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'Reading and writing float on a sea of talk' - James Britton (1970)

At Orchid Vale, English is the cornerstone of our curriculum. Children in our school read, speak and write fluently. This allows them to communicate their ideas and emotions to others; and for others, in turn, to communicate with them. Through confidence and fluency in English, particularly reading, children are able to access and build upon a wealth of emotional, cultural, social, spiritual and intellectual knowledge. This will enable them to be grow into fully independent, well-informed, articulate adult members of society.

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Phonics At Orchid Vale

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.

At Orchid Vale Primary School, we follow Little Wandle Phonics Scheme, and all teachers and Teaching Assistants have been trained on how to teach phonics effectively.  In school, we have a range of reading schemes designed to build up children's vocabulary, strategies and confidence in reading.

From Reception, we use reading material that is closely matched to the sounds that the children have been learning in their phonics lessons.

All children from Reception to Year 2 take part in a daily phonics lesson.  This lesson covers learning new phonemes and graphemes, blending, spelling and handwriting.

In Guided Reading, we use books linked to the sounds that the children have learned in phonics lessons, both paper and online versions, to develop children’s reading skills further. 

Nessy is also to available to support the teaching of reading and spelling where appropriate.

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When children are learning to read using phonics, it is really important that they learn to pronounce each phoneme correctly.  Here is a short video to help you to support your child with the correct grapheme-phoneme correspondence.

All Phonemes.mp4

Children in KS1 build on the ambitious start to phonics instruction that they received in EYFS. Children enter Year 1 having completed Phase 4 phonics, which enables Year 1 to be spent on securing Phase 5 phonics in addition to consolidation and application of earlier phases. 

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Reading

Reading has a high profile in our school. Adults read aloud to children, ensuring that they become familiar with a range of stories and authors from our literary heritage, including a range of texts from a wide range of cultural and historical contexts.   Reading areas are attractive, prominent and well-stocked. There is a timetabled and a whole class structured reading session every day in school. This allows children to read for pleasure, while improving reading fluency, developing a rich vocabulary and widening their comprehension skills.   Children of all ages read 1:1 with an adult, with vulnerable groups identified for additional work with support staff. All children take books home; for our younger children, these are colour-banded reading scheme books selected from a range of commercial reading schemes, while older children make their own selections. Books are inclusive and accessible, supplemented each year by an affordable book fair in school. In Year 1, children undertake traditional carousel guided reading; from Year 2 onwards, reading comprehension is taught as a discrete whole class reading lesson planned as part of the week’s sequence of teaching. We use the VIPERS mnemonic to help children understand and utilise a full range of skills to comprehend age-appropriate texts. Teachers have a strong knowledge of children’s literature and take a personal interest in supporting and developing individual children’s love of books. Reading is assessed formatively by teachers and summatively through NFER tests at three points each year. Standards are monitored through regular planning and book scrutiny by the English leader plus learning walks, observations and pupil voice.

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar

In KS1, phonics instruction is partnered with learning the common exception words for Years 1 & 2 as home spellings. These are tested weekly in school. Throughout KS2, spelling is taught through the Westover Green spelling scheme and focuses on learning and applying the spelling patterns detailed in Appendix A of the National Curriculum for English. The grammar and punctuation objectives for each year group are linked closely to purposes for writing and are taught explicitly as part of the week’s sequence of teaching. Teachers provide opportunities for children to apply new skills immediately within their independent writing.

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Our key EYFS texts

Our key Key Stage 1 (Year 1 and 2) texts

Our key Key Stage 2 (Year 3-6) texts

Writing

In our school, the emphasis is placed upon writing having both a genuine purpose and an audience. Writing is inspired by a range of high quality text (CLPE Power of Reading scheme) and engaging experiences such as trips or visitors to the school. Children are taught to write to entertain, inform, persuade and discuss; they may produce writing from a range of genres. There are also regular cross-curricular writing opportunities in science and humanities. Children of all ages are taught to edit and improve their own work and that of their peers. From the earliest age, children are encouraged to develop their writing stamina in order to produce longer pieces of work. After a sequence of structured, teacher-supported lessons, children are given the opportunity to write independently, with older children exercising some degree of choice over subject matter and / or genre.

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Oracy

Our school rule ‘be a great listener’ encourages children to develop an attentive and respectful approach to hearing each other’s ideas. Group activities in English lessons enable children to share, discuss and evaluate concepts verbally. They have opportunities to develop speaking skills through in-class presentations, class assemblies, drama productions and cross-curricular events such as Science in 60 Seconds. Children learn poems by heart and prepare them for oral performance. Children’s cultural capital is developed through exposure to live theatre events and performances.

What our pupils think

I enjoy English because I learn about different styles of writing and I learn definitions of words I have never heard before, such as ostler. 

I like English because we are taught everything, we need to know about the English language. 

I like reading because we get to just read our books in peace and quiet. 

I enjoy creative writing English lessons because, at school, it is a calm and focused environment where I can write stories and such without distractions. 

I like English because it helps me with my descriptive language and helps me put detail in my writing. I also like English when we write stories. 

I enjoy reading because when I read it makes me picture things in my head that probably won’t happen to me. 

I like English as we get to write stories involving lots of different characters.

I really like English because teachers vary the types of things we write and how we write them.

I also love guided reading because it is like a mini comprehension that is different for everyone, and it takes it to a world from your dreams.

I think that at school the variety of books that we can read is very large as sometimes I can read a non-fiction book and then as soon as I've finished, I can find a fiction or non-fiction book that I enjoy. 

I like writing stories because the teachers challenge us to use a wider range of vocabulary and interesting figurative language. 

My favourite genre of books has to be fantasy. I am fond of mysteries like ‘Sherlock Holmes’ but I prefer books like ‘Artemis Fowl’ and ‘Harry Potter’, which have an element of fantasy. For example, in ‘Artemis Fowl’, there is a fairy community. 

We have 20 minutes of reading everyday to relax our brains. 

English is about quality not quantity.  

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