"At ARK Little Ridge our children will be secure in the knowledge of who they are, where they come from and confident in looking to where they will go next."
English Curriculum Intent
English sits at the heart of the curriculum. It is through talking, reading, writing and vocabulary acquisition that children learn to communicate ideas, express themselves deeply and to understand the world in which they live. When our children leave Little Ridge, we want them to continue to read for pleasure, having had access to a wide range of text types, genres and authors for them to make informed opinions about their favourites. We want children to develop their own individual flair, confidence and accuracy and to know that we write for a variety of purposes and audiences. We aim to expose our children to a wide range of vocabulary so that they able to decipher new words and then use them knowledgably in a variety of ways to communicate with others. We also want our children to apply these English skills to all areas of the curriculum.
At Little Ridge we place reading at the centre of our curriculum because we believe that it is the foundation of every child’s learning and the pathway to gaining the knowledge that leads to lifelong love of books.
Learning to read
At Little Ridge, becoming a skilful and expert reader, is underpinned by a strong start in early reading. Phonics (taught using Read, Write Inc.) is the beginning of our children’s journey towards mastering reading. Our team of RWI Practitioners are relentless in their dedication to ensuring each and every child at Ark Little Ridge learns to read as quickly as possible.
The RWI approach ensures that everything connects: children connect sounds with mnemonic pictures; words with their meanings; stories with the sounds they know, and children connect their own experiences to the stories they read. In phonics lessons, children learn one thing at a time, then keep practising it until they are ready to move onto learning the next skill.
Starting from the very first week of school, we teach phonics every single day to ensure success. Children are grouped according to their phonic ability so that every child makes rapid progress and any children falling behind are quickly identified. We employ a dedicated RWI professional to deliver interventions for our most vulnerable children.
We invest in the development of our Read Write Inc teachers through an ongoing relationship with the RWI team and regular coaching from our experienced Phonics Lead. We understand the importance of engaging parents: the Phonics Lead holds regular parent workshops, as well as maintaining dialogue with parents regarding their children’s reading.
Children from Year 1 upwards participate in Ridge Reading lessons. These lessons are focused around a class text or appropriately chosen text that links with the pupil learning in a topic area. A wide range of genres including poetry and nonfiction are also used to extend the learning. The lessons are structured to enable the children to practice reading with fluency on a daily basis. Skills of retrieval, inference, summarising, sequencing and authorial intent are also taught. Vocabulary acquisition, is taught both implicitly and explicitly. Clear links with pupil writing, speaking and listening is also fostered and developed.
From Year 2, when children have successfully completed the phonics program, they select books at their level using the Accelerated Reader program (ZPD). Children are assessed on a termly basis and take Star Reader quizzes after each book read. This progress is tracked and monitored by class Teachers. Children are also encouraged to select other books for pleasure.
Reading at home
At ARK Little Ridge we recognise children need constant practice to become established, fluent readers and therefore place a strong emphasis on reading at home in addition to school. All children, from EYFS to Year 6, are expected to read regularly over the week and record their reading in a reading record book. Parents are encouraged to support children in this. Teaching staff monitor children’s reading habits and book choices, working with parents to inspire our pupils to become great readers. In parallel with this, we celebrate children’s reading through sharing stories, partner classes, assemblies, awards and World Book Day.
Reading for Pleasure
At Ark Little Ridge we are striving to become a reading school where all children and adults read for pleasure and can share in the joy of books. Dedicated slots in the timetable have been allocated for this to occur over the week. Each classroom is well stocked with their own library of books, which include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazines, newspapers.
At Ark Little Ridge we know that writing is an important skill for life needed for communicating with others in different ways including: letter writing, stories, poetry and sharing information. Therefore, it is our aim is that every child will leave Ark Little Ridge as a confident, happy and skilled writer by delivering a clear and progressive writing curriculum, which is underpinned by strong oracy, collaborative learning, reading skills and effective spelling and grammar teaching.
At Ark Little Ridge a clearly structured and developed writing curriculum, that spans other subject areas, enables children to write for different audiences and purposes.
Early writing begins in the classroom where the environment provides opportunities for children to mark make using a variety of medium and stimuli. We ensure that pupils are ready to write by promoting a range of activities that support gross and fine motors skills. RWI introduces grapheme and phoneme correspondence and the formation of letters to help support writing words for meaning.
In Key Stage 1, children are taught the skills of writing through oral storytelling and discussion. This supports them to structure the text and independently write in the chosen genre. In Key Stage 2, children write in various genres for a range of purposes. They analyse the model text and unpick the grammatical features and organisation, in order to apply these in their own writing.
Throughout all year groups, we teach writing through engaging and challenging topic-based texts. This supports them in the application of vocabulary and structure. Children are given termly enrichment opportunities to promote and inspire writing of a high quality across the curriculum.
Emphasis is placed on the modelling of writing and the crafting of sentences by teachers. This always enables pupils to see high quality writing, which in turn enables them to become independent writers. Throughout the session, intentional monitoring allows pupils to receive timely and immediate feedback on their writing progression.
Our spelling curriculum follows on from the Read Write Inc Programme taught in Reception and Year 1, developing the children’s understanding of the rules of spelling and the common exception words required in each year group. Children in Years 2-6 receive a spelling lesson at the start of the spelling week where they are systematically taught the spelling rules and requirements before embedding them throughout the week.
We use Oxford University Press’s Nelson Handwriting scheme. Children in EYFS practise letter formation as part of their daily phonics. This is carried through to Year 1 where children receive timetabled handwriting sessions. In year 2, children will learn to join their handwriting. In Key Stage 2, children continue to work on joining, legibility and writing at length, receiving a pen license when they can fluently write in a neat, cursive style through the curriculum. By the time children get to year 5, all children are expected to be writing in pen. Handwriting progress is celebrated across the school through handwriting walls and published workbooks.