English at Old Moat
At Old Moat our aim is to develop skilled readers with a love of reading. We nurture and develop confident, creative speakers and writers who are prepared for their future lives.
Our school immerses children in a rich English curriculum, using a vast array of strategies, techniques and multimedia to ensure that all children are engaged in English lessons and make progress.
English encompasses all aspects of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Speaking and Listening are central to all our work, and are also taught as discrete skills.
The teaching of writing is delivered in a creative, stimulating and cross-curricular way, linked with the Big Question. Children are introduced to different types of writing. They study texts and identify key features, which they then use to plan and create their own piece of writing from a stimulus. The stimulus could be another piece of writing, a picture, a film clip or even an object.
Talk for writing plays a vital role in developing children’s writing. Children are provided with opportunities to use a range of drama techniques and opportunities to orally share their writing which enables them to imitate the language they need for their work.
The teaching of Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) is also an integral part of all English lessons and children are taught how to punctuate and structure their writing correctly, becoming fluent with the relevant terminology.
Once a child has created a piece of writing, they then develop the skills needed to analyse and edit their work, constantly working towards taking those next steps to improve their writing.
Marking and Feedback
It is important that children know the next steps they need to take in order to improve their writing. Detailed marking and feedback give the children the support they need to identify WHAT needs improving and HOW to improve it. Children are given time to read marking and to respond to it to maximise progress.
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea.” Roald Dahl, Matilda
At Old Moat we not only teach the fundamental skills of reading but also nurture children’s reading attitudes and behaviour with the aim that all children have the "Reading Habit". We hold regular Reading Assemblies, during which members of the community read a short story, a poem, or an extract from a favourite book to the children. Class teachers nominate children for a book prize - these might be children who have developed a new skill in Guided Reading lessons, or children who have demonstrated a particular interest in reading at home. Guest readers have included musicians, local business people and even our local MP, an ex-pupil of Old Moat!
“The best reading environment is one where there is an expectation of pleasure in reading, where there is an excitement in talking about books and enjoyment in being read to.” Reading Connects Handbook. 2008:5
Reading is a partnership and we value all the parental support children receive: It is very important that children read at home to an adult, and that they are sent into school with their reading book and reading journal each day. The reading journals are a great way for parents to communicate with teachers about how each child is reading at home.
The reading book that a child is sent home with a child is aimed at a level which they can read independently to an adult. In Guided Reading sessions, children read more challenging texts with teachers and teaching assistants to support the development of their reading ability. Children are also taught how to read for meaning so that they are able to discuss and explain their understanding of a text.
Our "Speedy Reading" scheme is a catch-up programme for children who have fallen behind in their reading. We offer intensive one-to-one support to children identified for the programme, and the programme is specifically tailored to each individual child. We use well-researched methods to find the precise level of text needed for the child to be able to read successfully, then to find the level of text needed for the child to be in the "learning zone" - learning new skills and words, but not working at a level that is too hard. The children begin to view themselves as successful readers, and build on this to make accelerated progress.
Phonics is all about sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which we put together to form words. Some sounds are represented by 1 letter, like ‘t’ and some by two or more, like ‘ck’ in duck. Children are taught these sounds and how to match them to letters.
Phonics is the building blocks of reading and writing and equips children with the skills needed to become independent readers and writers.
Old Moat has a structured approach to the teaching of phonics which begins on entry to the Nursery and continues throughout the formative years of school, incorporating spelling strategies and rules. There are two elements of teaching phonics, segmenting which supports writing and blending which supports reading. Throughout the teaching of phonics, children are also introduced to tricky words, words which do not follow the conventions taught, like ‘the’ and ‘said’.
Children who need to build on their phonic skills higher up in the school also have the opportunity to do so in groups tailored to their needs.