We believe that children deserve the very best teaching and learning opportunities in English. Our high expectations of all children, as well as our creative and exciting learning opportunities, provide a rich and engaging English curriculum, which immerses the children in a range of high quality texts. We want our children to be ‘readers’ not just children who can read. They are enthused by a variety of books and use their skills of reading to be successful writers and to independently learn across the curriculum. We strive to develop children who are articulate and expressive communicators, and who have gained the basic skills they need in order to grow into aspirational, young authors. English teaching is well planned to meet the needs of all learners allowing our children to attain the best they can. Positive relationships with families are fostered to embrace every learning opportunity from class sharing, drama performances through to regular home reading and spelling tasks.
The various elements of English are taught throughout the week. An English lesson is taught daily using carefully selected ‘High Quality Texts’. This approach exposes the children to a wide range of stimulating, language-rich books on which they base their own writing for both fiction and non-fiction purposes. Each English unit involves a three phase process which aims to fully engage the children with opportunities throughout to develop themselves as writers. In Key Stage 1, this is done through a Talk 4 Writing approach, in Key Stage 2, this is through explicit grammar sessions, short burst writes and immersion in the high quality text chosen.
Early and developing readers are given lots of opportunities for individual reading where they can progress at their own rate. In Key Stage 2, Whole Class Reading sessions allow children to experience a range of text types, furthering their reading and comprehension skills. Focused phonic or spelling sessions take place each week where children explore, rehearse and develop knowledge and understanding of spelling patterns and rules. Speaking and listening skills are enhanced in all subject areas through activities such as group work, oral presentations, and evaluating other people’s work.
As stated in the National Curriculum, the overarching aim for English in primary schools is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. It aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
English – Writing, Spelling and Grammar
Spelling and Phonics -EYFS and KS1
To ensure that every child in our school will learn to read we use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised synthetic phonics programme in the Early Years and Y1. We have fidelity to this one scheme.
Using this programme enables us to ensure that:
- grapheme phoneme correspondences (GPCs) are taught quickly and systematically in a clearly defined, incremental sequence with regular review and consolidation built into the programme;
- we introduce children as soon as they start school to a defined initial group of consonants and vowels, enabling them to read and spell, as soon as possible, many simple CVC words;
- children are taught the highly important strategy of blending phonemes in order, starting with oral blending and quickly progressing to blending phonemes in words;
- children are taught to apply the skills of segmenting words into phonemes to spell; blending and segmenting are reversible processes;
- tricky words are introduced systematically, and reviewed regularly, and children are taught to identify the tricky element of each word in order to support their reading.
In EYFS and Year 1, children read Big Cat for Little Wandle books which directly match the progression in GPCs and tricky words in the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Children are allocated a book which matches their secure phonic knowledge. Throughout the week, children read their phonics book three times in a small group with an adult. The focus for the reading sessions are decoding, prosody and finally comprehension. The children then take this book home to read with their families. This sequence of reading encourages our children to become fluent and expressive readers who are able to comprehend the texts they read. Children also take home a sharing book to read with their families.
This will continue into Year 2 where necessary, based on the needs of the children in that cohort.
Spelling – KS2
For all KS2 children, the teaching of spelling and, if needed phonics, follows the Spelling Shed scheme with regular application. Children are introduced to a new spelling rule or pattern at the start of the week. They spend the week investigation their words, origins, morphology and entomology of them in readiness for a test at the end of the week. Spellings are sent home to be practised on a regular basis, as well as an online assignment in Spelling Shed to support the learning needs of all pupils. We also prepare the Year 6 children for the national end of key stage Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar test (SPaG).
In EYFS, through the use of play-do, tweezers, mark making, threading and hand held tools, children are able to develop the necessary strength and dexterity to begin their writing journey. As children’s phonic knowledge develops, their independent, emergent writing is encouraged and valued.
In KS1 and KS2, text composition is taught as a writing process, allowing the children to use the skills of planning, writing, editing and redrafting their work in many contexts. This takes place in the English lesson as well as through other curriculum areas. Children are supported in the application of their skills through the use of modelled, guided and shared writing. Age-appropriate grammar objectives are also included within these sessions to teach the specific skills relevant to different text types. These are mapped out in termly overviews that link to the quality texts for each key phase. Each process includes a minimum of two short burst writing opportunities, as well as an extended piece of writing at the end of each unit.
High quality texts are central to the teaching of reading at Lydiard Millicent Primary School. We believe that laying the foundations for a life-long love of reading is core to the happiness of our children and we therefore promote this across all curriculum areas. Daily Reading sessions take place throughout the school. This could be as a guided session in EYFS and Y2 and as a Whole Class Reading session from Y3-Y6. This includes text preparation, independent follow-up tasks and vocabulary-focused activities alongside teacher-led sessions.
Big Cat for Little Wandle is the reading scheme used across the school for children to access at their own level. These books are available for children to take home, forming part of their weekly homework tasks, alongside this, all children can take home a ‘reading for pleasure’ book. This does not necessarily have to be at their level, or a fiction book, it is a chance for the children to explore something they enjoy and continue that love of reading. Each child has an online account with Go Read, to log their reading that is happening at home.
Choosing our quality texts
Staff regularly review the shortlist of texts used in each year group. This ensures children are reading and appreciating new, relevant, high quality literature. In addition to this, children in each key phase are exposed to a wide range of traditional and classic texts (both fiction and poetry) through Whole Class Reading sessions. This selection process allows children to have access to stories involving a diverse range of characters, settings and cultures. High quality non-fiction texts are also selected and linked to topics studied in class as well as the wider interests of the children.
Using our quality texts
High quality texts are used to underpin learning across the curriculum. We have used these to create a whole-school progression of texts which guarantees that children experience a range of inspiring and well written texts within each key phase. Each quality text is introduced through an engaging opening experience which creates a real excitement about the class book each term. Additionally, teachers read specially chosen books to the children at the end of each day, known as DEAR (Drop Everything And Read).
We are fortunate to have a fully functioning library at the heart of our school as well as a mini library with additional seating in the reception area. Here, children are provided with a calm and inviting environment in which to browse, enjoy and read books, as well as choose a book to take home.
The school library provides each class with a variety of topic books to use alongside other resources. Classes are given the opportunity to visit the library and use the resources available for research.
Promoting a love of reading
On top of the above, we have many other ways of promoting a love of reading across the school:
- Annual Book Week and Book Fair
- World Book Day
- Workshops for parents
- Termly reading challenges and rewards
- Reading buddies
- Outdoor reading areas
- Dressing up as book characters
- Engaging reading environments
We strive to ensure that the impact of our English curriculum provides children with the appropriate age-related knowledge and skills allowing them to progress with confidence through the various stages of their English education. The next steps for each individual’s learning are informed through the use of a range of materials and strategies, enabling us to carefully measure children’s attainment and progress. These include statutory assessments, NFER assessments, phonics screening, assessment for learning, writing moderation and peer and self-assessment opportunities. At the end of each term, assessment data is gathered and progress is checked by the senior leadership team. Children are expected to make good or better progress in all subjects and this individual progress is tracked and reported to parents/carers at parents evening as well as on the end of year report.
Our aim is that children’s attainment in English is in line with or exceeds age related expectations when we have taken into account the varied starting points and specific needs of individual children.