We are committed to nurturing a love of reading and developing young writers. We place a strong emphasis on writing and reading for pleasure.
Our Reading Approach
We base our approach on the understanding that reading is the gateway to learning and the acquisition of knowledge.
We follow the ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ Systematic synthetic phonics programme. A synthetic phonics programme, such as ELS, is a structure for teaching these sounds in a certain order to build up children’s learning gradually. It is used daily during Reception, Year 1 and in the autumn term of Year 2 to teach all the sounds in the English language. New sounds are taught each day, with some review days and weeks to help children practise what they’ve learned. To view which order the sounds are taught, See below links or visit the ELS page here: https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk/reading/reading-schemes-oxford-levels/essential-letters-and-sounds/
Well-attended phonics workshops are held for parents each year and children begin to learn to read using levelled books matched to each child given their current knowledge of phonics.
In order to encourage a strong reading culture, we also offer children access to ‘real’ books that they can borrow and read, or be read-to, at home. Phonics sessions are regular, fast-paced and multi-sensory. Attainment in the Phonics Screening Check is above the National and Local Authority average. In 2019, the most recent year when we had statutory assessments, 98% of children had passed the Phonics Screening Check by the end of Year 2.
Those children in Year 3 and above who have not mastered phonics continue to receive interventions and support from their class teachers, who have had phonics training. Our Dyslexia Specialist Teacher also supports children in small groups or one-to-one where barriers to reading are complex.
Teaching reading in KS1 and KS2
At Yerbury, time is made available every day for reading of some type, whether this be whole class, guided or independent. We believe that building a programme of sustained reading into the weekly timetable encourages the children’s love of reading, shows its value within the curriculum, and helps to improve reading stamina. Yerbury chooses to teach reading through a whole class approach in KS1 and KS2, (the advocated pedagogy in most current educational research.) We recognise the numerous positive experiences that whole class reading allows the individual child as a learner including (but not limited to): spending more time over the week reading with the teacher; benefiting from the teacher’s expert modelling, questioning and feedback; listening to texts and answering open questions to prompt discussions, ensuring that the focus on language development is taught in a way that is not restricted by poor decoding. Additionally, whole class reading allows struggling readers to access age appropriate texts, ensuring they are not restricted to texts with lower levels of language comprehension. Each class (from Year 2) teaches 2 whole class reading lessons a week- in these lessons there will typically be opportunities for the following: teaching vocabulary; reading modelled by the teacher; paired reading (allowing time for the children to read aloud); independent reading; group discussion and comprehension activities (group or independent). Each whole class reading lesson is planned with a focus on one or more of the reading domains to ensure rigorous coverage over the year. To support teachers new to the whole class reading approach, we use the CLPD Power of Reading programme. However, teachers are asked to use this as a tool with which to plan lessons, take book suggestions and improve their own understanding of whole class reading; we do not follow The Power of Reading as a scheme of work as we feel teachers need the autonomy to plan reading lessons which are responsive to their children’s needs, interests and preferences.
However, we also recognise that, for early and struggling readers, regular opportunities should be given to practise and develop their decoding skills, closely linked to their phonics progression, in order to develop reading independence. Therefore, all children in EYFS, Year 1, all children starting Year 2 and struggling readers in KS2 are given opportunities in the week for additional reading aloud time with the teacher, in a small group or one-to-one, focusing on targeted texts designed to improve their decoding and early comprehension skills. During these 20-30 minute sessions, the fluent decoders in the class are encouraged to enjoy their own books, taken from the library or book corners (see reading for pleasure below). These sessions are recorded in the teacher’s guided reading folder. Books that the children read for pleasure are recorded in each child’s reading journal and regularly checked by their teacher.
Guided Reading takes place regularly until children have become automatic readers and successful at comprehension. Once this is the case, focussed reading interventions take place with lower attaining readers. Children continue to have access to a number of high-quality texts across a range of genres that are updated regularly through the Islington Reading Road Map.
Extra support for reading
In addition to quality first teaching within the classroom, Yerbury supports its struggling readers with a range of targeted interventions:
Reading for pleasure
We work hard to create a culture of reading for pleasure amongst our children, developing not only their decoding and comprehension skills, but also their knowledge of different authors, reading preferences and independent book choices. By successfully carefully embedding opportunities for this across our curriculum, we hope to create enthusiastic, confident and motivated readers who enjoy reading. Some of our approaches include:
Yerbury Phonics Progression Map – We cannot share our current progression documents on our website but can produce this on request.
The Yerbury Approach to Writing
At Yerbury, we are proud to develop writers. We believe that our creative, engaging and supportive environment is key to developing our writers and igniting their passions. Teachers are given the creative freedom to plan and develop their own writing units, outside of a writing scheme. Teachers base the sequence of their lessons on the National Curriculum for their year group but then choose topics, books or themes that they feel will particularly engage their class. Specific texts types are not linked to particular year groups, but all year groups will teach a range of fictions and non-fiction texts. The Writing Lead ensures that there is a good coverage of different text types across the school.
At Yerbury, we follow a six-part approach to structure of writing units of work, which ensures engagement, generation of ideas, teaching of new concepts, application of writing and purposeful outcomes. Step 5 ‘editing’ only applies to years 2-6, as editing does not feature on the National Curriculum for previous year groups. EYFS use some elements of the Yerbury approach e.g. Step 1 ‘The hook’ but exclude the steps that can only be achieved when writing for length.
