English is central to the curriculum at Briary School. We recognise this by giving a substantial amount of time to teaching the essential skills involved in reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Reading is an extremely important skill. The very carefully planned teaching we give in school must be supported by plenty of individual practice at home. We have a wonderful library, which offer books from a wide variety of genres. Our books, which come from a number of different sources, are accurately banded according to colour band levels with smaller structured steps within the level. We have combined a range of different schemes including Big Cat, PM and Oxford Reading Tree to allow experience of a wide range of genre, interests and authors for all levels, and have included real books and books which support and develop topic learning and literacy within the classroom throughout. In KS1 we have a range of phonically decodable books to engage our young readers and promote early independent reading. We also have a range of high interest, low ability books to further support our reluctant readers.
Children progress through the scheme at their own pace. This is monitored by teachers during daily reading sessions where they work with a small group of children reading and children are moved through the levels to provide achievable challenge at instructional level. Progress and areas for development are informed by an individual one to one assessment at two points in the year. Children will bring home books which they are able to read fluently and for enjoyment.
Children are asked to take reading and library books home in book bags, which are available from the school office, priced at £3.50 each. Any letters to and from school should also be carried in the book bag. Because books are so expensive, we make a nominal charge of £2 for any books lost or damaged. All new children get a FREE book bag as a welcome present from the Friends of Briary (our PTA).
To ensure good communication about children’s reading, we give each child a contact book which should be taken home every afternoon and returned every morning. Teachers will sometimes write comments in the book (it’s simply not possible, for practical reasons, to do this every day).
We are pleased to be currently running a reward scheme to encourage regular reading at home. We expect that the children read at least three times per week. If they do, they will receive a reading star in their diary. These stars can be exchanged for prizes! When you read with your child, do not feel that you always have to write something in the book; if you write your initials and the date we will know that your child has practised. Reading targets will also be displayed in the books. It will help your child reach their target/progress if you sometimes work towards it.
Children are given many opportunities to read and share a variety of texts, in connection with other subjects, for comprehension and for simple enjoyment.
Some children require more support if they are to become fluent readers. We have Reading Recovery and Better Reading Partnership schemes to provide these children with the opportunity to read every day with a trained adult, developing their confidence. You will be notified if your child is placed on these programs. We also welcome support from parents to hear children read by training as Better Reading Partnership volunteers.
Each term we hold a book fair. This is a visiting book shop, which stays with us for a week. Families are invited to come and browse and the school receives a substantial commission on all purchases, in the form of new books for the libraries.
At Briary, we use the Power of Reading during our Literacy lessons to develop the children’s love of books through drama, speaking and listening and writing activities. Writing skills, which are scaffolded to enable children of all abilities to make progress, are practiced and applied in our weekly extended writing sessions after which children are encouraged to play the role of editor and find ways of improving their own work. Children are given writing targets which will be shared with parents at consultation meetings and on annual reports.
It is important that children are taught the correct way to write their letters. We use a simple form of cursive script. As soon as a child can write in a consistent, joined script they are expected to write in pen.
Phonics and Spelling
We follow the Letters and Sounds scheme. From Reception, children are taught a discrete phonics lesson every day, in ability groups where appropriate, until such time as they no longer require it. We measure progress across Key Stage 1 to ensure children are well prepared for the year 1 Phonics screening, which takes place in June. In year 2 we continue with phonics for those children who have not yet met the required standard, in order for them to achieve the required standard a year later. Further up the school where children still require additional phonics input, this is usually given by skilled teaching assistants in small groups. As well as discrete phonics lessons, children are encouraged to apply their phonic knowledge in their reading and writing and across the curriculum.
Spelling is also taught discretely across Key Stage 1 and 2 following the National Curriculum. In order to supplement this, the children will bring home Rainbow Spelling cards with a list of words to learn following specific rules or patterns. They can move through the programme as quickly as they are able to and receive a certificate at the end of each colour band.
Speaking and Listening
Children have many opportunities to discuss, debate and relate events in order to become confident speakers and listeners.