At Good Shepherd, developing pupils’ literacy skills is of paramount importance. Through the development of Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening pupils are given opportunities to consolidate existing and learn new skills. We firmly believe in the interdependence of the areas and therefore follow a ‘Reading through to Writing Model’. Further to this, we aim to provide our children with exciting, real-life opportunities and platforms to stimulate and showcase their understanding to the highest degree possible.
From the Early Years onwards, language development and communication skills are a key priority. We have recently become part of the Oracy project which helps place language and vocabulary skills at the centre of all learning. Children are motivated to use and apply new vocabulary and grammar structures by exploring them through real-life contexts, learning to become fluent speakers and having numerous opportunities to practise their letter formation, phonics and writing skills. Whilst in the Foundation Stage, children are immersed daily in a wide range of quality stories, rhymes and non-fiction texts, in order to develop their love of books and reading.
In Key Stages 1 and 2, all classes have a daily English lesson, that follows our ‘Reading through to Writing’ journey. The path for each writing outcome is adjusted to suit the needs of the class, the specifics of the writing outcome and to make the best use of additional avenues for engagement. Teachers are supported with the planning and assessment of lessons to ensure that progress is made and sustained and that all areas of the National Curriculum are covered.
Skills are developed in a fun and meaningful way and applied for a range of purposes and audiences. Children are taught to plan, draft, edit, improve and evaluate their own writing and others; this process is underpinned by fun and purposeful grammar activities which explore children’s understanding of the English language and teach them to up-level, and play with new vocabulary. The link between Reading and Writing within English lessons is made explicit: planning follows the reading to writing process, giving pupils plenty of opportunities to become emerged in rich, quality texts and to read critically as both a reader and writer.
In addition to their daily English lessons, children throughout the school have separate Reading lessons, designed to improve both word recognition and language comprehension. For full details please see our Reading page . We have introduced a new diagnostic approach to spellings whereby children are assessed so that particular rules and patterns can be covered based on their need. Staff promote the application of these to their written work in English and across the curriculum. Children complete weekly class spelling tests, with the number achieving 100% shared and celebrated in assembly.
As part of our work on the wider curriculum, we have evaluated our stimuli for writing. For each term, suggested texts linked to Themes and suggested outcomes linked to our bespoke Reading Spine have been identified. These have been developed across the M.A.C. Teachers are given scope and support to tailor these to the needs of their class and emerging interests but the increased cross over facilitates shared practice and more effective professional development.