English for Communication, Consolidation and Community
At Heatherlands Primary School, communication is at the heart of the curriculum. All children will be equipped with the skills they need to interact with the learning in all subjects, and to navigate their daily lives. Teaching and learning in English provides the bedrock for developing excellent communication skills: within spoken language, within reading and within writing.
We have a text-driven English curriculum, whereby high-quality texts support progress and outcomes in reading and writing. Children are encouraged to read widely; in the earlier stages to decode, and then to develop fluency and confidence, which in turn will build their comprehension skills. High quality literature sparks children’s imaginations and inspires high quality writing outcomes in each year group.
As the National Curriculum 2014 states, “Pupils’ acquisition and command of vocabulary are key to their learning and progress across the whole curriculum.” The school aims to cultivate a vocabulary-rich environment, as a means to helping all children develop their experience and understanding of the world.
Consolidation happens through regular opportunities for the children to put their learning in all areas of English into practice independently, not only within English but in foundation subjects too. These “sites of application” of learning provide robust opportunities for teachers to assess children’s performance.
Through the English curriculum, children consolidate the essential skills for effective communication and are thus equipped to become confident and eloquent members of the community, on a school level, a local level and a global level. They will be given the skills to take an active role in life as a British citizen.
At Heatherlands, we use 'Vipers' to help children become super readers. This stands for Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explain, Retrieve, Summarise/Sequence: all relating to key reading skills.
This book mark will remind your child of the Vipers.
As staff, we agree on strategies for all children to use when reading, if they are faced with a word that they are unable to read or understand. Each classroom has a poster which is reproduced on this bookmark to remind children of the strategies when reading at home.
Wednesday Warm-up Bookworm Club
The Bookworm club has been started up for children in KS2 to come along to share extra texts and poetry on Wednesday mornings before lessons start. These children are given the chance to update their reading records, and listen to and join in with reading a range of texts, which all help them towards completing the KS2 reading challenge: Ready, Set Read.
This week’s Wednesday Warm-up is a fantastic, famous poem by Benjamin Zephaniah called Talking Turkeys – the poet’s alternative Christmas message! Some of our Year 5 Bookworms were so inspired by the poem that they stayed a little longer to record themselves reading the poem – didn’t they do well!
Here’s the poem!
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos' turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don't eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I'm on your side.
I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.
Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
“I cannot wait for de chop,”
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.
I once knew a turkey called........ Turkey
He said "Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?",
I said "I am not too sure turkey
But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash'.
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey'll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends 'FOR LIFE'.
Teaching 'Tricky' High-Frequency Words
There are 100 common words that recur frequently in much of the written material young children read and that they need when they write. Most of these are decodable, by sounding and blending, assuming the grapheme–phoneme correspondences are known, but only 26 of the high-frequency words are decodable by the end of Phase Two.
Reading a group of these words each day, by applying grapheme–phoneme knowledge as it is acquired, will help children recognise them quickly. However, in order to read simple captions it is necessary also to know some words that have unusual or untaught GPCs (‘tricky’ words) and these need to be learned.
“If pupils cannot read, they will not be able to access the curriculum, and will be disadvantaged for life.” (Research for Education Inspection Framework, 2019)
Reading is placed at the heart of our curriculum. We aim to create readers who are not only able to decode texts successfully and confidently, but can also enjoy and understand deeper meanings within the literature they read. Children embark on their reading journey with fast-paced, engaging phonics lessons (please see our rationale for teaching phonics), and the fluency they develop leads to effective comprehension skills. High quality texts drive the English curriculum, as sources of rich vocabulary and word play, providing a springboard into interesting and imaginative writing tasks and also a fascinating ‘window to the world’, building children’s general knowledge and cultural capital. Furthermore, rich texts inspire the writing outcomes in English lessons and provide the stimulus for the reading comprehension sessions that take place throughout the week.
Reading Opportunities at Heatherlands
Of course, rich and stimulating texts drive the curriculum in English and dedicated reading sessions (as outlined above). The children also have a variety of other reading opportunities throughout the week.
Every day, the children are expected to read when they arrive at school, from 8.45 am, until 9.10 am. They read a variety of texts including fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and complete response activities, which link to different reading skills. During this time, teachers and TAs take the opportunity to hear the children read. Often, reading volunteers also read with the children.
At the end of the day, from 3pm, until 3.15pm, all teachers read to their classes. The onus is on reading for pleasure and enjoyment. We recognise that this is a valuable activity which ends the day in a calm and enjoyable way, and provides the children with a good model of fluent and expressive reading.
In Key Stage 2, ‘reading buddies’ takes place each week. Year 5 and 6 children are buddied up with children in Years 3 and 4, and undertake paired reading with them. They might also discuss their book choice and hear each other read independently. This is a valuable time when the older children act as reading role models, and both parties get a boost to their reading skills.
