Communication and Languages
Speaking and Listening
Bilingual communication is one of the key areas of focus this year at the Story Forest and as such the following measures to enhance bilingual natural learning language learning opportunities will be taken. All members of the teaching team at the Story Forest are expected to already know or are supported to learn how to speak both English and Portuguese to a good level of fluency in order to provide natural language learning opportunities throughout each day in both languages. The main language of communication for key objectives from the Curriculum for England linked to English and Maths, is English but all other activities are directed in Portuguese. Portuguese is also the main language for communication throughout the duration of the day on Wednesdays, with the theme extended from KS2 service-learning day, across the whole school. See timetable for more information.
In addition to this, Natural learning opportunities for children to engage with speaking and listening objectives in English and Portuguese are:
Whole school daily singing in English and Portuguese
EYFS – bilingual communication & storytelling;
KS1 & KS2 – English & Maths objectives (delivered in English), all other activities (delivered in Portuguese)
EYFS/KS1 Elderly Artisans Initiative (elderly members of the local community are supported to spend time in Early Years each week, sharing cultural and ancestral knowledge in Portuguese including gardening, cooking, weaving, mosaic)
KS2 Service Learning Day (KS2 children spend Wednesdays service learning in the community in Portuguese, this theme is continued on campus across the whole school on Wednesdays, in Portuguese)
Termly child directed magazine, providing purpose and opportunity to celebrate writing in both English and Portuguese.
Performance is embraced at the Story Forest. Speaking and listening skills and confidence are further developed through a variety of opportunities to perform including: Fun Fridays (music and movement day), half termly open mic nights (including poetry, acting, singing performances) and termly Grande Finales!
There are many other opportunities for speaking and listening throughout the day including:
KS2 Dragon Dreaming
NLP – neurolinguistics
At the beginning of the day, each day, we have ½ hour for whole school reading time. During this time, children will engage in a variety of activities related to reading, according to their level of fluency, as listed below:
At the Story Forest, reading is viewed as an essential life skill. As such, children are supported to put the building blocks together using phonics to blend and segment words to allow them independent access to all other areas of research and personal interest. Phonetical development is supported in F2 and KS1, using Floppy Phonics as a sequential guide. Teachers follow the sequence using VAK games and kinesthetic resources and music to engage children and learn through play.
As they become more confident and no longer need phonics support, children enter into the below carousel of daily reading activities:
Day 1: Paired Reading Scheme (National Literacy Trust)
When children have a secure phonetical understanding, allowing them to blend words together to read independently, they will be matched with an appropriate older child, who is a fluent reader. For 30 mins once per week, children spend time with their reading partners.
Fluent readers receive Paired Reading Scheme tutor training at the beginning of each new academic year. Children are rewarded for service during gratitude circles.
Day 2: Guided Reading: Critical Thinking
Children’s critical thinking skills are developed during guided reading sessions, children engage with a variety of texts, covering current issues and topics of interest to them. This is a guided session with the class teacher, acting as a catalyst for discussion and critical analysis, using (amongst other sources) real news reports in connection with the magazine writing process and/or linked to thematic learning.
Day 3: Reading in Portuguese
On Wednesdays, whole school reading time will be in Portuguese, including: phonics activities and reading for pleasure. Children who are off campus on Wednesdays, participating in service learning, will still begin the day with 30-minute reading activities linked to the instruction for the activities, supplying information about the day/experience or other natural learning reading opportunities in Portuguese.
Throughout all Portuguese directed activities during the week, incidental reading opportunities in Portuguese are also promoted.
Day 4: Reading for Pleasure
During this time, children are allowed to read independently or with any partner, any book/text they choose, according to their individual areas of interest.
Talk for Writing
During the first week of the Talk for Writing sequence, reading is promoted, as children memorise the text. During this time, teachers also take the opportunity to analyse the text, according to the language features and the authors intentions towards the audience.
We provide further opportunities for children to practice reading one-to-one, drawing on the support from the community. Parents are warmly welcome to come in to listen to individual readers. Further one-to-one reading opportunities arise with Elderly Artisans and teaching assistants in EYFS and KS1.
Five Finger Rule
To support children to select the correct level reading texts to engage with, the Five Finger Rule is applied:
At the Story Forest we value writing and provide children with a variety of opportunities to write, according to their own interests, selected through child-led planning at the beginning of each term, according to their chosen overarching themes. Writing is encouraged as an expression of oneself. We write with intelligence, creativity and passion about issues that matter to us and use stories to convey our messages to the world.
Stages of Language Development
Spoken Language: create an internal dictionary and practise using words.
