Welcome to our Literacy page
We aim to meet the demands of the National Curriculum by fulfilling its teaching objectives.
Literacy unites the important skills of reading and writing, speaking and listening.
Literary skills, including oral responses, underlie the whole curriculum, communication forming the basis of teaching and learning.
The National Curriculum aims to ensure that all pupils:
- Read easily , fluently and with understanding
- Develop the habit of reading widely and often, both for pleasure and understanding
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debates.
The programme of study for reading consists of:
- Word reading
- Comprehension (both listening and reading)
It is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupil’s competence in both areas.
We support the teaching of reading through the use of a wide range of phonics books based around the new Monster Phonics scheme to meet the needs of individual pupils and through regular guided reading sessions.
The children are encouraged to take their personal reading books home, as parental support in reading with children is invaluable.
At Halfway Houses Primary School, we recognise every child as a unique individual, ensuring they can express their Literacy skills through: speaking and listening, reading, writing and performance. We take into account their prior knowledge and have tailored our Literacy curriculum around children’s needs, ensuring we explore a wide range of vocabulary and igniting their love of language and learning. We look to immerse learners in high quality core texts, based on the principles of ‘Talk for writing’ whereby children need to ‘say it, practise it and then write it’. Texts include a range of spiritual, moral, social and cultural themes which we hope will enrich their lives and help them become aware of the diverse society to which they belong and play an active part. We design, plan and organise our Literacy to achieve a depth to the children’s learning which enables them to use their skills and understanding across all areas of the curriculum.
Our aim at Halfway Houses is to promote progression and continuity at all stages of their learning whilst supporting and challenging all learners to be the best they can be. The trick in teaching literacy is to combine the teaching of reading and writing skills within a context that is meaningful, purposeful and creative. The ability to read and write is not an end in itself. Phonics, grammar and vocabulary are the building blocks of literacy and it is the art of combining these blocks effectively which is the real skill in order to give all children the tools to be successful. At Halfway Houses we will appropriately support and challenge all pupils in order to adequately enable them to make successful transitions through each stage of their education and lives.
At Halfway Houses Primary we aim:
- To have a consistent cursive handwriting approach across our school to ensure high levels of presentation;
- To have a common cursive handwriting approach by all adults when writing in children’s books, on whiteboards, displays or resources;
- For children to achieve a neat, legible style with correctly formed letters using a cursive handwriting style;
- For children to develop fluency, speed and confidence whilst writing.
Please see the Handwriting policy for details surrounding implementation and impact.
At Halfway Houses Primary we aim:
- To raise the profile of the teaching of spelling.
- To raise the overall standard of spelling across the school.
- To provide a rich and lively learning environment, supported by well-chosen word resources and interactive displays to enhance pupils’ learning.
- To teach spelling systematically throughout the school.
- To teach Phonological Awareness, Word Recognition, Graphic knowledge, Phoneme/grapheme correspondence and Spelling knowledge.
- To encourage children to develop and learn frequently used words, as indicated in the National Curriculum for English.
- To equip children with a wide range of spelling strategies to enable them to be confident, competent and independent spellers.
- To make children aware of the Writing Process so that they can write fluently, confidently and independently, concentrating on Spelling where appropriate.
Please see the Spelling policy for details surrounding implementation and impact.
At Halfway Houses Primary School, we have high quality texts to use as stimulus for our writing expectations with the intention of fully immersing pupils in their learning. Using drama in the classroom is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that learning is lively and interactive. Most drama activities take just a few minutes but can have a significant impact upon the children’s learning. We use drama to:
- explore characters and situations to develop interpretation, response and comprehension in reading;
- role-play stories to develop sequencing and story language;
- engage children through teacher-in-role – teacher acting as a character or special visitor who can give the children information and answer their questions;
- explore issues and dilemmas;
- role-play events and then write about the event in role;
- re-enact events in history;
- develop vocabulary;
- perform to peers and parents.
