At Leamington Community Primary, we have designed our curriculum using an immersive approach to learning with quality texts at the heart of our curriculum. Teachers from Year 1 to Year 6 have worked with our Lead Practitioner to create an inspiring scheme of work around rich-themed texts for each half term. Throughout the year, the children will explore 6 different books which act as a vehicle for accessing different genres of text and provide opportunities to learn and apply English skills. Within each text the children are fully immersed through the use or drama conventions such as, classroom settings transformed, teachers in role as the characters and children in role. These techniques enable the children to make an emotional connection to each text they study and ensures their learning is memorable.
Children also use elements of Pie Corbett’s Talk 4 Writing model to unpick texts and build vocabulary to support their writing. Children orally re-tell stories and compose their own versions before publishing in a range of ways.
At Leamington Community Primary School, we feel it is important to develop a good understanding of spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) in order to empower children and strengthen their writing and reading throughout their time at school. The children are taught phonics and spelling discretely through the Read Write Inc phonics and spelling programmes each day, in addition to their daily English lesson. Grammar and punctuation are sometimes taught directly through stand-alone SPaG sessions but more commonly within the English units of work. Each week, teachers carefully identify on their planning which spelling, grammar and punctuation objectives they are going to introduce or reinforce. This is often determined by the areas of need identified from the previous week’s learning or the genre of writing being taught that week. We believe that SPaG rules should be constantly reinforced in all curriculum areas where appropriate.
We have a variety of SPaG board games and interactive whiteboard games in each classroom which have a strong impact on progress and the children love playing. We also have a bank of activities created and shared by teachers within school. Every classroom (year 1-year 6) contains a SPaG display which includes helpful vocabulary and Spag rules. Children are tested on both their spelling and their punctuation and grammar as part of their SATs at the end of Key Stage 2.
During each half term, the children will build up to at least 2 pieces of independent writing. This will come at the end of each unit of work based around a genre of text. The work is a culmination of all the learning that has taken place across the unit. At the start of each unit, the children are immersed in examples of quality text from a specific genre. They then look closely at the features of that genre and unpick the structural and language features. They may also look at subject specific vocabulary. From here, the children will look closely at each feature in more detail and will finally learn to plan, write an edit a piece of writing independently. This writing is done in a separate book to the children’s day to day English book called their ‘Immersive Write Books’. The children take great pride in these books and they show progression in writing across the year. In Key Stage 2, these books follow the children up the school which shows progression in writing from Year 3 to Year 6.
After each Immersive write, teachers identify strengths and areas for development in writing which informs their planning for the following week. Teachers mark against writing expectations for each year group taken from the National Curriculum. Teachers also assess writing daily, where possible with children in order to give immediate verbal feedback. At the end of Key Stage 1 and 2, children’s writing is assessed using pieces writing taken from foundation subjects. This is then moderated internally and externally.
- To read easily, fluently and with good understanding.
- To develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.
- To acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
- To write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
- Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
- Ensure they are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
Our reading scheme at Leamington contains a wide variety of different books from different publishers. The books are colour coded from dandelion at Foundation Level up to Diamond level which is suitable for upper Key Stage 2 or advanced readers. The bands are used as an approximate estimate given the range of material we use in the school.
In KS1 children each child has two guided reading sessions per week; once with a teacher and once with an LSO. In KS2, children have at least 1 session. This gives the opportunity for the teacher to regularly assess the reading ability of each child in their class and choose appropriate texts for their reading age. This is where children are taught to develop their decoding, fluency and comprehension skills. There is also opportunity to address gaps in learning, develop phonological awareness, spelling rules and common exception words.
Phonics and Spelling
At Leamington, we follow the ‘Read, Write Inc Phonics’ scheme of work followed by the Read Write Inc Spelling scheme of work.
When children come into Nursery they are exposed to lots of books and printed material with familiar people and encouraged to handle books with care and interest. They join in songs and rhyming activities as part of the Communication, Language and Literacy areas of learning. This supports linking sounds and letters in the order in which they occur in words, and naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet. Children experience a wealth of listening activities, including songs, stories and rhymes. They learn to distinguish between speech sounds and many will be able to blend and segment words orally.
They enter set 1 and are taught the first 30 sounds from the Read Write Inc phonics scheme. While many children will be able to read and spell CVC words, they all should be able to blend and segment CVC words orally.
Children then enter set 2 where they are taught the next 12 graphemes and are able to blend phonemes to read words and segment words for spelling. They will have some experience in reading simple two-syllable words and captions. They are taught letter names and are able to read and spell some common exception words. During this set, they are taught each long vowel sound and how it is written.
Children entering Set 3 are taught the next 20 graphemes and that there are more ways in which the same sounds are written. They are taught to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants and some polysyllabic words.
