- Phonics is taught systematically across the school using the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. This is introduced in the Foundation Stage and is consolidated throughout Key Stage. It is expected that children will have progressed through, and completed, 'Letters and Sounds' by the end of Key Stage 1. Children will then begin to follow the 'Support for Spelling' programme in Key Stage 2.
- Children are set into phonics groups across Foundation Stage. In Key Stage 1 they are taught in their classes as part of their guided reading and Literacy lessons. It is expected that children will have progressed through, and completed, 'Letters and Sounds' by the end of Key Stage 1. Children will then begin to follow a bespoke scheme of work for teaching spelling in Key Stage 2.
- Some pupils will undertake specific intervention programmes if they experience any difficulties with reading and/or spelling.
- The school has a wide selection of phonic reading books which may be sent home with children in addition to their regular reading book. These are used to support children who need more practice applying their phonic knowledge into their reading.
You may find the Letters and Sounds website information useful: http://www.letters-and-sounds.com/
Learning and Teaching Mathematics at SCA
The content and principles underpinning the 2014 mathematics curriculum reflect those found in high performing education systems internationally, particularly those of east and south-east Asian countries such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea and China. Although there are many differences between the education systems of England and those of east and south-east Asia, we can learn from the ‘mastery’ approach to teaching commonly followed in these countries. SCA has adopted the principles and features which characterise this methodology to address the three aims of the National Curriculum – Fluency – Reasoning – Problem Solving.
SCA initially transformed their approach to Mathematics by adopting the key ideas of the MaST (Mathematics Specialist Teacher) course run by the University of Northampton. This involved prioritising a relational understanding of Mathematics over a naïve, purely instrumental understanding. The changes introduced involved developing key reasoning strategies such as pattern spotting; conjecturing and convincing; noticing what is the same and what is different; forming generalisations and using key strategies to improve discussion and explanation skills.
Following the success of this initiative and in order to maintain the momentum, we adopted the Teaching for Mastery approach to Maths supported by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and organised by our local Enigma Maths Hub. The Teaching for Mastery approach utilises a carefully thought out approach to develop a deeper and more sustainable understanding of Maths amongst pupils.
* Whole class together – we teach mathematics to whole classes and all children are encouraged to believe that by working hard, persevering and adopting a positive mindset focused on growth (which includes seeing the making of mistakes as a positive stage in long-term growth) they can succeed in maths. Lessons are carefully ordered to build upon prior learning in small, manageable steps. Formative assessment of what is already known is used and we include all children in learning mathematical concepts. At the planning stage, teachers consider what scaffolding may be required for children who may struggle to grasp concepts in the lesson and suitable challenge questions for those who may grasp the concepts rapidly. Decisions are not made about who these children may be prior to the lesson.
* Longer and deeper – in order to address the aims of the National Curriculum, our planning has been adjusted to allow longer time to be spent on topics. Each lesson focuses on one key conceptual idea and, through the small step, mastery approach, connections are made across mathematical topics. Repeatable “stem sentences” are used to help secure understanding. It may appear that the pace of the lesson is slower, but progress and understanding is enhanced by making these connections and experiencing a range of representations. Our assessment procedures recognise that the aims of the curriculum are addressed through depth within a topic.
* Key learning points are identified during planning and a clear journey through the maths is shown in lessons and also reflected on working walls. Questions and discussions will probe pupil understanding throughout and responses are expected in full sentences, using precise mathematical vocabulary.
* Difficult points and potential misconceptions are identified during the planning process and used as opportunities for learning. Children are then supported through these.
* Fluency – We recognise that ‘fluency’ is not just about remembering facts and aim to develop all aspects of fluency through lessons. As a school we are focusing on developing instant recall of key facts, such as number bonds, multiplication table and addition facts. Increasing fluency in basic facts allows children to free working memory and solve more complex problems. Number fact fluency is practiced during the morning registration session where a set of problems in a variety of formats await the children as they arrive in class. These tasks allow previously learned strategies to be applied and then discussed in depth using the correct vocabulary and terms.
Step by step approach – Each lesson builds on a previous one, developing a journey through the mathematics. Steps may appear small especially at the beginning of a lesson or a topic. There are also points when suddenly a jump appears to have been made, or an extra challenge is introduced.
