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English at Christ Church CE VA Primary School

‘Together, with God’s love, we can achieve anything’

English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.

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.

Intent

We know that our children need strong academic foundations in core subjects to enable access to further education / training / the job market when they are older; we serve an area which is not universally prosperous and so we do emphasise the development of English skills both as a taught subject and as skills developed throughout the curriculum which are core requirements for that future. Success in this subjects is promoted through the provision of a broad and balanced curriculum. We know that some of our children will not have had the life experiences through home that others in our care have, such as visits to the countryside, historical sites, theatres et al which provide stimuli for creative writing – so we provide them for this aim, amongst others.

We will make links from previous learning to inform, contextualise and support current learning.

We will exemplify, and build confidence in speaking to an audience and develop personal presentation skills, preparing for a future employment life where such skills are valued.

 We will provide the opportunity for excellence in English to support positive wellbeing and mental health (a 2018 report by the National Literacy Trust explored the link between “mental wellbeing, reading and writing enjoyment, attitudes and behaviours” and found:

  • children who are the most engaged with literacy are three times more likely to have higher levels of mental wellbeing than children who are the least engaged - 39.4% vs 11.8%
  • conversely, children who are the least engaged with literacy are twice as likely to have low levels of mental wellbeing than their peers who are the most engaged - 37.4% vs 15%
  • children with above expected reading skills are three times more likely to have high levels of mental wellbeing than their peers with below expected reading skills - 40.3% vs 13.1%)

By the time children leave our school, we expect them to communicate through speaking and listening, reading and writing, with confidence, fluency, accuracy and understanding and in a range of situations. We want every child to take pleasure in reading across a range of genres and have a strong motivation to read for a variety of purposes.

Implementation

The time allocated for English lessons is in line with recommendations for key stages one and two.

The children receive at least a one hour English lesson per day.  In addition to this there is a 20 minute Guided Reading session, further reading comprehension sessions, grammar & punctuation, phonics, spelling and handwriting sessions.

It is expected that cross-curricular links will contribute to pupils’ effective learning in speaking and listening, reading and writing. This is reinforced through our delivery of the curriculum. Children will also benefit from daily / at least thrice-weekly story sessions to encourage a love of reading.

The National Curriculum 2014 forms the basis of teaching and learning. All children receive at least the minimum entitlement of a daily English lesson. Teachers work towards independent learning and plan for different working groups. They employ a range of generic teaching strategies to ensure long-term memory gains in knowledge and skill.

Teachers also use the Cyclical Foundation subjects’ long-term maps as a starting point for creating their medium term English plans. These medium term plans follow the five key aspects of English teaching: familiarization with the genre and text type; capturing ideas; teacher demonstration; teacher scribing through supported and guided writing and finally, independent writing to create a teaching sequence. This is used as a basis for short term planning and adapted according to the needs of the children. Teachers plan closely with year group colleagues to ensure consistency of opportunity for all children. Clear objectives are set for each session and are shared with pupils.

Teachers differentiate according to the needs of the pupils. Literacy is priority to be encouraged and developed across our curriculum.

ICT is used where it enhances, extends and complements English teaching and learning – for example, we use the ‘Reading Plus’ tailored reading skills program. Teaching assistants are used to support the teaching of English. They work under the guidance of the teacher with small groups of children or individuals to enable and sustain eventual independent access to learning for all of the children in our care.

Reading

We know that through reading, pupils will have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. We know that reading enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know.

Our reading Intent is for Children to:

  • develop positive attitudes towards reading so that it is a pleasurable and meaningful activity;
  • use well-developed reading skills as an integral part of learning throughout the curriculum;
  • read and respond to a variety of texts whilst gaining increased level of fluency, accuracy, independence and understanding
  • develop different strategies for approaching reading and be able to orchestrate the full range of strategies
  • develop a rich vocabulary.

Implementation

Pupils have access to a wide range of reading opportunities that include:

  • guided reading
  • reciprocal reading
  • shared reading
  • regular independent reading
  • home school reading
  • class story
  • reading cafe in KS 1
  • selecting own choice of texts
  • cross curricular reading
  • visits to the local library
  • browsing books from our school library and classroom libraries
  • ‘Book Sharing Baskets’
  • Author of the Term
  • Reading Online Plus (children in KS 2)
  • Author visits

Much of the Programme of Study will be taught through English lessons, Reading Comprehension lessons and Guided Reading. Additional time is provided on a regular basis for reading at other times. There is time set aside for independent reading, using the library, listening to whole class stories and reading in other curriculum areas.

Teachers promote and value reading as an enjoyable activity and a life skill. Teachers plan for a range of comprehension strategies that allow pupils to engage with text in a variety of ways to suit different learning styles.

