“If you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can create miracles.”
― Jim Rohn
At Coopers Lane, we believe that being able to communicate is vital to all aspects of learning. Right from when we start in Early Years, we are encouraged to be confident and enthusiastic speakers, readers and writers. We have the opportunity to express ourselves in a range of ways as we learn and grow. Role play and drama activities play a big part of our time here, and we use these to explore lots of different topics and themes both inside our classrooms and in the outside areas.
As we progress through the school, we take part in daily activities that help us develop and apply our speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. From Reception upwards we have the opportunity to perform at least twice a year to an audience, through our Christmas performances and our class assemblies which are informative, celebrating all that we have learnt. Drama is used regularly in class to help us explore ideas and events within a text, and give us ideas for our writing.
Throughout our whole time at Coopers Lane, we are helped to develop a love of reading, which enables us to become skilful and imaginative writers. Stories are read every day in the classroom, and in assemblies, to teach us new things or just for us to enjoy. We love nothing better than sharing a good story.
At Coopers Lane, we view English as a forest. Strong communication skills are the trunk of the trees, helping us to grow strong and tall. Each new element that we learn adds leaves to the tree and builds upon something we have learnt before. The more that we learn, the more our tree flourishes, and together we create a wonderful woodland.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr Seuss
Instilling a love of reading is a really important aspect of our reading curriculum, so children often get opportunities throughout the week to read for pleasure. A home reading routine is established in Reception and continued all the way through to Year 6. We encourage children to choose books to take home and share with their families each week; children are also asked to complete regular reading activities to develop their understanding of what they have read. We depend on parents to support children in their daily home reading programme.
In Early Years and KS1, all children read 1:1 with an adult each week. Every morning children will take part in a phonics session where they will learn or revise different phonemes working through a systematic, synthetic programme. Children are also given the opportunity to apply their phonic learning independently throughout the day. As children move through Year 2, these sessions will focus more on key reading skills such as comprehension, prediction and inference.
In KS2, we have introduced the Destination Reader programme. It is a research-led approach for reading, which is routed in teaching pedagogy and aims to foster reading for pleasure and instil a life-long love of reading at its core. The approach explicitly teaches the skill of reading including word reading, comprehension and breadth of reading. It builds on reading strategies to support a deeper understanding of texts and is designed to ensure equality of provision through a daily whole-class interactive session including modelling, discussion and independent reading.
Teachers read to the children regularly and each class has a carefully selected class book that is used for this in order to promote a love of story and of reading. All classes have an inviting and engaging book corner where the children are free to select from a range of books and teachers are on hand to offer recommendations.
Assessment: Coopers Lane assesses children against age related expectations in reading. These expectations have been organised into bands which reflect the year group, for example Band 1 is the end of year expectation for children in Year 1.
The use of engaging, inspiring and high quality texts is central to our writing curriculum. Each year group has an ever-expanding selection of these texts; they include classics, such as The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, and more recent publications, such as Traction Man by Mini Grey and Flotsam by David Wiesner. These books act as stimuli for children to develop and explore their writing skills. Children write for purpose wherever possible, using either a theme linked to the current text, or topics from the wider curriculum.
The yearly overview sets out the text type to be taught in each year group in each term. We follow a mastery approach, which builds on prior knowledge and skills. We focus on the following four writing purposes: to inform; to entertain; to persuade; to discuss.
A unit overview is created for each new writing unit. To accompany this, a writing toolkit is also created, detailing the objectives to be taught in the unit. Finally a WAGOLL (what a good one looks like) is written to give an example of the desired outcome.
Sentence types to be taught are detailed in the Alan Peat Sentence Progression document.
The teaching of writing at Coopers Lane follows 3 phases:
Phase 1) Immersion and ‘Have a go’ writing opportunities: This phase is about immersion in the text type and the chosen text. This is a crucial phase in the teaching of writing. The idea is to let the children see a WAGOLL (what a good one looks like). They need to pull this apart (not just language features but also thinking about text level objectives too). The learning wall will be used to display key learning from this stage; the class create Text Type Toolkits and General Writing Toolkits, which are displayed as a reference for when they start writing. This phase may involve drama opportunities and short ‘Have a go’ writing opportunities e.g. note taking, diary entries, character profiles and so on.
Phase 2) Imitation – building towards a writing outcome: Phase 2 will offer more ‘have a go’ writing, but will also be preparing the children for their final written outcome. There may be a mixture of short writing outcomes and extended writing outcomes, linked heavily to a WAGOLL, which is then modelled by the teacher during shared and guided writing sessions.
Phase 3) Innovation – the final written outcome: Throughout this phase, the writing journey is scaffolded by the teacher during shared writing. The children create their own version of the shared reading text, ensuring that features of the text type are included along with any ‘magpied’ ideas.
At all phases, the children are encouraged to edit and improve their work, either individually or through partner talk, allowing them to reflect on their own learning.
World Book Day
Every year we celebrate World Book Day by using a different text to inspire whole school writing. The work that is produced is then made into an amazing display which shows the progression of skills and vocabulary across the school. This year we used the book Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers as our inspiration, linking it to some of our sustainable development goals.
SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar)
Grammar and punctuation play a significant part in the National Curriculum. At Coopers Lane, we teach specific grammar, punctuation and spelling skills during regular sessions. These are mini lessons, which are carefully differentiated to meet the needs of every child and focus on key skills and objectives lifted from the National Curriculum. Spelling is taught through the Rising Stars spelling scheme. SPAG is not just taught as a discrete subject, it is also integrated into our English and wider curriculum lessons through writing opportunities, ensuring that the children are transferring skills across subjects.
At Coopers Lane, children are encouraged (when ready) to use a cursive script from Year 2. Please see our Handwriting Policy for more details.
The age related expectations in writing have been organised into bands which reflect the year group, for example Band 1 is the end of year expectation for children in Year 1.
- Programmes of Study for Grammar
- Programmes of Study for Punctuation
- Word list Y3&4
- Word list Y5&6
- Dfe Spelling guidance
- At the end of a longer piece of writing, teachers and children use the writing toolkits to assess if the objectives have been successfully met.
- Once a term all children are assessed in Reading, Writing and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. The children will sit designated tests in order to help inform teacher assessments and identify gaps in knowledge and understanding.
- The results of these assessments will be used along with on-going Teacher Assessment to give each child a Band and Step for attainment (see Assessment Policy). We will formally share these results with parents through Academic Review Meetings and written reports.