In Pickhurst Infants Academy, we firmly believe that every pupil deserves the highest quality provision, which is engaging, coherently planned, and tailored to every child’s needs.
It is our intention that every child who leaves our school has a lifelong love for reading, a passion for vocabulary and language, and is equipped with the skills necessary to clearly express their thoughts and ideas in speaking and writing.
Our English Curriculum is packed with engaging ‘hooks’ rich experiences and high quality texts. It is progressive, but mindful of previously acquired skills, which need to be consistently revisited in order for them to be securely embedded. Teachers leave the children intrigued and excited about what the next lesson will bring.
The teaching of all aspects of English is given a high priority within our school. Confidence in basic language skills enables children to communicate creatively and imaginatively, preparing them for their future journey through education and beyond.
Our English Curriculum is implemented through the use of high quality, age-appropriate texts. We use each book to develop vocabulary, reading fluency, and comprehension, with a focus on key reading strategies and skills essential for success across the wider curriculum and beyond. For example, we explore writing structures and features of different genres, identify the author’s purpose and audience; plan and write an initial piece with the goal of achieving clear context, purpose, and effective expression by critiquing, editing and redrafting.
Reading is a fundamental skill, used to stimulate children's imaginations and allow them to acquire a love for books. Reading influences the thoughts, feelings and emotions of all of our learners. We carefully monitor the children’s reading at home and encourage parents to be fully active and engaged with us in order to support their child’s ongoing development.
Reading takes place two/ three times a week in a Guided Reading group with a teacher or teaching assistant. If this is not appropriate, a child will receive individualized support from their teacher on a 1:1 basis. During these weekly sessions, children access fully decodable books, which give them an opportunity to practice their decoding, prosody and comprehension skills where appropriate. Children in all classes have daily access to high quality story time which ensures that reading is correctly modelled to children, as well as giving them the opportunity discuss content and to enjoy being read too!
At Pickhurst Infant Academy, in Reception and Year 1, children mainly use Collins ‘Letters and Sounds’, where texts are carefully matched to the child’s phonic level. Moving up to Year 2, there is a wider choice of reading schemes. These include: Big Cat Collins, Oxford Reading Tree or Dandelion; providing children with a more challenging reading experience, which also allows them to use their embedded phonic and whole word knowledge in order to read independently.
Reading is not only celebrated and promoted within each classroom. Around the school, you will find displays used to celebrate children’s literature. We feel strongly about children hearing a high quality text read to them each day by their teacher. Also, our pupils have designated time for quiet reading time in their classrooms. The children are able to choose the books they wish to read and enjoy from their well-resourced book corners. They can choose to share a book with a peer, or read a magazine or a topic book related to our wider curriculum. During warmer months, teachers often use our extensive grounds to share a story with the children on the grass, in our Forest School reading area or, as often preferred by the children, reading to our Pickhurst chickens.
We invite parents and carers to attend our Reading Workshop, where we share relevant research as well as useful strategies in how to best support your child at home with phonics and reading for pleasure. We have created a list of recommended books, which we share with parents. We are also very lucky to have so many parents and carers who are actively involved in helping with reading in the afternoons. To ensure that we are all role models, every last Friday of the month, we open our classroom doors to family members who would like to come in and read with the children.
Throughout the school year, the importance of reading is enhanced through assemblies, competitions, World Book Day, author or poet visits, Book Fairs and sponsored reading events to further enrich our English curriculum. Children are encouraged to visit our local library and take part in the Summer Reading Challenge.
Starting in Reception, we endeavour to provide our pupils with a 'language rich' environment and a range of opportunities to develop oracy skills. We have high expectations that our students are able to speak confidently in full, grammatically correct sentences. Across our curriculum, the children explore new and challenging vocabulary to ensure that they broaden their understanding of tier 2 and tier 3 words. Teachers carefully plan which new words they will be exploring, ensuring consistency across the year group. These new words are explored in context to ensure that the children have sound understanding of how to use them on a daily basis. Ambitious language is displayed on classroom working walls and in the hall. Frequently, a new word is shared and explained in assembly in order to promote and encourage language curiosity. All the children are active Word Collectors and are encouraged and rewarded for finding new words in and out of school.
To promote effective communication, teachers introduce the children to a range of Kagan collaborative language structures. These are used frequently throughout the curriculum in order to maximise learning time and to embed the need to take turns and to listen to each other effectively.
When planning English lessons, teachers use Tower Hamlets ‘Progression in Language Structures’ to ensure that high standards and expectations of spoken language are maintained and built upon.
Any language gaps are identified and assessed in Reception. In addition to strong, bespoke Wave 1 teaching, we work closely with highly skilled Speech and Language experts who offer and provide tailored support. We run Chatterboxes and Speech and Language sessions. Beginning this academic year, we will also be part of NELI (Nuffield Early Language Intervention).
As a result, we have a community of enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy knowledge and skills. They are confident exploring and taking risks in their reading and writing, and love to discuss and share their ideas in an eloquent manner. Our attainment at the end of EYFS and KS1 is consistently above Bromley’s and the national average.
At Pickhurst Infant Academy we
Children make rapid progress from their starting points in reading and writing. Our Phonics Check results are higher than that of Bromley and the national average.