In whole class reading activities, which take place in Years 2 to 6, the teacher models the reading process to the whole class who have an individual copy of the text as well as having an enlarged version for all to see. Time is then given to allow for the children to independently read the text. The reciprocal reading process (questioning, clarifying, summarizing and predicting) is used in all classrooms when reading a whole-class text.  Specific teaching objectives based on the Reading Content Domains for KS 1 and 2 are pre-planned and sessions are characterized by explicit teaching of specific reading strategies, collaboration and the demand for precise oral and written responses. Texts are rich and challenging, often taken from whole class books, texts from current authors or texts with cross curricular links.

In guided reading (Reading Workshops in KS2), texts are chosen to match the ability of the group but still provide an element of challenge. Texts are chosen for particular children bearing in mind their most recent reading assessment, their current reading book band and their interests. During these sessions, children either read with a teacher or T.A, work towards completing a book-based task linked to a specific objective, complete a phonics or other spelling activity (particularly in KS1) or other reading activity e.g. ‘Word of the Week’ vocabulary extension. The group working with the teacher or T.A. will follow the reciprocal reading process where:

  1. Predictions are made about the text (this may have been set as a pre-reading task)
  2. Focused questions based on one of the reading domains are asked of the group before they read
  3. The text is read and clarified by the group and teacher
  4. Questions are precisely answered about the text
  5. The group summarise the main point of the text
  6. A focused independent task is set for next time (Years 2-6).

All teachers are responsible for providing a stimulating reading environment, promoting book ownership and recommending books to pupils. All classes have an Author of the Term and promote and read a selection of their books. Classrooms and central displays are language rich.

Home Reading

Reading at home is regarded as an important part of reading development. Parents are expected to hear their children read regularly and respond to their child’s reading through diaries. Children receive Reading Awards for regularly reading at home. Our aim is that all children read at home at least five times per week. Example questions related to question domains can be found on the school website, and guidance has been disseminated to parents during workshops.   Teachers ensure that children’s reading books are pitched correctly by matching up their performance in termly assessments with the appropriate reading band for their year group. Senior Leaders monitor reading band data each term to ensure that children are on track to meet age-related expectations.

Reading Frequency

All children read to an adult at least once per week during a guided reading session. Children who need additional support to learn, who are disadvantaged in any way or who do not read regularly at home benefit from additional reading sessions within school.  Children in Year 5& 6 are encouraged to select their own reading books from our scheme which contain a range of recommended quality ‘real’ books.

Resources and Schemes

All classrooms have a well-stocked book area with a range of fiction and non-fiction. The school library is open at lunchtimes for KS 1 children currently. KS 2 classes aim to visit Padgate Library on a programme throughout the school year.

The main reading schemes in school are ‘Rigby Star’ and ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ in KS 1 and ‘Oxford Tree Tops’ in KS 2.  ‘Collins Big Cat’ books and real book are used in Guided Reading sessions in KS 2.

Writing

As we believe consistency and well-taught English is the bedrock of education, at Christ Church we ensure that the teaching of writing is purposeful, robust and shows clear progression for all children.

Our Writing Intent is for Children to:

  • write in different contexts and for different purposes and audiences
  • be increasingly aware of the conventions of writing, including the grammar, punctuation and spelling required for each year group such that they learn to write accurately
  • plan, write, proof-read and edit their work every time they write in an English lesson; proof-read every piece of writing in any curriculum area
  • use ICT as a literacy medium for presenting work and manipulating text
  • form letters correctly, leading to a fluent joined and legible handwriting style, giving increasing regard to presentation

Implementation

Pupils have access to a wide range of writing opportunities that include:

  • shared writing
  • guided writing
  • independent writing
  • writing different text types and narrative styles
  • writing in different curriculum areas
  • handwriting practice
  • collaborative writing
  • writing related to own experiences and enjoyment
  • writing from a variety of stimuli
  • planning, drafting, editing and presenting
  • writing for real purposes e.g. invitations to parents, Christmas Fair letters
  • using ICT

Writing is taught through the use of a quality text, which exposes the children to inference, high-level vocabulary, a range of punctuation and characterisation.  Each text is purposefully selected in order to promote a love of reading, engagement and high quality writing from each child. Teachers use a writing sequence to plan, structure and teach their English lessons.  This sequence is designed to show progress, teach the pertinent year group grammar and punctuation objectives, apply and consolidate these skills and develop vocabulary. 

Subject-specific texts that link to work being undertaken in other areas are also be used in English lessons to support the wider curriculum. Teachers use shared writing to model the writing process. Shared reading and writing provide a context for discussion and demonstration of grammatical features at word level, sentence level and text level. Activities are differentiated through the use of writing frames, spelling banks, collaborative work and peer or adult support. When writing, all children are encouraged to ‘Think it, Say it, Write it, Read it.’

Stimuli for Writing

We aim to stimulate the children’s desire to write in a number of ways:

  • Theatre companies performances in school
  • Author and poet visits
  • School educational visits
  • Using picture books and class novels
  • Writing for real purpose e.g. thank you letters, letters of persuasion
  • Film clips
  • Links to other curriculum areas e.g. History or Geography subject study.

