Our vision: Learning together we will all be exceptional readers and writers, confident speakers and thoughtful listeners!
At Sunnyhill, we recognise and place great value on literacy skills as an essential tool for achievement in all areas of the curriculum, as well as in later life.
We want Sunnyhill pupils to:
- speak, read and write fluently, enabling them to understand and communicate ideas and emotions to others
- immerse themselves in high quality literature and poetry
- become independent learners
How reading is taught at Sunnyhill:
We aim for the children to develop a passion for reading that will last a lifetime. Children are encouraged to read for pleasure and to read across the curriculum to support their knowledge and understanding in all core and foundation subjects. Reading lessons are taught daily so that children are taught the skills necessary for understanding texts.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) we promote a love of reading by sharing stories on a daily basis. We are committed to doing this all through a child’s journey through the school. In the EYFS, children are encouraged to re-tell familiar stories, rhymes and songs using props, actions and role-play. In Y1-Y6 we use a range of approaches including whole class reading and targeted guided reading to enable all children to make progress, developing their fluency and comprehension. Children are introduced to rich and challenging texts, completing a range of tasks based on these texts. These tasks focus on specific reading skills such as predicting, inferring characters feelings or retrieving information using evidence from the text. Teachers choose high quality texts that will enable children to develop their reading skills and encourage reading for pleasure. Where possible, teachers choose texts that relate to class topics.
We are lucky to have a team of fantastic volunteers, who read with children from around the school on a weekly basis. We also have a ‘buddy reading’ system where classes collaborate so that older and younger children have opportunities to read together.
Each classroom has a book corner, with a selection of fiction and non-fiction books. We also have a wonderful library, which each class visits to select books to read at home. During each week, children are given time to read books of their choosing from our class book corners and school library.
We celebrate national events including ‘World Book day’ and invite authors into our school to inspire and connect the lessons learned in the classroom to the wider world.
Our phonics programme has been developed as a result of our partnership with the Wandle hub. We use Letters and Sounds as a basis for our approach to teaching phonics in a systematic and structured way. Children work systematically from Phase 1 (Nursery) to Phase 6 (Year 2). Phonetically decodable books are carefully matched to a child’s phonic knowledge so they only include sounds and “tricky words” that they have learnt so far. This means that they can use their phonics knowledge and skills to be successful and read independently. If they encounter a word they find hard, they can sound it out and then blend the sounds. Research has shown that this method creates more rapid progress and more engaged readers.
We use the ‘Literacy Tree’ scheme of work to place high quality children’s literature at the core of teaching and learning. Texts that are chosen engage pupils in the learning of writing and also support their love of reading. From these texts, teachers plan opportunities for different writing compositions.
Teachers also plan writing opportunities linked to termly history, geography, science or RE topics. We ensure that there is a meaningful outcome for a variety of genres so that children are given a real purpose for their writing. Teachers use texts linked to topics and stimulating first hand experiences to inspire writing.
We recognise the importance of writing as a process. Children have regular opportunities to gradually draft and develop their final pieces of writing. Children are given time to edit and improve their written work after feedback from their teacher. The teaching of grammar is interwoven into daily reading and writing lessons so that children are given the opportunity to learn grammar in context.
Year 1 to Year 6 class teachers follow the ‘Letter-join’ scheme of work to deliver handwriting lessons each week. In Year 1, the children are taught how to write capital letters, numbers and symbols alongside cursive handwriting. Children practice their fine and gross motor skills, they learn how to sit correctly for handwriting using the tripod grip and they are introduced to the different letter families. By the end of Year 6 the children will develop more of a personal handwriting style as they write with automaticity and will learn to write at different speeds with attention to neatness.
In Key Stage 1, handwriting licenses are used to motivate children to develop their handwriting to a required level.
In Key Stage 2, pen licences are used to motivate children to develop their handwriting to a required level.
How speaking and listening skills are developed at Sunnyhill:
At Sunnyhill, we aim to embed speaking and listening skills across all areas of the curriculum. We encourage pupils to use speaking and listening to solve problems, share ideas and make decisions. We want Sunnyhill children to be able to express their thoughts, rationalise their ideas and talk about their feelings and viewpoints using appropriate vocabulary.
In EYFS, support staff have been trained to deliver the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI). This project is designed to improve the spoken language ability of Reception children.
At Sunnyhill, we know that a good understanding of a wide range of vocabulary supports success across the whole national curriculum. We have identified ‘core’ words that the children will meet in different subjects and in different topics. These words will be revisited and taught in different contexts so that the children develop a deep understanding of their meaning and they become tools with which children can access the knowledge, skills and understanding the curriculum demands. This vocabulary will form a backbone through our curriculum to help to scaffold and develop the children’s learning.
From EYFS to Year 6, children are encouraged to answer questions in complete sentences. In class, all children are allocated talk partners in order to encourage them to speak to one another and share ideas.
Speaking and Listening underpins the reading and writing curriculum at Sunnyhill. Through a range of activities, including drama, discussion and debate and the memorisation and recital of poetry, children are equipped to be confident and eloquent speakers and thoughtful listeners.
Each term we have a whole school speaking and listening focus:
In the Autumn term, all children have the opportunity to perform in front of their parents in our end of year shows (EYFS Winter Show and Shakespeare Festival). Throughout the year, the children also perform in termly class assemblies. By giving them multiple opportunities to perform on the stage throughout their time at Sunnyhill, the children have an opportunity to showcase their talents and develop their confidence with public performance. In Year 6, the children showcase all of their performance skills in our end of year production.
In the Spring Term our speaking and listening focus is debate. In class, the children are given opportunities to debate topics linked to their sustainable development goal focus i.e. This house believes that more wind farms should be used as a source of renewable energy (Y5), This house believes that we need to protect the green spaces that are left in London (Y1).
In 2020, Year 5 children from Sunnyhill took part in the Lambeth heats of a debating competition facilitated by ‘The Noisy Classroom’ organisation. We were really excited to beat strong competition from other local primary schools to win the competition.
In the Summer Term, the children consider the use of persuasive language by taking part in class activities where they have to persuade someone to choose a product that they have designed in D&T i.e. The children in Year 3 need to take the role of a Roman engineer to persuade the Roman town planner to choose their aqueduct.