In writing, children are taught how to apply grammar, punctuation and spelling skills in ways which are interesting and to create different effects for the different purposes and audiences identified during the analysis part of the reading phase. The two main aspects of writing taught are:
- WHAT to write – the content;
- HOW to write – the grammar, language, structure and the intended effect.
The four stages of teaching good writing are a gradual release from teacher-directed to complete independence. It needs to be tightly controlled to ensure success. Talk for writing principles are our guiding force here with opportunity for talk partners and drama, in order to immerse children in texts through different activities and genre to embed understanding and learning. The stages are:
- Modelled Writing (Writing for children)
- Shared Writing (Writing with children)
- Guided Writing (Writing with/by children)
- Independent Writing (Writing by children)
For each stage teachers use a specific strategy in their lessons. Each strategy can be used as a stand-alone lesson or at intervals during other stages. By the end of Key Stage 2, we want all our pupils to be successful enough to:
- Know, understand and be able to write in a range of genres in fiction and poetry, and understand and be familiar with some of the ways in which narratives are structures through basic literary ideas of setting, character and plot.
- Understand, use and be able to write a range of non-fiction texts.
- Plan, draft, revise and edit their own writing.
- Have a suitable technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their reading and writing.
- Develop their powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
We will provide for the needs of our more-able learners through a framework of high quality first teaching which focuses on ensuring the children are challenged appropriately. We will focus on developing their learning behaviours, including, greater reflection, problem solving and enquiry, making connections, higher order thinking skills and independent learning. The progress of more-able learners will be rigorously tracked.
At Halfway Houses Primary School, we pride ourselves on the success of our Accelerated Reader programme. In 2020-2021 we were the top performing Primary School in the United Kingdom with the most quizzes completed. Rapid, sustained progress is expected across the school once children are able to access the programme at an independent level.
Class teachers, teaching assistants, reading support staff and parents are all expected to contribute positively to every child’s reading journey. Children choose their own book from an extensive choice in our library at their appropriate level and quiz on completion of that text, daily for KS1 pupils and each week if on chapter books in KS2.
Daily reading time at home is an expectation. The importance of daily personalised reading practice cannot be overstated. Recent studies indicate that when students spend 25 minutes a day reading suitably challenging books which they successfully comprehend, then they will achieve optimal reading age growth. This is the power of personalised practice and the AR programme.
Our vibrant and inviting Library acts as a hub of the school where a buzz for reading is tangible, within an environment that immerses the children in high quality texts and gives them a place to discover the world of Literacy. We have a print rich environment within our school which encourages children to interact with displays.
Within the classroom the reading corners are attractive and inviting where books are clearly accessible, ensuring reading has a high profile. Themed displays, achievement boards, league tables and challenges are evident in all areas of our school, reflecting our success in reading. Books are also displayed and promoted around the classroom and the whole learning environment of the school, with an emphasis on books related to our termly topics or Literacy focus. At Halfway Houses Primary School we believe in developing a reading culture throughout the school by creating welcoming book areas in classrooms and open areas.
At Halfway Houses Primary School ‘Shared reading’ is at the heart of our ‘Book talk’ in high quality texts. We immerse and analyse the text together: The teacher’s role in the immersion stage is to elicit response, extend the children’s responses and encourage critique. Comprehension is developed through lots of talk and the exchange of ideas – not through text book comprehension exercises! The teacher’s role in the analysis stage is to teach children how to identify authors’ techniques and the intended effect upon the text and the reader. This knowledge is used to inform the children’s own writing.
Whereas Shared Reading focuses upon teaching children how to read and respond at a level appropriate to their age, Guided Reading focuses upon teaching children how to progress from their current reading level to the next, whether this be below, at, or above a level appropriate to their age.
A group of about six children, who are reading at about the same level, are grouped together. KS1 will read for about 20 minutes whereas KS2 sessions will be 30 minutes.
The teacher chooses a book or text that the children are able to read without too much difficulty, (95% accuracy).
There is a clear teaching focus for the session based upon the content domains and the children’s next steps.
This focus is shared with the children so that they know what they are learning.
The children read independently and individually – not in turn.
Beginner readers may read in a quiet voice and the teacher tunes in to listen for reading behaviours and areas for development.
The Spiritual Child: Within our classrooms, Spiritual development in Literacy involves pupils acquiring insights into their own personal existence through literacy appreciation and analysis. Through reflection on literary works pupils are asked to consider the attribution of meaning to experience. Through careful selection of novels, plays, poetry and film, pupils have the opportunity to consider the belief that our inner resources provide the ability to rise above everyday experiences. Our Halfway Houses values are encouraged as pupils are asked to display empathy with characters so they can develop a growing understanding of how ideology contributes to personal identity. Pupils are provided with opportunities to extract meaning beyond the literal, consider alternative interpretation and hidden meanings while engaging with ideas in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama. Linked firmly to our pupils needs, they are encouraged to explore how choice of language and style affects implied and explicit meaning. Starting with our youngest pupils, they are provided with opportunities to reflect on their own life and lives of others using recounts, diaries, journals, letters, biographies and autobiographies across the whole curriculum. Pupils experience a rich variety of quality language use, and learn how to use language in imaginative and original ways, drawing on their reading, and considering how words, usage and meaning change over time.
The Moral Child: At Halfway Houses Primary we encourage respect and place emphasis on pupils listening to others’ views and opinions linked to our high quality, diverse literacy texts. Within our Literacy curriculum, pupils are encouraged and supported to look at, discuss and evaluate a wide range of genre including newspapers, fiction, non-fiction, film and other media. Moral development in our Literacy curriculum involves our pupils being supported to explore and analyse appropriate texts which furnishes them with the knowledge and ability to question and reason, which will empower them to develop their own value system and to make reasonable decisions on matters of personal integrity. Our pupils are given the opportunity to develop an awareness that life throws up situations where what is right or wrong is not universally agreed. s and plays are selected that extend pupils’ ideas and their moral and emotional understanding. Through reflection on a writer’s presentation of ideas and the motivation and behaviour of characters, pupils are expected to express informed personal opinions. All pupils learn to articulate their own attitudes and values through being provided with opportunities to discuss matters of personal concern, related to books read in class. In particular, throughout Key Stage 2, pupils are given opportunities to talk for a range of purposes including exploration and hypothesis, consideration of ideas, argument, debate and persuasion. In discussion they should be encouraged to take different views into account and construct persuasive arguments. .
The Social Child: Our Literacy curriculum supports the social development of our pupils through plenty of opportunities for collaborative learning facilitated by talk partners and group work. During these times, every child is encouraged to engage in speaking and listening, sharing thoughts, views and opinions whilst participating in role play and drama linked to our extensive variety of core texts and genre that offer perspectives on society and the community and their impacts on the lives of individuals. Our core texts portray issues and events relating to contemporary life or past experience in ways that are interesting and challenging. From Year 3, our Guided Reading sessions include a Reciprocal Reading group and pupils have opportunity to take on different roles in these group discussions which introduces them to negotiate consensus or agree to differ. Taking into account many of our pupils’ life experiences and backgrounds, we have ensured there are planned opportunities for the understanding of vocabulary with their grasp of new language being a vehicle to increase their confidence and self-belief in their own learning journey whilst embedding appropriate grammar of Standard English and dialect variations.
The Cultural Child: Cultural development in Literacy at our school involves texts and plays being selected which encourage students to empathise with the feelings and experiences of others in order to develop their understanding of other people’s attitudes, ideas and behaviour. Pupils develop a sensitive awareness of, and the ability to respond constructively to, the backgrounds, experiences, concerns, feelings and commitments of others through poetry, imagery, drama, role play, myth and historical narrative.