* Exploration - instead of ‘Let me teach you…’ as a starting point, children are encouraged to explore a problem themselves to see what they already know. In most cases, this will involve concrete resources. At the beginning of each lesson this exploration is begun with an ‘anchor task’. Lesson objectives are not always shared in detail with children at the beginning of the lesson because we wish the children to reason for themselves. The Explore stage problems are usually set in real life contexts, carefully chosen representations (manipulatives and images) are used by all to explore concepts. The use of practical resources, pictorial representations and recording takes place in every lesson following the Concrete Pictorial Abstract approach (CPA).
* Structuring - the teacher will organise the findings of the exploration, comparing and contrasting strategies to guide toward the most efficient strategy (or the one being learned that day). Pupils’ understanding is drawn out using the reasoning skills that SCA have worked on for some years. The children’s approaches are discussed, clarified and enhanced by peers and the teacher. Teachers use questioning throughout every lesson to check understanding – a variety of questions are used to foster different levels of thinking e.g. How do you know? Can you prove it? Are you sure? Is that right? What’s the same/different about? Can you explain that? What does your partner think? Can you imagine?
* Journal – Pupils are given the chance to make a journal entry to give them opportunities to reflect on the meaning of the learning. Answers to maths problems are recorded along with strategies used and thinking. An independent approach to this is encouraged to develop the pupil’s own individual thinking and understanding rather than that of the teacher.
* Guided Practice – After considering and recording their own personal understanding of the explore task and the maths involved, children are given the chance to practice. This is not drill and practice, but intelligent practice characterised by variation. At this stage, children can discuss with their peers and the teacher. Children have opportunities to talk to their partners and explain/clarify their thinking throughout the lesson. They are expected to listen to each other’s responses and may be asked to explain someone else’s ideas in their own words, or if they agree/disagree. The answers to these practice questions are given by the teacher and any misconceptions are explored.
* Reflection – Children are given an opportunity to reflect upon their personal experience of this lesson once they have tried the practice questions. This is to enable the children to “own their learning” and to recognise what is working for them and what is proving difficult. It gives the teacher and chance to pinpoint who might need further help or guidance.
* Independent Practice – After they have reflected upon their understanding, children are given some practice questions to tackle independently. Again, these are carefully chosen to allow the children to experience variation. A range of contexts and question forms are used allowing the children to make connections and apply their learning in different ways. These questions are, where possible, marked live to allow instant assessment, feedback and reassurance.
* Further Challenge - At SCA we aim to nurture a Growth Mindset ethos. We have high expectations of all children and believe that everyone can achieve in mathematics. Challenge is provided through problem solving (including children designing their own problems) and opportunities to expand explanations in order to achieve a greater depth of understanding.
Rapid intervention – in mathematics lessons new learning is built upon previous understanding. In order for learning to progress and to keep the class together, areas of difficulty are dealt with as and when they occur. These are addressed through same day intervention or pre-teaching before the next lesson.
Marking – marking strategies focus on the instant marking of questions attempted in the lesson as we believe that the most valuable feedback will be given immediately, during lessons. Teacher analysis of books will identify the level of understanding and explanation in the journal entry and take into account the personal reflection of the child. Where comment is needed, purple comments will focus on agreement with, and praise for, the child’s explanation or approach. Green comments will advise or provoke any change of thinking or approach that is necessary.
At St Christophers Academy we share a passion for books with a love of reading at our heart. We know that the development of reading skills, along with speaking and listening skills, is fundamental to the progress that our children make and we are determined to enable our children to become confident, fluent, enthusiastic and effective readers. We have high expectations for our children and encourage them to approach books actively, expecting them to make sense and developing an assortment of strategies to help them not only decode but also to understand what they are reading. All at St Christophers Academy are committed to ensuring that this happens and this policy clearly sets out how reading is taught in our school.
We aim to develop literate children who:
- Read with enjoyment across a range of genres
- Read for pleasure and enjoyment as well as information
- Love reading and get excited about books
- Have the opportunity to listen to books that are beyond their reading ability, for enjoyment
- Build their bank of sight words to become fluent readers
- Are aware of their own progress and development of reading
- Develop their experiences through a variety of texts including use of libraries, ICT and other available media
- Are provided with an environment in which the teacher models good reading practice and associated skills
Early Reading and Phonics
Phonics is given high priority at St Christophers Academy with daily sessions in FS2 and KS1. Children in our nursery (FS1) take part in whole class and small group ability sessions to ensure that children make a positive start. Children are taught phonics following the Letters and Sounds programme.
