What can I do to support my child with their learning in English?

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I’m concerned about my child’s handwriting, what can I do?

There are lots of resources available to print and use for handwriting practice at www.handwritingworksheets.com. Using a triangular pen can help some students who particularly struggle.

I’m concerned about my child’s spelling, how can I help them?

By the end of Y6, pupils are expected be able to spell all of the words on this list. Helping your child to practice the spellings they find tricky on the list is therefore a good place to start.

There are many different strategies to use when learning spellings. One method may work for one child but not another, or a mixture of strategies may work depending on the word that is being learnt.

Some strategies to try include:

  • ‘Look, say, cover, write, check’. Look at the word spelt correctly, say it out loud, cover it, write it out and check to see if it has been spelt correctly. Keep practicing until it has been spelt right three times.
  • Using mnemonics for particularly tricky or unusual words – memorable words or sentences to help remember spellings, e.g. saying 1 collar and 2 sleeves to help remember how to spell necessary.
  • Phonics. The last time your child used phonics may have been when they were learning to read, but using phonics is a powerful tool to help your child to spell at any age. Encourage your child to ‘sound out’ the word they are trying to spell and then match the ‘phonemes’ (the individual sounds in a word) to the ‘graphemes’ (written letters used to represent the sound). There is lots of guidance online regarding how to use phonics, at websites such as:

    Whilst many of these are aimed at parents of primary age children, the basic principles remain the same.

How often should my child be reading?

In order to make good progress, your child should be reading for at least twenty minutes each day.

What types of texts should my child be reading?

Ideally, your child should be reading as wide a range of texts as possible, including fiction (stories) and non-fiction (non-fiction books, broadsheet newspaper articles, magazines, blogs).

Every student is expected to have a reading book with them as part of their equipment. Students can borrow a book from the Information Centre or may bring their own from home. Our students are also able to borrow eBooks for free at portsmouth.wheelers.co using the login they were issued with at the start of the year. If your child has lost their login, they can find out what it is by asking a member of staff in the Information Centre.

What is ‘Accelerated Reader’?

The Accelerated Reader Programme, or ‘AR’ for short, is a programme to help develop students’ reading ability and comprehension. It achieves this through gradually building up the level of challenge in the books the student reads and builds enthusiasm through competition and reward. All students in Year Seven and Year Eight take part in the programme.

Students take a computer based reading test once a term, which shows us their reading age and what level they need to be reading at in order to make the most progress. Students can then select their book to read from the appropriate level. Once a student has finished their book, they take an online quiz to check their comprehension of what they have read. There are a range of rewards for achieving high scores on these quizzes.

Students in Year Seven and Year Eight have an Accelerated Reader lesson once a fortnight in the Information Centre.

You can find out more about Accelerated Reader here.

My child is assessed on ‘reading’ in class. What does this mean?

When we assess students’ ‘reading’ we are assessing a range of skills which may include comprehension (understanding of the text), analysis of language (individual words and phrases, language techniques) and structure (how a text is structured), being critical about texts and comparing texts. We formally assess these skills termly through essay or exam style questions. You can read more about how we assess in English here.

How can I help develop my child’s comprehension and analysis of texts?

One of the best ways to help your child is to regularly discuss what they are reading with them. You can use these guided reading questions as prompts to discuss reading, and you don’t need to be familiar with the text yourself to ask the questions.

Students also benefit hugely from developing their ‘contextual’ (or general) knowledge. This helps them to understand references and ideas in more challenging texts. One of the ways you can help your child with this is by reading and discussing news articles with them.

How can I help my child with their punctuation and grammar?

Our skills page has easy ‘how to’ guides for all types of punctuation. Your child should check every (not just English!) piece of work and Independent Learning for spelling, punctuation and grammar. The more often they do this, they better chance they have of embedding this as a habit and therefore becoming confident in their writing accuracy. Regular reading will also help your child to become more confident with the correct usage of punctuation and grammar.

What texts will my child be studying for GCSE?

Our current GCSE texts are Lord of the Flies by William Golding, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Macbeth by William Shakespeare and the AQA Power and Conflict Anthology. These may change from time to time, in order to meet the needs of our students. Your child’s teacher will be able to give you specific information relating to their programme of study. You can read more about the GCSE curriculum here and here.

How much Independent Learning should my child have for English?

All Independent Learning is set on Show My Homework. All students are set approximately sixty minutes of Independent Learning for English per week. This may be broken down into smaller tasks or take the form of a larger project over a longer period of time. In Years Seven and Eight, thirty minutes of IL each week is reading from the student’s reading book, which should then be recorded on the ‘Reading Tracker’ and signed by a parent or guardian.

You can see what your child has been set by using your parent login for Show My Homework, or alternatively by gong to the main page of Show My Homework and filtering to view work set by your child’s teacher.

What can my child do to revise?

There are lots of different strategies your child can use to revise for English exams.

  • Practicing example or past paper questions, applying the next steps their teacher has previously given whilst doing this
  • In Y11, using the ‘Therapy and Testing’ sheets, available through the Google Classroom
  • Mind-mapping key characters, themes and ideas in a text
  • Using flashcards to revise quotations
  • Re-reading the texts
  • Students have a separate exercise book for each exam – these act as the students’ own personalised revision guide
  • Using the CGP revision guides
  • Attending after school revision sessions
Do you sell revision guides?

We usually sell revision guides every autumn. We use the ‘CGP’ revision guides.

Additionally, students have a separate exercise book for each exam – these act as the students’ own personalised revision guide.