At Helmsley, all children learn to write through the Write Stuff approach. This was developed by teacher and leading English consultant, Jane Considine. It is a fun, creative and rigorous approach to develop writers. We start writing from enjoying and sharing books and stories, placing a strong emphasis on a love of literature. Through regular reading, we want children to build up an extensive and rich vocabulary for use in their own writing and this word collecting is an integral part of the write stuff approach. Children “chot” (chat and jot) down their ideas in the initiate phase from stimulating resources, such as pictures, music and drama. The teacher then models sentence scaffolds taken from the writing rainbow and then pupils have a go at their own sentences, taking the opportunity to deepen the moment. Regular opportunities are taken for children to practise their writing skills independently both in English and across the curriculum. We aim to provide a balance of narrative, non-fiction and poetry throughout each term.
At Helmsley, we believe that the ability to read is fundamental to pupils’ development as independent learners, during their time at school and beyond. Success in reading has a direct effect upon progress in all areas of the curriculum; therefore, reading is given a high priority at our school.
In Key Stage One and Early Years, pupils receive a daily phonics session where decoding and work on sight words happen. We follow the Read Write Inc. scheme which is an integrated approach to teaching phonics, reading, writing, handwriting and spelling. The majority of our children have completed the programme by the end of Year 1 and there is a structure in place for those children who need more teaching in Year 2 and above. You can find out lots more about Read Write Inc. at the following website.
You can also find out how to make sure that you are saying the sounds purely, which is how we teach phonics at school:
Pupils will be listened to read regularly individually or in groups too. In addition, pupils will be sharing big books, texts and pictures to formulate their reading sessions.
In Key Stage 2, each class will have access to a children’s novel to share and will work through this novel over the course of a half-term or term, in their daily reading sessions. Individual pupils may be called upon to read aloud to the class, whilst teachers will model effective reading also. Response activities include: clarifying unknown words and phrases; inferring and deducting to form an opinion; predicting; explaining authors’ intent; retrieving information; summarising and answering comprehension questions. Reading and exploring the same text as a whole class has generated a lot of enthusiasm from the children so far, who thoroughly enjoy these sessions throughout the school. The opportunities to then use this book as part of writing sessions are vast and as the children have a prior knowledge of the book, the writing is of a greater standard. In Whole Class Reading, there is a high level of interaction between teachers and pupils. Children are exposed to high-quality texts and discussion in an immersive environment. Texts are carefully chosen by teachers to provide appropriate challenge that builds on pupils’ existing knowledge and understanding.
Each classroom has their own reading area stocked with books suitable for their age and stage. Children are still able to access the library and they regularly choose individual texts of their own preference and stage to take home and enjoy. Home School Link books are a helpful way of recording children’s reading, but also for communication if you spot your child having difficulties or if you want to celebrate successes. For example, they might have completed their first chapter book or have started reading independently at home without prompting from you. Every child reads daily at school. Whilst individual reading becomes less of a strategy used throughout the school, teachers will continue to use their professional judgement to identify children requiring basic skill development who would therefore benefit from individual reading to a teacher or Teaching Assistant.
We aim to encourage reading for pleasure by taking pupils to the town library once a month. Pupils can discuss, select, change and order books according to their reading preferences.
In Y2-6 pupils have dedicated spelling time in class where we use the resources from the Jane Considine Spelling programme. Time is given to learn these spellings, and these are sent home regularly too. Pupils receive regular quizzes to ascertain their retention of key letter strings, patterns and tricky, age-appropriate vocabulary.
Please find the statutory spelling lists below.
Please find below the PowerPoint and resource from our recent Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation workshop.