Approach to Learning
At The Abbey Primary School, our purpose is to support every individual child through positive connections, making every opportunity to develop their academic and character development.
At the beginning of their reading and maths journey, we inspire our children to build reading skills through establishing key reading knowledge to strive for all children to have a love of literature and imaginative story telling. We recognise learning to read is the most important thing children will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so our priority is to ensure that every single child learns to read fluently, with understanding, as early as possible. We aim to build confident, skilful mathematicians who are curious and ask questions, have the ability to calculate flexibly and to reason using accurate mathematical vocabulary.
We endeavour to deliver an inspiring and varied curriculum to our children. Our curriculum provides a strong foundation with clear progression of substantive knowledge and disciplinary skills which are built on from Early Years to Year 6. Immersive, hands-on experiences ignite a love of learning and knowledge organisers are used to ensure the foundations of learning are built upon.
Throughout their learning journey, our vision is for them to leave us with an enriched knowledge of the world around them, alongside developing curiosity, creativity and independence, preparing them for their next stage of education. We strive to encourage children to be all they can be, stay true to themselves and celebrate their successes.
The Abbey Primary School is built upon the fundamentals of our core values: aspiration, wisdom, courage, respect, compassion, self-respect, justice and responsibility. These values are strongly embedded for children to carry into their future lives. Children are taught to appreciate the uniqueness of their community and the diversity beyond it. We develop our children’s understanding of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance to prepare them for their lives as a citizen in the 21st century.
Here at The Abbey Primary School we recognise learning to read is the most important thing children will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.
We want every child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.
Our pupils learn to read effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme.
The programme is for:
• Pupils in EYFS to Year 2 who are learning to read and write
• Any pupils in Years 2, 3 and 4 who need to catch up rapidly
• Struggling readers in Years 5 and 6 follow Read Write Inc. Fresh Start.
In Read Write Inc. Phonics pupils:
• Decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills
• Read common exception words on sight
• Understand what they read
• Read aloud with fluency and expression
• Write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar
• Spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words
• Acquire good handwriting.
In addition, we teach pupils to work effectively with a partner to explain and consolidate what they are learning. This provides the teacher with opportunities to assess learning and to pick up on difficulties, such as pupils’ poor articulation, or problems with blending or alphabetic code knowledge.
We group pupils homogeneously, according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This is because it is known that pupils’ progress in writing will lag behind progress in reading, especially for those whose motor skills are less well-developed.
In EYFS, we emphasise the alphabetic code. The pupils rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily.
Pupils have frequent practice in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – common exception words.
We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.
Once they have completed the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme, children progress onto Shared Reading. Reading is taught daily through shared reading sessions, where children’s understanding and comprehension is assessed and developed through high-quality teaching and questioning using the powerful tool of VIPERS.
VIPERS is an acronym to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the UK’s reading curriculum. They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts.
VIPERS stands for
Sequence or Summarise
The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc. As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions. They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning afterwards.
Children on the RWI programme to have their group colour’s storybook, bookbag book and ‘real’ age-appropriate book from the library.
Children off the RWI programme to be on the Bug club/Big Cat Reading schemes (white level up) in which their book will be determined from their reading age assessment and teacher judgement.
Reading for pleasure:
A love of reading is developed through the experience of high-quality texts from a variety of authors during English lessons, shared reading and use of the expansive school library. Alongside this, children throughout the school are regularly given the experience to “listen to a story” and to read independently for pleasure. We see this as an important part of the school day.
There is a consistent approach to writing across the school through Jane Considine’s The Write Stuff. We also use Jane Considine’s principles of FANTASTICs to support writing.
Writing lessons are planned around the four main purposes of writing: to entertain, inform, persuade and discuss. We draw upon a range of approaches, including Jane Considine’s ‘sentence stacking’ to ensure children have high quality models and engaging experiences upon which to base their writing. Emphasis is placed on the writing process, with regular planning, writing and editing sequences. In addition, lessons with a specific grammar focus are taught within the context of writing units. During our writing lessons, we support our children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama; as well as non-fiction and media texts.
There is a consistent approach to handwriting across the school through the applied principles of Kinetic Letters.
During Read Write Inc. children are taught spelling daily. They are taught phoneme to grapheme correspondences and write words that contain sounds they have been taught. Alongside, children are taught to spell tricky words.
Once children have completed the Read Write Inc. programme they progress onto Headstart Spelling. Headstart Spelling is designed to give children time to practise and opportunities to revisit spelling patterns in order to embed the learning; this is then reinforced with purposeful and meaningful activities. Spelling patterns are also referred to and taught in writing lessons.
The teaching of maths is planned carefully to meet the needs of every child at The Abbey Primary School. Power Maths is used to support children to progress quickly and develop a mastery understanding of mathematical process.
Power Maths is a UK curriculum mastery programme designed to spark curiosity and excitement, as well as nurture confidence in maths. It is built around a child‑centred lesson design that models and embeds a growth mindset approach to maths and focuses on helping all children to build a deep understanding of mathematical concepts.
Alongside Power Maths, other maths sessions are completed to build up children’s mathematical fluency and mental calculation. Times Table Rock Stars and Numbots is used daily throughout the school to support children with learning their number bonds and times tables. Children also have access to this at home via a login. Additional maths sessions also include: arithmetic, fluent in five and rapid reasoning.
Learners with disabilities or special educational needs
In line with the Equality Act 2010 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014:
- We endeavour to achieve maximum inclusion of all children (including vulnerable learners) whilst meeting their individual needs.
- Teachers provide differentiated learning opportunities through adaptive teaching for all the children within the school and provide materials appropriate to children’s interests and abilities. This ensures that all children have a full access to the school curriculum.
- Special Educational Need might be an explanation for delayed or slower progress but is not an excuse, and we make every effort to narrow the gap in attainment between vulnerable groups of learners and others.
- English as an Additional Language (EAL) is not considered a Special Education Need. Differentiated work and individual learning opportunities are provided for children who are learning EAL as part of our provision for vulnerable learners.
- We focus on individual progress as the main indicator of success.
- We strive to make a clear distinction between “underachievement” – often caused by a poor early experience of learning - and special educational needs. o Some pupils in our school may be underachieving but will not necessarily have a special educational need. It is our responsibility to spot this quickly and ensure that appropriate interventions are put in place to help these pupils catch up. Other pupils will genuinely have special educational needs and this may lead to lower-attainment (though not necessarily to under-achievement). It is our responsibility to ensure that pupils with special educational needs have the maximum opportunity to attain and make progress in line with their peers. Accurate assessment of need and carefully planned programmes, which address the root causes of any learning difficulty, are essential ingredients of success for these pupils. These will be provided, initially, through additional support funded from the devolved schools budget.