This section is presented in parts:
- Reading, including Phonics
- Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
- Handwriting and presentation
Reading (including Phonics)
Children can develop their reading capability through a very broad spectrum of everyday opportunities. The school’s curriculum takes account of this and uses it to motivate and bring breadth to children’s reading experiences. Parents and carers helping their children to read at home can turn to the same wide range of reading material:
Films comics picture books promotional literature advertising magazines websites television computer games pop-up books conventional books and novels, old and new, classic and modern newspapers reference and information books signs travel literature programmes leaflets and flyers instructions and recipes . . . and many, many more (including school newsletters!)
This is a summary of the text type coverage across St. Pancras year groups:
Year 1 FICTION: Stories with familiar settings / Stories from a range of cultures / Traditional stories, e.g. fairy tales
Year 1 NON-FICTION: Labels, lists and captions / Instructions / Recounts / Dictionaries / Simple non-chronological reports / Information texts
Year 1 POETRY: Themed poems with rhythm and rhyme / Themed poems with pattern
Year 2 FICTION: The above (Year 1), plus . . . Stories by the same author / Extended stories by significant authors
Year 2 NON-FICTION: The above, plus . . . Explanations / More complex non-chronological reports
Year 2 POETRY: Poems with structural and language patterns / Themed poems requiring language choices / Humorous poems that play with language
Year 3 FICTION: The above (Year 2), plus . . . Myths and legends / Adventure / mystery stories / Letters / Dialogue and playscripts
Year 3 NON-FICTION: Chronological and non-chronological reports / Instructions / Explanations / Information texts which combine recount, signs, labels, captions and advice / description
Year 3 POETRY: Shape poems and calligrams / Poems which play with language / Poems for performance
Year 4 FICTION: Stories with historical settings / Stories set in imaginary worlds / Stories from other cultures / Issues and dilemmas / Playscripts
Year 4 NON-FICTION: As above (Year 3) plus . . . Sustained recounts / Persuasive texts, including adverts and flyers
Year 4 POETRY: Poems that create images / Poems which explore form / Free verse poems
Year 5 FICTION: Novels by significant children’s authors, including from our literary heritage / Traditional stories, e.g. fables / Stories from other cultures and traditions / Film narratives, using dramatic conventions
Year 5 NON-FICTION: As above (Year 4) plus . . . Reporting of news events / Persuasive texts which argue or counter a point of view
Year 5 POETRY: Poems using word play, rhyme and metaphor / Narrative poems / Choral / performance poems
Year 6 FICTION: Extended novels from a range of genres / Comparisons of the work of different authors / Short stories with flashbacks
Year 6 NON-FICTION: Biography / Autobiography / Journalistic texts / Debate / discussion texts / Formal / impersonal texts
Year 6 POETRY: Poems which select from a repertoire for a particular purpose – theme, style, form and structure / Performance poems
The new National Curriculum (from September 2014) makes it statutory for children at Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6) to be taught specific knowledge, skills and understanding in relation to word reading, comprehension and phonics. As pupils grow and develop academically, the emphasis shifts from word reading and phonics to comprehension and the acquisition of vocabulary that will help pupils to successfully achieve the transition to secondary education.
Letters and Sounds – and Phonics
The school uses this very successful phonics programme throughout the early years Foundation Stage and Year 1. Some pupils still need the programme in Year 2. The aim is to secure well-established word recognition skills for reading as early as possible at Key Stage 1. The programme teaches children to link sounds with specific letters and pairs or groups of letters. It helps them to decode unfamiliar words and to spell those words which are phonetically regular (that is, words which are spelled as they sound). Children thoroughly enjoy their 20-minute a day ‘Letters and Sounds’ sessions in class, proud of their reading progress and anxious to share their success with parents and carers.
Our Year 1 phonics leader, Mrs. Thackeray, is all too aware of the important part parents and carers can play in securing these critical links between sounds and letters. We encourage parents to attend information and ‘training’ sessions on how to support their children with Letters and Sounds and the response is very encouraging.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Mrs. Thackeray if you would like any further advice or guidance.
Our phonics teaching has gone from strength to strength over the last two years and the proportion of St. Pancras pupils reaching the expected level now exceeds the national average. (See Key Information/Results for details of our latest national Phonics screening test performance)
The Reading Scheme
Our starting point is that reading can be an enjoyable and enriching activity for every pupil. We have resourced the school well in order to support pupils’ enjoyment of – and, ultimately, love of – reading.
Having moved away from the Oxford Reading Tree scheme, we now offer a wide range of reading material organised into nationally recognised colour bands. This gives children a far wider variety of texts whilst supporting them – and moving them on – at the correct levels (the levels which meet the needs of age and stage of development). Children progress through the scheme until they are consistently reading – with fluency and accuracy – Level 3 books (coloured lime).
- Children should progress through the reading scheme on the basis of when they are ready. In some cases they will not need to read through the whole set before moving on.
- If a teacher judges that a child is reading at Level 3B+ a decision may be made to leave the reading scheme. In some cases, however, it may be useful to continue a little while longer to reinforce fluency and comprehension.
Please click on the link below to access information about matching reading scheme books to levels of attainment.
The school has a well-stocked and highly effective working library. It is set up for children to enjoy. Every child in the school – even those on the reading scheme – can take home a new book each week.
Mrs Catalanotto is always looking at new books and different ways of improving the library.
Every class has a timetabled library slot and the library is also open at lunchtimes for children to enjoy book-themed activities. Last year the GERT and BERT clubs were active at lunchtimes, encouraging girls and boys, respectively, to enjoy a wide range of books as an alternative to the playground. They were very popular.
The Rainbow Club did a presentation of their work in a Friday Assembly at the end of last summer term. Activities like these will be offered again this year.
NOTE: GERT / BERT stand for ‘Girls / Boys Enjoy Reading Together.’
We are currently setting up an exciting new resource for Key Stage 2 pupils due to go LIVE at the beginning of November 2014.
Accelerated Reader (AR) achieves an average of two years’ reading age progress in just one academic year, whilst promoting reading for pleasure. It is a powerful tool for monitoring and managing independent reading practice. In other words, it encourages pupils to self-evaluate their own reading performance.
St. Pancras teachers will create reading programmes to meet the needs of every child. Using information generated by the software, staff will help students select books that are difficult enough to keep them challenged but not too difficult to cause frustration.
Accelerated Reader is the practice component of a comprehensive reading programme. With over 25,000 books available for AR, every child is able to choose books which are appropriate in terms of level of difficulty but also interest them. Pupils are encouraged to enjoy motivational quizzes to test their comprehension of the books they have read, aiming for benchmarks and targets set by their teachers.
Self-selected reading at the optimal level is a recipe for success, which triggers further enthusiasm. Children will be motivated to read constantly – in class, at breaktimes – and at home.
Children and parents will get instant feedback to help motivate success with the use of TOPS reports and Renaissance Home Connect, which allow parents to view their children’s progress from home.
AR can be used with all children, including struggling and reluctant readers, gifted and talented pupils, EAL students, and those with special educational needs. Based on each pupil’s independent reading level, which is determined by a Star Reading assessment, AR helps teachers to set personalised goals for each pupil.
Quizzes can be taken online in a variety of ways, offering flexibility for teachers, pupils and parents / carers.
Accelerated Reader will determine a reading level (cross-referenced with National Curriculum expectations), set practice goals, provide personalised practice (through AR BookFinder), offer quizzes to assess progress and offer instant and accurate feedback.
For further advice and guidance on Accelerated Reader – and how it will work at St. Pancras – please feel free to contact Mrs. Puddefoot, our librarian, or Mr. Hough.
Classroom book corners
All St. Pancras classrooms have a book area. Each class received £100 last year to spend on books and to brighten up its area with cushions etc. The children were consulted on the books that were bought.
Promoting Reading across St Pancras
Teachers try to make reading as enjoyable as possible. These are some of the ways they did it last year:
- Storytelling Week – for every class, featuring a professional storyteller, reading activities and – ultimately – inspired writing!
- World Book Day – in which children and adults dressed up as characters from fiction and engaged together in book-related activities
- The Scholastic Book Fair – enabling parents and carers to buy books at greatly reduced prices for their children – and raising £600 for library renewal
- Class-based stimuli – such as the Owl Babies’ bird egg in Year 1 and the Narnia wardrobe in Year 4
St. Pancras believes that it is important to listen to its children when planning reading provision. If you would like to see the outcomes of our most recent consultation with the pupils of Key Stage 2, then please click on the link below:
The teaching of writing at St. Pancras is influenced by the work of Pie Corbett and Marie Hardy. Corbett’s ‘Talk for Writing’ initiative inspired Mrs. Hardy who, in turn, encouraged other staff to boost enjoyment of writing through talk. We often say – tongue in cheek – that our St. Pancras children, in their enthusiasm, talk too much. This is a way of capturing their verbal energy and excitement in order to bring fun and creativity to their writing.
Standards of writing across the school have improved consistently over the last two to three years.
Teachers working with children from Year 1 to Year 6 plan regular extended writing opportunities. These are longer than normal class sessions which largely require pupils to work independently. However, a lot of teaching, support and modelling happens prior to sitting down to write.
Children are given ‘Talk Homework’ before their extended writing day, giving them an opportunity to discuss the purpose, audience and content of their writing task with adults at home. This oral preparation – together with oral activities at school – can make the difference between an ordinary piece of writing and one which really moves the child on.
Whilst working on their extended writing, children work towards meeting their own personal writing targets. Once a target has been achieved three times a new one is offered and progress is confirmed. Most pupils are motivated by these targets and love to achieve them and get a new one.
Marking children’s writing
Extended writing is marked as soon as possible, with next steps given for the children to attend to. Next steps draw on mistakes and misconceptions and give the child opportunities to respond to them immediately. Monitoring evidence indicates that ‘next steps’ help pupils to understand what they need to do to improve their writing quickly.
Celebrating children’s writing
St. Pancras actively seeks to celebrate children’s writing at every opportunity. Writing is displayed on the Wonderful Writing board in the school’s reception area and staff create impressive displays, both in class and in the public areas of the school, that celebrate high quality writing. Assemblies often feature the reading aloud of fiction excerpts, descriptive writing or poetry. Some classes create class books, including writing on the part of most – if not all – pupils in the class, sometimes linked to an area of study.