English Guidance for Parents
There have been many changes within the curriculum over the past few years, both nationally and within our school, and I understand it can be difficult to support your child if you are unsure of the systems we use. The following information will, I hope, give you a clearer picture of the teaching and learning for English across the school, in addition to the information stated on our school website within the ‘English Curriculum’ link.
Phonics is how children learn to read. They learn to match the phoneme/s (sound/s) to the grapheme/s (letter/s). It is not possible to decode (sound out) a word using the letters of the alphabet, the children must learn this by the pure sounds. Please see the bottom of this page for a video demonstrating the pronunciation of synthetic phonics.
In the past children have been given homework to learn a list of words which they were then tested on. While rote learning is often useful, it was identified that the children were not retaining the information or able to apply it in a different context. In light of this, we have developed our teaching of spelling to become more of an investigative approach. Although each class may present this slightly differently to enable it to be appropriate for each year group, the principle that the children will be learning a rule or pattern will be the same for everyone. The children will be given examples of the rule but then asked to find some of their own examples. When a spelling rule has been taught it will assessed through dictation using a variety of words that apply the rule learnt. This will support the children in applying their understanding of spelling within their writing when attempting unfamiliar words.
You may have also heard of ‘High Frequency Words’, ‘Tricky Words’, or ‘Common Exception Words’. These are words that do not follow a rule and need to be rote learnt.
In addition to these words, each year group has a set of statutory words that they must learn.
All spelling rules, high frequency words, common exception words and statutory words for each year group can be found in the spelling appendix on the ‘English Curriculum’ page on the website.
Mersham Primary School aims to teach cursive handwriting, beginning in Early Years and continuing through to Year 6. An example of our letter style is available on the website in the ‘English Curriculum’ link. To support handwriting, the school has an account with ‘Letter-join’ for Years R-4. This also has a home agreement for you to use at any time. It can be used on tablets as well as PCs. The username and password will be separately sent via parent mail, but is also available in the office.
Early Years promotes book talk to engage children in books and stories by looking at the pictures and discussing what they understand before they then move on to books with words.
KS1 have implemented a bookworm challenge to promote reading at home.
The minimum expectation is for the children to read three times a week. This has previously been evidenced by a parent’s signature. In KS1 this will continue.
In KS2 the expectation is the same, however, in order to give responsibility back to the children, after they have read (instead of a parent signature) the children will need to evidence their understanding of what they have read by summarising in 3 bullet points. This does not have to be long and should not be a huge issue.
Please remind your children that they do not always have to read their specific reading book (especially if they are a free reader); if they would like to read the newspaper (with your approval/supervision) they are reading! If they want to choose a comic one week, that is ok too. At Mersham we want to instil a love of reading and so it is very important that we widen the children’s variety whenever necessary.
On a Friday, the reading amounts will be collated for each child and recorded as a class total. During assembly a reading cup is awarded to the class with the most readers.
Reading records should be in school on a daily basis so that teachers and teaching assistants can sign when they have read with a child, either on a 1:1 or during guided reading in a group.
What is it? It stands for Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar. All of these areas have always been taught in school, however, recently there has been a huge emphasis on this and the expectation of grammar terms the children should know and at what age, has changed drastically. To support your understanding of some of these terms, I have added the glossary appendix from the National Curriculum onto the website also.
If you would like to know which grammar terms are taught in your child’s year, you can find this in ‘English Appendix 2- Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation’ or SPaG overview with handwriting. Both documents are in the ‘English Curriculum’ page.
A fantastic website for SPaG computer games is Literacy Bootcamp.
Username: mersham Password: kidsrock
(It is the same username and password for maths)
If you need any more information, please speak to your class teacher or to myself.