At Isbourne Valley School we have a cross-curricular approach to teaching. This means that rather than teach by subject we introduce a theme of work and build learning around that theme. We teach across age groups and by ability so we use a three-year rolling programme to keep subjects fresh over the infant years of Reception to Year 2. This also allows children to revisit key ideas at different stages of their development. Alongside our theme based activities we ensure that key skills are developed with activities appropriate to the ages and abilities of the children. Children in Reception learn through the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and Children in Years 1 and 2 through the National Curriculum for Key Stage 1.
We aim to provide as much printed material as possible, in different situations and incorporate reading for a purpose within classroom activities. We regularly hear children read individually, as well as allowing them quiet time for reading in the classroom. We use Book Bands to organise a variety of reading scheme and other books by difficulty in colour coded boxes. The children can then choose their own reading books from these boxes. These books are taken home every day for children to read with parents and carers. All children have a Home/School diary which parents and carers can use to comment on reading at home. Book boxes include books from Oxford Reading Tree, Oxford Literacy Web, Ginn, Rigby Star and many more. This allows the children to experience a range of fiction and non-fiction texts.
Details of our reading schemes (KS1)
When the children are ready they begin guided reading sessions. We use the Rigby Star guided reading scheme and these books are also sent home for children to share with parents and carers. Children can also borrow books from our library and classroom collections to take home and they enjoy choosing books from the mobile library van to add to our classroom collections when it visits the school.
As soon as a child has started school, they are introduced to phonics. Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic phonics approach, using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. It is an approach to teaching phonics in which letter sounds represented by individual letters or groups of letters are learnt and blended to form words. The children are introduced to the letter sounds using the 'Jolly Phonics' actions. Letters and Sounds is divided into phases with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words.
They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include words such as ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just ‘recognise’ them.
In these sessions the emphasis is on children’s active participation and includes games and songs. The children learn to use their phonic knowledge and ‘tricky words’ when reading and writing.
Writing in the Infant class usually links with the class theme. Writing tasks are often introduced through a shared text. The text is then developed, for example by retelling a story with actions and a story map; retelling a story with puppets or role play or performing a poem with actions.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage the children are encouraged to ‘write’ for a range of purposes. This could include a list of things to take on holiday, labels for a shop, a mission for a superhero or a retell of a story. They are encouraged to use the phonic skills developed during phonics sessions as well as the ‘tricky’ words they have learnt to spell. The use of basic punctuation is modelled and children are encouraged to use punctuation when writing. The correct formation of letters is taught during phonic sessions and reinforced in handwriting sessions.
In Years 1 and 2 the skills the children learnt in Reception continue to be developed. They write for a range of purposes, both fiction and non-fiction. Writing tasks can include a retell of a known story or an ‘innovation’ of a story, instructions to create something they have made or an explanation of something they have found out about in the current theme. The children are encouraged to write imaginatively with a widening vocabulary. In handwriting sessions joined handwriting is introduced when the children are ready.
Mathematical skills are developed through a range of activities. In the Early Years Foundation Stage the children learn through practical, play based activities and are encouraged to record their understanding in different ways.
In Years 1 and 2 the children continue to learn through practical activities and also develop their recording skills.
Children develop their mental calculation skills and begin to learn their tables. Mathematics activities may relate to the theme being covered, for example using money in a ‘Garden Centre’ role play area, measuring to make a ‘Superhero’ costume or collecting data about favourite food. These activities allow the children to use mathematics skills for a purpose and develop problem solving skills.