At The Hart School, any Year 7 students reading below National Curriculum Level 3 are taught Literacy, using the ‘Read Write Inc. Fresh Start’ programme for four or five hours a week. This involves the vigorous teaching of synthetic phonics and enables every student to become a confident and fluent reader. It is a joy to see how our students’ confidence and self-esteem go up so much and so quickly. They become so much more confident in reading, writing and speaking.
Reading opens the doors to learning and enabling these students to read and write quickly is vital. Firstly, the Year 7 students are assessed in September, then grouped, and taught, according to the stage of phonic recognition and reading which they are currently at. These Year 7 students learn the 44 sounds in the English language systematically, and how to sound- blend words, alongside spelling. They read books with words which they can sound-blend. The more sounds they learn, the greater the range of texts they can read. Firstly, they read each Modular story slowly, without expression, then with fluency and expression.
There are 34 age-appropriate Modules, and each contains carefully graded lively stories and non-fiction texts featuring words they have learned to sound out. The texts are natural, amusing and age appropriate and students enjoy reading them. Comprehension is an integral part of the Fresh Start programme; the students show that they comprehend the stories by answering ‘Find it’ and ‘Prove it’ questions at the end of each story. Partner work involving each student talking to their partner about what they read and learn is a crucial part of the daily lessons.
For every Module, there is also an accompanying text in the Fresh Start fun anthologies which embed the students’ learning and further build their confidence. Our students find the Modular writing enjoyable. The writing activities in the Modules build upon the stories and non-fiction texts; a strong link is made between reading, writing, spelling and grammar. Our students’ writing skills are developed step-by-step- from simple sentences to guided compositions. They learn to write by saying the sounds in ‘Sound Talk’, to compose stories based on picture strips and to compose texts in a range of genres ( styles such as letter-writing and report-writing). Handwriting is also practised.
The Department For Education issues literacy and numeracy catch-up premium, which gives state-funded schools, including special schools and alternative provision settings, additional funding to support year 7 pupils who did not achieve the expected standard in reading or maths at the end of key stage 2 (KS2).