Literacy at London Fields
Once the pupils have learned to read independently, they move onto the school’s Literacy programme- The Text-Based Curriculum. Each literacy group has carefully chosen quality core texts (including fiction and non-fiction texts) which act as the stimulus to teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Having engaging and challenging core texts allows pupils to develop a love literature and read for enjoyment. Ensuring all pupils develop all the skills of language are essential not only in order to access the rest of the curriculum but also to participate fully as a member of society and ultimately impact on their future life chances.
Over a two week period pupils have a series of lessons all linked to the core text. These lesson types are then repeated. The cyclic nature of this curriculum ensures a rigorous curriculum, which enables pupils to both acquire knowledge and build on what they already know. The curriculum promotes high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written work and developing their love of reading.
The Text-Based Curriculum focuses on developing the pupils’ competencies and confidence in word reading and comprehension. Teaching pupils to decode and have speedy recognition of familiar words builds on their learning from the school’s teaching of early reading. Developing pupils’ comprehension skills happens through ensuring the pupils, over the course of a term, read widely across fiction and non-fiction texts. This allows pupils to increase their vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech and to develop knowledge of the world in which they live in. In addition, reading tasks and carefully planned questioning helps develop the pupils’ ability to answer literal comprehension as well as being able to read for meaning and show an appreciation of reading.
London Fields Library
To further promote pleasure for reading, the school has a fantastic library which is accessible to all pupils. The library contains a diverse range of books which are updated annually. Literacy and other subject lessons are planned to make use of the library and opportunities are available for pupils to use the library in their spare time. Reading buddies, library parent and pupil open evenings, live recordings of pupils reading stories for the website are a few examples of how the library is used to enhance the pupils’ enjoyment of reading.
Writing at London Fields helps develop pupils’ competencies in two key areas- transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). Carefully planned, regular writing opportunities also allow the pupils to develop their writing stamina, ensuring all pupils can write at length. Every week the pupils are given the opportunity to write an extended piece for a range of real purposes and audiences. The pupils are taught to understand how these purposes and audiences influence the form the writing should take. The pupils are given opportunities to develop their ability to think aloud, explore and collect ideas, draft and re-read their writing as it forms. Pupils are also taught the importance of proof-reading and monitoring their own writing to make sure it makes sense.
Across the year, the pupils at London Fields take part in several extended writing projects. The pupils are presented with a challenge and as a class need to work together in order to meet the project’s brief. These briefs involve writing in a variety of genres, including poetry, for a variety of purposes.
Vocabulary, punctuation, grammar and spelling
Teachers work hard to enhance pupils’ vocabulary through opportunities that arise naturally from their reading and writing. Throughout all literacy lessons, pupils are shown how to understand the relationship between words, how to understand nuances in meaning and how to develop their use of figurative language. They are also taught how to work out and clarify the meaning of unknown words and words with more than one meaning. In addition to this, new words and phrases are introduced each week. The pupils explore the meaning of the word or phrase and begin experimenting and perfecting using these in their writing. Regular work on synonyms and antonyms also helps broaden the pupils’ vocabulary.
Teaching explicit knowledge of grammar is important to enable the pupils to have a more conscious control and choice of their language. Building this knowledge is taught through focused activities and within the teaching of reading, writing and speaking. Once the pupils are familiar with a grammatical concept their teacher encourages them to apply and explore this concept in the grammar in their own speech and writing.
Each week the pupils have a set of spellings to revise. These spellings are linked to the spelling focus taught that week in their literacy lesson.
Speaking and Listening
The Text-Based curriculum reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that the pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Although all lessons provide opportunities to develop the pupils’ spoken language, one lesson every week is dedicated specifically for developing speaking and listening skills. These lessons may include a reading for performance activity, a reading for fluency activity, a structured class debate or an extended drama activity.
Literacy across the curriculum
Pupils get to rehearse, apply and consolidate their learning in all other areas of the curriculum. Careful planning ensures pupils continue developing all areas of English in other subjects. Topic writing and creative writing lessons are planned for where pupils use their knowledge about a studied topic to write an extended piece. Philosophy for children sessions and carefully planned speaking and listening activities across all subjects allow opportunities to develop pupil’s oracy.
All classes have a class reader every term. The teacher models reading and allows further opportunities for extended partner reading. Also, every half term, each class has an author focus. Each class receives a selection of books written by the focus author. The pupils are encouraged to read these books and talk about the books with their peers and class teacher. Across the year the children become familiar with a range of authors and can begin to express their thoughts and opinions on different author styles.
Trips and Visitors
At London Fields we plan many trips and visitors to help enrich the literacy curriculum. In recent years these have included visits from Michael Rosen and David Lucas, workshops lead by the Roald Dahl museum, visits to Hoxton’s Ministries of Story, the Guardian’s journalists’ rooms and local libraries. Carefully planned trips and visits form a core part of the school’s aim to inspire and motivate pupils, allowing them to see themselves as effective writers.
Examples of our literacy learning
Every half term examples of our learning in literacy are put on the school’s website. Project work is also put on the website or is celebrated in the form of a whole school display, assembly performance or after-school recitals. Pop-up writing galleries are also held throughout the year to share the pupils’ successes.
How you can help your children at home?
There are lots of ways you can help support your child at home.
- Talk to them! The most important thing you can do is to talk to your child and listen to them when they are talking to you. Try to extend their vocabulary range and their skill at talking in increasingly more complex sentences. For example, try to teach them alternative words for ideas, or nouns they already know.
- Read to them and always discuss the story you are reading to try to build your child’s comprehension skills and understanding.
- Listen to your child read every night. Find a quiet time to hear your child read and use lots and lots of praise to encourage them.
- Encourage your child to record their writing in a variety of ways. They may wish to keep a diary, write a story or send a postcard. Support their ideas and give plenty of encouragement!
- Support your child in learning their weekly spellings.
- Make use of your local library. Children love going to the library and having access to such a huge, diverse range of books.