Teaching English

OVERVIEW

At Hillcrest Primary School, English is taught for 60-90 minutes a day during the morning. Over the course of a year, all children receive a rich and diverse literacy education that enables them to make good progress.

A CLOSER LOOK...

Phonics

To develop children’s reading and writing as soon as they join us in Reception, we teach phonics daily. At Hillcrest we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills. To meet differing learning styles and to apply phonics in a lively and interactive way we also use the ‘Jolly Phonics’ songs and actions, and ‘Read Write Inc’s’ letter formation sayings. (see the link at the bottom of the page for more information.)

Reading

At Hillcrest we teach reading through special reading weeks. Every term, teachers carefully select a quality fiction or non-fiction text, to act as the stimulus for these sequence of lessons devoted to reading. Alongside introducing children to a range of texts and nurturing a love of reading, the primary aim is to develop comprehension skills. In the first week, this is in the context of speaking and listening, reading, writing, and art and design tasks; the second week moves on to more formal comprehension skills using the text.

Beyond reading weeks, KS1 incorporate guided reading into their daily literacy, while KS2 plan for daily quiet reading and targeted intervention for specific individuals.

Each week, children receive a reading enrichment session (including a half hour library visit) from Mrs Price. 

Writing

In the Foundation Stage, the five literacy sessions are shared between three phonics and two ‘Talk for Writing’ sessions.          

Year 1 begin the year with a phonics focus, moving on to sentence and text level as appropriate. 

From Year 2 to 6, children are taught a range of fiction and non-fiction genres using writing ladders. These comprise of a set of learning objectives – primarily genre-specific, with others relating to specific punctuation and grammar skills. 

SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar)

Prior to homework being sent out, children explore their new spelling focus in class, and spellings and sentences are sent home and posted on the VLE. These are then revisited in short SPAG starters before the main writing or reading lesson the following week. The emphasis is as much on knowing the meaning of each word and being able to use it in context as being able to spell it. 

Punctuation and grammar is taught discretely (using the correct terminology) to model key skills, before being consolidated in daily SPAG starters and applied to big writes. There is a weekly teacher and/or child-generated dictation to use and apply the SPAG foci for that week.

Handwriting

Foundation Stage and KS1 (and targeted children in KS2) follow the Cambridge Pen Pals scheme, where children are taught to form their letters in print before moving on to the cursive script. KS2 predominantly use the Spectrum scheme.