Reading, Writing and Mathematics
Our goal at Marsh Hill is for all children to leave our school not only as a fluent and competent reader, but as a lifelong lover of reading! We try to share what we most enjoy about reading and encourage the children to read new genres and ever more challenging texts.
The Teaching of Reading at Marsh Hill Primary School
We strongly believe that every child deserves, and has the right to become a confident, keen and capable reader regardless of their ability or background, and that reading is the fundamental skill needed to access the wider curriculum and the world around us. Not only do we strive for all of our pupils to achieve high standards in word reading and comprehension skills through systematic discreet phonics and reading lessons, we also aim for our children to develop a life-long love of reading and a positive attitude towards it. Our curriculum is carefully structured to ensure that all of our pupils are immersed in a wide variety of rich literature, authors and genres with time dedicated each day where children both read and are read to for pleasure.
We are committed to ensuring that all our pupils, regardless of their starting points, ability or background:
- make good or better progress in reading
- achieve the expected standard in reading or better
- develop the reading skills needed to access the wider curriculum including both word reading and comprehension skills
- read regularly, both in school and at home for pleasure and for purpose
- are exposed to rich, high quality texts that are varied and challenging
- regularly have opportunities to engage in discussions about the texts they read demonstrating understanding and give opinions
- are taught by positive reading role models who foster a love of reading
- leave our school with a bank of varied literature and a love of reading
Acknowledging that children learn best when school and home work together, we are dedicated to building and maintaining relationships with parents/guardian’s and provide training opportunities to support parents/guardians in supporting their child’s/children’s reading at home.
Implementation: How is reading taught at Marsh Hill Primary School?
Reading is not simply the decoding of words, it is the ability to read and understand, a wide range of different texts, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Our reading curriculum follows the National Curriculum 2014 and provides opportunity for children to develop the following skills:
- To read aloud fluently, competently with expression and intonation.
- To read for purpose and meaning.
- To read a wide and broad range of texts across varied genres
- To understand and decipher the meaning of new vocabulary and then use this
- Foster a love of reading and understand the difference from reading for a purpose.
Reading is taught daily throughout the school both discreetly and cross-curricular in other subjects providing needed opportunities for the transition of the skills acquired in reading. The content is designed to be progressive and challenging for all.
At Marsh Hill, we use a systematic phonics programme in line with the ‘Letters and Sounds’ approach supplemented with resources and phrases taken from Read Write Inc. Phonics is taught discreetly for 25 minutes each day in the morning by a competent and trained member of staff. Children are taught in ability groups, across their year group which are assessed and determined half termly, (see assessment). Phonics lessons are carefully planned following the school’s Phonics Long Term Plan (LTP) by the adult delivering it, following the same systematic approach, with consideration of assessments made within lessons taught (AfL).
Each session follows the same structure of:
- Revisit (previous sounds and common exception words taught)
- Teach (new sound and Common Exception Words)
- Practise and Apply new sounds and words taught in word/sentence reading and writing.
The sounds and words taught are divided into 3 progressive stages and the expectations of coverage are:
Set 1 and Set 2: Taught in Reception (covers Phase 2,3 and 4 of letters and sounds)
Set 3: Taught throughout Year One (covers phase 5 and 6 of Letters and Sounds).
In Year 2, once children have a good command of phonic knowledge and use this competently to blend and segment, children move onto learning the rules of grammar and spelling following the Nelson Scheme which helps prepare children for Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling taught in KS2.
Guided reading sessions are taught from Reception up to Year 2 where children are taught reading skills discreetly in small groups for 30 minutes each day. Guided Reading is also used in Year 3 during the Autumn Term to facilitate the transition between the Key Stages. Children are grouped carefully linked to their phonetic knowledge and reading ability across their class. The skills taught in guided reading are mapped out on the Year Group’s MTP each half term, informed by assessments and following the expectations of the curriculum which. From this, Weekly planning is completed by the class teacher where each group focuses on a key text for the week and engages within a carousel of activities with a specific reading focus specified on the weekly plan based on the next steps identified by the class teacher.
All texts used are decodable and follow the order of sounds taught in school using the ‘Big Cat letters and Sounds Scheme’ and ‘Bug Club Scheme’ It is expected that texts used match the phonetic knowledge of each group so children can practise and apply their phonetic skills.
