“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
English is a core subject of the National Curriculum and a prerequisite for educational and social progress as it underpins the work undertaken in all areas of the curriculum. The acquisition of language skills is of the utmost importance to us here at Badger Hill and therefore the teaching of all aspects of English is given a high priority within school. Confidence in basic language skills enables children to communicate creatively and imaginatively, preparing them for their future journey throughout Badger Hill and beyond.
At Badger Hill, we believe that all children should be enthused by English for life. We interweave spoken language, reading and writing throughout our units of work. We strive to ensure that all our pupils receive a well-rounded learning experience when reading, writing, speaking and listening which will equip them with the fundamental tools to achieve at Badger Hill, and beyond. It is our intention to immerse pupils in the wonders of quality texts to instil a love for reading, a passion for discovery and a confidence to explore their imagination through our rich and diverse curriculum.
Our approach to writing
At Badger Hill, we believe that writing is strengthened by instilling a love for reading within our pupils. We value the importance of reading to supplement writing, providing a real purpose and context to their writing. We believe that pupils who are provided with a reason for writing demonstrate flair and effective writing composition, leading to high quality outcomes. Our classrooms house a community of writers – where we share each other’s writing, talk about it, respond to it, reflect on it and present it to others in a safe and supportive learning environment. We also celebrate the opportunities to write for pleasure by holding termly ‘Free Write Fridays’ where children independently research, write and present a piece in whatever format they wish.
Implementation of the Writing Curriculum
The engagement of children in their work is paramount. All units of work start with an immersive hook to draw the children in and engage them from the outset. Teachers take responsibility for tailoring their units of work to the interests and the curriculum focus of their classes. Every unit starts with good quality literature so that throughout their time with us at Badger Hill, our pupils are widely read and exposed to different styles of writing. Children are immersed through text exploration, drama, spelling and grammar activities, visitors and other first-hand experiences.
Secondly, teachers become the expert in the room by modelling good practice and giving our children the opportunity to learn by example. Alongside the teacher, children are supported to identify the purpose and audience; plan and write an initial piece of writing with a clear context and purpose before evaluating the effectiveness of writing by editing and redrafting. Finally, we celebrate the children’s progress by allowing them to showcase their learning and develop their independence and unique voice as a writer. At Badger Hill, we have high expectations for presentation and handwriting. We follow a cursive writing structure that is followed from EYFS right through to Year 6.
Our approach to reading and the teaching of phonics
At Badger Hill, we truly believe that reading is the key to success for children. If a child enjoys reading, reads fluently and widely – a whole world will open up for them. Such reading improves vocabulary, sentence structures and knowledge of the world. We believe in embedding a love for reading from the beginning of a child’s school life. We create a learning environment within school that mirrors this. Our learning environment includes dedicated reading areas in each classroom which showcases children’s and staff reading choices. We also have a dedicated library which is constantly being restocked with high quality and current fiction and non-fiction books. This is a well-loved space within school.
Implementation of the phonics and reading curriculum
Our children are taught from the outset to read fluently and to read with understanding.
From the moment children join us in Reception, they are taught to read. This begins with developing children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for phonic work. We believe it is important to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.
We use a phonics-based approach where children begin to link letters with sounds. They learn to say, read and say a sequential set of sounds. Alongside this, they are also taught ‘tricky words,’ which cannot be sounded out and so need to be learned from sight. We use the phonics scheme Letters and Sounds, which is supplemented with a variety of resources which include Jolly Phonics and Bug Club. Children have access to a wide selection of phonetically decodable books. These are taken from a range of schemes including Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cat and Rigby Star.
Phonics is taught daily from Reception to Year 2 and beyond for those who might still need support. Once the children have mastered the first set of 12 sounds, they begin to blend sounds together to say, read and write words. On a daily basis, children read individually to a teacher, other adult or in small groups, this is called Guided Reading.
In Key Stage Two, we use the No Nonsense Spelling programme which helps the children develop a range of personal strategies for learning new and irregular words, for spelling at the point of composition and for checking and proofreading spellings after writing.
At Badger Hill, we use the anagram VIPERS to help the children recall the 6 reading domains as part of the National Curriculum. They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts and to become life-long readers. The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics of decoding and fluency.
VIPERS stands for
Sequence or Summarise
Reading for Pleasure
At Badger Hill, we believe that writing is strengthened by instilling a love for reading within our pupils. We value the importance of reading to supplement writing, which is not only celebrated in classrooms but around the school, in general. Upon visiting Badger Hill, you will find displays which celebrate authors, photographs of our whole-school reading events such as our Easter book cafes, parent book swap, book fairs, author visits and reward trips to local bookstores. We display what every class (and their teacher!) is currently reading alongside book reviews, recommended reads and book wish lists.
Each week, classes visit our new library where we spend time enjoying reading for pleasure. During this time, pupils are able to choose the books they wish to read and enjoy, can choose to share a book with a peer, read the ‘Picture News’ newspapers to read about the world around them, choose to read topic books related to our wider curriculum or listen to an adult in the classroom reading aloud to the children. Additionally, teachers spend quality time reading to their classes every day during ‘story time.’ These books are usually chosen by the children – either through book ballots, book world cup events or through democratic votes. This further promotes a love of reading into every school day.
Children can also become part of our after-school club: ‘Reading Ambassador Group.’ Here, children have the opportunity to shape reading within the school either through planning whole-school events such as ‘Extreme Reading’ competitions, reading bingo challenges, World Book Day and contributing to our Badger Hill Reading Newsletter which is distributed to our school community every term.
We firmly believe that at Badger Hill, if we support pupils in establishing a love for reading and expose them to high quality vocabulary, this has a significant impact on pupils’ ability to become authors and in developing their own, individualised style of writing. Within our classrooms, we explore ambitious vocabulary across the wider curriculum to ensure we acquire an understanding of tricky language across the wider curriculum through the use of our working walls. Every classroom has a working wall which is added to on a daily basis by teachers and children alike. In addition, every class teacher preselects five top level pieces of vocabulary that will be the vocabulary focus of the week. It is imperative that the adults in school then model using this vocabulary in context for the children. These are displayed in every classroom and the children love playing games with these words, researching them and applying them in their learning.
Technology to aid learning
All children at Badger Hill have access to BugClub, an online library where children can enjoy reading books onscreen and completing fun quiz questions around what they have read. Our KS2 children used Readtheory – an online reading comprehension assessment tool. Many children also use FlipGrid as a way of promoting and reviewing what books they have read. Children record their own videos to share with the school community. To aid spellings, we find SpellingShed to be an invaluable, online tool, which all of our students have access to. SpellingShed is also a popular after-school club for children to practice their spellings further.
Links with home
All children at Badger School have a form of planner to record their reading journey. These are monitored closely to ensure children are reading at home five times a week. We also have a number of reading volunteers who kindly give up their time to come and hear children read at Badger Hill. We ensure we provide our pupils with a ‘language rich’ environment; we work closely with a range of book fairs in raising the profile of reading to ensure we share the importance of reading with our parents, carers and wider community.
We strive to ensure that our children’s attainment is in line or exceeds their potential when we consider the varied starting points of all our children. We measure this using a range of materials, whilst always considering the expectations for each year group. Children will make at least good progress in reading, writing and speaking and listening from their last point of statutory assessment or from their starting point in nursery. The impact of our English curriculum will ensure our pupils are academically prepared for life beyond primary school and throughout their educational journey. We believe that through our rich learning environments that we have developed for the pupils of Badger Hill, that pupils foster a love for reading and an interest in reading for pleasure.