English at Westwood Farm
English Lead: Miss Isobel Davies
At Westwood Farm we teach phonics through the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. We have a variety of reading scheme books which include those with a specific focus on phonics. We track phonics very carefully and provide interventions for any child who is struggling to learn their phonics alongside their peers. (Please see the specific Phonics page for more information).
Our aim at Westwood Farm schools is to further the knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the English language and its literature, and to foster mastery in its learning at all levels. To achieve this, we use a process called ‘Talk for Writing’. This method of teaching was developed, by author and poet, Pie Corbett, on the idea that in order to write something, children need to be able to say it first. Talk for Writing is a powerful tool because it follows the core principles of how children learn. It enables them to imitate the language that they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it, then write their own version.
The Talk for Writing process goes through three core stages:
Imitation: children learn a high-quality model whilst also being exposed to other models and snippets of writing. This is the point at which children unravel the how of writing – how certain effects can be achieved
Innovation: children are guided through the writing process with the teacher modelling. Choosing the right ‘level of innovation’ is key so that challenge is high.
Independent Application: this is the culmination of the writing process when children pull together all that they have internalised and learnt about a particular type of writing and apply it in an independent piece or number of pieces.
At Westwood Farm, ‘reading for pleasure’ lies at the heart of our approach to teaching reading and we support this by providing children with a large variety of quality reading books for guided reading sessions and to take home and read with parents. Our teachers have a love of reading and are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about books and authors. In Foundation and Key Stage One we ensure that phonics is given a high priority and we ensure that children become automatic and confident decoders. We have a specific, well-defined programme for the daily direct teaching through shared, guided and independent, focused reading. Parents are encouraged to be involved in supporting reading at home and we always welcome parent volunteers to help reading with children in school.
At Westwood Farm we believe in the power of quality talk to help children express themselves emotionally and to be able to articulate how their learning works. We understand that children learn best in an oracy-rich, dialogic classroom, in which questions are planned, discussions are scaffolded, and teachers use talk skilfully to develop and deepen learning. We follow the Cambridge University research which shows that good oracy leads to higher order thinking and understanding, and we have started a programme to teach specific oracy skills with the aim of elevating speaking to the same status as reading and writing. As well as teaching exploratory talk in the classroom we teach children presentational oracy skills which children are keen to show to parents in class assemblies and performances.