English is at the heart of every child and adult's life. In fact, the explosion of social media continues to raise the profile and importance of reading and writing since so much of our communication now relies on the written word. We live in an environment where Literacy is all around us, and we use the fundamentals of writing and reading daily. This is why, at Amherst, we believe that English should be at the heart of all aspects of school life.
At Amherst, we aim to deliver a high-quality English curriculum that gives children the best possible opportunities to become confident and successful readers and writers with a deep understanding of the English language. We believe developing reading and writing is central to improving a child's life chances. We strive to ensure all children can communicate clearly in written form and become masters of language.
The children start their journey in English with phonics using the ‘Sounds Write’ phonics scheme. Each day they learn to read and write a new sound from the 44 sounds (phonemes) of the English language, which are the building blocks for every word, sentence, paragraph or text. Children throughout Key Stage 1 practice the phonics they have learned in phonically decodable texts, which they also use for home reading practice.
In January 2023, Amherst subscribed to the ‘Literacy Tree’ for our English curriculum. We are incredibly proud that, since July 2023, we were granted ‘Flagship School’ status. We created this partnership with Literacy Tree because we believe that reading and writing are best taught through high-quality, engaging texts. Using the Literacy Tree units, children have daily writing lessons to learn and practice critical skills in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, as well as to build a broad vocabulary. From Year 2 to Year 6, daily whole-class guided reading lessons, also using high-quality texts, support the development of reading fluency, which builds comprehension of the written word.
For independent reading practice, we use Accelerated Reader in Key Stage 2. This has allowed us to ensure steady progression and confidence in reading. All children have their ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) range carefully calculated to select books their reading level allows them to access and progress. Each morning, children have the opportunity for independent, quiet reading during a soft start, which is the perfect way to start the school day.
Amherst uses the handwriting scheme Letter Join to teach children to write using a cursive script. We know that cursive script helps most children become more confident, fluent writers and aids spelling.