English & Reading
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. We recognise and value the importance of developing confident readers with a love of reading, in all its forms. We passionately believe in children hearing authors and illustrators talk about the craft of writing and illustrating and strive to provide as many opportunities as possible for this to happen, especially through visits to our school.
Staff enthusiasm for reading and knowledge of classic and current children’s literature is also a high priority. Beyond the English lesson, children are exposed to and immersed in a wide range of stories, poems and other texts through book events, library visits and story-time. Book corners celebrate our reading culture and offer a cosy book nook in each class. Our library is a special place, designed and developed by the children with librarians and Reading Champions actively involved in maintaining the space, developing its stock and creating a book buzz across the school community.
We are proud and active members of the North Somerset branch of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups and annual hosts of the North Somerset Teacher’s Book Awards. We also lead a termly book group for teachers within the county, and neighbouring counties, to support teachers in the role they play in developing reading for pleasure and creating lifelong readers. Mendip Green has received two National Awards for our work on reading for pleasure.
At Mendip Green, we follow the approach to phonics teaching as outlined in the North Somerset Learning Exchange’s 'PROGRAMME FOR PHONICS INTO EARLY SPELLING'. Children begin this programme in EYFS and continue it into the first part of Year 2 where it is superseded by the Spelling Programme. The Phonics Programme is a 9 step approach to the systematic teaching of phonics. The central principles involve:
- Children having knowledge of the alphabetic code;
- Children having the skill to blend to read;
- Children having the skill to segment to spell;
- Children understanding these as a reversible process.
The Phonics Programme links reading and writing to phonic knowledge and has been of great benefit for our children. The knowledge children acquire to support their development of early reading is equally as relevant for their development as a writer. It is important that children are given equal opportunities to practise and apply their phonics skills in writing and reading tasks so that they can understand the relationship between decoding skills for reading and encoding skills for spelling. These skills are underpinned by the modelling and teaching of good listening skills, combined with frequent opportunities to improve children’s visual and auditory memory and their ability to sequence. These skills are developed through the teaching of activities to promote phonological and phonemic awareness in young children before they embark on a systematic phonics program.
Alongside daily teaching of phonics, activities and opportunities are provided within the learning environment for children to apply and consolidate their learning.
When teaching reading, whilst we encourage a phonetic approach, we also teach and value strategies such as learning sight vocabulary, looking for context when reading unfamiliar vocabulary and using picture clues. Although we do not use a ‘reading scheme’, we do have a colour banded books approach. Within each colour band, our books are organised into a clear progression that is in line with our phonics programme and are phonetically decodable. This allows us to ensure that each child is taking home books which are matched to their current level of need and complement their phonetic development. The correct level of text will both inspire and enthuse, whilst nurturing their reading ability. This ensures that children will progress rapidly with both their decoding and understanding of a text. Understanding is the key to enjoyment; text comprehension starts straight away in EYFS with class story time.
Our aim is to enable each child to gain a love for reading and writing which will last a life time.
“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.”
Winnie the Pooh, A.A.Milne
At Mendip Green, we use the North Somerset Learning Exchange's 'YEAR 2 – 6 SPELLING PROGRAMME’. We believe that spelling needs to be actively taught. This programme allows for systematic, explicit and interactive teaching of spelling which encourages children to investigate and understand how our spelling system works.
By building on children’s knowledge of phonics (how the 26 letters of the alphabet represent approximately 44 sounds in the English language in approximately 140 different ways) children will have the tools to spell 85% of root words. In Year 2 and Key Stage 2, we teach children the morphology of words (how words are grouped into families, related to each other by a combination of form, grammar and meaning). By mastering basic morphological principles, children will have a way of working out the spelling of over half a million words.
The remaining words are irregular. We use etymology (the stories behind the spelling of certain words) and graphic strategies to help children to learn these spellings.