The National Curriculum for English is focused on these key areas:
Reading - Word Reading
Reading - Comprehension
Writing – transcription - spelling and handwriting
Writing – composition - plan and write, draft and write, evaluate and edit
Writing – vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
Our Cornerstones Curriculum focusses on English within each Imaginative Learning Project. We use the Key Skills from Cornerstones to pitch the age-related expectations for each year group.
Our school provides a rich and stimulating environment designed to engage children’s minds and voices. Children are taught to speak clearly and convey their ideas confidently using Standard English. They learn to justify ideas with reasons; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others; and select the appropriate register for effective communication. Children are taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding through speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. Through these processes children are also developing their skills to be able to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing.
Reading - Word Reading
Phonics is taught systematically in the EYFS and Key Stage 1.
In Key Stage 1 children are grouped according to their learning needs. We use DfE approved phonics schemes to teach phonics. We use Floppy’s Phonics from Oxford University Press, Jolly Phonics and Letters and Sounds, supplemented with other materials from on-line sources to enrich learning.
Year 1 children have a statutory test in June, and children from Year 2 who did not pass the previous year take a retest. Children in Key Stage 2 who have gaps in their phonics knowledge are supported with interventions.
Children are taught to read non-decodable high frequency words as a sight-words.
Reading - Comprehension
We have an extensive range of book banded fiction and non-fiction reading books. Books from Oxford University Press form the backbone of our reading scheme, with ranges such as Phonics, Songbirds, All Stars, Traditional Tales, Poetry and Literacy Web. We also have books from other publishers including Rigby and Heinemann. All children start their reading journey by learning phonics and we have a wide range of fully decodable books. We have home reading books and packs of guided reading books.
Children learn to read for enjoyment from an early age. Home reading is an essential part of reading for pleasure and children take books home to read. Their progress is recorded in a home ‘Reading Record’ (EYFS), a ‘School Diary and Reading Record’ (Yrs 1-5) or a ‘School Planner’ (Yr6). There is an age appropriate expectation that parents and guardians will sign or comment in the reading record to show when they have listened to their child read.
In school, children read to adults individually and within small discussion groups, and children also have the chance to read on their own. Each classroom has a book corner with a range of age appropriate texts. We have a well stocked library, and children are encouraged to change their library book once a week.
Teachers read stories and texts to children every day as part of a broader curriculum.
Teachers develop the children’s understanding of a text, by asking questions such as ‘Right There (literal), Dig Deeper (inferential) and Reading Detectives (evaluative)’. When answering questions, children are taught to make their point, provide the evidence from the text and explain their idea (PEE), at an age appropriate level.
We use an interactive approach to writing at Upton St Leonards. Talk4Writing, a programme developed by Pie Corbett, is based on the principles of how children learn.
Talk4Writing enables children to internalise the patterns of the language required through engaging activities such as word games, role play and hot seating. Whether children are learning fiction or non-fiction they will be immersed in the same approach. Story mapping is a key stage of the learning; at this point children use words and actions to follow the story map, enabling them to become experts in retelling the text using the actions and pictures as prompts for vocabulary, structure and punctuation. Talk4Writing is lively and active and allows teachers to hook the children in at all stages. Because the children are so familiar with the text, they are then confident and equipped to apply what they have learnt when writing independently; progressing from reading as a reader, reading as writer to finally writing as a writer.
Spelling and Handwriting
We teach spelling using the guidance shown on the National Curriculum, with objectives and word lists organised into different year groups.
Children are taught handwriting in discreet sessions using the Cambridge PenPals scheme. We teach a cursive style that is joined once the letters are formed correctly.
Writing – Composition
The Imaginative Learning Projects in our curriculum engage children in the process of writing for different audiences and in a range of genres. Children are taught to think and plan before writing, and to edit and redraft during and after writing. Creative writing opportunities for longer sustained narratives, non-fiction texts and poetry writing are part of our curriculum.
Writing – Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation
Children in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 are taught the elements of grammar, punctuation and spellings (GPS) within discreet lessons, including dictation. This learning is then to be applied in other areas of the written curriculum. The content of the GPS is stated in the National Curriculum and is identified by year group.
Speaking and listening, reading and writing are part of the skills base that children use and refine everyday in all areas of our school curriculum. Children engage in poetry, prayers, child-led assemblies, re-telling and acting out of Bible stories and are involved in the preparation and presentation of Class Assemblies shown to the whole school. The Values for Life are woven into our English curriculum throughout the year.
Written by the English Subject Lead