At Milton Park, reading and writing is interwoven into all that we do. From the moment that your child arrives at our school, they are introduced to language-rich environments, and talk forms the basis of our teaching and learning. We believe that every child is entitled to leave our school with a high standard of reading and writing, ready to embark upon their secondary education.
Our curriculum is enriched with many opportunities to support reading and writing, such as author visits, book awards, literature quizzes and special events.
In February, Jamie Thomson, author of the Dark Lord series, visited Milton Park and led an author workshop for Years 5 and 6.
Reading is an essential life skill, and being able to read fluently and confidently opens up so many opportunities for our children.
Phonics teaching starts on entry to Milton Park. Our Early Years teachers start with a focused programme of phonics based on Letters and Sounds, and children enjoy a varied and balanced introduction to reading. Rags the puppet is a popular member of Year R, and our teaching environments are rich with interactive displays to support the children’s learning. Role play is integral to learning. Children say sounds, sing sounds, draw sounds, and act out sounds!
Parental support is important in helping our young readers. We invite parents to attend regular phonics workshops, to ensure the development of reading at home and at school is consistent. Our staff are always happy to support parents with reading, and actively encourage additional reading at home.
In Key Stage 1, phonics teaching continues, but follows the National Curriculum guidelines. An overview for each year group is used to deliver a rigorous timetable for phonics reading and writing. These overviews are adapted to accommodate the needs of the class, with some children being provided with further booster group teaching, targeted to their individual needs. Phonics is taught ‘First and Fast’, to ensure that sounds are ‘bumped into’ throughout the school day in other curriculum areas.
As children move up through the school, their home reading is closely monitored by the class teacher and TA, and they take books home that are suited to their reading ability.
Guided Reading takes place daily in all year groups from Year 1-6. Teaching follows a programme of tasks, from whole class learning to a guided teacher session once a week, and children are taught decoding skills, retrieval, comprehension and inference and deduction. The teaching of reading supports writing, and children are encouraged to read like a writer and to write like a reader.
At Milton Park, we believe that children should be given the opportunity to access a wide range of literature, and should be given the chance to experience books from a wide range of genres and authors. To ensure that children have a rich experience of books and of reading, each class has a reading list from which teachers select their class readers and texts to base their learning on. The lists are by no means exhaustive, and our staff add to them on a regular basis. The teachers at Milton Park love books and love reading, and we aim to pass on our favourites too!
We have raised a phenomenal amount of money through your book purchases at our Book Fairs, and these have allowed us to buy a whole new range of brand new books for our classrooms and libraries.
Don’t forget you can contribute to the Wise Owl book club every week – you can send your child in with small amounts of money which we record and keep for you. Over the half term, your savings accumulate for you to spend at our book fair, earning us more rewards to spend on books, and making sure your child goes home with brand new books to enjoy!
We have a newly designed library which is an outstanding feature of our school, and is commented on regularly by visitors. It is well stocked with purchased books and School Library Service allocated books. It is multi-functional; not only is our library used for reading, but we have an ICT pod and a story telling pod, with a story telling chair that provides the main focus of our library. Our librarian works tirelessly to keep on top of current trends and interests!
Books are organised into book bands, and children select their home readers from here. Once children have moved out of the book bands, they are able to select a wide range of books to take home.
Years 3- 6 have been given their own user name and password to access an online library of books which is made available to us by the School Library Service (SLS). The books have been chosen by SLS to be suitable for our age group and we know that there will be many great books to enjoy.
You can preview the eBooks at http://portsmouth.wheelers.co .Each user can select one book at a time and has three weeks to read it. Children can return the book early to select another book, if they want. The eBook library offers children a different reading experience and will help to further inspire reading for pleasure.
The eBook library operates within a web browser so they will be able to read at home on any device which gives access to the internet, such as a lap top, tablet or smart phone. It will be possible to adjust the font size, background colour etc.
Unfortunately the Amazon Kindle won’t be able to access the eBook library as Amazon uses its own, non-standard file type. However, the Kindle Fire will work as it gives internet access via the Silk web browser.
Speak to your child’s class teacher if they need reminding of their login.
Milton Park’s approach to writing is through talk, and this starts in Year R. Role Play and creativity enables children to form sentences orally before putting pen to paper, and this oral rehearsal continues throughout our children’s learning journey. In both Key Stages, children are encouraged to orally rehearse sentences before writing and take part in role play and hot seating activities. Just like ‘real’ writers, our children plan what to write, write it and edit it until they’re happy with their finished pieces.
We provide many opportunities for children to write in a range of contexts, for a range of purposes and for a range of audiences. We teach writing in this way so that children learn the skills of crafting written language, and can apply their skills to many different pieces of writing. Lessons are planned using the objectives from the New Curriculum, and the grammar element is an important focus in every year group. Additional Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar lessons are taught weekly in Key Stage 2 to prepare the children for the ‘SPAG’ test in Year 6.
We try to give our children many real life experiences to base their writing upon. For example, children recount what they have learnt on the many school trips they enjoy; they write letters to authors who have visited our school; and teachers can sometimes be seen wheeling a bicycle into the classroom to help children to explain how it works!
Cursive handwriting is taught alongside phonics in Year R, and is taught daily in Key Stage 1. Taught handwriting sessions continue into Year 4, with targeted interventions to support those children who need additional help. Classes timetable weekly spelling sessions, and misspelt words are identified regularly in children’s books. We also have Spelling Bee booklets to encourage our children to aim high with their spellings!
How Parents can Support Reading and Writing:
- Read with your child at least four times a week – we have a wide selection of books for you and your child to choose from. Don’t forget to fill in your child’s reading record!
- Feel free to delve into the Reading List for your child’s year group, or introduce your own favourites to them.
- Talk about words! Funny words, silly words, weird words… finding and using new vocabulary supports your child to use these words in their writing.
- Give them new experiences – can they write about what they have done?
- Practice the spellings that are sent home – they are tested regularly and we look for their spellings in their writing