English at Muscliff Primary School
“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
Wonder by R.J Palacio
The Beautiful Text
It is right and fitting that the English page of Muscliff Primary School’s website should open with a beautiful quote from a beautiful book – in fact, our whole curriculum starts with a beautiful book! We believe that there is so much to be learnt from a good book and this learning goes far deeper than just English skills; a carefully selected book to drive the curriculum shapes the moral learning of children at Muscliff.
Wonder is just one of the books we have selected to drive our curriculum. We call them Beautiful Texts. In the quote above, Palacio refers to four values – we have five key values (Responsibility, Kindness, Resilience, Aspiration and Curiosity) and our Beautiful Texts are selected by our teachers as they demonstrate these values which form the foundations of our learning.
Over their time at Muscliff, children will benefit from many carefully selected Beautiful Texts. From ‘What I like about Me’ in Year 1 to ‘Treasure Island’ in Year 6, each book stands out for being special and each book is used as a vehicle to drive the wider curriculum. When children are in Autumn Year 2, their Beautiful Text would be ‘Somebody Swallowed Stanley.’ Why this book and not something else? Well, we believe that this book is the BEST book for our children. Somebody Swallowed Stanley is rooted in RESPONSIBILITY. Living in a seaside town, our beach and the coast are important to the children of Muscliff and looking after our surroundings, particularly the wildlife in the sea, is meaningful to the children in Year 2. That’s why Year 2 have selected this text – it’s very relevant to us here in Bournemouth. And when Year 6 study Treasure Island, this text is rooted in CURIOSITY. Treasure Island is a ‘Beautiful Text’ as it is an excellent model of a quest story, crafted to keep children on the edge of their seats. Like all adventure stories, there is a certain format and there are key ingredients which Y6 replicate in their writing. As Y6 are our oldest children, they appreciate that in real life there may be barriers and conflict to achieving a target and sometimes it is just not enough to hope and dream – one has to prepared to dig deep and toil. This text is also a good way to tackle the theme of healthy and unhealthy relationships and to show our oldest learners an example of when all is not what it seems in a relationship when there is an imbalance of power.
All of our English units are bespoke and we are very proud of these units. At Muscliff, the 'Beautiful Text' is our vehicle for inspiring a love for the English language; our bespoke curriculum (that centres around a specifically chosen book) captivates and enthrals our curious Muscliff Mice.
They have to be as our Muscliff children deserve a Beautiful Curriculum!
How do we teach phonics?
We love Little Wandle! When researching which phonics scheme to follow in school, we found that Little Wandle was THE programme that stood out: the expectations set out by Little Wandle are high. And expectations should be high! We want all children to achieve well in phonics as a springboard to their future success as readers. The support families and teachers to help children read to a high standard and reach their potential in reading is of a very good quality. Additionally, it is made for teachers by teachers and Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised also draws on the latest research into how children learn best; how to ensure learning stays in children’s long term memory and how best to enable children to apply their learning to become highly competent readers.
Reception and Year 1 are fully resourced with the latest books from to support their phonics learning (both in school and at home) and all children read books that are appropriately matched to their phonic knowledge.
Phonics continues in KS2 in the form of teaching children strategies to segment for spelling.
Which reading schemes do we follow?
We love Oxford Reading Tree! We follow the Oxford Level colour-banded scheme and the books we use to support the teaching of reading are published by OUP. In particular, we enjoy Oxford's Project X books and the children enjoy reading about the adventures of Ant, Cat and Max from their beginnings in Year 1 all the way through to Year 6. In using a colour-banded scheme, we can ensure that children across the school are reading challenging, age-appropriate books and we know that Oxford's material is of a very high quality.
How do we teach reading?
Children should be encouraged to develop a love of books and the disposition to read.’
We strive to teach all our children to read and to enjoy a variety of texts so that they will become independent, critical, life-long readers and learners. Teachers model reading strategies during shared reading sessions within lessons, whilst children have the opportunity to develop reading strategies and to discuss texts in detail during guided reading sessions. Independent reading provides time for both assessment and 1-1 teaching. Daily discreet phonics lessons in FS and KS1 enable children to decode efficiently. This is continued into KS2 where necessary.
