ENGLISH TEACHING AT KINGSTON
We are proud of the English achievements of our pupils at Kingston. We invest heavily in resources, training and staffing to ensure children have access to the best learning experience possible. We believe in “quality first teaching” – that every lesson delivered should be either good or outstanding, with no exceptions. We are constantly researching the best, most practical and successful teaching ideas and are constantly looking to improve what we do. We follow the National Curriculum for English for Key Stages One and Two.
Phonics is an important part of learning to read and write. At Kingston, Phonics is taught in the EYFS and Key Stage 1 on a daily basis for between 20-30 minutes, together with planned intervention groups for children needing extra practise with their learning. Children are taught according to the Phase they are working in across the EYFS and KS1. We use the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document to teach and assess children, which separates phonics into Phases 1-6.
Lessons aim to be interactive, stimulating and age appropriate and over the course of a week will cover:
• Phoneme and grapheme recognition
• Blending for reading
• Segmenting for writing
• Application of phonics strategies for reading and writing
At the end of Year 1, children will take the statutory Phonics Screening Check, which assesses their ability to blend sounds to decode unknown words. If children do not reach the age-expected level in this check at the end of Year 1, they are required to take it again in Year 2.
For children who are not securely working at Phase 6 of letters and sounds by the end of Year 2, their phonics teaching will continue in Year 3, appropriate to their level of attainment. This will be taught through our own tailored junior phonic scheme ‘Pixead’. When formative and summative assessments show children are working securely within age expected levels, this intervention program will stop.
The Big Write
The Big Write is a a system that has been developed that focuses on children developing their spelling, grammar and creative writing skills in a systematic way. Spellings and grammar are discretely taught and include extending vocabulary, sentence starters, punctuation and connectives. Each year group builds on the learning of the previous year and the VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) games are played daily in short, manageable sessions. At the end of each two/three weeks of literacy teaching, the children are then expected to engage in a piece of extended writing. This helps them to focus on the skills they are learning and apply them to a piece of sustained writing. The classroom is set up with some calming music and children are expected to work in silence. These pieces of independent writing are then used to assess the children and the progress that they are making.
Talk for Writing
For several years we have used Talk for Writing as the basis for teaching writing at Kingston. The idea behind the system is that children should ‘linger’ and ‘engage’ with a quality piece of text before embarking on a piece of independent writing. We therefore ask all our teachers to create a ‘fabulous text’ to start off each new scheme of work. The pupils then spend a few lessons identifying what writing tools have been used to make the text ‘fabulous’! They also interact with the text through drama, speaking and listening, drawing and creating a success criteria. When the teacher feels that the pupils have assimilated the text then a shared text is written whereby excellent writing techniques are modelled by the teacher. Then our pupils are ready to create an independent piece of writing. Research has proven that this technique enables all pupils to be accomplished writers and our own experience has shown that our pupils are more able to produce a successful piece of text when using the Talk for Writing method of learning.
Children are primarily taught to read using our phonic system of teaching. At Kingston we use the Oxford Reading Tree of books to enable pupils to progress their reading skills. From years two to six we choose challenging and rich texts to share with the whole class. We have created our own reading system called ‘Active Reading’ to encourage pupils to engage full with texts and develop their comprehension skills. We are determined that all of our pupils should leave Kingston ‘Secondary Ready’ and have set up a Reading Partnership scheme in Key Stage 2 to ensure that all of our pupils are fluent readers. At Kingston we want to encourage our children to have a love of reading and so we have filled our classrooms with exciting and enticing literature. We constantly liaise with a local children's author to keep our reading material up-to-date and 'alive'. Our pupils are encourage to take home a book from our reading scheme together with any book that they are interested in reading.
After a lot of research, we have developed our own Kingston scheme of spelling. We aim for all of our pupils to be competent spellers and therefore focus our teaching on spelling rules and consolidation of ‘tricky’ words. In every year groups we have ‘words of the week’ and base our weekly spelling teaching on those root words and finding similar words. We have based on spelling scheme on the 2014 National Curriculum.
This is a link to our root words for each year group:
At Kingston we deliver ten week programmes of Talk Boost throughout the year. Talk Boost is a targeted intervention that focusses on improving pupils' speech and language skills. It is a 10-week programme delivered by trained teaching assistants that can boost a child’s communication by up to 18 months. This has been shown to have an impact on progress in reading – 90% of children met or exceeded progress in reading after Talk Boost.
We are passionate that every single pupil reaches their full potential in reading which is why we buy into the Lexia programme each year. This is a personalised reading programme which progresses pupils through the necessary stages to become competent readers. Students have the opportunity to accelerate beyond their grade-level skills, as they are given the ability to demonstrate proficiency in each skill area, and are advanced to the next level in the program if no instruction is needed.
For students in need of extra support, Lexia provides a level of scaffolding. If the student still struggles, the program provides explicit instruction on the concepts and rules of the skill, allowing the student to demonstrate proficiency and then return to the scaffolded level and standard-level activities. Personalised instruction ensures that students receive the appropriate intensity and support to acquire the skills they need to become proficient readers