At Ferndown First, we believe that English is an essential part of the curriculum which supports the development of successful, creative communicators. Communicating through speaking, reading and writing is key to expressing our emotions, thoughts and ideas.
The elements of English are undeniably linked and development in each can be dependent on the others. Reading is particularly crucial and our curriculum reflects this. We know that children who read regularly and widely, acquire a greater number of words, and ultimately, can use a wider range of vocabulary in the spoken and written language. Through reading in particular, children are able to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.
We aim to build a community of readers and writers who can make links between their learning, ideas and experiences. As a result, children at Ferndown First School receive a solid foundation on which to build, in becoming empathetic, responsible citizens, able to communicate confidently with the world and the communities in which they live.
Writing gives children a voice to communicate their ideas, thoughts and feelings in a readable form. It has an important place in our world and is an essential life skill. We believe that writing is closely intertwined with reading and it is almost impossible to separate the two. Pam Allyn (Vice president of Scholastic) believes that “Reading is like breathing in. Writing is like breathing out.” We believe that children who read widely will become better writers and children who write regularly will become better readers.
Writing is one of the trickiest things that children encounter at school. It is a complicated process that relies on pupils coordinating both fine motor and cognitive skills. As they write, pupils have to orchestrate appropriate spelling, accurate sentence construction and linguistic choices about content, as well as textual cohesion.
We aim for our children to be able to write with confidence for a range of different purposes including to describe, to inform and to entertain, with an awareness of their audience. We aim for our children to have firm foundation grammar and spelling and the automatic use of age appropriate accurate punctuation. We aim for our children to learn to write legibly with efficiency and speed, without having to think hard about how to formulate letters and join their writing. This enables them to concentrate on what to write.
- We follow the Statutory Framework which includes Literacy as one of the seven areas of learning and development. Within this, the Early Learning Goal for Writing is underpinned by a solid foundation in the prime area of Communication and Language. The key elements of the Writing goal are forming letters correctly, using phonic knowledge to spell words and applying this to write simple sentences.
- Children are encouraged to develop their oral skills through speaking and listening activities, role play, drama, weekly poems and discussions about stories.
- Oral sentence construction is taught with Colourful Semantics, focussing on subject/verb/object, and this provides a basis for intervention work throughout KS1.
- Children’s vocabulary is developed through exposure to a language-rich environment and through the teaching of specific words each week, linked to their stories, topics and curriculum areas.
- Early mark making, linked closely with fine motor skills, is taught and embedded through teacher inputs, small group activities and child-initiated learning.
- Writing is initially taught through our ELS daily phonics lessons, in which children learn new sounds and practise the formation of the corresponding letters.
- From Autumn 2, children are taught to write captions and sentences in writing lessons called Drawing Club. Children are hooked into writing with a drawing task, before writing a secret passcode or phrase to accompany it.
Year 1 to 4
- From Years 1-4, we follow the statutory objectives outlined by the National Curriculum. In order to teach this, we have adopted a progressive framework for the teaching of writing called The Write Stuff, written by Jane Considine.
- It is based around a set of lenses which are organised into three zones on the Writing Rainbow. The three zones are the FANTASTICS, the GRAMMARISTICS and the BOOMTASTICS. Each zone contains 9 key lenses. Children are explicitly taught the process of writing in daily writing lessons through these lenses, which address the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum and more.
- It is a spiral approach in which the lenses, including those that cover the statutory grammar objectives, are being constantly revisited in writing lessons throughout the year. This enables skills to be constantly revisited and refined.
- The approach builds upon the writing skills taught in EYFS and continues to embed the focus of vocabulary and word collecting which EYFS teachers promote through continuous provision.
- In EYFS and Year 1, spelling is taught primarily through the ELS daily phonics lesson, in which children are taught to spell words phonetically using graphemes they know and to spell Harder to Read and Spell words which are not phonetically decodable. These Harder to Read and Spell words are also practiced during other learning opportunities during the school week.
- In Years 2, 3 and 4 spelling lessons are discrete and occur 3-4 times a week. We use a scheme called Pathways to Spell, which structures our teaching.
- Pathways to Spell covers the statutory content of the National Curriculum for spelling through weekly teaching of spelling objectives. Its key principles include overlearning to ensure spelling knowledge is committed to long term memory and use of multi-sensory approaches to ensure all children can access the learning.
- Each week consists of two spelling objectives; a review of a previously taught spelling pattern or a set of Common Exception Words, as well as a mastery spelling focus, which is the new learning for the week.
- Each week has a similar structure; review, explain, practice, apply and reflect. Dictated sentences are embedded into the units of learning to give children opportunities to practice new learning, in context.
- Children have a list of personal words which they are working on spelling accurately which may have been identified as incorrect in independent pieces of writing. These spelling lists are practiced at other learning opportunities during the week and are also given to the children to practice at home.
- Discrete handwriting lessons are taught once the children have developed their fine motor skills sufficiently and an appropriate pencil grip, starting with the correct formation for all letters. Once this is secure, we begin teaching joining skills. By the time the children leave us, we aim for them to be developing the legibility, consistency and quality of their handwriting.
Children at Ferndown First School will become writers who…
- read like writers and write like readers.
- understand the different purposes of writing in life including to describe, to explain and to entertain.
- are able to write clearly, accurately and coherently so they can communicate effectively and share their thoughts, feelings and ideas with the world.
- develop a wide range of vocabulary which they can draw on purposefully when writing, being brave and adventurous with their word choices.
- acquire a solid understanding of the age-appropriate grammatical elements of the English language, being able to speak and write in standard English.
- are able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they have learnt.
- develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement in their writing, editing their work effectively during and after the writing process.
- take pride in the presentation, writing legibly, with efficiency and at speed.