English

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
— Frederick Douglass

 

English subject lead: Mr D. Farrell

Intent

Knowledge of English, and a command of the spoken and written word, is an essential resource for a child’s learning, not only in school, but throughout life. It is a tool used across the whole school curriculum, as well as being a subject in its own right.

Reading and writing at Saint Augustine Webster CVA are not only daily discrete lessons, but are at the cornerstone of the entire curriculum. They are embedded within all our lessons, and our school values of respect, faith, kindness, community and forgiveness can be seen across many writing genres and lessons, enabling us to strive for a high level of English for all. Through using high-quality texts, immersing children in vocabulary rich learning environments and ensuring new curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met, the children at Saint Augustine Webster CVA are exposed to a language heavy, creative and continuous English curriculum which will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening skills.

At Saint Augustine Webster CVA, we believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their writing. Pupils will acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules. They can write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing by developing a neat, joined, handwriting style by the time they move to secondary school. Effective writers refine and edit their writing over time, so children are encouraged to develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement in all pieces of writing, editing their work effectively during and after the writing process. A ceiling is not put on what pupils can achieve in writing and pre-conceptions are not held about any pupils’ ability to make progress.

We value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling all of our pupils to become lifelong readers and be secure with reading the English language, both for enjoyment and to enable them to access the written word in everyday life in modern Britain. We encourage all pupils 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, to gain knowledge across the curriculum and develop their comprehension skills. It is our intention to ensure that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, not only to access any subject in their forthcoming secondary education, but to provide them with life skills to take them into adulthood.

Implementation

Speaking and listening

Beginning in EYFS and continuing through all primary years, the children develop their capacity to express themselves effectively for a variety of purposes. The entire EYFS unit is designed to be a language-rich environment, using a lot of the principles from Elizabeth Jarman's Communication Friendly Spaces, and speaking and listening is the key focus across all areas:  Phase One of Letters and Sounds concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills is taught in nursery; a local authority music scheme focusing on speaking and listening skills is taught; Talk for Writing forms the basis of English lessons, using Learning Language and Loving It to support speaking and listening; and the teaching of Makaton to support children with language difficulties and barrier is carried out. This is all done alongside carefully structured lessons where the quality of adult interaction during continuous provision through sustained shared thinking and possibility thinking is promoted. Children are given the opportunity to work with adults and other children, ensuring that listening, giving opinions, replying to instructions and questions and describing experiences and feelings and encouraged.

KS1 and KS2 children extend these skills to recount events, tell stories, take on dramatic roles, report, summarise and predict. Children are also provided with opportunities to compose, recite and perform poetry. All classes are encouraged to participate and complete in the yearly Speech and Drama festival, open to all schools within the local authority, and both KS1 and KS2 children take part in annual dramatic public performances. KS1 alongside EYFS perform a Christmas nativity, Years 3 and 4 perform an Easter celebration, and Years 5 and 6 hold an End of Year concert.

Reading

By the time children leave Saint Augustine Webster CVA, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader.

Reading is incredibly important and is a focus even before children start with us: we enrol each child to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library on pre-nursery home visits where families receive a free book each month until the age of 5. Reading continues to be promoted in EYFS with regular ‘Booknics’ where parents are encouraged to come into school and share a picnic and a book with their child, and parents’ phonics workshops are also regularly held in school by the Local Authority where parents can take materials home with them.

We use the phonics programme ‘Letters and Sounds’ as a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge. The expectation is that by the end of EYFS, children have completed phase 4.

Moving into KS1, children continue with Letters and Sounds, moving onto phase 5, and also participate in whole class guided sessions where children are exposed to a range of different text types, genres and discrete teaching of each reading domain, following the mastery approach, which continues into KS2. Our school values are at the forefront of reading, where the children are exposed to a diverse range of texts enabling them to develop their understanding of respect, kindness and community in particular. Reading is also taught by ensuring that children read through our school reading scheme – these are levelled books which match the children’s current reading age and it is expected that children also read these books with a family member, who makes comments in the child’s reading record.

However, there are a plethora of opportunities for the children to read purely to stimulate their love of reading: a love of reading is promoted by children being read to each day by their class teacher, from a novel which has specifically been chosen to be engaging, stimulating and challenging; each classroom has an exciting reading area that is filled with books suitable for the children’s reading age; children have the opportunity to read silently and for enjoyment at various points during the week; and there is also a comfortable, well-stocked library where children are encouraged to take out books to read – not because it’s a book at their level – but because it’s a book that they are attracted to and have the curiosity to want to read.

Writing

The spelling, handwriting and composition strands go hand in hand throughout the curriculum. Using Talk for Writing in EYFS and KS1, children develop a growing ability to write in different styles, for different audiences and purposes, e.g. stories, diaries, letters, invitations, captions, posters, plans, reporting on projects and poetry. Cohesively planned, modelled and implemented by all staff, writing genres and conventions are creatively developed throughout all key stages. Emphasis is laid upon drafting, as a process to encourage children to improve the construction, spelling and layout of their written work. Much of their writing is developed from the use of high quality literature, as the children respond to plot, character, illustration and ideas.

Talk for Writing begins by emphasising the importance of reading for pleasure and enjoying a broad range of literature.  The teaching of writing can be broken into three stages: the imitation, innovation and invention stage.

During the initial imitation stage, EYFS –Year 2 children learn to recall a text by heart. This is done with expression and actions, with children encouraged to make use of a story map to support their retelling. This not only embeds high-quality linguistic patterns, but also provides children with a structure that can be manipulated when writing independently. Children then focus on interpreting unfamiliar language from the text through a range of reading strategies, including dictionary and thesaurus work and shared reading.

At the innovation stage, children then take ownership of the text, for example through manipulation of the characters and setting. The structure of the original text is identified and children use this to create their own ideas. During this process, children use a variety of ‘writing tools’ that have been extracted from the text, previous work and their class reading book. The process of taking ownership is highly engaging and empowering and provides children with a deeper understanding of the intricacies of high-quality writing.

Finally, at the invention stage, children write independently, drawing on the rich vocabulary they have gathered from their reading, manipulating the memorised text and working co-operatively with their learning partners. The skills required to achieve this are taught through a series of strategies, including shared writing and guided writing.

Children in KS2 follow a structured writing programme that allows them to spend more time investigating the genre they are writing and allowing more time for planning and drafting so that their writing is finely tuned and well crafted.

Interwoven with writing, children are taught the rudiments of grammar, progressively from EYFS through to Year 6, both discretely, as well as in the context of the literature they are studying. Attention to grammatical rules being studied are also noted as they are encountered in all areas of the curriculum. The handwriting scheme 'Letter-join' was introduced to complement our teaching of handwriting.

Whilst we use Letters and Sounds to teach spelling in EYFS and KS1, which introduces all the required spelling rules, in KS2 we constantly strive to create a variety of daily spelling activities, which are visual, auditory and engaging for the children using Spelling Bees spelling scheme.  Our aim is to ensure our children become accomplished proficient spellers - much needed in these days of text speak.

It is expected that children transfer all composition, grammar and handwriting skills taught to other areas of the curriculum and extended pieces of quality work can be seen across a multitude of other curriculum subjects.

Impact

The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the reading and writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly in all key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills. By the time the children leave their respective year groups, they will not only be fully prepared for the next stage in their education, but the following will also be applicable:

As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular reading and writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.  We hope that as children move on from us to further their education and learning that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations, which we have nurtured here at Saint Augustine Webster CVA, travels with them and continues to grow and develop as they do.

English Subject Story coming soon.....