Examples of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Education in Literacy at Halfway Houses Primary School include:
- Pupils being given the opportunity to compare their own culture and community with that which is different
- Pupils becoming aware of how different societies function and different social structures
- Pupils addressing issues of discrimination (race/gender/age) within texts
- Pupils being given the opportunity to develop empathy for characters and understand the feelings and emotions of characters in the text
- Pupils being encouraged to make reasoned judgements on moral dilemmas that occur in texts
- Pupils covering intangible concepts such as love, beauty and nature in poetry
- Pupils thinking through the consequences of actions – e.g. advertising, charitable campaigns or sensationalism in the media.
Mastery pedagogy works on the principle that all learners, with effort, will meet expectations. At Halfway Houses Primary, continual use of formative assessment enables teachers to frame learning to ensure that pupils are given opportunity to grasp and continually practise key skills. Learning gaps are closed through reactive teaching and targeted intervention. Pre-teaching is a strategy used to support all groups of learners to meet their potential, especially with vocabulary for many learners who have limited linguistic experiences and need to close gaps. It is a strategy also used to extend the more-able pupils in order to further develop their skills.
At Halfway Houses, we believe that deeper learning needs to stick and be recalled and implemented over time. All learners are given opportunity to demonstrate their literacy skills across a range of genre and across the whole curriculum with extended pieces of writing now evident within our topic books.
An example of depth of learning- how to write a letter:
Expected depth: A week later, we ask them to write a letter and they write a different and improved letter, including new content and in particular, they include the use of adjectives to add detail. The pupil is combining and enhancing their work based on applying their knowledge.
Deeper learner: A week later, we ask them to write a letter and they write a very different and improved letter, including a slightly different structure they have decided to use paragraphs and a style of writing similar to how we worked on making complaints last term. They include the use of adjectives to add detail. The pupil is combining and enhancing their work based on applying knowledge from across the subject.
Deepest learner: This pupil would have the skills to apply their understanding of letter writing in a creative context. They could write a letter based upon their own interests drawing upon their understanding of structure, content and clear voice necessary to engage, interest and influence their audience.
Assessment is a vital tool in the teaching of Literacy, designed to monitor pupil’s progress and measure attainment. It is also used to inform future intervention by staff at Halfway Houses Primary. Teachers are responsible for assessing and recording pupil’s progress in Literacy. Standards are checked both in-school and through external moderation opportunities. These include:
- Self and peer assessment
- Pupil’s work marked promptly and in accordance with the school marking policy and A4L policy
- Radiant Write/Showcase writing to demonstrate writing at length each term
- Summative standardised national data in Years 2 and 6
- Observations of individuals or groups, looking for particular skills to be demonstrated
- Moderation of work to check and agree the standards of attainment
- Reporting achievements to parents on reports and on Parents Evenings
- Summative standardised annual tests in Years 2 and 6
- NFER reading tests in Term 2,4 and 6 in Years 3, 4 and 5
- AR Star reader data Term 2,4 and 6
- Ongoing tracking of AR quizzing, point targets, word count
- Reporting achievements to parents on reports and on Parent Evenings Pupil’s attainment of the key objectives is recorded on class and individual record sheets.
- The phonics check in year 1 and 2
Yearly teaching programmes are regularly reviewed by Year teams to ensure appropriate coverage has been undertaken. Assessment sheets are used to inform planning and intervention for specific groups and individuals alongside daily formative assessment. Summative assessment is submitted yearly onto the school’s pupil tracking system ‘O track’. At the end of the academic year, pupil’s assessments are passed onto the next teacher to identify areas for improvement and strengths in order to further challenge.
How can I help my child with their Literacy learning?
Here are some questions that you could ask your child.
Who is your favourite Monster Phonics monster?
What book are you reading at the moment? What do you like about it?
What is your class reader or story this week?
Who is your favourite character from a book?
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Why?
What do you like to write about?
What is your favourite book that you have ever read?
How do you choose books when you go to the library?
How can you earn your pen licence?
What work have you done that you are proud of?