Throughout the year we have worked hard to ensure English within Key Stage 1 has been fun, motivating and inspirational. We have carefully chosen topics to coincide with our fabulous IPC topics whilst also tying in the children’s own personal interests. Each unit of English lasts for two weeks and includes a vast array of well-planned, differentiated and engaging lessons. Children are provided the opportunity to develop their creative writing skills through a variety of exciting genres, such as: story writing, poetry, newspaper articles, interviews and book reports.
‘Creativity is intelligence having fun.’ Albert Einstein
Collaboration is a huge strength at Saigon Star and we have come together as a key stage (Year One and Year Two) teaching team to ensure the successful, systematic teaching of phonics and reading while carefully aiming to meet the attainment needs of each individual child. Through comprehensive weekly assessment (using the UK’s Primary National Strategy, Letters and Sounds), each child has been assigned a Phonics phase group led by one of our four experienced Key Stage One teachers. Each Phonics lesson is fun and stimulating, pacey at only twenty minutes and providing children with the necessary tools to decode, blend and read with fluency and growing ease. We hope that by providing children with these tailored phonics lessons, they will have developed confidence, passion and a genuine love for reading by the time they are ready to progress to Key Stage Two.
At the end of Term 2 this year, we had a few of the Reception class join our KS1 phonics classes to ensure that their reading was challenged and to support their smooth transition to Key Stage 1 in August. They had a great sense of achievement and we look forward to welcoming more when they are ready. Well done to those high fliers!
To ensure phonics is continued in the home as well as the school environment, spellings from each phase group are sent home on a Monday and then tested on a Friday morning. These spellings contain phonemes and writing rules that the children have been working on during the week, ensuring consolidation and fluency in writing application. Children are encouraged to play a variety of games at home with their spellings to keep learning fun, e.g., Word Bingo, Memory, Snap etc.
Alongside Phonics, a carefully planned Guided Reading timetable was executed, whereby children read and carry out a range of Guided Reading activities alongside children within their attainment level. Teachers choose texts and activities that capture the readers’ interest and work hard to plan fun, inspirational sessions that leave the children wanting more. To further support our KS1 readers, the wonderful school librarian, Ms Bonny, also leads Guided Reading sessions during Friday library lessons bringing an extra layer of excitement, experience and a wealth of books and resources. Simply reading in our beautiful, new library alone provides an enriching reading experience but Ms. Bonny’s support adds further real value and motivation.
For the first time, Saigon Star implemented the ‘Buddy Reading System’ this year and it has been a resounding success. Students from Y1 and Y2 spend two, twenty-minute periods a week developing their reading skills by reading to our more advanced readers in Y4 and Y5. Our older students received three, thirty-minute training sessions in Guided Reading to help them support their peers effectively.
During this time, they learnt the art of questioning for comprehension, teaching how to derive information from an image and how to support phonics. Not only has this helped Y1 and Y2 to develop their reading skills, but it has also encouraged stronger peer relationships within our learning community.
Feedback is an ever-evolving aspect of teaching and learning that requires a yearly review and as a further testimony to our collaborative, empowered teaching team, we have begun to develop a new marking system in which the children take ownership over their own learning and corrections. We achieve this by leaving simple symbols on the page to highlight the areas that have met the learning objective or areas which need to be addressed. Children will then be given time and encouragement to correct these mistakes using a ‘purple polishing pen,’ enabling them to further consolidate the key learning from the previous lesson.
As we progress into the next school year, we are emphatic that the systems and structures applied this year will have a positive, lasting impact on the learning outcomes within all areas of English. We continue to critically reflect on our practice and consider strategies for further improvement.