At Uplands Infant school, we want our children to develop a lifelong love of language and literature. Through the teaching of English, our children develop the essential literacy knowledge needed to prepare them for life. The skills taught in English ensure that children can successfully access all other areas of the curriculum with growing independence and confidence to equip them for their future. We know that future success is linked directly to a broad vocabulary, love of reading and ability to communicate effectively through text. Therefore, our primary aim is to ensure that children have numerous opportunities, through intelligent repetition and skilled teaching to achieve the reading and writing expectations for their age group. We wholeheartedly believe that reading is the golden key to interlocking the potential of every child’s success.
At Uplands Infant school we have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum which provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. We take our time and do not rush through content. Therefore, we give our pupils many opportunities to apply their learning in different contexts. We know that learning has to become part of a child’s long term memory for it to be effective, consequently we know that intelligent repetition and skilled teaching is the key for this to be the case. We rarely teach skills in isolation, such as grammar, and punctuation – we include them in a well thought out unit of work that enables children to make links, apply taught skills in a context and see a purpose to their work
Termly scrutinies of every child’s English book allow the subject leader and Senior Leadership Team to identify progress in writing skills. Detailed feedback is given to individual staff and teams highlighting areas for improvement. The scrutiny pays particular attention to groups of learners including disadvantaged pupils and those with Special Educational Needs. This feedback enables teachers to address gaps in learning and secure greater progress for all. We track carefully to ensure children are on track to reach the expectations of our curriculum through our Symphony Assessment System for reading and writing. Our phonic attainment is tracked through specific KTC assessments begun in Nursery and frequently assessed against as children move through the phonic phases. Our assessment systems enable teachers to make informed judgements about the depth of their learning and the progress they have made over time. At the end of Reception, children are assessed against the Early Learning Goal for reading and writing. At the end of Year one children undertake the statutory phonics test and at the end of Key Stage One children are assessed against the Teacher Assessment Framework for reading and writing.
At Uplands Infant School we recognise that being able to read and write are one of the best gifts we can give to our pupils. At Uplands Infant School we recognise that English has an important place in education and in society. We believe that a high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others. We acknowledge the context of the children who attend our school and so prioritise spoken language and vocabulary development within our English lessons. In order to motivate and engage our children we expose the children to high quality books and creative teaching approaches: enabling our children to deepen their understanding of texts and provide a meaningful context for writing, which is linked to the current learning projects. Effective literacy skills open doors to more educational and employment opportunities.
Within the school environment, our children will have access to a variety of books and writing tools to thrive academically. We want our pupils to use their literacy skills to communicate through spoken and written responses. Our school and local library (Highfields Library) provide opportunities for pupils to read for pleasure. We are determined to ensure that our pupils are exposed to a range of texts types to broaden their knowledge.
Our children enter school with a secure sense of their own cultural identity. We aim to build on this with an emphasis on celebrating their uniqueness. Furthermore, we teach and promote an ethos of valuing and respecting the individuality and cultural differences of all people both locally and globally. As a result, our children are empowered to become positive global citizens. When looking at stories used to teach literacy, careful consideration has been made to include persons from a diverse range of backgrounds as possible.
At Uplands Infant School, we have made it our mission to ensure that every child becomes a competent and fluent reader, regardless of background, needs or abilities. Reading is at the very heart of the whole curriculum, underpinning every subject area and forming a key part of the school’s ethos.
We believe that Reading is one of the most important ways we can positively influence the life chances of our children and helps to build cultural capital.
Phonics is key to paving the way to becoming a proficient reader but is only one, if not the most crucial piece of the reading jigsaw. The school provides a rich curriculum of reading experiences from Nursery through to Year 2 and a language rich environment which supports and challenges their wider reading. Research shows us that children who are able to decode fluently are much more likely to read for pleasure.
By the end of KS1, children will be fluent at decoding and we aim for all children to:
- Read confidently, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- Appreciate a diverse and rich and literary heritage
- Meet age related expectations for reading, with the aspiration to exceed them.
Early Reading & Phonics
Synthetic phonics is the first formal method for the teaching of reading that we use as it provides the foundations required to become a fluent reader. We understand that once children are able to decode fluently, the teaching of comprehension is quicker and more effective as they are able to focus all of their attention to understanding what they read. Daily, fast paced, highly interactive and challenging lessons ensure effective learning and progress.
Decoding and graphic knowledge are taught using the ALS Phonics Scheme. Children are taught the graphemes and their corresponding phonemes in the order set out in the scheme. This begins with the simplest sounds first and progresses systematically through to the most complex combinations of letters. In each session, there is a review of prior learning through the quick recognition of previously learned graphemes/ phonemes and the skills of blending and segmenting are modelled by the practitioner, recapped collaboratively and practised individually in the contexts of reading and writing words, captions and, where appropriate, sentences.
Our phonics teaching is linked to shared and guided reading and one to one reading sessions in which the children read phonically levelled (or phonetically decodable?) texts. This ensures that the children understand the purpose of their phonics learning as they are able to apply their learning in a meaningful manner.
In the Foundation Stage, we work to secure Phase Three, but crucially, we do not progress beyond this as instead we identify and secure the graphemes that they are finding difficult. It is this consolidation that ensures that children’s foundations are firm – allowing them to make accelerated progress in year one where we work to secure to Phase Five and beyond. Children who are identified as not being on track to pass the phonics screening check, receive a phonics intervention in addition to their daily phonics session. A small proportion of children who continue to lack confidence in their reading receive daily BRWP thus giving them the best possible chance of reaching age related expectations.
In Year 2, children who did not pass the phonics screening check, continue to receive daily phonics sessions.
For their home reading, children read two books: one phonically levelled text and one benchmarked book at their decodability level to ensure that their comprehension skills are also developed.
Finally, the reading of common exception words is threaded through phonics sessions and shared and guided reading and addressed through fun games and individual five minute sessions with teaching assistants focusing on targeted words for each child. To allow for further consolidation, these words are sent home with children to ensure continuous practise.
Children’s progress in phonics is continually reviewed through periodic phonic assessments and evidence from their reading and writing. Through these, teachers identify the graphemes that need to be addressed which then informs groupings. In June, the National Phonics Screening Check is undertaken to confirm that the children have learned to decode to an age appropriate standard and determines what level of provision they will require the following year. In Key Stage One, regular assessment of the children’s decoding and comprehension is undertaken through PM Benchmarking.
Shared and Guided Reading
Throughout EYFS and Key Stage One, our shared and guided reading sessions balance the teaching of reading between word reading, wider decoding skills, grammar for reading, wider comprehension strategies and response to text in order to develop fluent readers who understand what they are reading. Comprehension is taught from an early age to prevent comprehension difficulties arising as the language demand of the texts they encounter increases. We believe that it is important that children read for meaning because not only does a lack of comprehension create a barrier to educational attainment but also because better comprehenders are more likely to be motivated readers.
Shared and guided reading are taught routinely and effectively using a linked approach whereby a key skill focus is modelled by the teacher in shared reading which is then practised by the children in a series of subsequent guided reading sessions. In whole class shared reading, a rich, challenging text is used by the teacher to explicitly model the key skill by voicing reader ‘think alouds’. Children are then given the opportunity to apply the skill in pairs, discussing their application of the strategy. In group guided reading, the teacher works with each ability group in turn, reiterating the taught focus, listening to each child independently read a text at instructional level and assisting them in applying the focus. Oracy is a key element of our guided sessions as the children reflect upon their progress towards the key objective and respond to a ‘talking point’. This is a statement about the text which the children discuss as a group allowing the teacher to assess the children’s comprehension. Both shared and guided reading sessions include a wider strategy check to ensure that children continue to apply the full range of strategies as they read; when introducing the text children are also given a few minutes to clarify vocabulary in context. Sentence stems are frequently used to scaffold the children’s application of the strategy in both sessions.
The key skills focussed on in these sessions cover the objectives set out in the National Curriculum as well as the strategies that evidence based educational research has found make a good reader. These are set out in our progressions statements. These progression statements explain precisely what level each of the key skills should be taught at in each year group and are used to ensure that an appropriate pitch and expectation in reading is being planned for. Furthermore, progression is ensured through the strategic planning of reading across the school with a greater emphasis being placed on the teaching of word reading objectives and a lesser proportion of sessions dedicated to wider decoding skills, comprehension strategies and the children’s response to text in Key Stage One.
Reading judgements are secured through the triangulation of test data, evidence from the pupil and the curriculum. Our test data comes from SATs and evidence from the pupil is through their benchmark book level. Finally, evidence from the curriculum is gathered from their English books and guided reading session notes.
Reading for Pleasure and Home Reading
It is important that children are motivated to read at home regularly; when their reading miles increase, so does their fluency and stamina which in turn increases their enjoyment of reading. Therefore, the link between children’s motivation to read and reading for pleasure is reciprocal. Furthermore, we know that reading pleasure is beneficial not only for not only reading outcomes, but for wider learning enjoyment and mental wellbeing. Thus, we work hard to foster a love of independent reading and build communities of engaged readers. We understand the significance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop both word reading and comprehension skills so we endeavour to build a home-school partnership which enables parents and carers to have the confidence to support their children with reading at home.