The Oxford colour banded reading scheme is used to support all our readers but this is further enriched through texts that are carefully selected by the teachers in-line with our curriculum rooted in 'The Beautiful Text.' Guided Reading books are selected to provide appropriate challenge and to be instructional, and will generally be a higher book band than those books that pupils share at home (see Guided Reading Policy). Teaching assistants may support reading activities to ensure that children have more frequent opportunities to read with adults.
The whole class shares a text, which is beyond their independent reading levels, often using an enlarged text (paper or ICT based). Shared reading provides a context for teacher modelling, teaching and applying reading skills (word, sentence and text level). Shared reading is interactive where the children are encouraged to engage in, question and reflect on what is being read.
Our teachers are really passionate about their reading material and this in turn ignites a reading spark in our Muscliff children.
Teaching Reading Fluency
Where children need to develop reading fluency, Guided Reading should take place in a small group, with a teacher or teaching assistant, and should focus on developing children’s ability to become independent readers, thinkers and learners. When fluency is the objective of the session, the children are grouped by ability and read individual copies of the same text, which matches the reading level of the group. Texts should be selected from the school’s guided reading scheme – Project X (Oxford Reading Tree).
Reading at Home
All children have been provided with a year group specific reading record. The expectations of reading at home are the same throughout the whole school and the reading record reminds parents of this expectation: all children should read at least 4 x per week for a minimum of 15 minutes. Space has been provided for parents to communicate with the teacher about the reading session at home. The reading record also contains the key word lists. Parents also have access to the ‘Reading at Home’ document on our school webpage; this document provides parents with helpful information regarding age-related expectations, as well as helpful comprehension questions and activities.
To support online reading, we use Oxford Owl. Oxford Owl provides children with our whole school reading material at home!
From Reception all the way through to Year 6, children take home a book according to their ability. These books follow the same banding as our guided reading scheme. The structure of the colour bands ensures that all of our children are taking home appropriately challenging books that will develop their skills as efficient and successful readers.
The colour bands
Dark Red +
Teachers will use their professional judgment to ensure that children are reading an appropriate level book at home. As a general rule, we tend to send home books that children can read at an accuracy of around 90%. This means that the reading experience at home is enjoyable but a little challenging. At school, children will be challenged that bit more, with the support of their teacher. They might well be reading a different colour with their teacher.
The colour bands are based on national expectations. If a child is working towards the national expectations then they may be choosing coloured books from the previous year, to build on prior learning and consolidate the core reading skills.
These books develop fluency and enjoyment of a variety of texts (e.g. stories, poetry, information) In addition to this, children have the opportunity to choose a book from the book corner. Each child has a home reading record that teachers and parents can use to share information about a child’s reading. Classrooms have a Reading Corner with a selection of books for the children to enjoy.
We still encourage all readers to share a book at home with their grown-ups. We believe that this not only helps to develop inferential skills, but also supports a lifelong love of reading. We actively encourage reading a whole range of different books and material and children are encouraged to read their own (or local library) books also.
We recognise the value of adults (both in school and at home) reading aloud to children, in order to improve their grasp of story language, enthuse them with a love of books and inspire them as writers.
Parent readers in school
Reading Rangers is a small group of parent volunteers who come into school, joining teachers during the guided reading session, to assist with 1:1 reading. There is a separate Reading Rangers policy. All Reading Rangers have met with a member of SLT to discuss their role within school. All Reading Rangers have read (and signed to confirm this) both the Reading Ranger policy as well as the Safe Guarding policy.
To download a copy of the National Curriculum English programmes of study for Key Stages 1 and 2 click here:
To find out more about the statutory programmes of study and attainment targets for English at Key Stages 1 to 3 click here:
More English Information
Parent Reading Support Booklet
These booklets have been created to give parents an overview of the age-related objectives from the National Curriculum.