The term curriculum refers to the lessons and academic content taught in a school or in a specific course or programme. It talks about the knowledge and skills pupils are expected to learn, which includes the learning intentions, objectives or standards they are expected to meet.
Reading at Birk Hill
At Birk Hill the teaching of reading is a high priority as it provides the key to accessing so much of the curriculum, we provide teaching of systematic synthetic phonics as the foundation to this. We offer as many opportunities as possible for children to read in both formal and informal settings.
Our approach to teaching phonics begins in Nursery and continues through the Early Years Foundation Stage into Key Stage One. It is important to be consistent in the teaching of phonics, so throughout school we follow letters and sounds and the Read Write Inc. schemes. These schemes aim to develop childrens’ speaking and listening skills, as well as preparing them for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. At Birk Hill we aim for children to become fluent readers by the end of Year 2. We use a multi-sensory approach, using a wide range of resources, including pictures, cards, magnetic letters and web-based resources. Children are exposed to the stages of phonics that are appropriate for their age, if any children experience difficulty with this we help them by providing support or intervention either individually or in small groups. During your child’s time in school you will be offered the opportunity to attend workshops which will help you to understand the way in which we teach phonics in school and how children are checked at the end of Year 1.
Our school reading scheme contains a wide variety of books from many of the published schemes; Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cat, Heinemann Story Starters and PM Library.
Some of the books can be decoded entirely using phonics but most require children to employ a range of reading strategies. The books have been carefully ranked and increase in difficulty while helping children to gain confidence and fluency at that level. The aim of our scheme is to develop fluent, competent readers who understand what they have read. Our scheme contains books from different genres so that the children get used to reading stories, poems, play-scripts, fiction and non-fiction. We have volunteers who, along with teachers and teaching assistants, provide children with many opportunities to read in school and have their books changed regularly. Reading records are sent home with reading books and we aim to work in partnership with parents in helping children both to learn to read and to love reading. If parents or family members are able to read at home with the children then ultimately the children benefit.
Guided reading begins in reception and continues throughout school, children in small groups share a text with a well-trained adult at least once a week. These sessions are intended to be pleasurable and to help foster a real enjoyment for reading. The books are carefully chosen to offer challenge and a wide variety of genres and subject matter. Some of the books are from published schemes and some are sets of stories or information books. The aim of guided reading is to challenge children with texts that are slightly beyond their current reading level in order to develop their decoding and higher order comprehension skills.
Reading Across the Curriculum and Beyond
Reading is a fundamental part of much of the school curriculum. In English children analyse texts and some of our learning themes are based around books and stories. We have a school library and close links with Eckington library, with many of the children embracing the summer reading challenge and in Year 2 the children are motivated to read the 100 books recommended to read before they reach Year 3.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
At Birk Hill teachers use a range of strategies to teach spelling, punctuation and grammar. As well as being able to spell words correctly, use a wide range of vocabulary and punctuate well, children need to grasp the meaning of grammatical terms such as noun, verb, adjective, prefix, pronoun and adverb. Children need to know what phrases and clauses are and how to use them, understand what connectives are and how they work, know how to turn a question into a command and so on. At Birk Hill we use “Spelling Zappers” as one of the ways to teach the children how to spell, using the “Look, say, cover, write, check” method. These spellings are progressively linked to the age-appropriate phonics phases and tricky word lists they are differentiated according to age and ability.