Intent

At Thomas Jones, we pride ourselves on being a ‘reading school’ where quality literature is enjoyed, shared and acts as a catalyst for all elements of the English curriculum.

English has a key role in the education of pupils at Thomas Jones.  It is both an important subject in its own right and is incorporated through all of our curriculum. At Thomas Jones we follow the demands of the 2014 National Curriculum, yet have worked hard to develop our own curriculum model and methods for teaching English. Language and Literature form part of our curriculum ‘essentials’ that shape teaching and learning across the school.

Reading

A culture of reading is embedded within our school. We have an absolute and relentless focus on reading in line with the National Curriculum, 2014, which places reading for pleasure at the heart of the English curriculum. We recognise that developing a love of reading is one of the most effective ways we are able to raise attainment and life choices for our children.

The teaching of reading, both the technical aspects of decoding language and the opportunity for pupils to develop a love of literature, is one of the most important aspects of school life here at Thomas Jones. The school’s specific approach to the teaching of reading has been documented in several reports:

Reading by Six: How the Best Schools Do It, Ofsted

Moving English Forward report, Ofsted

Building an Outstanding Reading School, Oxford Primary

Our success with the teaching of reading can be seen through our national test results.

At Thomas Jones we strongly believe every child should have the chance to experience a wide range of quality literature immersing themselves in a wide range of classic and contemporary fiction alongside notable plays and poetry from some of the world’s most celebrated authors. Developing in children a desire to read, engage in literature and make literary choices is an important part of what we do well.

Funding for quality literature is always safeguarded at Thomas Jones alongside curriculum time focused on reading for pleasure and the promotion of literature across the school. It is not unusual to hear the Head discuss reading and literature in whole school assemblies and staff briefings. Quality English displays are also seen throughout our school both communally and in classrooms, further promoting quality literature and inspiring the children.

At Thomas Jones we understand that children who read for pleasure have enhanced levels of text comprehension, an increased knowledge of grammar and show improvement in their writing. They also have more positive attitudes towards reading than their peers:

‘Young people who enjoy reading very much are nearly five times as likely to read above the expected level for their age compared with young people who do not enjoy reading at all.’

Children’s and Young People’s Reading Today, National Literacy Trust, 2012

At Thomas Jones, our teachers read, talk with enthusiasm about what they have read and recommend books to children on a regular basis, supported by a senior leader having previously worked as a children’s librarian, helping to raise the status of reading. Professional development and book recommendations take place throughout the year to ensure that our staff are well supported in ensuring that they embed a love of reading in all pupils.

We ensure opportunities for children to read independently, read aloud independently and with a partner and be read to during the school day. Story times are sacrosanct. Pupils are afforded opportunities to read independently for sustained periods, building their reading stamina and giving them the opportunity to immerse themselves in their reading in a quiet and calm environment.

We have strong links with our local library and local bookshop, Lutyens and Rubinsteins where we are afforded many book recommendations, partnership opportunities and access to literary events.

Phonics

At Thomas Jones we utilise the Jolly Phonics reading scheme, matched to the National Curriculum Letters and Sounds document, to ensure children quickly and securely build up their word reading skills.

Whilst phonics is taught as a standalone lesson at the start of each day in reception, year 1 and year 2, it is also incorporated in children’s learning across the whole curriculum. There is also an opportunity for phonics interventions from Reception upwards into Key Stage 2 should a child need additional support.

See separate ‘Phonics Teaching’ document.

Support to parents/carers

Coffee mornings are scheduled across the EYFS and KS1 in order to engage parents/carers in their children’s learning. Research into the importance of families reading at  home and the systematic phonics teaching are shared with them in order to enable families to  support their children with their reading development at home. Information packs, resources and links are shared to provide parents/carers with the skills to support their child. The tri-partite relationship is valued at Thomas Jones and we recognise the impact that parental involvement can play on a child’s development as a lifelong learner and in their enjoyment of and confidence in their developing skills. Parents/carers are asked to support children in their reading development through our home reader scheme.

Writing

It is our aim that all pupils who attend Thomas Jones leave us able to write clearly, accurately and coherently, with the ability to adapt their language and style to a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Expectations with regard to handwriting and presentation are high at Thomas Jones. Our success in this is reflected in our national test results.

The Writing Process

At Thomas Jones all pupils are supported to develop written work to the best of their ability. Pupils have daily opportunities to encounter high quality language, both from written texts and teacher interactions. Grammar, punctuation and other specific language elements are taught within the context of both reading and writing. A specific writing process is utilised to support children in their ability to write utilising their skills learnt from an early age.

Assessment in the form of high quality oral feedback and interactive marking, alongside self and peer editing, enables children to improve their writing, building towards the production of quality written outcomes.

Speaking and Listening

At Thomas Jones oracy has a central place in our curriculum, reflecting the vital importance of spoken language in our pupils’ development. Pupils are supported to speak in Standard English at all times whilst at school. There are opportunities to talk right across the curriculum as this is recognised as a key tool to support pupils to develop in their learning. Pupils are supported to talk about their ideas, helping to consolidate their learning. In addition to making formal presentations and participating in debates, pupils are challenged to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas.

Explicit teaching of language and vocabulary is prioritised with extremely high expectations from a young age. Vocabulary is re-visited across their time at Thomas Jones in order to consolidate and therefore be ‘owned’ by the children.

Performance/Drama

At Thomas Jones we now enjoy a history of exceptionally skilled and innovative performances across the school. The standard of performances at Thomas Jones is exceptionally high due to the tutelage of the class teachers and other adults within the school. Through opportunities for performance outcomes in English planning, class assemblies and other performances children are explicitly taught diction, projection, poise and movement. The confidence and grace of the children on stage is humbling.

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling

As a ‘reading school’, our English units emerge from the exploration of quality literature. Specific language features are taught through these units in a meaningful way, where children can apply new skills directly into their own writing outcomes.

Spellings are organised to ensure consolidation and progression throughout the school, linked to the children’s phonetical understanding and expectations from the national curriculum.

The teaching of language features is planned for with consolidation and progression of children’s skills and understanding year on year.

See Language Features Progression document