At Fairlawn, we believe that whatever can be inspired, must also be developed and nurtured over time. All English skills require cumulative growth, and therefore we work continuously, from Nursery to Year 6, to implement and maintain effective strategies and ongoing assessment approaches that enable us to harvest versatile, skillful composers of writing, efficient and critical readers of texts, and confident, eloquent orators of news and ideas.
An essential part of achieving the high standards we do in English, is our fluid links between our Inclusion and Literacy Department across all phases of the school. We are particularly proud of our ability to make provision for those who need it, to smash ‘glass ceilings’ in order to provide opportunity for all to experience and succeed, regardless of their background or disabilities, and to identify and track progress and attainment, so that we can ensure that every child flourishes with a good standard of literacy and fulfils their true potential during their time at Fairlawn.
Our approach to compositional writing pivots around the development of ideas, beginning with Helicopter Stories in Nursery and Reception, where storytelling and drama lead to story scribing. As students graduate to Year 1, their writing becomes wrapped around stories and experiences, while also incorporating ‘tricky word’ weekly foci, and exercising the continuous practice of phonics. From Years’ 2-6, we follow a five-phase system, whereby our students learn about writing genres by being immersed in the writing style they are studying, being introduced to the skills and features that define them, and experiencing plenty of ‘have a go’ opportunities that enable them to finally compose their own scaffolded final writing piece before re-drafting.
Without the infrastructure of Early Years skills, none of the above would be possible, therefore we consider those pre-phase stages to be the very ‘rocks’ upon which we build progression in all subjects across the school. Throughout Reception and Year 1, our phonics program develops the ‘grass roots’ of English among our learners, whose progress accelerates with this rigorous investment. Furthermore, we continue this provision into later year groups for any students who have been identified as requiring it in order for our students to reach the ‘expected’ degrees of literacy according to age-related expectations.
We strive to instill a passion for reading in all of our students, which is why we have invested so extensively in selecting a wide range of diverse, yet high caliber books that capture the imaginations and interests of our young readers, while also reflecting the diversity of their cultural and social backgrounds.
From Years 2-6, our whole class reading approach is focused on developing the ‘core skills’, while also exposing all of our students, regardless of their reading fluency ability, to the same questioning, discussions, challenge and enjoyment of a selected range of age-appropriate texts within the classroom. This is to enable all students to reach their potential with all of those skills, so that they are not held-back by any areas that particularly challenge them. We provide three whole-class reading sessions per week, while also providing additional coaching and practice to enhance fluency and basic comprehension for those we have identified as needing additional support with our ongoing assessment system.
In order to make the whole class reading approach possible, our reading foundations are built in Nursery, Reception and Year 1. Through the teaching of phonics, banded books and Daily Supported Reading (DSR), our students are immersed in story sharing/reading, retelling, re-building and sentence re-forming. This develops phonic/graphic familiarity and fluency ahead of the more applied demands of reading that come later in Year 2. In order to ‘close the gap’ for those who may still not be able to read at ‘expected’ age-appropriate standard, we also extend this style of teaching to students in more senior year groups.
At Fairlawn Primary School, we encourage our pupils to think and write creatively so that they are adventurous with their use of language and are able to write for pleasure and with a clear purpose.
In order for these aims to be realised, we equip our pupils with the creative tools to be able to spell accurately by employing a range of strategies that can be applied in their independent writing. We are passionate about exploring the etymology of words, investigating patterns and identifying word families, as well as exceptions to the rules and patterns.
We believe it is important for our pupils to practise their spellings daily whilst practising their handwriting skills. The rules and spelling patterns that they learn are then weekly in Keys Stage 1, and fortnightly in Key Stage 2. In addition to this, our pupils have a Spelling Shed account so that they can have fun practising their spellings through games and this in turn builds their confidence.