English sits at the heart of our curriculum. It is through talking, reading, writing and vocabulary acquisition that children learn to communicate ideas, express themselves deeply and to understand the world in which they live. When our children leave Sandhurst, we want them to continue to read for pleasure, having had access to a wide range of text types, genres and authors for them to make informed opinions about their favourites. We want children to develop their own individual flair, confidence and accuracy and to know that we write for a variety of purposes and audiences. We aim to expose our children to a wide range of vocabulary so that they able to decipher new words and then use them knowledgably in a variety of ways to communicate with others. We also want our children to apply these English skills to all areas of the curriculum.
Learning to read
At Sandhurst, becoming a skilful and expert reader, is underpinned by a strong start in early reading. Phonics (taught using Read, Write Inc.) is the beginning of our children’s journey towards mastering reading. All of our staff are trained in teaching RWI and our team of RWI Practitioners are relentless in their dedication to ensuring each and every child at Sandhurst learns to read as quickly as possible.
The RWI approach ensures that everything connects: children connect sounds with mnemonic pictures; words with their meanings; stories with the sounds they know, and children connect their own experiences to the stories they read. In phonics lessons, children learn one thing at a time, then keep practising it until they are ready to move onto learning the next skill.
Starting from the very first week of school, we teach phonics every single day to ensure success. Children are grouped according to their phonic ability so that every child makes rapid progress and any children falling behind are quickly identified.
We invest in the development of our Read Write Inc teachers through an ongoing relationship with the RWI team and weekly coaching from our Phonics Lead. We understand the importance of engaging parents: the Phonics Lead holds parent workshops, as well as maintaining dialogue with parents regarding their children’s reading.
Children from Year 1 upwards participate in Whole-Class Reading lessons. These lessons are focused around a class text or appropriately chosen text that links with the pupil learning in a topic area. A wide range of genres including poetry and nonfiction are also used to extend the learning. As a school, we use VIPERS as a structure during our Reading lessons. This ensures that all children are working towards the same learning objective at the same time. Children who find reading tricky are able to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’, as the texts used are modelled by the class teacher before completing the related task. The lessons are structured to enable the children to develop their reading skills. Clear links with pupil writing, speaking and listening is also fostered and developed.
When children have successfully completed the phonics program, they select books at their level using the Accelerated Reader program (ZPD). Children are assessed on a termly basis and take Star Reader quizzes after each book read. This progress is tracked and monitored by class Teachers. Children are also encouraged to select other books for pleasure.
Reading at home
We recognise children need constant practice to become established, fluent readers and therefore place a strong emphasis on reading at home in addition to school. All children, from EYFS to Year 6, are expected to read regularly over the week and record their reading in a reading record book. Parents are encouraged to support children in this. Teaching staff monitor children’s reading habits and book choices, working with parents to inspire our pupils to become great readers. The school promotes and celebrates reading at home through our “Read and Discover” scheme. Children and parents record children’s home reading in their reading diaries and when a child reaches ten consecutive reads, they receive a reward.
|Number of reads||Reward|
|First 10 consecutive reads||Bronze award|
|Next 10 consecutive reads||Silver award|
|Next 10 consecutive reads||Gold award|
|Next 10 Consecutive reads||Raffle ticket (entered into the end of term draw for the chance to buy a brand-new book of choice)|
|Read every day for one whole term||Platinum award and entered into a prize draw for the chance to win £30.00 to spend on books at the end of the school year.|
In parallel with this, we celebrate children’s reading through sharing stories, partner classes, assemblies, awards and World Book Day.
Reading for Pleasure
We are striving to become a reading school where all children and adults read for pleasure and can share in the joy of books. Dedicated slots in the timetable have been allocated for this to occur over the week. Our library is well stocked, which includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazines, newspapers.
At Sandhurst a clearly structured and developed writing curriculum, that spans other subject areas, enables children to write for different audiences and purposes.
Early writing begins in the classroom where the environment provides opportunities for children to mark make using a variety of medium and stimuli. We ensure that pupils are ready to write by promoting a range of activities that support gross and fine motors skills. RWI introduces grapheme and phoneme correspondence and the formation of letters to help support writing words for meaning.
In Key Stage 1, children are taught the skills of writing through oral storytelling and discussion. This supports them to structure the text and independently write in the chosen genre. In Key Stage 2, children write in various genres for a range of purposes. They analyse the model text and unpick the grammatical features and organisation, in order to apply these in their own writing.
Throughout all year groups, we teach writing through engaging and challenging topic-based texts. This supports them in the application of vocabulary and structure. Children are given termly enrichment opportunities to promote and inspire writing of a high quality across the curriculum.
Emphasis is placed on the modelling of writing and the crafting of sentences by teachers. This always enables pupils to see high quality writing, which in turn enables them to become independent writers. Throughout the session, intentional monitoring allows pupils to receive timely and immediate feedback on their writing progression.
Our spelling curriculum follows on from the Read Write Inc Programme taught in Reception and Year 1, developing the children’s understanding of the rules of spelling and the common exception words required in each year group. Children in Years 2-6 receive a spelling lesson at the start of the spelling week where they are systematically taught the spelling rules and requirements before embedding them throughout the week.
We teach cursive handwriting. Children in EYFS practise letter formation as part of their daily phonics. This is carried through to Year 1 where children receive timetabled handwriting sessions. In year 2, children will learn to join their handwriting. In Key Stage 2, children continue to work on joining, legibility and writing at length, receiving a pen license when they can fluently write in a neat, cursive style through the curriculum. Handwriting progress is celebrated across the school through handwriting awards.
We provide a creative curriculum based around the Cornerstones Curriculum, a nationally recognised approach for delivering outstanding learning opportunities for children.
What is the Cornerstones Curriculum?
The Cornerstones Curriculum is a creative and thematic approach to learning that is mapped to the Primary National Curriculum to ensure comprehensive coverage of national expectations. Our new curriculum will be delivered through Imaginative Learning Projects (ILPs) which will provide a rich menu of exciting and motivating learning activities that make creative links between all aspects of our children’s learning.
We believe children learn better when they are encouraged to use their imagination and apply their learning to engaging contexts. Our new curriculum will provide lots of learning challenges throughout the academic year that will require children to solve problems, apply themselves creatively and express their knowledge and understanding effectively across the curriculum.
Cornerstones also provide a rigorous essential skills framework that outlines the end of year expectations in all subjects. These essential skills are tied to activities and are age related so that staff can track children’s progress and identify their individual learning needs.
How it Works?
Children will progress through four stages of learning in each ILP – Engage, Develop, Innovate and Express. To find out more about these stages please click on the link through to Cornerstones website: