English

Phonics

Holy Cross Catholic Primary School has benefited from the training given by the literacy consultant Ann Smallberger who is linked with the Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC). We have watched and learned from good practice in phonics and early reading to improve our teaching of reading and writing. This approach is based closely on the letters and sounds document. Holy Cross ialso uses a Reading Recovery approach and all our support staff are trained as Better Reading & Writing Partners to help children make rapid progress in reading and writing.

  • All children in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 have daily phonics sessions. Regular KTC training has ensured that the school’s approach to teaching phonics is strong. All children work through the following phases to ensure they become confident and effective readers and writers:
  • Phase 1 focuses on everyday sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration and orally segmenting and blending.
  • Phase 2 focuses on learning all single sounds and how to read and write them in words.
  • Phase 3 focuses on learning simple digraph and trigraph sounds and applying these to words and sentences (for example, igh, oo, ear and er)
  • Phase 4 focuses on learning adjacent consonants in words (for example, fl, pr, cr and st)
  • Phase 5 focuses on learning alternative digraph and trigraph sounds and applying these to words and sentences (for example, ie, ph, oe and ai)

Spelling

At Holy Cross, we follow a programme called No Nonsense Spelling, which is delivered from Year 2 to Year 6. In Reception and Year 1, children continue to learn phonics and spelling patterns through their phonics programme. No Nonsense Spelling focuses on the teaching of spelling, embracing knowledge of spelling conventions – patterns and rules; but integral to the teaching is the opportunity to promote the learning of spellings, including National Curriculum statutory words, common exception words (where phonics does not work because it is spelt in an unusual or uncommon way) and words that children personally find difficult. It is often that children can spell words correctly in their weekly spelling test, but are unable to apply the correct spelling in writing. No Nonsense Spelling focuses on the application of spellings into writing.

How is the programme organised? The programme has been broken down into half termly plans. The plans follow a model of six spelling sessions across two weeks, except in Year 2 where sessions are daily. Each lesson is approximately 10 to 15 minutes long, but lesson plans are flexible so that the teaching can reflect the extra time needed on a teaching point if required.

Teaching sequence The programme has been written broadly following a teaching sequence for spelling, whereby each new concept is taught, practised and then applied and assessed. Frequently there is also a ‘Revise’ session before the teaching session. Teachers may also integrate activities for handwriting so that children acquire the physical memory of the spelling pattern as well as the visual.

Reading

Holy Cross Catholic Primary School has benefited from the training given by the literacy consultant Ann Smallberger who is linked with the Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC). We have watched and learned from good practice in phonics and early reading to improve our teaching of reading and writing. This approach is based closely on the letters and sounds document. Holy Cross ialso uses a Reading Recovery approach and all our support staff are trained as Better Reading & Writing Partners to help children make rapid progress in reading and writing.

Our Reading Books

All children have a reading book to share at home with parents. All the books in our reading stock are graded according to difficulty based on phonetic stages, Reading Recovery levels and ‘Book bands’. The children’s reading abilities are regularly assessed individually and in guided groups so they can move through the book levels at their own pace. Children are also encouraged to read books of their own choice including library books and to listen to stories so they can develop a passion for reading.

Accelerated Reader

At Holy Cross, children from Year 3 to  Year 6 participate in Accelerated Reader in order to help develop their reading skills and raise standards in English. Children take part in the Accelerated Reader programme every day during a 30 minute quiet reading session.  The principle behind this programme is to promote a lifelong love of reading in every student, regardless of aptitude or ability. It is designed to do the following:

  • Make essential reading practice more effective for every child
  • Personalise reading practice to each child’s current level
  • Assess children's reading skills through fun quizzes so that intervention strategies can be brought in when necessary
  • Accelerate reading growth (progress) by a whole year

Accelerated Reader (AR) produces an average of two years’ reading age growth in just one academic year while promoting reading for pleasure. AR is a powerful tool for monitoring and managing independent reading practice. With AR, teachers create a reading programme to meet the needs of every student.
Using information generated by the software, teachers help students select books that are difficult enough to keep them challenged, but not too difficult to cause frustration. In addition, it helps teachers to monitor students’ vocabulary growth, literacy skills development and reading skills taught through other reading schemes.

Accelerated Reader helps develops lifelong readers.

Find out more about it by clicking here - Parent guide to Accelerated Reader

Take a sample Accelerated Quiz - http://www.renlearn.co.uk/accelerated-reader/sample-quizzes/

Writing

Our school has adopted Pie Corbett's Talk for Writing as a model to improve children's writing abilities and skills.

Why Talk for Writing?

At Holy Cross, we help all our children develop into thoughtful readers and creative writers and it is through the Talk for Writing approach that we achieve this. Through it’s multi-sensory and interactive teaching it enables children of all ages and abilities to learn to write a wide range of story/text types using various methods including:

  • listening to and learning texts and stories;
  • taking part in drama and role-play;
  • drawing and story mapping;
  • collecting words and language strategies;
  • building their working knowledge of grammar.

At Holy Cross, we are all very enthusiastic about this approach as it brings out the best in the children and the teachers (who have to write model texts for the children to use as the basis of their own writing) - we are all writers together! Writing becomes a joint adventure and the results are exciting!

What exactly is it?

Talk for Writing is an innovative approach to teaching writing developed by the literacy specialist and writer Pie Corbett. It uses high quality model texts to introduce the children to different story/text types which they then learn off by heart and scrutinise with a writer’s critical eye.

They learn the underlying structures and the process of planning using story and text maps. They also learn about the key strategies for creating interesting characters and settings and how to use a range of sentence types to create different effects including suspense or adventure.

Process

Talk for Writing has three key phases which work together to develop knowledge, confidence and independence in writing:

1. Imitation and immersion

We usually like to start our Talk for Writing units with a ‘wow’ starter which fires up the creativity and imagination of the children before they immerse themselves in the model text.

During this phase the children learn a model text using actions and story maps. The key to success for the children is that they internalise the text type through repetition and rehearsal. They explore the structure of the narrative and investigate the different characters, settings and events. They also begin to look closely at the language used and the effect this has on the reader. We call this process ‘read as a writer’. The classroom becomes a dynamic, interactive resource filled with word ideas, sentence types and language tools collected by the children to use in their stories later.

2. Innovation

During this phase the teacher and the children begin to change aspects of the model text using their own ideas. They explore the text using different characters, settings or events and new ideas for descriptive language whilst sticking closely to the underlying structure.

It is during this phase that the children work using their toolkits. The toolkits, based on the features and ingredients of the model text, remind children of the different strategies they could use in their stories and helps them to see the progress they are making.

3. Invention

During the invent week the children plan and write their own story based on the text type they have been learning. They experiment with the ideas and begin to explore their own style of writing using sentence types from the model text. They also have opportunities to edit and improve their work.

You can find out more by clicking here.

Handwriting

At Holy Cross, we use the Nelson Handwriting Scheme throughout the school to support the children to develop a cursive style of handwriting.  

You will find free resources and example of the handwriting font here.

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