At Elmhurst we believe that the best way to ensure that pupils do well in English is to ensure that they become life-long engaged readers.
Children and staff at Elmhurst are enthusiastic readers and we endeavour to foster a love and passion for reading in our children from the outset. To this end, we hold a variety of whole school events throughout the year to encourage and develop the passion for reading. We also ensure that teachers make regular recommendations to pupils to encourage reading for pleasure. Pupils also have a chance to talk to their teachers regularly about their reading habits, as part of our termly Reading Surveys.
We begin the process of learning to read in the Foundation Stage, where we believe that the daily, systematic teaching of phonics is the fastest and most effective way of getting young children to start reading. In Nursery, the children have daily 10 minute phonics sessions to introduce them to initial letter sounds. By the end of Reception, it is our expectation that all children can blend and that the vast majority will be reading simple books. In Foundation stage, the focus of writing is using phonics to write simple sentences with basic punctuation. To this end, the writing scheme links closely to the reading scheme. Children write for a range of purposes and activities are creative and fun.
The teaching of synthetic phonics continues throughout Years 1 and 2. Our programme is structured in such a way as to ensure the teaching of phonics is systematically delivered and that progress is built on from year to year. Children are taught a series of sounds and then apply these to a series of graded books before moving on to the next set of sounds. By the end of Year 2, it is our expectation that the vast majority of children will be fluent readers and will no longer need explicit phonics teaching for reading. In Year 2, most pupils start RWI Literacy and Language Programme. This allows pupils to develop their comprehension and written work.
The 2014 curriculum also sets out grammatical knowledge that pupils must have, so our Year 1 and 2 teachers have been busy introducing pupils to different word classes and types of sentence already.
By Year 3, most children will be ready to begin the RWI Literacy and Language Programme. This programme is specifically designed to build on comprehension skills and to promote a more inferential level of thinking. Pupils are given the outline of a text to begin with to provide them with the 'bare bones' of a story. They then read and study the text in depth, focusing particularly on developing a thorough understanding of the text, characters, setting and events.
Once pupils have studied the text they then develop their writing through completing a linked writing task. Teachers model what is expected of the pupils in terms of their writing and then produce their own high quality writing.
Pupils also follow a rigorous spelling programme (RWI) from Year 2 - 6 which covers all aspects of the spelling curriculum set out in 2014. Grammar is also a focus for Years 3 - 6 in order to prepare pupils for the high standards of the end of key stage tests in Year 6.
All pupils are also given opportunities to read longer novels as a class. Teachers choose a book to focus on each term - the pupils really enjoy these texts!
At Elmhurst we follow the Letterjoin scheme from the end of Year 1 to Year 6. We expect our pupils to join well by the end of Year 2 and to develop a personal style by the end of Year 6. See the gallery below for images of our pupils’ incredible handwriting!
Another addition to our exciting literacy program is the multimodal text unit. The purpose of these projects is to introduce the children to emotional literacy through rich and varied texts including film, picture books, drama, painting as well as the written word. There is a strong focus on developing empathy and understanding for characters and their situations.