At Holme Valley Primary School, we aim to develop the abilities of all children to communicate effectively in speech and writing, to listen with understanding, and to become enthusiastic and responsive readers. We aim to set our pupils on a path to lifelong learning whilst following the principles set out in the 2014 National Curriculum. English skills are taught on a daily basis in Reception, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 and are subsequently then applied within cross-curricular learning opportunities.
Our aim is to develop a love of books and to ensure that every child becomes a fluent reader. Teachers promote and value reading as an enjoyable activity, and also as a life skill. Our youngest readers in EYFS and Year 1 are taught to decode through daily phonics teaching and continue to practise this at home (please see the phonics page for further details of this).
At Holme Valley, we believe that children should be given regular opportunities to access, enjoy and discuss high-quality texts, beyond the level at which they can independently read. Our approach to the teaching of reading ensures that children regularly practise a range of skills, across all content domains. We typically follow a structure whereby children spend time familiarising themselves with the text. Dependent on the children’s reading ability, this may include reading the text several times to develop fluency, expression and accuracy; new vocabulary may be discussed and explored and opportunities for retrieval and summary practice may also be provided. Once children have a strong understanding of the text, the opportunity for more in-depth discussions, often with an inference or evaluative focus, take place, where children are invited to share and justify their views both verbally and in developed, written answers.
We use the Read, Write Inc. phonetically decodable books in order to help our youngest pupils get off to a good start in their reading; these are changed weekly and are directly aligned to the sounds taught each week and the children’s increasing phonic knowledge.
In order to promote reading for pleasure, children also take home a library book each week; this is often read to the child and discussed together to provide them with wider reading opportunities. Poetry puppet packs and story sacks are also taken home on a regular basis in EYFS.
All children are encouraged to read with a parent four times per week in order to develop fluency, comprehension and a love of books. Our well-resourced library and class bookshelves have a range of recommended, engaging reading materials, including a range of fiction, non-fiction, comics, child-friendly newspapers and poetry texts for all ages. Each Key Stage One class has an allotted time to visit the library each week, whilst Key Stage Two classes can visit during lunchtimes, Monday to Thursday, where our Year 6 librarians will be happy to assist them. The library now also has a wealth of e-books, suitable for all ages, which can be accessed through the online catalogue – please see the children’s links to access this.
Throughout the year, various events take place to develop children’s love of books: our youngest children take part in a joint event run by Words Count and the Imagination Library, alongside their parents, to engage them in a range of activities linked to stories; as a whole school, we celebrate World Book Day; some of our older children are given the opportunity to work on the Scunthorpe United Reading Stars programme and we are fortunate to have a wealth of reading buddies who volunteer in school each week to share books with the children (please contact the office if you would be happy to join our team).
At Holme Valley, we believe that children should be given the opportunity to write across a wide range of genres. We follow the broad principles of ‘The Write Stuff’ approach, whereby children develop their vocabulary and ideas through experiences linked to the topic which they are writing about; this may be stimulated through watching a video or sharing an extract of a book, however, it may involve a trip or a visitor in school. By providing the children with these experiences, the quality of language and development of ideas is far richer than if they were to write about an abstract concept. Though careful teacher modelling, children are taught appropriate sentence structures and grammatical terms, which can then be applied to their own writing. After completing a unit in this style together, children are then provided with an opportunity to create an extended piece of writing, in a similar style, demonstrating the skills they have learned, whilst incorporating their own flair and ideas.
Each independent piece of work is subsequently assessed using our writing assessment framework, in line with the expectations of the national curriculum. We believe that children should be provided with opportunities for self and peer-assessment and promote the development of metacognition. Following completion of the independent piece, children are given the opportunity to edit, revise and re-draft their work, sometimes using scaffolds such as editing stations, or alternatively, working alongside a peer. We believe that by engaging in such practices, children take ownership of their own work, look forward to sharing their finished pieces with a peer and consequently produce high-quality pieces which reflect their best efforts.
Language is an integral part of learning; it runs through all that we teach and learn. In their daily lives, children use spoken language to solve problems, share ideas and reflect on experiences. Most social relationships involve talking, and children’s interactions can contribute to and enhance learning. Effective oral communication is a key skill for life; we aim to ensure that children can express themselves clearly and confidently and that they are able to listen attentively to others. Non-verbal communication is integral to talk, and through drama, we aim for children to develop an understanding of effective communication, both verbal and non-verbal. At Holme Valley, we recognise the importance of spoken language and listening and aim to provide opportunities for pupils to develop their skills across the curriculum.
The fundamental purpose of handwriting is to enable all pupils to equip themselves with a basic life skill. In order to prepare children for the adult world, they must learn to write with ease, speed and legibility. At Holme Valley, initial letter formation is taught through the Read, Write Inc. phonics programme, and further practised in handwriting lessons. As children progress through the schools, the ‘Achieving Excellence in Handwriting’ approach by Martin Harvey and Debbie Watson is used to ensure consistency. Pupils who achieve a fluent, joined and consistent standard in their handwriting are awarded with a pen licence.