During a week, each group will:
- Read with the Teacher and with the Teaching Assistant:
Children will read aloud, listen to others read, ask and answer questions and engage in discussions about what they have read around a specific reading focus. The learning objective and outcome of these lessons are recorded on reading record sheets which are stored in the class guided reading folder.
- Complete a phonics/spelling activity:
This will be completed independently and match the phonetic knowledge of the group as well as link closely to the phonemes/CEW found within the focus text for the week.
- Complete a follow task:
The aim of this task is to develop comprehension skills linked to focus text with a specific learning focus planned for by the teacher in line with the curriculum expectations for the year group.
- Have the opportunity to read for pleasure:
Here the group will have the opportunity to choose a book from the class book corner or read a book from home to read. They may also have access to IPads or reading games during this session. All recorded activities are kept in individual reading journals.
Close Reading: Comprehnension
This is the strategy which is used in KS2 where children are taught reading skills through a whole class reading session. Whole class reading sessions allow children of all abilities to immerse in the same high-quality literature and vocabulary which may be challenging to them if accessing independently. During these lessons children can and are encouraged to participate in the discussions around these texts which have a clear learning focus outlined within the planning. We believe it is essential that less confident readers are exposed to high quality texts and the reasoning discussions which take place alongside appropriate reading interventions in order to close the gap and avoid it widening.
Close reading is taught discreetly for 40 minutes daily and is planned weekly by the class teacher in line with the NC expectations for the specific year group, following the School’s long term plan for reading (See appendix 2).
Each week, a new text is carefully selected (a rich, challenging text based on its lexile score included on the weekly plan) and explored in depth. Each day has a specific focus:
Monday: develop and explore vocabulary. Ambitious vocabulary is explored and its meaning is deciphered. Children are taught skills needed to tackle and understand new vocabulary such as reading around it and making links to word types.
Tuesday: make inference and deductions. This session is called the ‘close read’ where children make inferences and deductions from smaller extracts of the texts.
Wednesday: Background information around the text. This lesson aims to further support the understanding of the content, themes, characters, plots, time period, etc. of the main text.
Thursday: Comprehension using APE (Answer it, prove it using evidence from the text and explain it). Here the children will answer specific questions set by the teacher linked to the text where they will need to back up their answers with evidence from the text.
Friday: Answer test style questions, These questions are based on the text written and presented in a particular test style and skill linked to the NC expectations for the specific year group.
Within each session, the children will observe the teacher modelling the skills needed, practise with a partner and then have a go independently – referred to as I, we, you. All close reading activities are recorded in individual English Books.
The aim of the National Curriculum for writing is clear: to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- 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 elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
Implementation: How is writing taught at Marsh Hill Primary School?
We want children to participate fully as a member of society when they begin their secondary education. In order to achieve this, we want pupils to: acquire a wide vocabulary; a solid understanding of grammar and punctuation; be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time with us. We are very aware that some of our pupils' early language acquisition is limited - this is why we endeavour to build upon an ever-widening bank of vocabulary, across the whole curriculum. We use a programme called Wordsmith to facilitate this aim. It is a whole-school approach (Years 1 - 6) to teaching English ,with a strong focus on grammar. It provides a flexible toolkit to help deliver creative, dynamic and effective lessons. Writing lessons take place daily, lasting for an hour. Wordsmith is designed to excite, with reading for pleasure at its core and grammar lessons woven in throughout. The programme was built on research into how children learn best, by educationalist and expert on grammar for writing, Debra Myhill. This research forms the basis for the four principles on which Wordsmith is founded . . .
Varied, whole texts
Wordsmith’s unique use of diverse whole texts enables children to become fully immersed and engaged in a range of great books. Carefully chosen books help to develop children’s reading skills and their knowledge of the world around them, and to build up a store of reading experience on which they can draw later in life. These books both help children to learn how the experts write and act as models for their own writing.
Purpose and audience
Writing takes on meaning, and a sense of excitement, when it is composed for a real purpose and a defined audience. Each of the Wordsmith Live units has a performance or publication outcome because knowing who will read a piece of work or watch a performance, and why they will do so, raises motivation and can have a direct impact on the quality of writing that children produce.
Talk for writing
Oral rehearsal helps children to develop a sense of what a sentence is and, later, to hear how more complex sentences sound. It also helps them to hear the difference between the way we talk and the way we write. Discussion is where deep learning takes place. Wordsmith provides children with opportunities for oral rehearsal and talking, assisting with evaluation and reflection.