Handwriting & Presentation

It is paramount that children are rigorously taught correct letter formation from the very beginning of their time in school. As soon as the children are ready, they are taught to sit properly in order to have the correct posture for writing, hold a pencil in the correct tripod grip and develop a legible and joined handwriting style. A mixture of whole class, small group and individual teaching is planned for and delivered.

It is expected that all members of staff, class teachers and teaching assistants*, model the school handwriting style i.e. when writing on the board or in children’s books.

*allowance made for any staff motor disability

By the end of key Stage 2, all children should be displaying an efficient, quick, neat and legible handwriting style that is effective in recording their ideas.  Children are expected to present work neatly with an underlined date and title at the start.

Spelling and Phonics

Intent

Whilst supporting early reading development, phonics and spelling are an integral part of the writing process. Pupils who spell with ease are able to concentrate on the content of their writing and the making of meaning. While it is important to remember that spelling is not the most important aspect of writing, confidence in spelling often has a profound effect on the writer’s self-image. Accurate spelling implies consideration for the reader and also recognises the deeply embedded notions about correctness which we hold as a society about spelling. We intend for our children to be able to:

  • Blend and segment sounds easily
  • Learn that segmenting words into their constituent phonemes for spelling is the reverse of blending phonemes into words for reading
  • Spell words accurately by combining the use of grapheme-phoneme correspondence knowledge as the prime approach, and also morphological knowledge and etymological information
  • Use a range of approaches to learn and spell irregular words
  • Proof-read all writing to ensure that spelling is as accurate as possible.

Implementation

Phonics:

Pupils have access to a range of phonics opportunities at FS, KS1 & KS 2 (where identified as necessary):

• Whole class teaching of specific spelling patterns, conventions and rules. 

• Daily discrete phonics teaching following the PhonicsPlay scheme and Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics for all EYFS and KS 1 children.

• Revisit/over-learning of the phonics previously taught within the phase, moving onto teaching of a different sound,  practise of writing the letter/letters, then applying the use of the sound by blending/segmenting and finally, assessment of the children’s learning. 

• Using phonics knowledge in real life contexts. 

• Applying skills in cross curricular contexts.

• Discrete phonics teaching as part of an intervention group where gaps in phonological knowledge have been identified.

• It is expected that all children by the end of KS1 will be secure with Phase 5 phonics and the vast majority secure with Phase 6.

• Children who have not met Phase 6 by the end of Year 2, receive further phonics teaching in Year 3.

It is expected that children use their understanding of phonics as a tool for independent reading and spelling.

Teachers provide a wide range of contexts for reinforcing spelling patterns and tricky words throughout the school day. All teachers use multi-sensory phonics materials based on Letters and Sounds and Assertive Mentoring Word Lists as a basis for their planning for the teaching of spelling.

Learning takes place in a variety of situations and group settings. For example, these could include working independently to practise tricky words, possibly using ICT; working collaboratively on an investigation and participating in short, focused whole class activities.  Children in KS2 receive weekly Spelling Workshop sessions to focus purely on weekly spellings and Common Exception Words.

Children are expected to correctly spell high frequency words and the common exception words for their particular year group which have already been taught.  Children are expected to identify their own incorrect spelling as part of the proof-reading process, and further incorrect spellings are identified in marking (apart from in Term 3 for Year 6). Children practise incorrect spellings in order to spell them correctly in the future.

Spelling Homework

Children from Year 1- 6 are given weekly spellings to learn. Spellings are taken from the National Curriculum, PhonicsPlay scheme (KS1 mainly) and Assertive Mentoring (KS2) programme for spelling, and it is this spelling pattern or rule that will be worked on in class. Children are also expected to learn a set of Common Exception words per half-term.  These words are sent home at the start of each half-term and posted on our website. Children are tested on the common exception words each half-term.

Impact

  • Our Reading and Writing outcomes at the end of Reception are in line with National outcomes.
  • We are in line with National outcomes in Phonics screening checks.
  • Our end KS1 outcomes in Reading and Writing are usually above national outcomes.
  • Our end of KS2 GPS results are consistently above the National expectations. Our spelling results are strong.
  • Our end KS2 Reading results are usually above National outcomes – one exception in 2019.
  • Children enjoy reading and writing, and are motivated to read well and for pleasure.
  • The quality of our children’s writing, including content, range of genres, grammar and handwriting can be seen in their books and in displays around school. We are broadly in line with or above national in terms of our writing data.
  • Our School has held the Primary Quality Mark for the last 10 years; recently renewed in January 2020.

Our Year Five pupils do well in their annual English Speaking Board examinations.

English Curriculum

Our English teaching programme follows the structure of the National Curriculum for each year group.  Our English Curriculum Map summarises how this is delivered.

Reading - EYFS & KS1

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