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English Curriculum at Cherry Orchard Primary

Read, Write Inc (RWI)

At Cherry Orchard Primary Academy (COPA) we teach Phonics and Early Literacy skills through the Ruth Miskin Read Write Inc (RWI) programme. 

Children are assessed and then put into groups based on their ability meaning activities are targeted to the needs of pupils regardless of age or starting point. We call this the ‘Goldilocks Spot’ for learning. Children work with others who require a similar challenge level meaning activities are ‘just right’. 

RWI teaches children to not only read accurately and fluently but also teaches comprehension skills and embeds a love for reading. Children will learn to form letters, spell correctly and compose their ideas step-by-step. The systematic approach leads to success. 

Read Write Inc (RWI) is closely matched to the Year 1 National Curriculum. The average child will aim to finish the RWI programme by the end of Year 1, or by the end of the very first term in Year 2 if he/she started their RWI journey in Nursery or Year R. Interventions are used, where necessary, to accelerate progress of children not working at age expectation and to fill gaps in knowledge. 

Throughout the RWI programme children are taught to not only learn sounds and read words but to also focus on and develop their; 

  • Spoken Language
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing – Transcription
  • Writing – Handwriting
  • Writing – Composition
  • Writing – Vocabulary, Punctuation, Grammar and Spelling

This means that RWI is not just a phonics programme, it teaches children to become a ‘whole’ / confident reader. 

Handwriting

Children are taught:

  • To sit and hold a pencil correctly
  • A Speed Sounds lessons
  • To practise handwriting at each stage of learning to write – letter formation and phonic knowledge go hand in hand
  • To begin to form lower case letters in correct direction

Writing – Handwriting non RWI lessons 

Children learn and practice their handwriting not only in RWI sessions but also at other times of the day. For example, dedicated handwriting sessions and in maths children will work on number formation. 

Children will be taught to form;

  • Capital letters
  • Digits 0-9

And to understand which letters belong to which handwriting ‘families’ (i.e. letters that are formed in similar ways) and to practise these

As outlined in the RWI programme children will begin to form letters in print form, they will only move on to cursive writing when they are ready.  Usually towards the end of Year 2 ready for KS2. 

At COPA we sometimes refer to speeds of writing; 

  • Speed 1 is our neatest, slowest and most controlled speed for writing. We use this for writing up work in neat (final drafts) and during dedicated handwriting sessions. 
  • Speed 2 is our everyday, normal speed for writing. 
  • Speed 3 is our speediest writing for note taking and white-board work. 

Spelling – non RWI 

Classes receive weekly spellings to learn and practise at home. Children will be tested in school on these spellings and be expected to not only spell them correctly in their spelling test but also in their everyday writing at school. This method of high frequency, low-stakes testing provides an opportunity for children to recall and attempt to apply the knowledge they acquired in their everyday work. Research and studies suggest that students learn most effectively when these frequent opportunities are provided. Roediger (2013). 

Classes will follow the spelling curriculum for their year group. Some children may receive differentiated spellings based on their current phonic and spelling knowledge / ability if working significantly below the National Curriculum level for their year group.  

Reading 

Non-RWI – we refer to this as ‘Off of the programme’ in KS1. In KS2 we simply call this ‘English’. Children will be required to complete the RWI programme (up to grey level) once they have reached this level they are assessed to see if they are ready for ‘Off of the programme’ English sessions. These sessions combine reading and writing amongst other skills including listening and speaking.  

Home Reading 

We like to provide children with as many opportunities to read as possible. Some of the ways we do this include visiting our school library weekly to choose books to take home and share. Children are given RWI ‘Show-off Reads’ to take home if they are on the RWI programme. In addition to this, all children are supplied with a book band levelled reading book. We recommend and expect children to read for at least 10 minutes a day at home on top off the reading they do at school. 

Writing 

Alongside our IB PYP at COPA we have adapted the RWI programme to best provide more writing opportunities for our children in KS1. 

Those in Orange RWI group and above have a reduced RWI session of 40 minutes a day followed by an English lesson. 

Children below Orange group do the full hour of RWI as the strategies for early writing skills used in the RWI programme offer the ‘Goldilocks Spot’ for these children. Those in Orange and above take part in English Lessons with their Class Teacher. These provide further writing opportunities and challenges. 

KS1 English sessions follow a sequence of learning which include dedicated Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar sessions as well as the opportunity to explore different genres. 

In KS2 any child who is not working at age expected for reading will continue on their RWI learning journey with additional interventions. Those who have age expected reading skills will work through a sequence of learning in English lessons. This tried and tested learning sequence written by one of our Trust English Leads and the Trust Director  of Improvement has been tweaked to suit the needs of the children we currently have at COPA. Similar to KS1 there are dedicated Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar sessions as well as opportunities to explore different genres. Grammar skills taught are embedded through activities and model texts throughout the week. High level texts, which may be linked to our IB learning where possible, are used. We also have author focuses and use wordless books from time to time.  

Please see below an example of the sequence of learning:

English / Writing Sequence

Next Steps

We are beginning to look into additional strategies to support the learning of basic English skills in KS2. This will be a priority as the school expands to enable us to best cater for the needs of the children who join COPA later on in their school life  (i.e. not in EYFS or KS1) and have not reached age related expectations. Currently we are looking into adopting Ruth Miskin’s FreshStart Programme, which is a continuation of the RWI programme, specifically designed for KS2 children to catch up their reading skills to an age appropriate level as quickly as possible. 

At COPA reading is a priority as we believe it to open the door to all other learning opportunities. 

“Teach a child to read and keep that child reading and we will change everything. 

And I mean everything.”

 Jeanette Winterson

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