To become great writers, children need to understand how great writing is put together. Exploring the grammar choices of authors, how grammar is used in real texts and the terminology to discuss it provides children with a toolkit to use language confidently and effectively in their own writing.
Wordsmith at Marsh Hill Primary School
For each term, Wordsmith provides units that cover a selection of varied text types: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry and Live (units that focus on real-world application). A unit is based on one or two main texts and lasts between two and four weeks. Teachers adapt each unit plan; they use their assessment of pupils' knowledge and understanding of spelling, grammar and punctuation to address any gaps in their learning. This is woven through each unit, building upon previously taught skills. A typical unit (sequence of lessons) allows children to: analyse a high quality text; identify the key features/vocabulary/grammar that is necessary to include in their own writing; create and edit a first draft; identify further improvements based on the features of the text; present a final draft independently.
Each term, children will study a gripping fiction text by a well-known author such as Michael Morpurgo, Anthony Browne or Chris Riddel. They have the opportunity to study the whole text, allowing them to become fully immersed in the book. This detailed and extended study of an author’s writing provides children with a sound model and springboard for their own extended compositions.
Each unit begins by posing a ‘Big Question’ to spark interest in a topic. New, interactive online books, created specifically for Wordsmith, allow the children to explore information on different subjects in an exciting and dynamic way. Each book has a different curriculum focus (such as science, history or geography), a main text type (such as a formal biography) and a supporting text type (such as a complementary first-person recount in the form of a diary entry).
In Poetry units, children are able to explore extended single-voice collections of poetry from some of our best-loved children’s poets, such as Michael Rosen, Ted Hughes and Roger McGough. As in the Fiction units, this focus allows children to comprehend elements of similarity and difference within one author’s work.
Live units focus on modern, real-world applications of literacy skills. They feature raps, debates and radio plays, which focus on speaking and listening as well as on reading and writing. Each unit suggests a standard-raising purpose and/or audience for the children’s work, aiming both to provide memorable learning experiences and to get children excited about language.
At least once a term, teachers will deliver a unit called Visual Literacy. The unit may be focused on either fiction or non-fiction, and it will be centred around a short animation. Teachers have access to an online resource called the Literacy Shed Plus, which contains hundreds of animated short films that address the following themes: loss and change, diversity, trauma, humour, adventure, fantasy, celebrations, horror and mystery to name a few. Visual Literacy helps children to explore emotion within a text and use discussion in order to learn; they are supported to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.
We have placed a particular focus on improving and raising standards in spelling. Wordsmith continues to support our chosen approach because each unit has a specific set of words/spelling rules that are embedded throughout the unit. This is used alongside teacher assessment of previously taught spelling skills, enabling us to develop a systematic approach to teaching spelling rules and patterns. We place the highest expectations on children’s spelling in all their work, supporting them with a repertoire of resources, including subject-specific word lists, to help them when they write.
Follow this link to view the recommended spelling lists: National Curriculum for Spelling
Progression in handwriting skills
Mathematics is taught daily using mental maths skills and strategies. The Abacus Maths Scheme of Work is used as part of a range of planning tools that support and enhance teaching and learning.
The teaching of arithmetic skills is a key concept across the whole school, where multiplication and division mental facts are taught through a scheme called Superheros. The learning of arithmetic skills is further enhanced through the use of the Fluent in Five programme across the school (taken from Third Space Learning). It is important that arithmetic skills are developed and embedded within reasoning problems, and this is supported through our Rapid Reasoning programme (Third Space Learning).
We also subscribe to websites called TT Rockstars and Mathletics that support and reinforce mathematical understanding. Within KS1, children experience daily counting through various practical activities, including songs. Children have opportunities to discuss their thinking within daily maths lessons as well as promoting their justifying and reasoning skills - this is often through peer-to-peer discussions. Children are given the opportunity to apply their skills in a range of contexts. There is a key focus on broadening children’s knowledge to master the mathematical concepts being taught. A range of manipulatives are used to develop concepts in every year group.
When introducing a concept for the first time, concrete materials are used to develop the understanding and then allows children to deal with the abstract when they ready. Development is based on learning models which promote a process of stages in learning maths i.e. practical, pictorial and finally symbolic (abstract). It is understood that any ability child in any age group may need concrete materials to bridge any gaps in understanding to achieve their own successes.