Stories are at the heart of our school. Every half termly topic is based around a book or story and they are used throughout the curriculum to help illustrate concepts.
We are proud to be a School that follows the Storytelling Schools approach. This method provides the children with the opportunity to learn to tell stories so they can imitate language orally before writing their own versions.
Across the curriculum, whenever the children are expected to complete an extended piece of writing, teachers use the storytelling approach. Pupils spend time rehearsing texts orally to master the language and ideas they need for subsequent writing. Toolboxes are used to help the children identify both the features and grammar relating to a particular text type. Teachers will work in collaboration with the class to write an example piece before the children attempt the task independently. As much as possible grammar is taught in context, relating to the task at hand.
We know, through research, that children who read for pleasure improve their life chances, not just in education, but in mental wellbeing and social relationships. That is why reading at Mayflower is given such a high status. We are proud of the reading areas we provide within each class, the library that we own and the librarians who help maintain it. Pupils have access to the library daily in the morning and afternoon as well as having a weekly class slot. We have invested in Accelerated Reader and promoted Challenge Bookmarks to help motivate children to read, rewarding excellent readers with book prizes and the chance to visit our local Bookshop to choose their own book. Reading sessions take place at the beginning and end of each day. Each morning from 9-9.30, all children from Year 1 to Year 6 are engaged in reading and every afternoon before the children go home they hear a story.
As a research led school we know that during the first few years of reading instruction, reading fluency and comprehension influence the amount of leisure reading that children do. In effect: the better readers tend to read more in their own time. In response to this we have implemented Daily Supported Reading in both Reception and Year 1. DSR is based on the Reading Recovery literacy programme. An approach that research has shown achieves good results that are swift and long lasting. DSR has proven to increase the levels of fluency. DSR is taught alongside the teaching of phonics.
Phonics is taught in whole class sessions based on the government’s Letters and Sounds scheme. Any interventions are provided outside the phonics session and are carried out by teachers as once again we know that teacher lead phonics interventions have the biggest impact. We work closely with a phonics consultant to ensure teaching and learning is of a consistently high standard. Children in Reception and the lowest 40% in Year One are exposed to phonically decodable books to enable them to practise the skills of segmenting and blending.
Acquisition of language is crucial to the children we teach. As a research led school, we are aware that limited vocabulary has a huge impact on achievement. Alongside whole school approaches like Word Aware we explore language in lots of different ways. The Deepening part of the Storytelling Cycle allows for exposure to subject specific language through drama, research, poetry, art and music to name a few. Word banks are created from the language gathered and are displayed within the classroom. Children use language and structures from example texts and are exposed to writing with similar themes as part of guided reading, shared reading or reading at the end of the day.
Spelling is taught using the No Nonsense Spelling approach. Pupils learn to spell through whole class sessions and activities in both Shared and Guided Reading. Children are encouraged to think about word types, root words, synonyms and how words can be changed using suffixes and prefixes.