Phonemic Awareness: learning the sounds within words and the sounds/symbols of the alphabet.
Creating Words: Learn to put the sounds together to make words.
Reading: Learn to decode sounds/symbols to decipher words.
The process and connection to writing will always precede that of reading. Cognitively, writing is just an analytical process that involves breaking down a word into its sounds. Reading is a more advanced mental process, requiring both analysis and synthesis (blending).
In EYFS & KS1, letters are presented in the same way that language itself developed – from picture to hieroglyphic to symbol. The children hear stories, draw the pictures, paint and draw forms, and then write letters.
Stage 1: Children are introduced to the alphabet through songs and pictorial alphabet cards. Both letter names and sounds may be linked at this stage.
Stage 2: Fine motor skills are built up using short daily sessions of finger knitting and art/painting/drawing continuous provision.
Stage 3: Early letter formation is developed using Squiggle While You Wiggle.
Stage 4: Children are introduced to letter formation using a variety of kinesthetic activities e.g. painting over chalk letters with water, air painting, dot-to-dot, finger/mud/sand/shaving foam, glitter painting, sandpaper letters – finger tracing, letters in a feely bag, making letters with clay/ pipe-cleaners.
Stage 5: Children are first introduced to painting lowercase letters of the alphabet. Children experiment with drawing pictures from letters e.g. Drawing Baby Monsters – with lowercase letters (Steve Harpster). After children are confident with lower case letters, they may move onto less frequently used upper case letters. Children should be encouraged to use cursive lettering.
- Model air drawing the letter with finger – children copy
- Model drawing the letter – children copy
- What picture could we turn this letter into, with the same letter?
- Model turning an a into an apple – children copy
- Are there any other pictures we could turn an a into, which start with the same letter?
- Model turning an ‘a’ into an ant – children copy.
- Children practice drawing/painting letter pictures – children create
- Can you make up a story to go along with your picture?
- Model making up a story using alliteration e.g. the ant was angry because somebody took a big bite from his apple
- Model adding extra detail to your picture including extra information provided via the alliteration – children create.
Stage 6: Phonics – Floppy Phonics
Children have a variety of resources for mark making available throughout the day to choose from during continuous provision. Children also engage in sound related games e.g. sound hunts. Teachers read The Story Forest Times and a range of other stories and non-fiction texts to children, especially those with rhythm and rhyme. At this stage an emphasis is placed on art, as the building block for handwriting.
Finger knitting is a fantastic, and addictive, activity for Early Years. It builds dexterity and strength in those small muscles which control the hand, fingers, and thumb—all critical for later writing skills. Finger knitting also encourages eye-hand coordination, concentration, and perseverance—all equally important for children’s development. (Interestingly enough, when a child is fully engaging their small muscles, their large muscles relax and they actually can sit still!)
During phonics sessions, children also practice cursive letter formation. Teachers use a range of VAK activities to familiarise children with the formation of the sound of the day through continuous provision/play (including sound hunts, hidden sound quest, air/soil/sawdust/shaving foam/glitter drawing etc).
We also use Squiggle While you Wiggle, which is a dance approach to early letter formation and Dough Disco to support fine motor skills. At this stage an emphasis is placed on art, as the building block for handwriting.
Talk for Writing
Towards the end of F2, we also start to use the first and second sequence of the Talk for Writing structure, where children start to learn short stories with familiar rhythms off by heart, using kinesthetic actions and volunteer ideas to make changes to whole class pictorial story maps.
In KS1 we use Talk for Writing as our main pedagogy to teach writing, which is a scaffolded approach to support early writers.
Talk for Writing, developed by Pie Corbett, is a powerful methodology based on the principles of how people learn. The movement from imitation to innovation to independent application can be adapted to suit the needs of learners of any stage.
The Talk for Writing approach enables children to read and write independently for a variety of audiences and purposes within different subjects. A key feature is that children internalise the language structures needed to write through ‘talking the text’ as well as close reading. The approach moves from dependence towards independence with the teacher using shared and guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively and powerfully.
We underpin our curriculum with a core reading spine of quality fiction, poetry and non-fiction that all children experience and draw upon.
Daily storytelling can have a dramatic influence on progress in composition. For instance, the initial teacher research into this approach focused on 4- and 5-year-olds in Reception classes. At the start of the year, only 2% of the sample was able to retell a whole story. By the end of the year, 76% retold a whole tale in fluent standard English attainment.
Talk for Writing has been established as an approach to suit all learners including EAL and SEN.
As they will in KS2, children use Sue Palmer Planning Frames to plan non-fiction and story mountains to plan narrative writing.
