The aim at Cottage Grove is for all our pupils to develop a deep love of reading that will follow them through their life. A range of texts are read throughout the school with the aim of sparking each child’s imagination and interest.
Reading is imbedded at the heart of learning within the curriculum through the use of learning journeys, where planning is based around a topic which often has a text as its starting point. Every week, guided reading is taught for a minimum of 2 hours either as part of the learning journey linked to the topic or discretely focusing on an important skill of reading. During guided reading, pupils are taught the mechanics of reading such as decoding, reading for meaning and using expression and/or comprehension skills including unpicking vocabulary and answering retrieval and inference style question with the ultimate aim of exploring the meaning of the whole text.
To promote a love of reading teachers read to children daily, exposing them to texts beyond which they could read independently and exposing them to a wide range of vocabulary in context. Each class also partakes in peer reading where they are paired with another class in the school and have an opportunity to share books with their peers.
The school library is well-stocked and children visit once a week to change books and develop library skills. Displays in the library encourage pupils to try new authors and provide suggestions of what to read next and the librarian is always on hand to offer advice to teachers and pupils about books and authors.
All children are expected to read daily with the focus on reading and re-reading in order to allow pupils to read with fluency and to have conversation about books at home and so developing vocabulary and comprehension skills. Through Reception to Year 2 children read books that are grouped in phases from 1 to 5 which is closely linked to the phase they are been taught in phonics. This is to ensure that the books taken home are easy to read with phonics used as the main skill for decoding. Once children have progressed through all the phases, they move onto levelled books as they move into year 2 and KS2 to enable them to continue to make progress in a structured way before becoming a free reader.
Each year we have author visits and as a school we celebrate World Book Day.
At Cottage Grove we use cursive handwriting. We have a clear policy, which sets out a developmental process through which children go to develop. Our ultimate goal is for children to be fluent, fast and with their own handwriting style.
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We have high expectations for handwriting and children get regular practise. In the Early Years, this may take the form of gross and fine motor skills and ensuring readiness for handwriting, through to developing fluent presentational skills further up the school.
When children are ready, they can receive a pen licence. This is a certificate, which they can receive in Celebration Assembly.
Spellings are taught every week, from years 2 to 6. Children have regular spelling lessons that teach them how to apply spelling rules, rather than lists of words. We have two spelling schemes, including one written by a member of staff. These schemes, along with regular monitoring and half termly basic skills testing, ensure that there is progression across the school.
At Cottage Grove we aim to make spelling enjoyable and therefore memorable. We encourage the children to practise spellings using a range of fun activities. Children in years 2 to 6 have weekly spelling tests. Half-termly basic skills spelling tests inform planning for future spelling sessions and allow progress to be closely monitored.
Children in the Early Years and Y1 learn spelling rules and patterns through their daily phonics sessions.
Grammar teaching is taught discretely at Cottage Grove. Teachers plan appropriate sessions, linked to the style of text they are currently looking at in their Learning Journeys. Children learn to write in a range of styles and understand the grammar associated with that style.
Handwriting, spelling and grammar are applied throughout the curriculum and through the Learning Journeys, children and adults therefore value writing outside of English sessions.
Each term, we hold a poetry competition in which all children from year 1 upwards take part in. The children are given a selection of poems either around a theme or linking to learning journeys. The children are given time to learn and rehearse their poem, and perform in rounds: first to the rest of their class and if they make it through to the final, the rest of the school. We aim to inspire children with language and show them that it can be fun, important or moving. The children really enjoy being creative with their poems and performing them with such confidence. It is a fantastic way of demonstrating that reading really can be for everyone, and improving speaking and listening skills too.