Mastery Approach to Writing
We value writing across the curriculum, not just in English lessons, and understand that a broad knowledge base and vocabulary helps children to be confident writers. At every opportunity, we explore the composition of sentences and investigate different text and genre features. We understand that reading often and widely has a direct positive impact on a child’s mastery of writing. Additionally, Yerbury follows a research based, best-practice approach of teaching grammar and punctuation within the context of reading and writing and not as stand-alone lessons.
In EYFS and KS1, we follow the Essential Letters and Sounds phonics scheme. This is a systematic and rigorous teaching of phonics, which includes the teaching of common exception words.
At the beginning of Year 2, there is a focus on recapping phase 4 and/or 5 phonics and, once the class is secure, this leads on to phase 6, which is the introduction of common spelling rules. These spelling rules are taught through the Spelling Shed scheme, which children will then follow up to Year 6.
Spelling Shed ensures the systematic teaching of the National Curriculum spelling rules, whilst making spelling practice fun and engaging through online games. Weekly homework is set based on the Spelling Shed scheme. Spelling is taught explicitly in years 2-6 twice a week, but teachers also embed spelling rules in to their English lessons.
Interventions and Extra Support
Yerbury is a proudly dyslexia-friendly school, with an in-house dyslexia specialist, who supports children in KS2 and ensures best teaching practice throughout the school. All classes are equipped with dyslexia toolkits, soundcards and laptops with programmes to support our children’s writing and learning.
Children who need additional support in writing or spelling, also have scheduled interventions taking place for them with teachers, support staff or tutors. Teachers decide on specific learning objectives that these children will be working towards, and discuss this in a meeting with the person leading the intervention. Regular conversation about progress is reviewed between the teacher and person giving the intervention, in order to review and adapt the teaching for the pupils.
On entry, our Foundation Stage children are involved in varied activities to develop essential pre-writing skills in line with the Early Learning Goals. There is much focus on developing gross and fine motor skills and strengthening muscles in the arms and fingers. From the time that children are ready, they are taught to sit with a good posture and are taught to hold a pencil with the correct grip.
From Year 1 to Year 4, we explicitly teach handwriting based around the PENPALS scheme, which focuses on joining letters using exit strokes, rather than lead-in cursive handwriting. However, if a child has developed fluent, joined cursive handwriting and is confident with this way of joining their letters, we do not change their style of writing. Children in Years 5 to 6 practise their handwriting through publishing pieces of work and additional intervention if needed.
The handwriting sessions are used to consolidate the National Curriculum spelling lists for each year group and key words and phrases related to topic work. As children progress through school there is an increasing focus on fluency, consistency and speed. All children initially write with a pencil, with children in Year 6 moving on to using a pen when they are ready.
It is expected that where possible notices, displays, titles and signs in the classroom and around the school will be in the same script and that all teachers and teaching assistants model the handwriting style at all times.
How handwriting is taught in each year group
EYFS: Children practise fine-motor skills to strengthen the muscles in their fingers and hands. They will then begin to work on letter formation and practising the pencil grip that corresponds to their developmental age (see diagram below).
Year 1: Initially, teachers to work 1:6 (max) while rest of class engage in holding activities which develop fine motor skills. Pupils concentrate on upper and lower case letter formation through PENPALS handwriting practice.
Year 2: Teachers to identify children who are not forming letters correctly for close supervision and guidance during handwriting sessions. Increasingly, independent handwriting practice using PENPALS. Where a pupil is not independently forming letters accurately they should focus on this rather than the PENPALS lessons.
Year 3: Teachers to identify those pupils who are not forming their letters accurately for intervention and supervised practice sessions. Where a pupil is not independently forming letters accurately they should focus on this rather than the PENPALS lessons. Practice of joins as per PENPALS.
Year 4: Handwriting practice to be linked to spelling and to best copy of work for display. Teachers will identify those pupils who are not forming their letters or joins correctly and will supervise practice sessions, recommend them for intervention groups, or both. Practice of joins as per PENPALS.
Years 5 and 6: No new handwriting rules are taught, but there is a focus on legibility and handwriting style. Children particularly focus on handwriting when they are publishing their work. Children receive interventions if they need very specific support correcting errors that cause illegible handwriting and inaccurate letter formation – with a particular focus on addressing size differentiation for letters that have the same appearance whether capital or lower case.
Formative assessment takes place during each writing lesson, across all year groups. EYFS undertake assessment every half term against the ELG framework. Teachers in Y1- 6 use the Termly Assessment Framework to undertake summative assessment every term, and plot their pupils’ progress against the national curriculum.
From Year 2 onwards, we particularly focus on giving feedback during the drafting stage, as this has more impact than giving in-depth feedback at the end of the writing process. Additionally, each half term teachers hold 1:1 conferences with students; these are conversations about a the most recent, lengthy piece of writing. The emphasis of this session is giving the student positive feedback (teachers respond enthusiastically as a reader) and then to aid the student to make edits, additions and revisions to their own writing. The student and teacher will then discuss what steps can be taken to help the child move forward with their writing.
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