At Merton we believe that reading is the most important skill and therefore we actively promote reading for pleasure as a focus in our daily teaching. Creating a culture of reading is a vital tool in ensuring our children are given the best life chances. Inspiring passion in our readers will ensure that their love of reading will extend far beyond the classroom and allow them to build on their skills independently through a real curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
The culture of reading begins in Year R where children are immersed in stories, poems, rhymes and songs. Picture books are introduced and explored developing their imagination, vocabulary and communication skills. Children are given ownership of their reading experiences with access to inviting reading areas and daily votes to choose the book of the day.
Reading skills are taught through daily phonics lessons which teach decoding and spelling systematically from Year R through to Year 2.
More on our phonics scheme and Year 1 phonics screening materials can be found below.
Some words are not able to be decoded using phonics and are known as common exception words.
To support the learning of these words we have developed a Keyword Reading scheme which progresses from Year R up to Year 2 words and includes specific vocabulary to support the wider curriculum. Children learn these words at school using a variety of techniques to support memory such as actions, songs and colour coding. Children are expected to practise Keywords at home and once children are fluent in their recognition and application, their achievements are celebrated in the school weekly Celebration Assembly.
Our Merton Values include O for opportunities so we give children daily opportunities to read in school. They read a minimum of twice a week with an adult either one-to-one or in small groups during Guided Reading. All children are unique and develop at a different pace but to ensure all children meet their learning potential some children are identified as Target Readers and will be read with every day.
Weekly trips to the school library give children the opportunity to take home and read books based on their interests. In school, children are exposed to a range of books designed to consolidate phonic knowledge and develop comprehension skills.
Children take home decodable books matched to their phonics knowledge, specifically chosen by their teachers to practise their reading skills. Books are banded by colour depending on which phonic phase each child is working at and contain challenging vocabulary intended to broaden each child’s experiences.
Children can also read and be read to using their Bug Club logins.
At Merton Infant School we are always looking for new and exciting ways to inspire the children. Additionally to our reading curriculum we participate in the annual World Book Day celebrations and Year 1 sign up to the Hampshire school library service Picture Book Award.
The purpose of any form of writing is communication. Therefore children need to be taught to produce well-structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and engages the interest of the reader. All writing has the need for a purpose and audience which can take many forms. The purpose could range from informing, entertaining, discussing and persuading but in all cases, writing is used as a means of creative expression. As choice encourages creativity, we aim to immerse children in a wide range of rich literature (including audio and film as well as written text), enabling them to use books of their/our choices to inform their own writing.
Motivation to write is key to children’s writing development. At Merton Infant School, new topics are introduced with an exciting launch, message or discovery which then provides the children with a challenge or key questions. New writing tasks also have their own hooks to ensure children are aware of the real purpose and audience for their work. Topics across the school have been planned with children’s interests in mind and are regularly reviewed to make sure they stay current and relevant.
Writing skills are taught daily include vocabulary, grammar, spelling and handwriting. These are sometimes taught as a specific lesson focus with opportunities to embed these during more sustained pieces of writing and across the wider curriculum.
At Merton Infant School, we have a progressive spelling scheme following the requirements of the National Curriculum but also lining up with our phonics scheme. This allows children to practise and apply their learning. Spelling are sent home each week as well as practised in school ready for the weekly spellings teste to ensure children secure their spelling skills and the expectation is that they are then able to apply the rules in all aspects of writing. Children can also practise their spellings by logging into Spelling Shed.
Children start their handwriting development in Year R with opportunities to mark make, explore a range of media and Doh gym. Doh gym movements are designed to increase strength and control from the shoulders down to the fingers and play a key part in supporting handwriting before pencils are introduced. Core strength and fundamental movement skills are also develop using the SOLENT therapy pack to target the physical development of children to support their writing journey.
Letter formation is taught using the cursive style and is introduced at the same time as the letter sounds.
KS1 introduces handwriting books where children consolidate single letter formation following a progression through the letter families and then move on to joining their handwriting. This is taught first in isolation and then embedded in words to add context.
Vocabulary and Grammar
Vocabulary and grammar are taught by exposing children to rich texts and the use of high quality WAGOLLs (What a good one looks like) to model an example of writing. Children are introduced to new, adventurous vocabulary and given opportunities to use it in their writing. This is often supported by working wall displays which are frequently changed and updated according to the learning in the classroom. Teachers will source and produce word mats with key vocabulary and images to be used in the classroom. These are also sent home every half term for children to practise reading and writing. This particularly supports children with English as an additional language who may not be familiar with the new topic vocabulary.
Our English curriculum ensures all children leave Merton Infant School as confident readers and writers ready to access learning in Key Stage 2.
Other Useful English Documents and Resources