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At Stanway Primary School, we understand that the study of English develops children’s abilities to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes, and that language is used to communicate ideas, views and feelings. We teach children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, as they become critical readers and writers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins, and use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking and writing across a range of different situations.

As far as possible, English is taught with a cross-curricular focus, so that learning in different subject areas supports, reinforces and extends the learning in English.

Children also have the opportunity to participate in weekly Big Write Friday lessons, which are based on a picture, film clip, object, piece of music, or are linked to the current English unit. Big Write Friday lessons afford children the opportunity to write freely and independently, present their best piece of writing, and to demonstrate the grammar and composition skills that they have learned.

All staff promote a positive writing culture throughout the school, and children are provided with regular opportunities to write at length, and to write for a purpose. They are encouraged to share and publish their writing.

The National Curriculum for English also reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development; cognitively, socially and linguistically. We understand that spoken language underpins the development of both reading and writing, and that the quality of language that the children hear, and speak, are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar. Children are provided with regular opportunities to talk to, and with, others, to talk within role play and drama, and to talk about talk.

At Stanway Primary, we are very proud of our children’s handwriting, and take particular care in our cursive handwriting style. We use Letter-join’s handwriting scheme to ensure that, by the end of Key Stage 2, pupils should have the ability to produce fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy joined-up handwriting, and to understand the importance of neat presentation.

We believe that reading is at the heart of the children’s learning and development, and studies have shown that reading for pleasure makes a significant difference to children’s educational performance. Reading a book is something that should be enjoyed by everyone; but for everyone, reading is one of the most important things you can do! Reading is an integral part of writing and is therefore at the core of our English curriculum. We teach children to be confident and fluent readers who will have a lifelong love of books and reading. We understand that reading unlocks the world around the child and enables them to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially, spiritually and imaginatively.

The teaching of reading begins in EYFS, through our systematic synthetic phonics programme, and continues throughout the children’s learning journey at Stanway Primary School.

Children in Years 2 to 6 participate in the Accelerated Reader (AR) scheme, a daily reading programme which uses highly sophisticated reading assessment tools to select appropriate reading material for each child, and then motivates them to read as much as possible, continually evaluating and assessing their progress through regular quizzes and repeated assessments. AR measures children’s comprehension of their reading books, and how much they are reading, in a fun and engaging way, and has proven success in dramatically increasing children’s reading ability in thousands of schools worldwide.

At the beginning of each half term, each child in Years 2 to 6 take a Star Reading assessment, which uses computer-adaptive technology to enable the questions to be continually adjusted a child’s responses. After taking the assessment, each child receives a ZPD Score. ZPD is the range of books that will challenge a child without causing frustration or loss of motivation. Once a child has been given a ZPD, they are able to start selecting and reading books at their own level, which they can read at their own pace. When a child has finished a book, they take an online quiz to assess their comprehension, and collect points and a word count.

Each week, during our Friday assemblies, we celebrate children who have achieved an AR word count of 250,000, 500,000 or 1 million words, as well as the class which has successfully completed the most quizzes, and the child who has read the most words. Children who have achieved one million words become Reading Ambassadors for the school, and take pride of place on our Word Millionaire Wall. Our Reading Ambassadors have a number of important responsibilities, including promoting a reading culture across the school, sharing their reading recommendations and supporting other children with their reading. We also hold reward afternoons for the two most improved children from each class once every half term, and children who score 100% on their reading quizzes are entered into a class raffle.

In order to further support and develop our love of reading, daily reading sessions take place across the school between 9 and 9.30 a.m. In Years 2 to 6, children read a book within their ZPD, and can use this time to take an AR quiz.

In addition, each class has a class book, which is read to the children daily. Books are chosen from a range of high-quality, age-appropriate texts and expose the children to a variety of genres and a wealth of vocabulary.

From September 2022, we are proud to be taking part in the Herts for Learning Reading Fluency Project, an 8-week programme for UKS2 pupils to develop their reading comprehension skills. Pupils who take part in the HfL Reading Fluency Project make exceptional progress in a short space of time; on average, in just 8 weeks, pupils have made 2 years and 3 months progress in reading comprehension age, gained an increase in accuracy of 13 months and have increased stamina, confidence and engagement.