Our approach to teaching Literacy
At Stanwix Primary School we use a topic-based approach to teaching Literacy, within which we try to make cross-curricular links with other subjects such as History/Geography/Science where possible. We aim to teach the year group expectations for Literacy, as set out in the English Curriculum within the National Curriculum 2014. This curriculum is divided into the dimensions of Reading and Writing, with Spoken Language underpinning both.
Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language the children hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. We aim to ensure the continual development of childrens’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills.
- Word reading
Skilled word reading involves the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why great emphasis is placed on the teaching of Phonics in Early Years, continuing into Key Stage 1 and into Key Stage 2 for those children who still need it.
We follow the National phonics programme, ‘Letters and sounds,’ where children are taught the 44 phonemes which make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made by just one letter and those that are made by two or more. As the children grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound, eg. ‘ee’ can be represented as ‘ee,’ ‘ea,’ ‘e–e,’ and ‘e.’
We ensure that our teaching of phonics is rigorous, structured and enjoyable. Children have discrete, daily phonics sessions where they are introduced to new phonemes, can practise and revise previous learning and have plenty of opportunities to apply the knowledge they have.
We use a range of multisensory strategies to enthuse and engage the children, including the use of interactive whiteboards, magnetic letters, speaking and listening, songs, rhymes and practical activities. Children work with pace and are encouraged to apply their knowledge across the curriculum with any reading and writing activities.
Alongside the teaching of Phonics, children have access to a language rich environment where they are able to apply their decoding skills and develop language comprehension in order to ‘read.’ In addition comprehension skills develop through childrens’ experiences of high quality discussion with the teacher/teaching assistant, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction during guided reading sessions.
- Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is on spelling quickly and accurately and being able to write legibly, with correct letter formation, correct letter size and correct positioning of the letters on and within the lines as well as joining letters. Consequently all year groups teach discrete spelling and handwriting sessions as well as giving the children regular opportunities to apply their transcription skills across the curriculum.
Effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. We aim to teach the grammar, vocabulary and punctuation skills as set out within the year group expectations of the English Curriculum within the National Curriculum within our topic based/cross-curricular approach to teaching Literacy. Our topics provide the context in which the children can learn to apply their compositional skills.