Throughout the scheme children will learn to:-
- Decoding them aloud. (Fred Talk)
- Read words automatically if they are very familiar (Fred in your head);
- Decode them quickly and silently because their sounding and blending routine is well established (speedy words);
Read Write Inc. Spelling Programme
Last year we introduced the Spelling Programme from Year 2 to 6 for the following reasons-:
- To enable to allow us meet the spelling expectations of the National Curriculum 2014
- To raise standards in spelling
- To provide consistency and progression in the teaching of spelling
- To help support children to enable them to be more confident at spelling.
RWI Spelling is an interactive programme which teaches spellings in a fun and engaging way. Each unit is introduced with a short video. It helps children to learn spellings with common patterns and uses rules in order to help them recall spellings as well as teaching exceptions to these rules. Individual workbooks allow children to practise their spellings and the teaching naturally follows on from Read Write Inc: phonics. This works well as children are already proficient at using dots (for individual sounds) and dashes (for digraphs). Although the teaching of phoneme-grapheme correspondence underpins this programme, the spelling programme also develops children’s knowledge of word families, and how prefixes and suffixes can be added to root words to help them to spell with greater accuracy, understanding and confidence. The children are also taught mnemonics, songs and phrases to remember the trickiest spellings.
Children in years 5 and 6 who are not yet ready for the RWI spelling programme have an additional daily phonics intervention called RWI Fresh start. This is a phonics programme with more age appropriate content.
Our library has recently been transformed into an engaging setting where the children can be completely immersed in the books they are reading. We have created a comfortable space where the children can read, work and enjoy quiet time. At Leamington, we aim to promote a love for reading and reading for pleasure. We have recently invested heavily in new reading books for our library and our classroom reading corners as well as a range of new exciting fiction and non-fiction books to enrich our immersive curriculum. The children have loved exploring the new books during their launch on world book day and we have had such a positive response from children and staff about the new authors.
Writing on the wall
At Leamington, we are proud to be one of eight Primary Schools in Liverpool working with writing specialists and cultural partners, ‘Writing on The Wall’ on an exciting new project funded by ‘The Paul Hamlin Trust’.
The project, which was actually launched at our school in September 2019 through Superhero Extravaganza on our playground, will run for the next 3 years. The project provides all children and staff in Key Stage Two, the opportunity to work with accredited authors and illustrators from across the U.K. on exciting writing projects through creative writing, poetry, spoken word and illustration.
‘Super Heroes: Words are our Power’ is a literacy project which allows children to find the Super Hero within, using writing and creativity for the greater good, changing how we view and understand creative education in in schools. It has already attracted lots of media attention. Check out our appearances on local news and radio stations.
Working with authors and illustrators
Pippa Pixley, Ashleigh Newgent from Rise Up Cic, Tim Quinn from Marvel, Alan Gibbins and Mandy Coe are the first wave of authors and illustrators to work with and inspire the children through the Writing on the Wall project. Teachers have also had CPD with a variety of writers.
Baby Book Club
At Leamington, we are very proud to be the first Primary School in Liverpool to offer Book Club for babies aged 3-12 months.
This ten week course, devised by reading specialists at Bluecoat, Liverpool’s centre for contemporary arts, is designed to help new parents to develop their reading skills and techniques while encouraging their babies to engage with different books.
Each session includes discussion and sharing time, book recommendations and reviews, individual and group reading, and fun activities linked to the weekly core story.
Parents have loved bringing their babies to enjoy books together and learning about the importance of sharing reading early.
We believe that the majority of existing groups for babies use song, rhyme and sign. Those that more actively involve books are generally aimed at toddler-aged children. Although song and rhyme are really important, we are keen to explore family reading at the earliest possible stage.
Evidence published by the American Academy of Paediatrics earlier this year stated that parents should read to their children from infancy in order to help children to develop their language, cognitive, and emotional development.
Share a book
Once a week, parents of children in Reception come into school to share a book with their children. Parents and children love enjoying books together and learning about the importance of early reading. It also gives parents the opportunity to become actively involved in their child’s education and get first hand advice and support from our early years practitioners.
Reading week is always an exciting week at Leamington and this year has been no exception. The children brought different books in throughout the week to discuss during show and tell and read during their 15 minute sponsored silent read, which they took part in each day. On world book day, they dressed up as characters from their favourite books and took part in lots of reading activities.
Teacher Story Time Shuffle
One of the highlights of Reading week, was our ‘Teacher Story Time Shuffle’. At 2:30 each day, teachers went to a different classroom to read a story to the children before home time. The children had so much fun deciphering the clues about their mystery reader of the day. Clues shared the teachers’ favourite books, authors and setting which got the children talking about books. The children and staff had such a lovely time and this really promoted a love of reading for all across the school.
Take a look at our Reading at Leamington page
All of the links are from Liverpool LA.
Subject Leaders: Jennifer Evans and Jennifer Wilson