Literacy is a key skill that is essential for every other part of the curriculum. We aim to provide every child with the skills to communicate effectively in speech and writing. The children are inspired to develop a love of literature.
At St. John's School we are passionate about the teaching of reading, giving children both the skills of reading and the desire to read for pleasure. In our most recent OFSTED Report (December 2012) it was identified that reading ‘is a strength in the school and pupils are encouraged to read widely and regularly.’ The children begin their journey in our nursery, where early reading is developed through children hearing a wide range of stories and books and sharing nursery rhymes and stories with repetition in their structure. When children have developed the ability to discriminate sounds, they then begin our programme of phonics. At St. John’s we follow a phonics scheme called Read, Write, Inc. Children take part in daily phonics sessions to enable them to identify letters and sounds and begin to blend them together to make words. This continues throughout Year 1 and Year 2 to give the children the skills of reading unfamiliar words. Alongside the teaching of phonics we emphasise the importance of reading for meaning: this is promoted through discussions, drama and exploring the themes in the texts. As a school we are lucky enough to have an extremely supportive PTFA, who help us to run our school library. Children from each year group are given the opportunity to visit the library weekly and borrow books of their choice. We also celebrate events such as World Book Day and have a variety of visitors including children’s authors and poets.
Children from Reception up have a reading pack, which supports their reading development. This pack includes a reading book from our reading scheme, ‘Oxford Reading Tree,’ and their reading record. This record is continued through school to enable communication between the class teacher and the adults at home about the books the children have read, and a comment about their reading and the aspects on which they are working. From Year 3 upwards children are encouraged to record their own comments in their reading records, giving responses about what they have read.
As a school we understand how important it is to have parents / carers working alongside us to support children’s learning. In order to promote this we run a series of workshops in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 throughout the course of the year to communicate ways to support children’s development in reading and phonics.
At St. John’s we use a programme called the Power of Reading to support our teaching of writing. This programme stresses the importance of high quality texts being used to create the context for writing. Children are exposed to a variety of high quality texts which are aimed to engage the children and spark interest in a central text. Classes are engaged in a range of activities around the text, including drama and speaking and listening activities. Children are supported in their writing using word banks and with interesting ways to start their sentences, which are displayed around the classroom. Handwriting is taught daily in Key Stage 1 and as required as children progress to Key Stage 2. We believe that children should be taught a joined, neat and efficient style of handwriting to help them to take pride in the written work they produce.