Most learning takes place through the development and use of language. At Ravenshall School we believe all our pupils are entitled to an enriching and engaging curriculum which encourages them to communicate, participate as listeners and value the written word. This gives the teaching of English /Literacy a special place within our curriculum. English is a core subject in the National Curriculum and is delivered as a dedicated subject but it is also an integral part of every lesson which is taught in school, as it is a vehicle for all other cognitive activities and underpins participation in all aspects of life.
Speech, Language and Communication
Being able to communicate is not just about talking, we communicate in many different ways. Along with getting your own message across, being able to listen, pay attention, interact, play, and understand what is being said are the fundamental building blocks of communication.
Listening is an essential skill for communicating and learning. Everywhere we go there are different noises around us. Sometimes we need a bit of quiet time to help us tune into conversations rather than the other noises going on around us. As adults we model how we listen so our children can learn what to do, in order to be good listeners.
Understanding is key to listening and communicating. Children need to understand what single words mean and how words can be joined together into sentences, conversations, and stories. This takes time and children go through phases where they ask lots of questions. This is a good thing as they are trying to find out how things work and understand the world around them. Adults play an important role in answering the many questions children have and in ensure children understand what they have heard.
At Ravenshall School we are a Communication Friendly School and as such we promote an inclusive total communication approach, where speech, Makaton signs, facial expression, gesture, photos, symbols (Widgit), vocalisations, objects of reference, and augmented communication devices are all used to promote communications with our pupils.
Speech, Language and Communication offers our pupils the opportunity to:
- Communicate effectively with others in a range of social situations and interact with their peers and adults in the world around them.
- Develop effective strategies for making choices, express likes and dislikes, feelings, emotions and make their needs known to different audiences.
- Develop their ability to respond in their preferred mode of communication
Be valued as individuals, recognising equally their own worth and the contribution of others.
Reading even at a simple level helps make sense of the world around us. Exposing children to an alphabetic code gives them a sense of functional, social sight vocabulary, for example identifying shop logos.
Reading is the motivated and fluent coordination of word recognition and comprehension. However, reading for many of our pupils may look different and there is not one single route to becoming a reader.
At Ravenshall, we believe that it is very important for pupils to develop a love of books and enthusiasm for developing their reading skills.
Success in reading has a direct effect upon progress in most other areas of the curriculum; therefore, we provide an environment with a balanced range of activities to help develop reading skills that include:
- Enjoyment of songs, rhymes, poems and stories, alongside learning about and using the sound system of our alphabet (Phonics).
- Track moving objects, sounds and lights.
- Match pictures, objects and words.
- Guided reading.
- Regular independent reading.
- Home/school reading.
- Hearing books read aloud.
- Selecting own choice of texts.
- Use of technology.
- Comprehension skills at a basic (literal) and advanced (inferential) level.
This multi-strategy approach to develop reading skills encourages the pupils to understand text on different levels. It helps them read with a deeper understanding from a wide range of different text types including fiction and non-fiction publications, as well as real life texts such as text messages, emails, signposts, labels, captions and lists.
For pupils who can access the mechanics of reading we use systematic teaching of phonics to support pupils in learning to read and write. As pupils progress in their phonic knowledge they will move on from; learning the letters and the sounds those letters make; to using and applying this knowledge to read and write words; to reading and writing sentences. We give the pupils the opportunity to use and apply their phonic learning through games and activities so that they then use this in their independent reading and written work.
Teaching and Learning of Phonics throughout the school is taught following the Letters and Sounds document alongside other commercial programmes, such as Jolly Phonics, Lexia, Oxford Reading Tree and Project X Code.
For pupils with specific learning difficulties who find the systematic approach to learning phonics more challenging we follow a ‘hybrid approach’ (as recommended by The Communication Trust) to teaching reading to accommodate the individual needs of pupils and advocate the importance of;
- whole word recognition and utilising the whole word,
- use of visual and symbols,
- a language rich environment,
- developing vocabulary knowledge,
- developing comprehension skills.
This approach is taught in many different ways; word shape, tracking and matching, Downs Education See and Learn programme, etc.
Writing is a method of representing language in a visual or tactile form. Writing equips us with communication and thinking skills and a way to preserve our ideas and memories.
At Ravenshall we promote writing and look for ways to inspire and motivate pupils so that they see themselves as ‘writers’. We teach our pupils the purpose of writing; to express themselves, to provide information, to persuade, or to create a literary piece of work.
Talk comes first!
Pupils are encouraged to express their ideas clearly so that they can put thoughts in order and discuss what they want to say. This ‘talk’ helps to develop a wide-ranging vocabulary, so that pupils are able to express themselves in a clear and varied way, making their writing lively and interesting for the reader.
Pupils develop their writing firstly through play, talk and mark making. They then develop their writing skills, producing structured legible script using correct letter formation. At this point emphasis will be placed on the correct use of spelling, punctuation and grammar, which will help to develop this structure and make the meaning of their writing clear to the reader.
Whatever stage of writing development our pupils are at, we provide them with a variety of stimulating and purposeful writing opportunities. Writing skills are broken down into four strands:
- Transcription spelling
- Transcriptions handwriting
- Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.
All classrooms provide a stimulus for writing. Topic books, fiction and non- fiction books are displayed to enable pupils to read as often as possible to develop their understanding of written language. Along with generating ideas through, stimulating and exciting ways, we also provide pupils with the skills required to produce well written pieces of writing.
At this stage of writing, pupils are still at an early stage of understanding how language is written down and need support with transcription. They are beginning to explore and experiment with mark making in a variety of forms. Marks are made to show ideas and children start to ascribe meaning to these.
Children at this stage have a developing awareness of the fact that print carries meaning and make efforts to write with purpose. They are able to draw on their experiences of seeing language written down and are more willing to have a go at writing independently, using a few early strategies for spelling e.g. using initial letter sounds.
Our developing writers can write simple sentences without the need for support, as they are able to represent sounds phonetically and know an increasing number of words that they can spell.
They are aware of the need for spaces between words and use simple punctuation such as capital letters and full stops. Their handwriting is becoming consistent in size and letters are generally formed correctly.
At this stage writers are writing more confidently, developing ideas at greater length and have a growing ability to structure these texts. At this stage punctuation is varied and spellings are usually correct.
As pupils progress though to Key Stage Four there is more of an emphasis on functional writing whereby pupils are given tasks expressing specific information meant to mirror real-life scenarios such as how to make or do something, giving advice, inviting someone to something or telling what happened in a specific situation.
We also try to ensure that our writing curriculum is enriched with real life experiences such as trips, and hands on practical learning to give our pupils a starting point for their writing.
Letters to Parents
Tel: 01924 456811