At the virtual WE Inspire event on 2nd March 2022, Headteacher Sarah Soyler spoke to our primary network about ‘book based learning’ at Woodgrange Infant School.
Woodgrange Infant School is a four-form infant school in the London borough of Newham. The school has a core books approach which the entire curriculum is mapped around. With language and literacy underpinning all learning, this approach uses core books to develop vocabulary, create meaningful links to the wider curriculum and to contextualise what is being taught across the school.
Woodgrange Infant School selects core books based on the opportunity for an oracy or writing outcome, its links to the wider curriculum and the suitability of the books based on the learning needs of the individual year group.
The school started their book based learning approach using resources and book recommendations from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE). As the staff have become more confident in planning the journey through a book, they have been able to move away from just the CLPE recommendations.
Over the course of a year, the school plans the core books based on the opportunities for themes, links to other areas of the curriculum, books with an environmental focus and a mix of books with male and female leads.
Linked to the core books, the children participate in writing challenges. These are done through using tale toolkits where a character, setting, conflict and resolution are provided and the children must create the story from the structure provided.
An interesting example of a core book used in Year 2 was ‘Journey’ by Aaron Becker. This picture book creates a fantastic opportunity for the children to write the text for the book throughout the term.
The impact of this book based approach has been overwhelmingly positive with happier children and staff, good levels of attendance, high levels of wellbeing and progress being made across all subjects. This has also been recognised by Ofsted who saw this approach to the curriculum as inclusive and accessible and thought it demonstrated well how learning can be effectively sequenced.
One of the Primary leaders at the WE Inspire event had this to say about the approach:
“I really like the emphasis on the non-negotiables in every book. It’s not enough just to find a nice book. It has to have real depth of content.”
Thank you to Sarah Soyler for sharing your experience of book based learning.