At Blackwater, we believe that firm foundations in reading and writing are key to educational success.

Children are taught to read and write in reception through daily phonics sessions, with opportunities to practise their skills through well-planned, exciting, child-initiated activities.

From year one, we use the Optima reading programme to hone reading skills daily. All children practise essential reading skills, then enjoy applying them to be able to read well-chosen and engaging texts.

Across the school, all children have lots of opportunities to read for pleasure; choosing from our well-stocked bookshelves including a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry as well as newspapers and magazines in every class. We have comfy and attractive reading areas throughout our school corridors.

We use the VIPERS question stems to build reading comprehension skills in our children; parents are given these too and encouraged to use them when reading with their child. In classes we regularly use Pobble 365 and Book Talk to further develop reading comprehension skills.

Every Friday, the children read in mixed age pairs across the school.

We develop children’s vocabulary with daily words of the day. We also learn different sentence structures, grammar and punctuation.

In our writing lessons, children contribute to shared writing as a class as well as undertaking their own independent writing. We use peer assessment regularly and children are experts at identifying successes and areas for improvements in their buddies’ writing. We teach all our grammar and punctuation in the context of exciting writing tasks.

We use the KBER scheme for handwriting and Spelling Shed for spelling. Children begin learning cursive script in year one and work towards achieving their pen licence, when all writing is consistently joined.

Children learn weekly spelling rules, following the Spelling shed programme. They have lots of practise time in school and enjoy playing the games to learn the spellings at home. In each class we also play spelling games, with Bananagrams and Scrabble being two of our favourites; as well as using a range of spelling apps.