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The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum 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. The national curriculum for English 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.
Reading consists of two dimensions:
- word reading
It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these two dimensions.
At Shaw Hill, reading is taught as a separate lesson from writing, although links are always made between both through writers’ purpose. As the children move through the school, they are taught a whole wealth of reading skills such as: summarising, decoding vocabulary, retrieval inference, prediction and authors’ choice of language.
We use a wide selection of challenging texts that are structured in different ways, including fiction, poetry, plays, non-fiction and reference books. Usually, (particularly in Key Stage 2), one text is used for the whole class. Children read through the text, with the teacher explicitly modelling and teaching ‘reading in the moment’ strategies:
- Background knowledge
- Noticing where breakdown in meaning occurs and reading back or forwards to put the meaning back together
- Ask questions of themselves about what is happening in a text and why
During follow up reading sessions, children are taught comprehension skills. They are taught how to answer a range of questions to enable teachers to assess a deeper understanding of the text. Model answers are always shared so the children are equipped with a range of sentence constructions, words and phrases that they can use to answer reading questions.
All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.
‘Bug Club’ phonics’ books are used to develop the children’s word reading and comprehension skills in Key Stage One both at school and at home. Collins Big Cat books are used to support pupils in reading at home for KS2. KS2 also have access to Bug Club online reading as a supplement to Collins Big Cat home reading scheme.
It is essential that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education.
The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
It is essential that teaching develops pupils’ competence in these two dimensions. In addition, pupils are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. These aspects of writing have been incorporated into the programmes of study for composition.
At Shaw Hill we use a text based approach in our literacy lessons. This text is used as a context for writing different text types and narrative genres. The writing process is one where the children are immersed in a certain genre or text type where key features are identified. Children then spend time planning ides for their own ‘big write’. Modelled and shared writing are tools used by the teachers to support the children in becoming confident writers as teachers skilfully model the thought processes used by competent writers in achieving an intended purpose. The children are able to see the importance of word choices and how sentences can be manipulated for maximum impact. During all literacy lessons, links are always made between reading lessons and writing lessons. Differentiated success criteria are used to ensure writing expectations are pitched accurately as well as allowing for challenge and progression.
Children are taught to draft, edit and improve their work.
Phonics and Spelling
We base our teaching of phonics around the Letters and Sounds programme. Letters and Sounds is a focused teaching strategy that teaches children the sounds made by letters and combinations of letters; within this programme, children are also taught the skills of blending sounds together in order to read words and segmenting sounds as they learn to spell. Phonics is taught through 6 phases:
Phase 1 - supports the development of spoken language.
Phase 2-5 - is a systematic approach to phonics teaching and word recognition skills
Phase 6 - focuses on word-specific spellings and the rules for spelling alternatives.
Phonics is taught as a discrete session every day in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Sessions are delivered by the teacher either as a whole class, ability groups or in small groups. Those children, who did not pass the Phonics Check in Year 1, are provided with additional support in Year 2 to ensure they pass the retake.
In KS2, pupils are assessed to identify those who are at risk of failing to read and systematic phonic teaching is provided. The application of taught phonics skills runs throughout the whole curriculum.
Spelling, appropriate to ability and age expectation, is taught in KS2, explicitly for half an hour each week, in line with statutory guidance as outlined in English Appendix 1 - Spelling. The children are taught a range of strategies to enable them to spell words correctly and are encouraged to apply these strategies to their independent writing.
Speaking and Listening:
At Shaw Hill, particularly because many of our pupils begin their school life without the oracy skills appropriate for their age, we recognise the importance of spoken language in the development of reading and writing and, indeed, of the whole individual.
Throughout the school, children talk about their learning, developing ideas and understanding through discussion, asking questions, being able to listen carefully to others’ views and giving them time to respond, sometimes challenging others’ viewpoints, negotiating with others in group work and considering a range of viewpoints. Relevant vocabulary is explicitly taught in lessons across the curriculum so that our children’s knowledge and understanding of vocabulary increases.
For younger pupils, opportunities to develop their spoken language include role play within the indoor and outdoor learning environments where children can explore language in contexts such as a garage or a hairdresser’s or a café, for example. As the children become older, opportunities are extended with the children preparing to speak to an audience using ICT presentations or posters as prompts. Children in Year 5 and 6 learn to use spoken language in a formal debate.
Spoken language is also developed through drama activities as children improvise, refine and rehearse scripts and learn to present these to an audience – for example – in their class assemblies. Rehearsing ideas through role play and spoken language enables children to explore different genres, identify with characters and develop vocabulary: teachers often use this approach as preparation to improve the quality of written work.
We promote respect towards all languages and dialects that children may bring into school with them. We value all languages and recognise home languages as a stepping-stone to progress in the use of English.