In the autumn term, EYFS classes run ‘Phonics Friday’ where parents are invited in to school learn about phonics alongside their children. These sessions have proved immensely popular with parents who welcome the way they helped the parents gain a better understanding of early reading and how they can help at home.
Each year, a number of pupils work with Dorset Reading Partners (http://www.dorsetreadingpartners.org.uk/) which is a charity that recruits, trains and equips volunteer reading partners to support children with their reading development. They provide one-to-one support for some of our vulnerable readers.
Some of our vulnerable readers in Year 5 are supported by our sports coach on Friday afternoons, reading books which they have chosen themselves and also taking part in fun, active and sporty activities during the session. The competitive nature of the session inspires the boys and they are able to read with a strong male reading role model.
Other bespoke reading interventions are run throughout the week by various members of staff.
The Heatherlands Reading Culture
We would like all the children in the school to be keen, motivated readers, who discover a wide range of literature, and are confident in making independent book choices. For this reason, we have tied our wider school values in with our reading culture:
There is a book swap bookshelf in the reception area next to the school office, from which parents can take a book to read at home with their children. This is to make books readily accessible to all parents, and to promote a love of reading.
The school has a link with P&G Wells, which is the oldest book shop in Winchester. They provide a book fair at least twice a year (one of which coincides with World Book Day) to offer our children the experience of browsing a book shop and making their own independent choices of what to read. The parents can come along at the end of the school day to browse and buy books with their children.
The Hampshire Advisory Service were so impressed with our book areas when they visited recently that they have asked to post photos of them on Twitter. They said: "Your books corners and ideas have been selected to go onto the Hampshire twitter feed as examples of exciting and innovative practice". #feelingproud
Reintroducing Bug Club.
Bug Club is a wonderful tool to change the children´s mind about reading as something tedious and transform it to the reality of reading as something fun, interactive, and challenging.
We are happy to announce that we are using Bug Club again as a resource to support reading at home. Every child has their own unique user name and the books selected for them have been carefully chosen to match their book band colour.
A Bug Club bookmark will be sent home with your child's user name and password and the school ID and you will be able to access books online that are suited to the needs of your child.
Please ask the class teacher if you need any information on using Bug Club but the children have also been shown how to access their own library of books.
Paired Reading Project
Have you ever read a book aloud with someone else? Why not try using paired reading to help develop reading fluency. The children in Key Stage 2 at Heatherlands all have reading buddies to support each other with reading – Year 3 and Year 5, Year 4 and Year 6. Prior to reading, the readers decide on signals to show when one reader feels more confident to read independently. During paired reading, both readers initially read together in tandem. Have a look at the paired reading guide and give it a go yourself.
National Poetry Day is a UK-wide celebration of poetry taking place every October, with a different theme each year. In 2019, the theme is Truth.
The day generates an explosion of activity nationwide, with thousands of amazing events across the UK – in schools, libraries, bookshops and more – all celebrating poetry’s power to bring people together. 2019 is the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day – so expect the celebrations to run all year long.
And if you head to the official National Poetry Day site you’ll find free resources produced in conjunction with the Betjeman Poetry Prize, Schofield and Sims and many others.
Heatherlands Primary School uses the Letters and Sounds phonics programme alongside Jolly Phonics. Phonics is taught daily in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. In Key Stage 2, phonics is taught where needed but is used as a reading/spelling strategy throughout.
Link to Jolly phonics:
Link to letters and sounds:
Website suggestions for phonics:
The children progress through the book band colour programme which allows the school to track, monitor and assess progress in line with age related expectations.
All children have a book band reading scheme book which they take home to read daily. It is recommended that children read as much as possible.
Children who cannot read well at the end of primary school are less likely to succeed in secondary school and, in adult hood, are likely to earn less than their peers. Children’s reading ability and later life chances, London :Save The Children
Early Years and years 1 and 2 have a reading record book which parents are to sign when having heard their child read at home.
Please refer to the guidelines letter to see the expectation of parental support with home reading for Key Stage 2.
Heatherlands Primary School have 2 book fairs annually, provided by Travelling Books. These are typically in the Autumn and Spring term. These are held in the main foyer of the original school building and are open from 3.15pm-3.45pm for a week.
We receive a great deal of commission on books sold which is spent on new books for your children so please do support the book fairs.
Letters and leaflets are sent out to inform you of dates and books your children can purchase.
Link to book fair:
Throughout the school year there are various phonics, reading and writing workshops available for you to attend. Details of these will be sent to you by letter.
Advice for hearing your child read and spell:
Winter Warmers and Summer Sizzlers Events
We also have some parent reading events which are ran by our library providers Hampshire Library Service. At these events, you will be given advice about hearing your child read and then have the opportunity to spend quality time reading with your child in a relaxed environment - there's hot chocolate and biscuits too!
Advice for hearing your child read and spell: