Literacy at Swarcliffe Primary School
At Swarcliffe, our Literacy curriculum is taught in specific English lessons and in subjects across the curriculum. English lessons support our pupils to develop skills in:
- grammar, punctuation and spelling
- and handwriting.
At Swarcliffe, we understand the importance of being literate and pride ourselves in developing these core skills within a rich and broad curriculum. We expect our children to apply all these skills to the best of their ability in all subjects in our curriculum.
We strive to ensure that high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others.
We want our children to enhance their vocabulary knowledge and understanding so they are able to write a range of different genres and continuously develop their spelling, grammar and punctuation skills.
As well as this, we endeavour to interest our children in their learning with a creative and cross-curricular approach. To do this, each term we base our quality shared texts on their current topic, which extends their learning opportunities beyond that particular subject area.
To enable our children to write effectively and coherently we incorporate ‘The Write Stuff’ by Jane Considine into our teaching of writing. Although as a school we do not follow every part of this approach, we use the main elements to develop vocabulary and sentence structure. This is used from Nursery up to Year 6 and allows children to apply basic skills, vocabulary and grammar knowledge to write effective sentences which are interesting.
‘The Write Stuff’ consists of three zones of writing known as the ‘Writing Rainbow’. The rainbow is made up of three tiers, each with 9 ‘lenses’ (or symbols). This supports children with three key areas:
- Ideas for writing (FANTASTICs)
- Tools for writing (GRAMMARISTICs)
- Techniques for writing (BOOMTASTICs)
As part of our teaching approach to writing, teachers plan in experience lessons; writing lessons and editing lessons.
Experience Lessons: these lessons immerse children in experiences from trips, visitors and drama and drench them in vocabulary linked to the lenses in the Writing Rainbow.
Writing and Editing Lessons: these lessons include modelling from adults before writing their own high-quality sentences. Children are given opportunities to showcase everything they have learnt and editing is done actively throughout the writing process. This is evident with blue/green pen in children’s books.
Over their time at Swarcliffe Primary School, children will write a range of genres and text types focused around high-quality books/novels each half term. These texts link to the wider curriculum in school and key themes. Each half term, children have access to both fiction and non-fiction books linked to their learning topic.
Our children leave Swarcliffe Primary School as life-long learners in writing and are able to:
- Write for a range of purposes including: instructions; diaries, persuasion and reports.
- Understand and use a wide range of vocabulary accurately to excite, inform and entertain.
- Understand and use a range of punctuation and the understand the effect it has.
- Understand our sentences types that are used in different types of texts.
- Spell accurately using phonetic knowledge.
Examples of texts we use:
Eat Your Greens Goldilocks by Steve Smallman – Healthy Eating (Science) Year 1/2
The First Hippo in Space by David Walliams – Significant Person (History) Year 1/2
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry – Rainforests (Geography) Year 3/4
Escape from Pompeii by Christina Ballit – Ancient Romans (History) Year 3/4
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne – World War II (History) Year 5/6
The Firework Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman – China (Geography/History) Year 5/6
Children in EY Foundation Stage and KS1 have important daily phonics lessons based on the Read, Write, Inc programme. These lessons give children the stepping stones to break down unknown words into readable chunks. Children learn to read, write and form the letters which represent the 44 sounds. Phonics is not the only reading method, but is a very useful approach for children trying to make sense of text.
During Phonics, children will learn a new sound daily as well as revisiting words they have previously been taught. A typical phonics session consists of:
- Introducing a new sound daily with the help of Fred Frog and the RWI sound cards.
- Opportunities to verbally say the sound and words in which the sounds are found, using green cards and Fred Fingers.
- Modelling of the written form from the adults before children practise this themselves.
- Opportunities to apply previously learnt and new sounds to appropriate reading books; games and independent writing activities.
In Nursery, children focus on developing their listening skills. We do lots of rhymes, songs and listening games. Children, when they are ready, begin to learn Set 1 sounds:
In Reception, we continue the Phonics revisiting and consolidating sounds which have already been learned. Children may be grouped according to their starting points as we recognise some children are ‘ready’ to learn sounds before they peers. Children move on to learning Set 2 sounds.
Through Reception, Year 1 and into Year 2, the children will progress onto Set 3 sounds.
In Year 2 at Swarcliffe, there is revision of alternative phonemes (sounds) and the children continue to have opportunities to apply their knowledge within reading and writing.
Comprehension is taught in regular Guided Reading lessons. These lessons vary over a half term:
- Whole class guided reading where children access a text at the Expected Standard and have the opportunity to share their opinions of the text as a class.
- Scheme books using Bug Club where children access a range of various texts relevant to the skills that groups of children need to develop.
- Use of alternative texts such as magazines, First News newspapers and visual clips.
Comprehension activities are based on our Reading Animals. These have been designed by the children and are used throughout school to help children recognise the various reading skills they need to achieve a broad and rich understanding of what they read.
