At George Mitchell Primary, literacy is at the heart of everything we do. We truly believe that strong speaking, reading and writing skills are the foundation of all education and the gateway to future success. To inspire our children, every English lesson is centred around fun and engagement brought about by creative and progressive lesson structures. We are rigorous in our approach to building reading ability, passionate about developing language and spoken confidence through every day interaction, and above all seek to bring joy and excitement through the wonder of the spoken and written word.
We have a exciting Calendar of Events which includes competitions, visiting authors, WOW days, Spelling Bees and more…
There is also a range of additional enrichment opportunities, including events for the more able, partnerships with the Secondary Phase and inter-school partnerships and competitions.
Enrichment Lessons and Events – find out more about our Enrichment courses and events here
Early Reading (Phonics)
We use the Letters and Sounds scheme to teach phonics. Children are taught sounds and the blending of sounds in a fast paced and systematic manner through 6 ‘phases’. As a general guide, children complete up to Phase 2 or 3 in Reception, up to Phase 4 or 5 by the end of Year 1 and complete Phases 5 and 6 in the Autumn Term of Year 2.
Developing Reading in Key Stages 1 and 2
We have a strong emphasis on reading fluency, with children assessed and supported to progress each half term. We also pay particular attention to vocabulary, in particular everyday nouns, which we know offer the key to understanding a text. You can explore some of our materials for the teaching of everyday nouns here.
We are ambitious in the texts we explore with the children, with carefully chosen and wonderful books to share with the children and for the children to investigate through well planned lessons. We use the Reading Gems as part of each lesson to develop deeper comprehension skills.
Outside Reading lessons, children have access to a range of lovely, motivating texts to read at home. All children at a phonics level (below White bookband) have a tailored print book changed at least weekly, as well 5-10 digital colour-banded books on Bug Club available to all. All classes visit our lovely library once a week and are able to have free choice of the many books we have there.
You can explore our English curriculum in full here.
A guide to Bug Club and bookbands for parents:Bug-Club-Parent-Information
Spelling, grammar, punctuation and handwriting are embedded into the lessons of every subject area as well as taught explicitly as part of English. Children create, edit, improve and publish their work from Year 1 to Year 6, becoming confident, creative writers of a number of genres.
Spoken English is a current focus for our school. We believe that clear, confident communication opens all kinds of doors and we endeavour to ensure our children feel comfortable expressing themselves and their views in a range of social and professional situations. We model and encourage good eye contact, social niceties, coherent speech and good manners. In addition to this many of our staff are ELKLAN trained to effectively develop language within the classroom and in small groups. From September 2021 we will be extending our language training to every adult in our school.
English as An Additional Language
Many of our children have English as an additional language and all develop fluent English language skills with surprising rapidity once they feel comfortable in the playground.
We recommend that parents speak their mother tongue with their children at home and enjoy talking and playing together.
For children who are new to English, we have a rapid 2 unit EAL programme accompanied by a phonics and reading fluency programme. The aim of the programme is to give children a quick and solid English and reading foundation to enable them to access the curriculum with their peers in the classroom.
Improving Your Skills
Active Learn (Bug Club). This is our home reading platform and is used throughout the school. Children are assigned digital banded books and phonics games for daily practice. Make sure you turn those Bugs green!
Log in for Bug Club: If your name was Oliver Jeffers, your log in would be:
School code: 6cl7
Story books for children: http://www.magickeys.com/books/
BBC Bitesize: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/levels
English for adults: https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/skillswise/english/zjg4scw
Phonics games: https://www.starfall.com/h/
Reading games: https://pbskids.org/games/reading/
Curriculum, Planning and Assessment
Our lessons are planned carefully in units, with a inter-twining balance of rigour, joy and fun. Our first lesson of the unit is always an exciting WOW lesson, such as a drama or Arts focus, a special event or a mystery which needs solving. Following this, the majority of our lessons will follow a familiar, research-backed structure which promotes rapid understanding and progress, while allowing plenty of room for practical activity and discussion.
Our formal assessment cycle is half termly, with assessments followed by Pupil Progress plans followed by targeted teaching, and then again by assessment. The aim is always to inform next steps to help the individual to make progress.
Bookbands and phonics are assessed once each half term. At the end of each term, children in Years 2-5 take a short online PIRA test which identifies areas for development to inform the next block of teaching.
Catch Up and Interventions
We believe in the power of Quality First Teaching – the very first lessons that children receive should be of the highest quality, tailored to the individual needs within the class and with careful modelling, scaffolding and assessment for learning built in. This reduces the need for additional interventions.
We assess rigorously, identifying gaps and children who need additional support and teaching directly to fill those gaps.
Our key interventions are:
-“Target Child” Focus. The 3 children closest to Age Related Expectations receive special attention for 6 weeks, including additional parent meetings, health checks and, of course, a focus on their work and next steps. Almost all Target Children attain Age Related Expectations at the next assessment point, meaning the spotlight can then fall on the next 3 children.
-Phonics interventions. We respond to phonics assessments with direct teaching of that phase.
-Reading fluency and comprehension intervention, including regular 1:1 and small group reading with key adults and mentors from the secondary phase
-targeted language and other English interventions, including those tailored for children with SEN
We aim to have superb first teaching with the back up of a series of safety nets in place which ensure that every single one of our children develops robust and confident reading, writing and oracy skills.