Reading, Writing and Maths
As a parent, it’s sometimes hard to know how you can help your child with their English work. Below is some information about the teaching of English at Astmoor Primary School and some things that you can do to help your child.
Why is the teaching of English so important to us?
At Astmoor Primary School we believe that English is a fundamental life skill. Teaching English is more than just ‘equipping children with the skills to speak, read and write.’ We believe that English is your child’s key to communicating with others and expressing themselves in all areas of their lives.
How often do we teach English?
You child will receive a daily English lesson that is approximately an hour long in KS1 and KS2. In the Foundation Stage, the teaching of English is broken up into smaller segments and spread throughout the day. In addition to this, children will receive daily phonics or spelling sessions, weekly guided reading sessions and regular handwriting practise.
What does my child do in their English lessons?
Depending on their age, your child will complete a range of activities in their English lessons like: reading and writing, word and sentence-building activities, extended writing time or group work. These are all designed to help your child to leave our school being able to: read fluently, speak properly (using a wide vocabulary) and to write to a good standard.
How we teach reading
From the earliest possible age we encourage reading and a love of books in everything we do. Teachers read aloud daily to children and expose them to a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books. At the earliest stages, teachers 'model' the reading process to children by reading aloud, with expression and pointing to words as they are read. As children progress through the school, the texts that teachers choose to read become more challenging and diverse.
At FS, KS1 and sometimes early into KS2 children read from books that have been banded into categories depending on the level of challenge. They become increasingly more difficult as children progress through the bands. They are expected to move through the bands in a timely manner, with most children moving on to 'free choice' books by the end of Year 2 or early into Year 3. We expect all children to read regularly at home and for a record of this to be made in the child's reading diary.
In addition to this, all FS, KS1 and Y3 pupils (term one only) have a daily phonic lesson for approximately 20 minutes. The purpose of this is to help children to develop the mechanical skills needed for reading by learning to recognise letters (graphemes) and the sounds that they make (phonemes). Children can then begin to develop their skills of 'blending' for reading. High frequency words are taught through the use of a set of word walls that children take home to learn. At Astmoor Primary School we follow the Letters and Sounds programme for phonics.
How we teach writing
In the Foundation Stage, early writing and mark making is encouraged in all areas of the classroom and at every opportunity. The emphasis is on correct pencil grip and formation of letters as children become more confident. The ability to write their own names is a key skill that is encouraged throughout this phase. As children get older, the expectation for writing increases at an age appropriate rate.
From Year 1 upwards, writing is taught in fortnightly units of work focusing on a particular style of writing such as letters or biographies. In the first week, the writing process is modelled by the teacher thinking aloud and showing the children how to construct meaningful sentences. There is a strong emphasis on 'talk for writing.' During this week, the children begin to develop their own piece of writing in parallel to the teacher. In each year group, specific sentence structures are taught increasing in complexity as the children get older. In week two, there are more opportunities for developing the 'secretarial' skills of writing such as handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar.
In all classes, there is a strong focus on ensuring that children get lots of opportunities for writing within other curriculum areas and not just in writing lessons. High quality writing is displayed in all classrooms and around school.
How we teach Maths
Why is the teaching of Maths so important to us?
We at Astmoor recognise that offering our students a good knowledge of mathematics will aid their lives as they progress to high school and further. Mathematics has an integral role in equipping young learners with not just calculation skills but with the ability to reason, to solve problems and seek explanations.
How often do we teach Maths?
Maths is taught on a daily basis throughout the school stages. All classes have the same timetabled session for mathematics and sessions generally last one hour. Classes also take part in mental maths shorter sessions. Your child will also be encouraged to use mathematical understanding throughout other curriculum subjects as part of our school’s thematic curriculum.
Currently our Year 1, 2, 3 and 4 classes undertake a mathematical programme derived from the Singaporean way of teaching mathematics. The Singapore Maths programme supports progression throughout the primary years and has a strong CPA (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract) thread running throughout. This means that children are exposed to conceptual ideas at a concrete level with a range of apparatus (e.g. counters, beads, diennes and Numicon) before moving on pictorial representations.This may mean diagrams, sketches or using the Singapore bar model to solve problems. Doing so develops children’s deep conceptual understanding and skills proficiency which supports the next move into abstract mathematics, such as long division.
Maths lessons are designed to be interactive with a significant emphasis on children’s talk. Through discussing their ideas, children construct new understanding, engage in a supportive community of practice, take responsibility for their learning and allow the teacher a window into their thinking which enables appropriate action to help them progress. Other year groups are also adopting the principles of Singapore maths into their teaching and learning.
Fluency, reasoning and problem solving are three themes of the maths National Curriculum (DfE, 2014) and inform all maths teaching.