Children in our early years are given picture books or reading books for parents and carers to share with their children. In FS2 children will be given home reading books when class teachers assess it to be appropriate. These home reading books are phonically decodable books from Collins Big Cat, Oxford Reading Tree or another school scheme. We also believe that the teaching of phonics and reading should be in a rich language and text based curriculum, where children are taught a range of other strategies to help them become independent readers.
Children in Y1 are tested to check that their phonics decoding is an age appropriate standard. These skills are addressed in daily phonic sessions, using Letters and Sounds and a combination of other resources. Children are routinely assessed for their sound recognition, blending and reading- and extra intervention is organised where appropriate.
Teaching staff plan for a variety of reading opportunities:
In shared reading sessions the teacher’s role is to make overt what good readers do. They assume the role of the expert reader, modelling the reading process to the whole class and providing a high level of support. In shared reading children can access a text which may be challenging to them individually. Reading skills and strategies should be clearly modelled, and discussion should help children to a deeper understanding of the text. Shared reading should have a specific focus and all abilities should be included in discussions with differentiated questions. Teaching objectives are pre-planned and sessions are characterised by explicit teaching of specific reading strategies, oral response and high levels of collaboration.
Guided reading sessions should happen at least 3 times a week. In these sessions children may be split into ability groups or Kagan seating structures may be used, where children practise, refine and apply key reading skills. In KS1 and lower KS2 (in groups of no more than 6), children work through a number of skills over the course of the week, related to the book they are studying. In UKS2 guided reading is conducted as a whole class. The skills covered will relate to the reading focuses/genres for the half term. For example the fiction unit will include prediction, clarifying, questioning and answering activities, which develop over the weeks. The teacher will monitoring the impact on future learning to ensure the children make progress.
Pupils take responsibility for selecting and reading a variety of texts including fiction, non-fiction and poetry from the school reading scheme, class libraries, web pages, print and text around the school etc. In The pupils should be able to read these books independently and comprehend them with little or no teacher/adult support. The focus for the reading is to provide practise, develop reading for pleasure and to develop personal response to text.
Independent reading response
From year 1 children have reading journals, where a range of evidence is collected and can be used to form an accurate assessment of their reading. Teaching staff plan an independent reading response activity for pupils at least once per week. This activity is a written response located in pupils’ reading journals. This provides evidence to support level judgements and the moderation process. It also provides pupils with regular opportunities to formulate written responses to a text.
Examples of intervention strategies which may be used in school:
- Better readers programme (BRP)
This is a short term intervention program ( 10 weeks, three times a week) aimed at improving key reading skills by focusing on: independent use of reading strategies and skills, increased ability to discuss texts and understand them beyond literal level, increased confidence, leading to increased enjoyments and motivation to read.
- Modelled Reading
This is where a group of children work with a teacher, adults precisely model reading sentences according to punctuation and expression and the children copy and repeat these sentences as modelled. This strategy is only used for groups of children who will benefit from this intervention.
- Individual Readers:
Provision for individual reading in school occurs for all children in EYFS, KS1 and KS2 with identified children throughout the school. Year groups are focused at different points in the academic year, for example reception in the summer term. In key stage 2, adults will listen to identified children, who are not reading at home and or have been identified from termly standardised reading tests.
In the foundation stage children should be sharing a book daily with and adult at home, retelling the story, making predictions about the text, noting print on the page and discussing text. In KS1 children should read at home to an adult daily and adults should write comments in pupils’ reading records. Children receiving little or no support at home with their reading should be identified and receive 1:1 reading support within school. Pupils in KS2 should read at home with an adult at least 3 times a week with the adult writing comments in the pupils’ reading record. Children should still be encouraged to read independently; developing their reading stamina and reading for pleasure.
Children take home a variety of books throughout the primary phases in order to develop reading for pleasure and progression in decoding and comprehension:
Children will be given an independently chosen library book. As the year progresses, children in FS2 move onto CVC books or scheme books which are level appropriate. These books are phonically decodable and match the phonics phase the children are working on.
