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English Overview


“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Stephen King


“You can make anything by writing.” C.S Lewis
At Swain House Primary School we are committed to ensuring that every pupil achieves reading success and develops a real love of reading.

Early Years and Key Stage 1

Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. For pupils in Early Years and Key Stage 1, home reading books are matched to their phonics ability. Pupils are provided with a Rising Stars Reading Planet book which is fully decodable and matched exactly to the pupil's phonic knowledge.

Every child has a reading record so that parents and school can communicate about this essential life skill. Pupils are expected to read three times a week with an adult at home. The children read in Guided Reading groups led by an adult focusing on different reading skills - pre read with a focus on vocabulary, prosody and comprehension. Follow up activities or discussions ensure pupils have understood what they are reading. The pupils also have access both at home and school to Lexia, an on-line reading programme. A wide range of fiction and non-fiction books are also accessed weekly through the school library which again they are encouraged to take home.

Key Stage 2

As pupils progress in Key Stage 2, the foundations created for reading in Early Years and Key Stage One are built upon to develop competent, enthusiastic and thoughtful readers. When our pupils leave Swain House Primary School, they have a love of reading and are able to confidently discuss and recommend books, from a range of authors and genres. They are also able to participate in discussions about texts including evaluating authors’ use of language and the impact this can have on a reader.

Whole class guided reading is taught through a range of engaging printed and interactive eBooks, using Bug Club. Children learn new vocabulary and develop their comprehension skills through daily lessons. All children have a 'Bookshelf Passport' and aim to read 25 books a year from an age-appropriate selection of engaging fiction, non-fiction and poetry books. After reading each book, children's comprehension is checked through an end of book quiz.

At Swain House Primary School, phonics is taught on a daily basis following the Rocket Phonics story-based Systematic Synthetic Phonics phonics programme.

Children develop essential literacy skills using a balanced approach that focuses equally on blending for reading, and segmenting for writing and spelling. The phonics teaching uses a blend of digital and printed resources, flashcards, sounds mats, friezes, write-in pupil booklets, reading books and eBooks to ignite a love of reading and consolidates decoding skills by immersing pupils in captivating illustrated stories (Big Books) and a rich variety of fully-decodable fiction and non-fiction.

This approach to teaching phonics continues through Key Stage 1 and into Key Stage 2 as necessary.

Writing begins in Early Years where the focus is on mark making in the environment and provision. Children learn to write their names and form recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed. They learn to spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters and write simple phrases and sentences that can be read by others. As children move into KS1, the focus is on writing simple sentences. Throughout school, texts are carefully chosen for children to study. These books provide opportunities for writing different genres and the Writing Phase includes planning, writing, redrafting, editing and publishing. It takes place over several sessions and includes lots of teacher modelling, shared and guided writing, discussion with peers and teacher, and editing. The focus is on children producing a piece of writing which works well as a whole and engages the reader. The working wall is a visual representation of the learning journey. It should show what the children are learning to write, who they are writing for, some key vocabulary at the beginning of the journey and the annotated WAGOLL (what a good one looks like) at the end of the journey. These WAGOLLs are written by the teachers in the year group and contain the features they expect children to learn about in that unit of work. This could be grammar features as well as spellings, features of the genre of writing and vocabulary. On the working wall, the generic headings linked to the three-phase planning are displayed – Reading Phase, Toolkit and Writing Phase. Throughout the unit of work, children are given writing opportunities that will support their main writing outcome. Each classroom has a Star Writer display (KS1) or a Frame of Fame (KS2) where individual writing is celebrated.

Children are introduced to three new words each week in our ‘It’s Only Words’ lessons. These words are tier 2 words and are words that children learn about during the week, with the expectation that they will use one or more in their piece of writing. These words are found in the text that the children will be reading that week.