KS2 – Supporting Independent Writing
Talk for Writing is used to support children to produce increasingly independent articles throughout KS2. Ambitious writers in upper KS2, may outgrow this level of scaffolding and therefore provision of an extended WAGOLL (What A Good One Looks Like) with increased expectations or extended shared is provided to support advanced writing development.
Natural Learning using Magazine Publishing ‘Chilmag’
Every term The Story Forest releases a children’s magazine for publication. This magazine is available for local distribution and includes advertising from sponsors. The magazine is created entirely by the children, who both write articles and take leadership roles in the overall running and organisation of the project, using Dragon Dreaming as a project management design tool. Children from the wider community are also encouraged to submit articles for publication.
Story Forest Magazine (EYFS)
At this stage, one page of the magazine is dedicated to early writers per term to celebrate achievements. This can include pictures, painted letters, photos of activities/creations.
KS1 – Story Forest Magazine
At this level, children contribute to the Story Forest magazine, via shared writing of whole class texts, covering a variety of fiction and non-fiction text types.
At this level, children submit individual or paired writing for publication.
KS2 Magazine Writing Resources
- Chilmag Handbook
This includes an anthology of texts including examples of magazine articles aligned with the narrative and non-fiction text types from the National Curriculum:
- Persuasion (e.g. advertisements)
- Discussion (e.g. local/global debates)
- Report (e.g. current issues)
- Recount (e.g. local events)
- Instruction (e.g. recipes)
- Explanation (e.g. National Geographic)
- Fiction (e.g. narrative, comic strip)
- Poetry (e.g. songs)
Examples of planning and planning frames for each text type are also included to support independent organisation (Sue Palmer for non-fiction, story mountain for fiction).
Example 1: Sue Palmer Planning frame for explanation texts
Example 2: story mountain
Alongside this, language features necessary for each text type are included in anthologies, with examples of their application highlighted.
- Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar Dictionary
If children are unsure of any of the necessary features, they can use their Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling Dictionaries to support them. Children use the articles in the anthology as a WAGOLL (What a Good One Looks Like) to support independent writing.
Each pair of children are also supplied with a grammar, punctuation and spelling dictionary, and illustrated thesaurus.
It is important that children also have access to ICT equipment throughout the process for research, composition, communication, editing, sales, web design etc. both at home and at school.
Gifted & Talented
Children with natural aptitude and motivation in this area are encouraged to apply for positions of responsibility, where they will receive a salary for their extra contribution, per termly publication, according to profit. Positions will be allocated after the candidates: conduct a successful interview, submit a CV and submit a portfolio of work.
Writing in Portuguese
Every Wednesday, during Portuguese service-learning day, natural learning opportunities will be provided for children to receive support to write in Portuguese e.g. recipes, instructions, letters, advertisements, emails.
Incidental opportunities for recording in Portuguese are also provided each day during specialist lessons throughout the week.
Children who are confident in Portuguese are encouraged to submit articles in Portuguese for the termly publication of Chilmag.
Children are taught to form cursive letters via painting letters in Reception and KS1. In KS2, children have the opportunity to produce a best copy of each piece of writing, with accompanying calligraphy lesson.
At the Story Forest, theory is taught playfully and creatively and this is supported and consolidated via practical application and real-life purpose. At Primary level, children engage in both curriculum objective driven lessons and consolidate these naturally during specialist lessons: building (geometry), growing (number) and cooking (measurement), Dragon Dreaming and Service Days.
Children from EYFS use Numicon playfully to support concrete learning. They learn number association via songs, games and incidental natural learning opportunities.
Numicon is a concrete teaching resource designed to help children visualise numbers. From this visual picture they can see how we can add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers and the relationships between these. The different coloured Numicon shapes represent different numbers. In the Early Years the shapes are used to represent numbers from 1-10 and in the stages used after this, the apparatus are used to show higher numbers giving an important concrete image of place value.
In KS1, children use both Numicon and a variety of other mastery resources to allow them to learn practically, as they ‘choose their own tool’. Children engage in objective-driven games and activities linked to their chosen themes to support theoretical understanding. These concepts are consolidated during specialist lessons building, growing and cooking and service days.
In KS2, teachers use Singapore Maths as a sequential guide to provide paper-based theoretical application of learning. This tool is used (amongst others) to guide mathematical understanding and is developed during these lessons through games and kinesthetic activities supported by the teacher. Skills are consolidated via practical application during Service Days (e.g. selling at the market/Trigo Vermelho) and Dragon Dreaming (project accounting).
What Is Singapore Maths?
