English at Iver Heath Infant School and Nursery
Literacy is at the very centre of all children’s learning. Speaking, listening, reading and writing are crucial life skills and are integral to the enjoyment and understanding of all that we do at school. Literacy therefore has an essential role across the curriculum and helps pupils’ learning to be coherent and progressive.
At Iver Heath Infant School and Nursery we are committed to ensuring children develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language. These will equip them to become lifelong learners and confident and literate adults.
In September 2015 we became a Storytelling School. Initial Storytelling School training was given to all teachers and some LSAs and since then regular Storytelling INSET has been attended.
We follow the English National Curriculum introduced in September 2014 and stories and storytelling drive the way that we teach this.
The Storytelling School initiative has story and storytelling at its heart. In brief, children are introduced to stories and explore them in depth by hearing, story mapping, stepping them out and speaking them. They then deepen these stories through imitation, innovation and invention in shared and independent writing.
We have selected the stories in each year group carefully to ensure a range of genres, an appeal to audience and cross-curricular links with topic work.
The benefits of the Storytelling School approach are many:
- sustained active listening skills;
- confidence in speaking;
- an increase in self-worth as storytellers know their tales are enjoyed and respected thus building feelings of safety and support;
- learning how to appreciate others;
- ability to draw upon an ever-growing repertoire of language patterns both orally and in writing;
- opportunities to ‘magpie’ and experiment with rich and adventurous vocabulary in the spoken and written form;
- choice of quality, exciting stories and kinaesthetic ways of retelling draws in more reluctant learners;
- development of empathy and an understanding of how others think;
- a positive impact on reading habits as children are motivated by story;
- creative questioning and growth of inquisitiveness and enquiry;
- cross-curricular learning;
- development of memory and sequencing skills;
- autonomy and ownership;
- rehearsals for life as stories allow an imaginative experience of events similar to those that will be encountered in life itself;
- wonder and magic and fun!
The Key Stage 1 English timetable
Teachers plan closely with year group colleagues to ensure consistency of opportunity for all children.
Clear objectives are set for each session and are shared with pupils. Teachers differentiate according to the needs of the pupils and use intervention programmes for targeted support and extension activities to challenge and extend the more able pupils.
Each class in Key Stage 1 has a daily literacy lesson focussing on the story/stories of the half term where the skills outlined above are developed and enhanced and where we ensure that the statutory requirements of the English National Curriculum are covered.
In addition to this, we have a daily phonics session based on Letters and Sounds and Jolly Phonics.
Handwriting is also taught as a separate session and we introduced the Debbie Hepplewhite cursive style in September 2016.
We are very fortunate to have a wide range of reading scheme books in our Reading Zone that are colour coded according to the Cliff Moon individualised approach. Children take reading books home daily and are heard to read regularly at school by the class teachers and LSAs, both individually and as part of Guided Reading groups.
Cross-curricular links also contribute to pupils’ effective learning in speaking and listening, reading and writing.
The development and progress of the children’s writing can also be seen within the foundation subjects. The teachers continue to have high expectations of both style and presentation of writing in topic books.
The Foundation English timetable
In the Early Years Framework Curriculum, ‘Communication and Language’ is one of the three Prime Areas, incorporating Listening and ‘Attention’, ‘Speaking’ and ‘Understanding’. Key skills acquired here within the early years of education impact positively on all other areas of learning.
Literacy is one of the Specific Areas of learning and this includes reading and writing.
In Nursery children are encouraged to learn high frequency words when they show a solid grasp of the phonemes and graphemes associated with Phase 2 Letter s and Sounds.
The environment in the Early Years classes promotes the development of language, communication and literacy skills and knowledge with a wealth of resources and activities available to support the children’s learning. Teachers and Support staff model and enhance the learning during self-selected and adult directed activities.
Phonics is taught daily from the beginning of nursery when the children begin phases 1 and 2 of Letters and Sounds. Children are encouraged to identify sounds in the environment and then to move onto learning to segment and blend sounds together as they speak, read and write.
In Reception children consolidate their knowledge of Phases 1 and 2 and move onto learning Phases 3 and 4 in ‘Letters and Sounds’. Parent involvement is encouraged to support their early sound discrimination.
In order to be able to learn to write the children first develop the fine and gross motor control needed. The will be introduced to making lines and circles as they begin to experiment with ‘mark making’. Children begin writing via mark making activities which are available both inside and outside the classrooms. As the children build their knowledge and understanding of the way in which sounds fit together and how to write them they begin to develop their ‘emergent writing’. In Nursery and Reception classes the teachers introduce the Debbie Hepplewhite cursive handwriting style beginning with the ‘lead outs’.
In the Nursery the children are encouraged to trace and write their names at the earliest opportunity. Each child is given a ‘Fun Write’ book to encourage mark making and writing before moving on to writing in small groups with adult support as appropriate.
All classes have a vibrant and inspiring Book Area which the children visit freely. They can also choose books from the school library which they then take home to share with parents and family.
The Early Years classes follow the Storytelling curriculum as described above and each class will learn a story during each half term.
Children in Reception classes have adult led writing activities weekly as well as participating in whole class shared writing sessions at least twice a week.
Recording attainment and progress
At the end of each lesson teachers record those pupils who will need additional support and those children who excelled with the extension challenges. This information, along with evidence in books and folders, is used to inform the assessments recorded by teachers onto the Iver Heath Learning Ladders. It will also be used as a basis for future planning to ensure that pupils know what they need to do to achieve the next steps.
The information recorded on the Iver Heath Learning Ladders is used by school leaders to monitor pupil attainment and progress.