Our school environment and curriculum crystallise reading for pleasure as a valued and purposeful part of our school curriculum. The classroom reading environment has been designed to help children make more informed and adventurous choices when choosing their own books. The frequent reading aloud of good quality picture books, short stories, chapter books, poetry and non-fiction is part of our whole school routine and there is dedicated curriculum time for this. This is in acknowledgement of the fact that children who are regularly read to, do better both socially and academically. The texts used are selected from the Uplands Infant School Reading Spine to ensure that during their time at our school, children experience a range of authors and genres encouraging a breadth in their reading that will lead to greater engagement.
Children are actively encouraged to draw comparisons between the books and authors they have read, both in class and independently, to make them more astutely aware of their own likes and dislikes. In order to promote reading for pleasure at Uplands, we have implemented the following:
- Author books
- Reading spine
- School Library
- Links with the local (Highfields Library)
- After School Book Club
Moreover, we have taken measures to ensure that the books they can choose to read independently reflect the different cultures in our school and wider community with books featuring BAME characters and written by BAME authors available.
To promote parental engagement in home reading all children are provided with a ‘home reading’ card which their parents initial when they read it home, once they have read 30 times, they are awarded a prize.
Throughout the year we support parents by running workshops in reading, phonics and how to teach high frequency words. Our Family Liaison Officer supports families that have English as an additional language.
In order to promote home reading further our nursery parents are invited to take part in the ‘Early Words Together at Three’ which is run by The National Literacy Trust and delivered over five weeks by our trained practitioners. The aim of this programme is improve communication, language and literacy practice and help families improve their home learning environment through simple, playful activities. This is to support our pupils to get the best possible start in life and be ready for school.
Children’s progress in reading is shared with parents three times a year; through parents’ evenings in the autumn and spring terms and written reports in the Summer term. Uplands use Seesaw as a home learning platform which allows parents to have ongoing interactions with their child’s reading and to track their progress throughout the year.
Communication is at the heart of the curriculum design at Uplands Infants. The school recognises that talk plays a fundamental role in learning and as a result, Oracy is threaded throughout all areas of the curriculum. A commitment to teach children the communication skills that they will need to thrive and succeed in the wider world is of utmost importance. All children have a right to be listened to and heard. The pupils at Uplands are taught that their voice is powerful and can be used as a catalyst
Many of our pupils start school with below average communication skills which is the rationale for developing these language skills from an early age. Our vision is for all children, regardless of their starting points, to be confident communicators who are comfortable to discuss, explain, reason and debate. We aim for children to leave Uplands with an expansive vocabulary that is embedded and enables them to succeed academically and socially.
We aim to give children their own voice as we believe this is vital for their future success. We strive for all children to be confident to express their own opinion and ideas in a respectful and supportive environment. We see Oracy as part of the schools pedagogy, not a standalone lesson or subject and we expect it to be threaded through the daily school life. By the time children leave Uplands, our hope is that they can speak clearly to a variety of audience, to articulate and express their thoughts and ideas and conduct and participate in respectful discussions.
Oracy progression maps have been designed from Nursery to Year two using the Oracy Framework. They focus on children developing skills in the four strands of Oracy – Physical, Linguistic, Cognitive and Social and Emotional. These skills ladders have been carefully sequenced to enable children to leave the school with the Oracy skills they need to succeed whilst providing them with opportunities to speak for a range of purposes and to different audiences. Teachers use the skills ladders to outline
the Oracy skills that need to be taught in a particular year group and as an assessment tool to identify which strands of the Oracy framework are to be a priority for their children. This data is then used to monitor progress as well as take steps that address these gaps.
The Uplands Infant School Vocabulary Spine specifically focuses on teaching Tier Two Words from Nursery to Year 2. Tier 2 words are high-frequency, impactful words encountered more often when reading than used when speaking. These words are useful in multiple contexts and help children express themselves clearly and with precision. Tier Two words are specifically taught during English lessons and explicitly modelled by staff, so that children are exposed to this vocabulary.
Conversations with the children at Uplands, demonstrate that they are confident communicators who can articulate their views with their peers as well as to a wider audience.
Monitoring shows that classrooms are rich in talk and provide children with opportunities to take part in both exploratory and presentational talk. Sentence stems are used in every lesson to scaffold talk and encourage children to articulate their ideas clearly. Each class has their own set of Talk Guidelines that have been established with the children to ensure discussions are productive and in turn drive deeper thinking.
