Our aim is to provide children with opportunities that will foster a love of reading. From the very beginning, we work on the two aspects of reading, decoding and comprehension so that we can enable children to read fluently and with good understanding of what they have read. Initially we focus on decoding through teaching phonics. As the children move to Year 2, we focus increasingly on comprehension skills, or the ability to understand what is read. Children will have the opportunity to develop these through whole-class activities as well as small-group work with an adult. Each year group will focus on the relevant skills set out by the National Curriculum
As a school, we believe in the value of reading out loud to the children as often as possible. We use Pie Corbett’s reading spine as a basis to select texts to read, but each teacher will also choose books that they believe will appeal to the interests of their class. Children also have frequent opportunities to read independently. All of our classrooms have a well-stocked library and we also have a whole-school library. The children visit the library to return and withdraw books weekly.
Our Reading Scheme
We have a wide variety of books from different schemes and where possible, we encourage the children to select books that appeal to them. In EYFS and Year 1, our scheme is decodable so that the children can reinforce their phonics knowledge when reading independently. It is split into an EYFS and Key Stage One section and a Key Stage Two section. This ensures that children are reading books that are suitable for their age and interests as they move through the school. We keep a selection of chapter and non-fiction books for those children who come to the end of our Key Stage One scheme in Year 2 to ensure that they are still reading a wide variety of texts. Once children in Year 3 and 4 have come to the end of our scheme, they become Flying Readers who can select books from home, the class library or our school library. We have a system of bingo cards to encourage the children to try different genres.
We follow the Monster Phonics programme to teach phonics in EYFS and Key Stage 1. Phonics is key to both reading and early spelling and we encourage the children to always sound out what they are trying to spell. There are 44 sounds, or phonemes, in the English language. Some sounds are represented by one letter, for example the /h/ in hat, and others by two, for example the /sh/ in ship. These written representations are known as graphemes. English has a complicated alphabetic code, and many vowel sounds, or phonemes, have more than one possible spelling, or grapheme. For example, cheese and treat use different spellings of the long /ee/ sound. The children will start with simple codes, such as s, a, t, p, i and n and will learn to blend simple words to read and to segment them to be able to spell them. The children learn about alternative spellings of sounds in Year 1 and Year 2.
Monster Phonics uses a colour-coded system to help children to link the various spellings of different sounds. Each monster character gives the children audio-visual prompts to help them to remember the sound.
At the bottom of this page, you will find the graphemes that are taught in each year group as well as copies of the common exception words for Years 1 to 4. There are also Monster Phonics apps (available for iOS and Android) to help the children to learn to spell the Year 1 and 2 words.
In Years 3 and 4, we follow a scheme called No Nonsense Spelling to continue to teach the alphabetic code as required by the National Curriculum. As the children mature, we encourage the use of dictionaries to check spelling.
Common Exception Words
We explicitly teach the spelling of common exception, or tricky, words to the children from Year 1 to Year 4. These are words that have unusual letter-sound correspondences, or in the case of the younger children, words that have letter-sound correspondences that have not yet been taught. From Year 2 onwards, children will be tested on some of these words each week.
Speaking and Listening
Talk is fundamental to children’s learning and high-quality discussion provides the basis for children’s composition when they are writing. Across the curriculum, talk is valued and children are encouraged to listen attentively to the views and opinions of others. Developing good listening skills is vital as children need to be able to follow increasingly complex instructions in order to carry out tasks. They are helped to explain their thinking in a clear and precise way, express opinions, pose and answer questions.
Participation in problem solving, prediction and logical argument is encouraged in all subject areas. Oakfield’s aim is to help individuals to become articulate, confident speakers in a supportive and secure setting.
Throughout the school, we follow Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing Approach to teach composition. It is an extremely powerful way to teach writing as it is based upon the principles of how children best learn. It enables children to imitate key language they need for a particular text type orally before reading and analysing it.
Before we begin a unit, we ask the children to “have a go” at writing a story or non-fiction text similar to the one we will be learning about. This allows their teachers to find out what to teach to help the children to progress well. We then use a range of engaging activities to help the children to internalise a model text as well as teaching them new writing skills. Next, we complete a shared write together to create our own text that has the structure and features of the model text we have learnt. Finally, the children complete a hot task where they show what they know by planning and writing their own texts independently.
The basis of good handwriting is strong gross and fine motor skills for every child. In EYFS, our children begin each day with a range of activities to support their handwriting skills. Every class incorporates warmups and activities designed to improve the children’s handwriting. All of our teachers have been trained by the Occupation Therapy Service to teach handwriting as effectively as possible. If necessary, we will seek the advice of the Occupational Therapy team.
In EYFS, we follow the Handwriting Without Tears approach using our school script to teach letter formation. We teach the children to print rather than to use pre-cursive or cursive scripts. This is the script that we teach the children at Oakfield:
We encourage proper pencil grip and formation from the very beginning to make writing as comfortable as possible for the children.
In Year 1, we continue to teach a printed script and focus on ensuring that all of the children are forming their lower- and upper-case letters correctly. In Year 2, we teach the children to join their letters when it is developmentally appropriate and encourage them to use joined handwriting across their work. In Year 3 and Year 4, we ensure that the children are joining all of their letters correctly and continue to develop their fluency and stamina.