Singapore has become a “laboratory of maths teaching” by incorporating established international research into a highly effective teaching approach. With its emphasis on teaching pupils to solve problems, Singapore maths teaching is the envy of the world. More recently Singapore Maths has been used on an international level, linked to teaching for ‘Mastery’.
The Maths — No Problem! Primary Series was assessed by the DfE’s expert panel, which judged that it alone met the core criteria for a high-quality textbook to support teaching for Mastery.
Basic Number Facts
Children in Primary practise basic number skills at the beginning of each lesson, as a mental and oral starter, using bilateral activities, for example:
Sticky Hands – Kung Fu approach to practising counting/times tables
Cowboy/girl Counting – partner game, where children stand back to back before walking three paces and turning to show digits on their fingers, used to practise number bonds, mental arithmetic, times tables
Arrow Counting – children use large directional arrow chart to move arms and march as they count
Foundation Subjects – Creative Curriculum
Foundation subjects History, Geography, and ICT are taught through communication lessons, linked to child directed themes and the children’s magazine.
Science is taught via bi-weekly apothecary/experiments lessons.
Art and Design Technology is catered for during building lessons and creativity for KS1 and Dragon Dreaming and Community Days for KS2.
Art, Music and PE are celebrated on Fabulous Fridays!
Music and Movement – Fabulous Fridays!
Fabulous Fridays are a whole school event, which take place every Friday. After a historical re-enactment for Primary in the morning, EYFS join after the first break to choose between an array of specialist activities, aligned with performing, producing and movement to rehearse our termly community show! This includes: props, set, costume, hair, makeup, DJing, sound, light, filming, photography, drama, dance, singing, musical instrument instruction and PE.
Assessment & Reporting
In EYFS, we use 2Simple to track children’s progress against Early Learning Goals/National Curriculum objectives, on an observational basis. This app allows the teacher to take a photograph of an observed activity and link it to the relevant objective, using multi-photo to show a sequence of learning. Teachers can track a group, cohort or individual, import their baseline data easily and produce curriculum coverage reports to inform their planning.
Parents can engage with the process using the Parent app, where they can view their child’s learning journeying, including photos and videos. Teachers may also receive feedback and observations from parents via the app.
- Instant parent feedback
- Informing teachers planning
- Tracking progress to align support/challenge
Assessment for Learning
In Primary, teachers use assessment for learning to inform planning and parents. Teachers keep ongoing records of children’s progress towards end of year expectations according to the Curriculum of England objectives for reading, writing and Maths. Please find an example of these grids, including end of year objectives for each year group, in the attached Primary Impact Assessment Pack.
At the beginning of each lesson, children are given time to address and correct misconceptions from the previous lesson.
Children choosing to participate in the summative assessment at the end of each book, address misconceptions before moving on.
KS2 children are also equipped with a child friendly version of the writing rubrics in magazine handbooks, enabling them to self and peer assess, with their partner against criteria. Time for this is planned at the end of each lesson.
Further to this, children who take editorial positions in the magazine leadership team are also responsible for editing all articles for print in the magazine, using the same rubrics.
- Self-assessment: reflection on own writing
- Peer-assessment: reflecting on the writing of others to inform own understanding
- Tracking progress for whole school data analysis to align individual/group/whole school interventions & targets
- Teachers report to parents at the end of each term via parents evening meetings and are available to meet with parents at any time throughout the year on appointment.
Reporting to Parents
Teachers report to parents at the end of each term via parents evening meetings and are available to meet with parents at any time throughout the year on appointment.
While we learn, we use Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC helps us discover the depth of our own compassion. This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honour universal values and needs, every minute, every day.
NVC can be seen as both a spiritual practice that helps us see our common humanity, using our power in a way that honours everyone’s needs, and a concrete set of skills which help us create life-serving families and communities. The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.
Through the practice of NVC, we can learn to clarify what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling, what values we want to live by, and what we want to ask of ourselves and others. We will no longer need to use the language of blame, judgment or domination. We can experience the deep pleasure of contributing to each others’ well being.
NVC creates a path for healing and reconciliation in its many applications, ranging from intimate relationships, work settings, health care, social services, police, prison staff and inmates, to governments, schools and social change organizations.
“All that has been integrated into NVC has been known for centuries about consciousness, language, communication skills, and use of power that enable us to maintain a perspective of empathy for ourselves and others, even under trying conditions.”
— Marshall B. Rosenberg, Phd
Nonviolent Communication contains nothing new. It is based on historical principles of nonviolence– the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart. NVC reminds us what we already instinctively know about how good it feels to authentically connect to another human being.
All stakeholders including staff, children and parents are provided with training in Nonviolent Communication. We use Nonviolent communication every day, in everything that we do.