Monitoring shows that these are referred to often and children are aware of why
these guidelines are important.
Monitoring of the skills ladders indicate that throughout their time at school, children have developed their skills in the four strands of Oracy throughout their time at Uplands.
Whole school overview
- KTC Mind Map
- Literacy Reading Spine
- Literacy Rhyme Spine
- UIS language spine
- Updated Key texts
- Nursery key texts and blurbs
- EYFS - Communication and Language
- Reception Key texts and blurbs
- Year 1 Key texts and blurbs
- Year 2 key texts and blurbs
- Letter formation (PowerPoint zip file)
- Pencil Grip
- Pencil control book
- Playdoh Dough gym sheet
- Author Spine
Nursery - In Class Learning - 2022-23
Nursery children making circles, practicing anticlockwise movements.
Nursery children have developed a love for reading and sharing books with their friends. They have learnt to hold the book correctly, turn the pages one at a time, and join in with parts of the story.
Reception - In School Learning - 2022-23
Collaboration and independence as children read the names of children in the class and help their friend to read their name so that they can use it to write it.
We have been using phonic knowledge to helps us write our sentences and write about our drawings. The children have been applying their phonic knowledge and high frequency words to form sentences in their writing.
Wow what a wonderful day we had celebrating world book day. Many children dressed up as their favourite characters, including the teachers. Our children have demonstrated a huge love for reading, they have shared, listened and retold their favourite stories. The children are so inspired by reading they have even made-up their own stories while playing with the small world toys and using the puppets in the book corner. The language the children have learnt from stories will help them to become good readers and writers.
Year 1 - In School Learning - 2022-23
This week Year 1s have been practising the story of The Colour Monster using Talk for Write actions by Pie Corbett. The children have then had the opportunity to design their own monsters and have written some fantastic sentences to describe them. The children have been incredible at learning the actions and joining in with the story. If you don’t believe us, just listen to them yourself!
In year 1 we have been looking at joining two sentences with the conjunction ‘and’. We discussed how we have to takeaway one of the full stops, otherwise we would be left with one in the middle of a sentence. We also spoke about how we would need to change a capital letter to a lowercase letter so we don’t have a capital letter in the middle of a sentence either. The children then had the task of joining two sentences together and editing them to make sense in small groups.
Year 2 - In Class Learning - 2022-2023
2021-22 - In School Learning
The nursery children have been learning to draw pictures using their shapes and write the first letter of their name. They have shown great enthusiasm and pride with their mark making skills. Using the ladders and steps to mark make on the white board has given the nursery children the inspiration to practise their mark making skills.
‘The Nursery children are developing their pincer grips and pencil control to trace over their names. They have learnt to recognise their first name and are now learning to write the letters in their name’
The nursery children have been learning to take care and use books correctly. They enjoy listening to and looking at books where they have learnt to join in with the repetitive phrases of the stories. We have truly developed a love for reading.
The nursery children visited the library, they were so excited about all of the books they saw. Some of the children talked about going to the library with their family to borrow books to read at home!
Dragons had a lovely afternoon at the library. We were able to explore and read books for pleasure. We selected books that we were interested in and brought them back to school so we can spend more time reading them in class.
We remembered that the blurb of the book tells us what the book will be about so before making the final decision on our selection we read some blurbs.
To end our visit we had a lovely story time together.
“I’m definitely bringing my dad to the library” Zul Kif
“Mrs Fozdar, this is like being in a sweet shop but it’s full of books instead”
Dragons - Jack and the Beanstalk
The Dragons class have summarised the story of Jack and the Beanstalk into 5 sentences. They orally rehearsed the story with actions to then write a retell of the story.
Pandas - There's a pig up my nose!
The Pandas class have summarised the story of ‘There’s a pig up my nose’ using the Talk for Writing strategy by Pie Corbett. They orally rehearsed the story with actions and then innovated part of the story. Finally, they wrote their own versions of the story independently.
- Oak National Academy
- There are lots of resources and activities available on this website
- Literacy Shed
- National Literacy Trust
- Oxford Owl
- Phonics advice and access to free books
- BBC Nursery Rhymes and Songs
- Lots of videos and animations for children to learn best known traditional nursery rhymes
“Making sure that children become engaged with reading from the beginning is therefore one of the most important ways to make a difference to their life chances, whatever their socio-economic background. For this to happen, however, children need to learn to read as fluently as possible and be motivated to continue reading.” DFE Reading Framework 2021