English sits at the heart of our curriculum - it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it.
Across both reading and writing, we place a heavy emphasis on developing a child's vocabulary. By the time children leave Wavendon Gate School in Year 6, the limited word library they arrived with in Foundation will have expanded enormously, giving them the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves confidently in a wide range of contexts.
At Wavendon Gate School, we see reading as an integral part of our school curriculum that impacts on all learning. We value the importance of being a confident reader and work hard to develop children’s reading skills. We want children to enjoy reading a wide range of different books and be able to talk about books and authors.
In our school, children participate in reading activities every day. These vary from taught sessions to opportunities for reading for pleasure and information. During guided reading lessons, children are taught and given opportunities to apply reading skills which include: phonics, sight vocabulary, contextual cues, comprehension, inference and deduction. Teachers use a range of carefully selected resources when teaching children to read. Every opportunity is seized throughout the day to enable pupils to use their reading skills when accessing other areas of the curriculum. Teachers read aloud to the children on a daily basis and engage them, through active discussions, in order to promote an enjoyment of reading and to expose them to a range of vocabulary that may be beyond their current reading ability.
At Wavendon Gate School, we teach early reading using a programme called Read Write Inc. Children at our school learn to read using a systematic approach to recognise the sounds that letters make; we call this phonics. Children in Reception and Year 1 have daily phonics lessons to develop their independence in reading. Click on the link below to find out more about phonics.
To support children in upper key stage 2 who are working below national expectations in reading, we deliver the Fresh Start intervention programme. Fresh Start uses the same teaching and learning principles as Read Write Inc. Phonics and includes many of the same activities. The Modules contain fully decodable texts and are age appropriate to capture the interest of our older students. These sessions are delivered daily in small groups or individually. We aim to get students reading accurately and fluently as quickly as possible so they can catch up with their peers.
Emergent and Confident Readers
Once children have a sufficient knowledge of phonics to read some short books independently, reading skills are developed through daily guided reading lessons. During these lessons, children are encouraged to discuss books with a growing understanding and enthusiasm. Exciting and challenging texts are chosen to broaden pupils' understanding of language, develop fluency and further enjoyment. Please see our overview below which outlines our class focus texts for guided reading sessions.
Every child at Wavendon Gate School is given a book from our school reading scheme that they can take home and share with you. Once they have read the book they can change it in school for another, working through the reading scheme and moving on to the next book band when ready. Children are regularly assessed using an online system to measure fluency, accuracy and comprehension. The books are available from Reception to year 6 and they are colour coded with the children moving to the next band when they are secure with the previous one, and have read a breadth of genres including fiction and non fiction titles. Click on the link below to find out more about the school book banding system.
In all year groups we teach writing through high-quality texts, ranging from picture books to Shakespeare, and seek to include theatre visits and visiting artists to help us to bring stories to life.
During their time at Wavendon Gate School, children will write a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts, including recounts, news reports, explanation texts, poems, plays and stories of all kinds. We use drama, role-play, storytelling and discussion to engage the imagination, before moving on to vocabulary exploration, sentence craft and creative writing.
Throughout the Early Years and Key Stage 1, children are taught the key principles of writing in order to lay a solid foundation for developing their skills later on. An emphasis is placed on developing clear handwriting with ‘finger spaces’ between each word. Children are taught to apply their knowledge of phonics to help them spell accurately, and to structure their work, whether it be fiction writing or a set of instructions. Our curriculum teaches the children to add variation and description to their work by developing their vocabulary, including the use of interesting adjectives and adverbs and developing sentence structure using conjunctions and sentence openers. By the end of Key Stage 1 children have been taught the fundamentals of punctuation and grammar. This structural and technical knowledge is fostered alongside developing a love for writing as a lifelong means for communication and expressing oneself.
Throughout Key Stage 2, these solid foundations are built upon as children develop their unique writing style. Children are taught to write for a range of purposes - to entertain, inform, persuade and discuss - using explicit sentence models and ambitious vocabulary. They then learn to shape these sentences into coherent paragraphs before planning and creating their own original works of fiction and non-fiction.
Children are also given frequent opportunities to apply their writing skills across the curriculum whether that is writing up experiments in science, recounting events in history or describing processes in geography to name a few.
Handwriting and Spelling
We use the Nelson schemes to support our teaching of these two areas of the curriculum.
Handwriting is taught daily from Foundation beginning with mark making and patterns in Early Years all the way up to legible joined handwriting in Key Stage 2. When a child is deemed to have legible joined writing, they are awarded a pen licence.
Spelling is taught from Year 2-6 following the Nelson scheme once the children have completed the Read Write Inc phonics program. This scheme follows a focus spelling pattern each week and builds upon the statutory word lists within the national curriculum.
When children leave Wavendon Gate School, they consider themselves to be skilled writers who are confident in their ability to express themselves through language.