Bob Breaker – Decoding and Fluency
Rex Retriever – Retrieving of Information and Summarising
Iggy Inference – Inferring Meaning
Burt Builder – Structure and Key Features
Victor Vocabulary – Understanding of Vocabulary
Arlo Author – Explain and Predict
Cassie Commentator – Explain and Making Connections
During Guided Reading lessons, children have opportunities to work with adults in our Book Talk sessions. Book Talk sessions focus on developing and modelling specific skills linked to our characters. Adults teach and explore key reading areas through verbal and written responses along with key questions.
At Swarcliffe, we teach a cursive style of handwriting starting in Early Years and through to Year 6. This is where every lower case letter starts on the line with a lead in stroke and leads out with an exit stroke. Our aim is that every child will be able to write clearly, fluently and quickly so that they can cope with the demands of everyday life.
Throughout the early stages of school, children are given ample opportunities to develop both gross and fine motor skills in the following ways:
- Outdoor climbing equipment (EY and KS1)
- Sensory Circuits
- Fit to Learn
- Finger Gym activities
- Pencil grips (when necessary)
Early development within EY Foundation Stage provides children with the opportunities to mark-make using a variety of materials and media. As children progress through Reception and KS1, they develop fine-motor skills which result in a comfortable pencil grip and the ability to form letters using the correct sequence of movements.
When children begin to learn to read (Phonics), children use the pre-cursive style. This is linked to the RWI rhymes which match each sound. Children develop fluent lines of accurate orientated letters.
By the end of Year 2, the children are expected to use joined handwriting in the cursive style.
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
Throughout school, children are expected to learn spellings which are appropriate to their age group. In EY Foundation Stage and KS1, these spellings are linked to phonics. As children learn new sounds, they use their segmenting skills in order to spell the words in their written form. In KS2, children learn strategies and rules to spell their statutory words for their age group. These lessons happen daily and are around 15-20 minutes long. We work on the following structure over a week:
- Monday – Spelling test on spellings learned in the previous week.
New rule and spellings introduced
- Tuesday – Explore new spellings through defining with the use of a dictionary or other activities (match up, odd one out, crosswords)
- Wednesday – Practical activity, usually a game to practise spellings
- Thursday - Apply to a written task, usually sentence work or writing
- Friday – Look, Write, Cover to take home in our Home Spelling books.
Grammar and Punctuation
Our teaching of grammar and punctuation is taught during English lessons and linked to the class’ quality shared text wherever possible. Children are encouraged and given lots of opportunities to apply their skills in extended pieces of writing.
Narrative (Fiction) Texts
At Swarcliffe, we provide children with a range of different story styles (genres) from Nursery to Year 6. Children learn about plot, characters, settings and themes in different stories and will compare these. Children also explore the key features which writers use in order to be able to use these in their own writing.
Adults reading to children happens daily. Whether this is through the quality shared text or reading for enjoyment, adults share the joy of reading wherever possible.
Non-Narrative (Non-Fiction) Texts
Children are exposed to a range of non-fiction texts across the curriculum. Children study a different text type each half term, linked to their learning topic. Text types include:
EY Foundation Stage:
- Sentence writing linked to Understanding of the World
Key Stage One:
- Fact Files
Key Stage Two:
- Newspaper Reports
Across school, children use non-fiction books in order to research their own information in a range of curriculum subject. As well as this, we explore the key features of various text types to support children in then applying them to their own writing.
Children across school are exposed to a variety of poetic forms. Children learn how to read poetry and to write in similar styles. Poetry is used as an effective tool in which children learn about vocabulary and other grammatical tools, including figurative language.
At Swarcliffe, we believe developing speaking and listening skills are important for all children. We give ample opportunities for this across the school day, including: discussions, performances, presenting, games and ensuring oracy is built into each lesson. Where children may have difficulties with communication, personalised programmes (SALT) are put into place where necessary.
Enrich, Enhance, Excite
At Swarcliffe Primary School, we jump on every opportunity to enrich, enhance and excite children's learning in any part of the curriculum. To support children's literary skills, we offer many rich and broad experiences: Children are encouraged to research, read about and write about their experiences through a range of text types. We strongly believe when children experience it first hand, it has a positive impact on their attitude towards their learning. These experiences include:
First Hand Experiences Outside of the Classroom
Every child attends at least two trips per academic year.
Trips to enrich our curriculum topics:
- The Farm - EYFS Animals
- The Deep - KS1 Under the Sea
- Jorvik Centre - LKS2 Vikings
- Eden Camp - UKS2 Conflict and War
Trips to excite children about life in Britain:
- Yorkshire Water - Headingley Waterworks
- Theatre Visits at Christmas - West Yorkshire Playhouse
- Shopping Trips - Tesco, Seacroft
Enhancing Our Curriculum Inside of School
As much as we value taking children outside of the school environment, we also want them to appreciate experiences inside too.