All children are given an independently chosen class library book and a reading scheme/book banded text at appropriate reading age and comprehension level. Children may also have a decodable text at appropriate phonics phase. There is no specific scheme used, books are sourced from a variety of schemes and retailers and book banded for our readers.
All children are given an independently chosen class library book, an Accelerated Reading scheme text at appropriate reading age and comprehension age, class core reading text and if receiving phonics intervention, a KS2 decodable text at appropriate phonics phase and age related interest level.
In the unfortunate event of books being lost by pupils, parents/carers are notified that a £5 charge per item is necessary for the school to restock each item.
The reading environment
Each class will have a class library/book corner, containing a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and real life texts. Favourite books, book reviews, collections of books on a similar theme, weekly newspapers or reading displays will also be in classrooms. At lunchtimes there are school reading role models who take part in a range of reading activities to inspire and help other children.
In KS2 the reading display may be linked to Accelerated reader and the children’s achievements.
Children are assessed against the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) and the National Curriculum. These provide guidance for teachers in understanding how their children will progress through the three stages of the primary curriculum (Foundation Stage, KS1. KS2). Teachers assess children against these frameworks to determine starting points and targets for children in their class.
- Home/school reading diaries track daily progress.
- Teachers observe progress during reading activities within lessons daily and annotate planning.
- Reading journals
- Reading session planning records track weekly progress.
- Pupils’ phonics progress is tracked by phase and assessed half-termly.
- The EYFS profile, and National Curriculum year group expectations are used to assess progress periodically half termly.
- Accelerated Reading assessments are carried out at the beginning of every half term and are used in conjunction with Rising Stars reading assessments to inform teacher assessment.
- In KS1 and KS2, teachers record pupils’ progress against the National Curriculum objectives using St Christophers Academy KPIs (Key performance indicators) on the school assessment and tracking system, Classroom Monitor. Classroom Monitor is then used for half termly summative data collection and analysis;
- Rising Stars reading assessments are done half termly and inform termly teacher assessments.
Leadership and Management
The literacy coordinator is responsible for reviewing and improving the standards of teaching and learning of reading though out the school by: analysing data, pupil progress through lesson observations, book trawls, pupil interviews, auditing and supporting professional development, purchasing and organising resources.
What are we learning about in Science this half term?
This half term, our children have some very exciting topics to study.
FS2 – Ourselves
This half term, FS2 children are studying Ourselves. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Our bodies
- Body parts
- Keeping healthy
- Our skeleton
Year 1 – Animals and body systems
This half term, Year 1 children are studying Animals and body systems. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Identifying and labelling a variety of animals
- Carnivores, herbivores and omnivores
- How to care for pets
- Naming parts of the human body
Year 2 – Habitats
This half term, Year 2 children are studying Habitats. In this topic we will look at the following:
- How animals adapt to their habitats
- What animals need to survive
- Identifying a variety of animals
- Lifecycles of living things
Year 3 – Light
This half term, Year 3 children are studying Light. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Sources of light
- How to protect your eyes from the sun
Year 4 – States of matter
This half term, Year 4 children are studying States of matter. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Solids, liquids and gases
- Heating and cooling
- Evaporation and condensation
Year 5 – Earth and Space
This half term, Year 5 are studying Earth and Space. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Earth relative to the Sun
- Moon relative to the Earth
- Relationship between Earth, Sun and the Moon
- Earth’s rotation
- Day and night
Year 6 – Evolution and Inheritance
This half term, Year 6 children are studying Evolution and Inheritance. In this topic we will look at the following:
- Have we always looked like this?
- Changes to the human skeleton over time
What are we learning about in Music this half term?
Across the school, all classes study a variety of songs through Charanga music. Each class will learn how to:
- Warm up their vocal chords
- Use music terminology
- Read lyrics
- Perform new pieces of music
Song study for this half term
Hands, Feet, Heart
Let your spirit fly
Livin’ on a prayer
I’ll be there
In addition to this, throughout the year we offer instrument tuition to all of our classes.
Autumn half term
Year 3 & 4 are taking part in Sing out Play out. They receive weekly lessons from a local music teacher and learn how to sing. This is all in preparation for a big concert in the summer term.
Year 5 are learning to play the J-Sax. They have a lesson every Monday morning which is very exciting for the children.