to consider ‘wow’ words to improve their writing; for example they are encouraged to use ‘whispered’ or ‘shouted’ instead of said. Children are taught what different punctuation marks mean and how to use them. Throughout the year the children are taught different genres of writing; for example, stories, reports or instructions.
Periodically throughout the year the children write in response to whole key stage or school stimulus, in term 3 the children in key stage one wrote a fantasy story about aliens and why they crash landed in the school grounds.
Handwriting is a separate skill and is taught discretely and frequently. Children from year one are taught the cursive script where the letters include a lead in/entry stroke.
This supports children in year two to join their writing. In Key Stage 2 children work towards achieving their ‘pen licence’ which means they can begin to use a handwriting pen, when appropriate, in their work.
The National Curriculum requirements for spelling, including word lists for KS2, can be found in this document:
* GPC = Grapheme (Letter/s) Phoneme (Sound) Correspondence