At Richard Whittington we celebrate that mastering of the English language permeates everything we do. Our overarching aim is to promote high standards of literacy and language by equipping our pupils with a strong understanding of both spoken and written language, whilst trying to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. We aim to provide a stimulating, interactive, fun and challenging English curriculum that prepares our pupils for life beyond our schools and for the ever-changing world in which they live in. We are passionate about valuing the notion that English underpins learning in every subject and work to ensure that there are significant opportunities across the wider curriculum for our pupils to embed their literacy skills. We also aim to build a life-long love of literature so that throughout their lives children can use the literary world as a means of escapism, relaxation and pure enjoyment.
At Richard Whittington we recognise that quality writing is a product of following a process of planning, crafting a range of engaging sentences, using success criteria, drafting and editing. From Nursery upwards pupils are immersed in rich opportunities for writing and take great pride in improving their vocabulary and developing their individual writing style. Teaching spelling, punctuation and grammar skills is an integral part of our English lessons and pupils’ proficiency is developed through imaginative, stimulating and interactive activities. Teachers use opportunities in our broad, balanced curriculum to further embed, extend and develop the writing skills of our students. Within our literacy lessons teachers follow a repeated pattern of ‘Initiate’, ‘Model’ and ‘Enable’ whereby they use the three zones of writing to provide a consistent whole school systematic approach to writing carefully constructed sentences, that are based on a strong teacher model in order to set high expectations for writing.
We instil a love of reading in pupils through lessons, author visits and allocated reading time. Our library encompasses a range of phonics books from phase 1-6 as well as a large variety of non-fiction and fiction texts that are aligned with our library system, Accelerated Reader, which ensures pupils are reading books that are appropriate to their ability as well as being suitable for their age. Pupils from Y2 to Y6 take a quiz (Star Reading) to establish which books they should read. After reading each book, pupils then take a quiz to assess their understanding of the text. This information is shared with parents through the Home Connect website (information sent out by letter) and at Parents Meetings. It also provides valuable information for teachers to support the children's progress in reading. In class, pupil’s reading skills are developed through engaging with a wide range of reading material and media, with a focus on the use of questioning to challenge thinking at all levels. Within reading lessons, pupils carry out short tasks at the beginning of whole-class reading sessions to help pupils practise the most important reading skills: explain, retrieve, interpret and choice (ERIC). The taught reading lessons are split into three sessions across the week and are all based on a short section of the class text. The same objective is taught throughout the week with a different focus for each session. The pre-teach lesson allows the pupils to explore the language and context of the text, the just read and close read session encourages pupils to discuss and analyse the text in more detail and the final session is comprehension to assess the pupils understanding and progress of the taught objective.
Phonics is all about sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which we put together to form words. Some sounds are represented by 1 letter, like ‘t’ and some by two or more, like ‘ck’ in duck. Children are taught these sounds and how to match them to letters. Phonics is the building blocks of reading and writing and equips children with the skills needed to become independent readers and writers.
At Richard Whittington we implement the Letters and Sounds structured approach to the teaching of phonics which begins on entry to the Nursery and continues throughout the school, incorporating spelling strategies and rules. There are two elements of teaching phonics; segmenting and blending which are taught in parallel. Throughout the teaching of phonics, children are also introduced to tricky words, words which do not follow the conventions taught, like ‘the’ and ‘said’.
At Richard Whittington, we value the importance of developing pupils oracy skills as we believe the ability to listen activity, speak clearly and communicate articulately is a fundamental part of the learning process. Therefore, we use the oracy framework to understand the physical, linguistic, cognitive and social and emotional skills that enable successful discussion, inspire speech and develop effective communication. All lessons across the curriculum are rich in discussion and questioning and are carefully planned out to ensure that all pupils can fully participate.