Reading at Bonneville Primary School
Bonneville Primary School greatly understands the need for all pupils to develop their skills as effective communicators in all subjects. Moreover, we recognise the importance of communication in shaping every aspect of a pupil’s current and future lives. Providing a high quality education in English is a vital way of ensuring our pupils are able to articulate themselves both in school and later public life. Creating a life-long love for the subject of English helps to support pupils’ work across the curriculum, as well as enlighten their interactions with the world around them. It also acts as a gateway to increase their own cultural capital and enables pupils to access all possibilities life has to offer. Our teaching of English also places significance on the collective experience of other people embodied through the language they employ, and pupils learn about empathy, understanding, self-expression, and through this combination, about themselves and who they are.
The teaching and learning of English at Bonneville Primary School comprises the development of comprehensive reading, writing, speaking and listening skills and, importantly, the exploration and application of high level vocabulary. This is embodied by the mantra, as Alex Quigley emphasises, “if they can read it, and understand it, they can say it. If they can say it with confidence, it provides them a key to success for their future beyond school.” It remains a vital subject to embed our pupils’ understanding of literature and the lived experience of others across the globe, past and present and across a range of genres. It rests at the very core of our pupil’s ability to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, and enables them to think critically and enthusiastically about the world around them. The study of English also embeds our pupils’ understanding and appreciation of the intricacies of language: its breath, patterns, structure and origins. Empowered with this knowledge, pupils at Bonneville Primary School are able to make informed choices about how they communicate themselves in different contexts.
The teaching of English at Bonneville Primary School involves an ever evolving, reflective and vibrant curriculum which challenges and engages our pupils. We acknowledge the paramount importance of adapting and extending our bespoke curriculum to match all pupils’ needs. Where possible, English will be linked to class topics to ensure knowledge and understanding of the world is applied across a range of contexts and embedded in the long term memory through interleaving opportunities for application.
English as a diverse cultural subject
The English language and its literature rightly deserve to be explored in terms of its important cultural heritage, which helps to thread our common humanity, transcending time and place. Pupils at Bonneville learn to appreciate the subject of English within wider global cultures, understanding the impact of the richness that our multicultural past and present realities have had on our language and literature.
Closing the vocabulary gap
“Vocabulary is like mental Velcro – the more you know, the more ‘hooks’ you have to hook onto new words, experiences and understanding.” – Alex Quigley
A broad and deep understanding of high level vocabulary is integral to every facet of learning and it rests at the very heart of our curriculum. Ensuring our pupils access, and confidently use, academic language is an essential part of every pupil’s learning journey. Explicitly teaching vocabulary can enrich knowledge and understanding of the world, and it’s a useful proxy for a great deal of general knowledge in a range of other subjects. At Bonneville, explicit vocabulary instruction is an integral part of every lesson and is woven into explanations, teacher and pupil talk, the development of reading skills and opportunities for all pupils to articulate themselves confidently. We have carefully considered the discrete teaching of vocabulary to ensure that pupils leave Bonneville with the necessary tools to aid the pursuit of lifelong learning, including introducing the ‘Word of the Week’ for every subject.
The importance of reading, and reading for pleasure, cannot be overstated. Our pupils capacity to learn, and enjoy learning, is inexorably connected to their skills in reading. At Bonneville, we actively encourage children to read broadly for pleasure, while immersing them in word-rich classrooms which focus on vocabulary development. Pupils are encouraged throughout their Bonneville career to become enthusiastic, independent and reflective readers, as they are introduced to an increasingly wide variety of well chosen literary materials. Pupils develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to utilise what they have read to inspire their own thinking and writing. The skills necessary to become effective readers are discretely taught daily through Guided Reading lessons. However, teachers will plan for opportunities for reading skills to be addressed in all lessons. During Guided Reading lessons, each week a text is chosen (which can also be linked to the children’s termly topic) and the following sequence of reading skills. The termly timetable also includes access to extensive resources in our library. Importantly, children are actively encouraged to read as much and as widely as possible at home both independently and with their adults. We have established comprehensive online platforms to aid pupils in accessing a rich range of materials.
At Bonneville, all teachers will also read aloud to their class with a specifically chosen text for 15 minutes at the end of the day. This enables children to hear modelled reading from an adult and to gain exposure to a wider range of language and content. The choice of texts has been carefully considered to include a wide range of genres and text types.
We offer a creative English curriculum based on a variety of written text crossing demographics, cultures, time and place, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, myths and legends. These texts provide the stimulus for the children to create rich, varied and inspired writing. Spelling, punctuation and grammar is taught intrinsically through the text as well as independently from it, which helps to introduce and embed challenging concepts in the long term memory. All children have weekly spelling tests and we discretely teach handwriting to help the children develop a neat, cursive hand.
At Bonneville, pupils follow the ‘immersion, experimentation, innovation’ sequence of exploring a genre of text. At the start of each unit, the immersion lessons will involve ‘immersing’ the children in the examples of the genre they are focusing on. This will include lessons which allow the children to read, listen to, and where applicable, act out a range of examples of that genre. Following this, children use the features of the genre to work on their sentence and word level skills. This will include a focus on the grammatical elements of the genre. These lessons and their work are linked to the overriding topic of that term and have a clear context and purpose in terms of their end of unit piece. Children will then have the opportunity to plan, draft, edit and publish their final pieces, building on the skills developed over the course of the unit and embodying the practices of professional writers.
Spoken language and performance
At Bonneville Primary School it is well understood that spoken language underpins our pupils success in the wider curriculum. We place great emphasis on the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. They are continually encouraged to make their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others. Bonneville is a school which actively encourages talk between everyone, in order to build secure foundations in articulating one’s learning, and by using discussion to share, probe and remedy misconceptions.
At Bonneville Primary School, we place great importance on pupils gaining the knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of performing. Throughout their journey at Bonneville, children have opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama and performance for one another and a range of audiences, as well as to rehearse, refine, share and respond to their learning thoughtfully.