At Sharnbrook Primary, our aim is build a curriculum that supports every child to read for pleasure, and reach the expected standard in all areas of literacy by the end of Key Stage 2. Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world. To achieve this, literacy will be at the heart of everything we do as effective literacy instruction has been proven to lead to improved outcomes for children by: unlocking the whole curriculum, increasing social mobility and enabling them to live fulfilled lives.

The way in which the English curriculum is structured in our school is designed to ensure effective literacy instruction meets the needs of every pupil at Sharnbrook Primary. In addition, the specific literacy skills needed for success in other areas of the curriculum are taught alongside the English lesson.

Early Reading

The teaching of early reading is delivered daily through the synthetic phonics programme (SSP), Little Wandle which begins in the Early Years Foundation Stage and continues throughout Year 1. If any child requires further support beyond Year 1, we continue to follow the Little Wandle Rapid Catch Up programme. We have chosen this scheme as it built upon Letters and Sounds which we used previously; is fully sequenced and aligned to the National Curriculum; and contains a comprehensive suite of CPD videos to support teaching and learning across the school. In 2022, after our first year delivering this scheme, every child passed the phonics screener with nobody scoring less than 36/40.

Reading in Year 2

Reading instruction in Year 2 builds on the early reading work previously undertaken whilst moving towards that which the children will undertake in Year 3 and beyond. Reading carousel is conducted daily and also comprises a spelling activity linked to the Spelling Shed scheme of work. Whole-class reading lessons take one of two formats: ‘unseen texts’ that comprise of either a Fred’s Reading or Literacy Shed+ VIPERS resource; and a whole-class text (as detailed on our reading spine) that is slightly more challenging than the children can access by themselves and is thus guided by the teacher to access it. Reader’s Theatre is also used within whole-class reading but is first adapted to suit the age of the children as is necessary for their developing skill level at this age.

Reading in Key Stage 2

In Key Stage 2, explicit reading instruction is taught for two hours per week and builds on from the work in Year 2. Again, lessons consist of either an unseen text from either Fred’s Reading or Literacy Shed+ VIPERS resources, and a high-quality text as detailed on our reading spine. These texts are selected based on both their difficulty level (as determined by a lexile analyser) and its appropriateness to the cohort; and, if genuine links can be made, to the wider curriculum. Reader’s Theatre (a strategy chosen from the EEF Improving Literacy in Key Stage 2 recommendations) can be seen in approximately one in four lessons which aids comprehension and oracy skills as well as providing opportunities for drama (speaking and listening, performing). Reader’s Theatre is not restricted to just the reading lesson, nor fiction and poetry texts, as it works equally well across other subjects and with non-fiction texts too.

Children in Key Stage 2 who require additional support with their reading fluency and comprehension may be identified as either a daily or thrice-weekly reader. These children work in small groups and follow the Fred’s Reading ‘Fluent-in-Five’ to develop their fluency skills and practise answering comprehension questions in a guided group. We use a fluency rubric to assess the children’s skills in four areas: expression and volume; phrasing; smoothness; and pace.

Instilling a love of reading

To further support our pupils to engage with reading, we observe National Poetry Day, Storytelling Week and World Book Day. Furthermore, we hold book fairs and regularly engage with authors during events such as the Bedford Booktastic Children’s Book Festival.

Writing (including handwriting)

Before children can write, they must firstly develop fine motor skills and good hand-eye coordination to hold and control mark-making tools. Over time, these movements will be refined and these marks will eventually have meaning which leads to recognisable letters and words. We use the Little Wandle scheme to assist with correct letter formation at this stage.

Twinkl Cursive is our preferred handwriting style and begins with children revisiting the correct letter formations in Year 1 before being taught how to join from Year 2. Regular handwriting sessions continue throughout Lower Key Stage 2, and beyond for those children who need further support with joining.

In order to support our younger learners with their early writing skills, we use Literacy Shed+ units that are mapped to the skills within Pathways to Write thus ensuring consistency between key stages and sustained engagement for our youngest learners, as this enables us to change the texts more frequently which we feel is better for our children.

To develop a mastery approach to writing, we have implemented the Pathways to Write scheme of work in Key Stage 2 which also develops pupils’ vocabulary and reading skills through the use of high-quality, engaging texts. Throughout each unit, the children practise and master a variety of writing skills, applying the language, grammar and punctuation they have been taught to different text types.

Spelling and Grammar

The teaching of spelling first begins when the children are learning to segment as part of their daily phonics lessons, ensuring children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, and master phonics to read and spell as they move through the school.

From Year 2, we follow the Spelling Shed scheme of work which is a fully sequenced scheme of work that build on phonics, uses morphology and etymology to strengthen spelling skills, and develops vocabulary acquisition. To aid long-term memory, we split the hour long lessons into shorter 15-20 minute teacher-led and independent activities throughout the week to avoid cognitive overload and allow time for repetition and consolidation, just like the Little Wandle scheme of work. In addition, the online platform provides the children with further consolidation in a fun and engaging way beyond the classroom. Look-Cover-Write-Check spelling lists are adapted to suit the needs of the class and a small selection of these spellings are tested through dictation each week thus ensuring children understand their meaning and practise other important transcription skills e.g. the use of punctuation. 

Grammar is taught regularly as part of the Literacy Shed+ and Pathways to Write schemes of work which ensures skills are taught within a context children can apply them to. However, there are times when it is necessary to teach some grammar skills discretely as revisiting them regularly helps to aid long-term memory. Rollama is online platform we use as a homework tool to reinforce the fundamental spelling and grammar skills the children need to write clearly; again using engaging mini games and tournaments that are similar to both Spelling Shed and Times Tables Rock Stars.

Author visits

As part of Black History Month in October, Year 6 met author Keeren Getten author of Two Sisters: A Story of Freedom which is part of the Voices series edited by Tony Bradman (a previous visiting author). Keeren talked about her inspiration for writing the book and also explained the writing process to the children. They were thoroughly engaged.

Kereen Getten  Two Sisters Keeren Getten

Refugee Week 2023

For Refugee Week’s 25th anniversary we are celebrating what compassion looks like in action. Together we can create a shared understanding of compassion to ensure we are extending it widely to all. This year, we have broadened our range of books on offer to help the children understand who refugees are and the struggles they go through having to flee their countries due to war or natural disasters.

These books were displayed for all the children to see before being distributed to the classes, right from our youngest pupils in Penguins to our oldest pupils in Eagles.

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World Book Day

This year for World Book Day, classes celebrated in different ways: Year 1 dressed up as their favourite characters and spent the week acting and writing about Grandma Bird by Benji Davis; Year 2 wrote some fantastic poetry; Year 3 created comic strips about their favourite books; Year 4 brought in their favourite books and carried out a book scavenger hunt as well as drawing pictures of their favourite characters; Year 5 watched a live presentation callled 'Using Your Imagination' featuring the World Book Day authors; and Year 6 did some maths linked to James and the Giant Peach and designed World Book Day tokens. Examples of some of these activities are below.

A selection of Year 3 Comic Strips

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A selection of Year 6 WBD Tokens

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An environment for learning

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English  English 1

English 1