All language development begins with a child being able to communicate effectively, be that orally or by using signs/symbols. Listening and talking/communication is given high priority at Mile End and all lessons will provide opportunities for children to use communication skills.
Children working at the early level of Curriculum for Excellence (Nursery – P1) are encouraged to experiment with various tools for writing and will make marks to symbolise early writing. We celebrate this mark making stage as it is an indication that the child understands the link between the spoken and written word and will routinely ask children to ‘read’ their writing to help lay the foundations for early reading skills.
As children progress into Primary 1 their play will be built upon with a synthetic phonics scheme used to teach letter formations which are always taught lower case first (our handwriting policy contains the letter formations that we teach at Mile End.) The children are taught to be able to write the letter routes and read the sounds and will be building 3 letter words (early spelling) and decoding 3 letter words (early reading) on a daily basis. Activities tend to be practical in nature with magnetic letters and boards used so that children feel that they can experiment and explore language.
As our children progress through the early years we continue to develop skills by looking at more complex sounds in spelling and reading and start to engage with our formal spelling progression which teaches groups of words following the same pattern. Punctuation is introduced and the children are asked to write for a variety of purposes.
Children are guided to decode words that are increasingly complex and also to read for meaning, this includes asking the children to consider what is being implied by a text so they can scrutinise it more fully, in a world of influences this is a crucial skill to be developed.
As the children progress they are continually assessed to determine appropriate next steps.
SCHEMES USED TO SUPPORT READING AT MILE END
We have a number of reading schemes which are book banded resulting in our children moving from one scheme to another depending upon their needs and interests. We currently use Makaton readers, PECS readers, Oxford Reading Tree, Rigby, Rapid, Literacy Evolve, Literacy World, Kingscourt as well as a number of novels.
We have purchased 200 licences for our pupils to use Accelerated Reader and we hope that this system will provide real challenge for our gifted readers.
SCHEMES TO SUPPORT WRITING AT MILE END
From Nursery the children are assessed by making use of Big Writing criterion scales. Big Writing encourages children to consider the Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation they use and challenges them to ‘uplevel’ it. Lessons in VCOP are delivered several times a week with one piece of extended writing being undertaken every week. The children will be aware of what they need to do to ‘uplevel’ their writing and routinely discuss their progress with peers and staff.
SCHEMES TO SUPPORT LISTENING AND TALKING AT MILE END
As listening and talking is integral to all lessons no scheme is used in mainstream. Staff working with children with additional support needs have been trained in APEC which helps them ascertain where a child is developmentally and know how best to support them further. Makaton sign language is used where appropriate and we are encouraging our mainstream pupils to learn a little Makaton at assembly so that all pupils can communicate effectively. PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) is used in all ASN (additional support needs) classes and you will be aware of a number of symbols around school that support our pupils who have communication difficulties.
No scheme is perfect and each class is very different with individual needs. The schemes are there to support staff but not constrain staff and flexibility is encouraged.
MODERN LANGUAGES AT MILE END
At Mile End School, we are following national guidelines in the implementation of our 1+2 Approach to Language Learning. The aim of the initiative is to enable children and young people to study two languages, in addition to their mother tongue.
French is currently being taught by class teachers from P1 upwards, with a key focus in the infants on oral and aural learning. Language is mainly taught through games, songs and use of puppets. In P5-7, pupils have more focused lessons in French, delivered by Lara Freeman, our French Specialist Teacher.
At Mile End School, pupils also have the opportunity in P4-5 to learn German.
Across the school, we are aiming to integrate French language to the ethos of the school and we are using French for daily routines, greetings and discussing the weather. We are also looking to organise a whole school French Day in February to celebrate the language and culture of France.