English unites the important skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening as well as opening the door to the world of the written word at the Pre-Prep. The ability to question and communicate are key to both learning and life in general, and are encouraged from a child’s first day at the School.

Reading and writing are taught through a range of methods with many activities linked to the theme for the term. We use the structured phonics programme, Letters and Sounds to give the children the building blocks they need to decode words in text and to build words when writing. Children start with books without words to encourage them to use picture cues, make predictions and discuss the characters and what they may be thinking and feeling. They then progress, at their own pace, until they can read for both meaning and enjoyment, viewing books as a pleasure and not a chore. There are opportunities for reading both independently and with an adult throughout the school day, and books are taken home to share with the family. As reading skills progress, guided reading sessions help children to develop more sophisticated skills such as inference and prediction.

A cursive script is taught from the beginning of Reception with an emphasis on correct pencil grip and letter formation; all letters begin and end on the line. This makes joining handwriting a much simpler task when it begins formally in Year 1. Children are encouraged to use their knowledge of phonetic spellings in the early stages of writing so that what they can record is not limited to what they can spell. This process is refined as they learn ‘tricky words’ which do not follow phonic rules.

Skills are developed and scaffolded explicitly while working on tasks linked to the creative curriculum themes making the learning experiences much richer and more varied. Children have the opportunity to write in different genres and for different audiences, for example a letter writing home as an evacuee, play scripts for the Christmas Production, creative and persuasive writing.

A child who reads becomes an adult who thinks and by combining the key skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening we aim, from a child’s first day at school, to encourage open and questioning minds through our English teaching.