The National Curriculum (2014) clearly states that teaching the English language is an essential, if not the most essential role of a primary school.
At both Roe Green Infant and Roe Green Strathcona Schools we recognise that without effective communication, little achievement can be made. We know that we have a duty to ensure that English teaching is a priority and we recognise that this is necessarily cross-curricular and a constant through-out school life and beyond. It is part of the ‘essential knowledge’ (p6 National Curriculum) that is needed in society:
‘Teachers should develop pupil’s spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.’ (p10 National Curriculum)
We are an inclusive school, we set high expectations and recognise the importance of accurate and regular assessment in order to support individuals at every part of their learning journey and in whatever circumstances. We use one to one support, small groups and cross-phase work to help with this. We plan teaching opportunities to help those for whom English is an additional language and those with disabilities outlined in the SEND code of practice. We agree with the statement of the National Curriculum, that ‘pupils…who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised’ (p13)
The National Curriculum states that pupils should be ‘taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently in Standard English’ (p10). They should:
- Justify ideas with reasons
- Ask questions to check understanding
- Develop vocabulary and build knowledge
- Evaluate and build on the ideas of others
- Select the appropriate register for effective communication
- Give well-structured descriptions and explanations
- Speculate, hypothesise and explore ideas
- Organise their ideas prior to writing
Our aims and connected provision
We encourage our pupils to speak clearly and confidently and articulate their views and opinions. We teach that children need to express themselves orally in an appropriate way, matching their style and response to audience and purpose. Listening and responding to literature, giving and receiving instructions. They develop the skills of participating effectively in group discussions.
Ways in which we support this include:
- Activities which are planned to encourage full and active participation by all children, irrespective of ability
- Children with specific speech and language and auditory problems will be identified and specialist help sought, where appropriate
- School Plays
- Weekly assembly
- Events within the community
- School Council
- Talk partners
- Book talk sessions
- Drama / role play
- PSHE and circle time Reading: Schools are expected to have library facilities and support and encourage reading at home. The 2014 Curriculum divides reading skills into two imensions
- The National Curriculum states that pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose and be encouraged to read for pleasure. Reading is singled out as of extreme importance since through it ‘pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually’ (p13) Reading allows pupils to ‘acquire knowledge’ and to ‘build on what they already know’ (p13).
- Word reading/ decoding
- We recognise that both these elements are essential to success and we support the acquisition of both sets of skills through various methods. We recognise that these areas are clearly linked to the other aspects of English learning: speaking and listening, writing, grammar and vocabulary. We also understand that reading is a developmental process and part of life-long learning and we encourage and praise children at every stage of it.
We do not use one single structured ‘reading scheme’ in our school, but believe in guiding and supporting children to read ‘real books’ with text of an appropriate level of difficulty. For this reason, many of our books, fiction and non-fiction are colour-coded to indicate their level of difficulty, in the EYFS and Key Stage 1. Alongside ensuring that children read books of progressive difficulty, we do not deny children access to books which interest them but which may be too difficult for them to read
independently. We seek to support children in accessing such books and encourage the use of ‘paired reading’ with an adult or a more able reader.
All our classrooms have dedicated reading areas, which we aim to make comfortable and inviting, and in which teachers ensure there is a range of stimulating and attractive books and other reading material. We display and promote books throughout our school and classrooms, including our well stocked learning library. All children have frequent and regular access to books in their classrooms, both for free choice of reading material and to do book-based research in order to support their learning across the curriculum. We also value and promote computer-based reading resources and the internet to support children’s reading.
Reading pervades the curriculum and children have continuous opportunities to develop their reading skills, whatever the area of learning. However, throughout the school, classes have regular sessions of guided reading, during which they engage collaboratively in purposeful reading activities or exercises, or are taught directly by the teacher or a teaching assistant. During guided reading sessions, the teacher can read text at an appropriate level with a group of children, or sometimes with the whole class, teaching next step reading skills, including higher level skills such as using inference and deduction to understand meaning. Guided reading sessions are teachers’ key opportunity to assess children’s reading and to plan which skills they need to develop next. We give all children the opportunity to read aloud regularly, to an adult, and encourage parents and carers to support this activity at home.
Our aims and connected provision
- Pupils learn to read easily and fluently through daily phonics in Key Stage One, regular reading with adults in school, reading partners and reading with parents/carers at home
- Pupils develop skills in reading for understanding using the Wordsmith scheme. We have adapted this to meet the needs of our pupils. In essence, they often study books which are more challenging than those which they might be able to read independently. They will use these books as the basis for reading, writing, speaking and listening tasks.
- Pupils are encouraged to read widely, through our use of differing class texts, library visits and high quality attractive books in classrooms.
- Pupils are encouraged to read for pleasure using reading partners, quiet reading time, listening to an adult read and the various methods outlined above.
- Pupils also need to read to find information in all lessons and comprehension is assessed in a formal way every term.
- Pupils are exposed to a range of texts throughout their school career.
- Pupils look at books in guided reading sessions and are taught specific reading skills.
- High achievers in Year 2 at Roe Green Infant School participate in regular reading comprehension extension sessions.
- High achievers pupils in Lower Key Stage Two participate in a weekly reading club.
The National Curriculum states that pupils should:
- Develop the stamina and skills to write at length
- Use accurate spelling and punctuation
- Be grammatically correct
- Write in a range of ways and purposes including narratives, explanations, descriptions, comparisons, summaries and evaluations
- Write to support their understanding and consolidation of what they have heard or read
The 2014 Curriculum divides writing skills into two dimensions:
- Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- Composition (articulating ideas in speech and writing) We recognise that both these elements are essential to success and we support the acquisition of both sets of skills through various methods. We recognise that these areas are clearly linked to the other aspects of English learning: speaking and listening, reading, grammar and vocabulary.
Our aims and connected provision
- We teach grammar as a separate lesson
- We correct grammatical error orally/ written work (where appropriate)
- We have a systematic approach therefore we revisit key learning and build upon it in all areas from phonics, through to grammar and spelling
- We use high quality texts, modelling and shared/ collaborative writing to demonstrate good practice
- We encourage and promote ‘talk for writing’
- We provide writing frames to support the least confident
- We provide time for planning, editing and revising
- We use checklists for pupils to self-assess or peer assess, when appropriate so they can evaluate effectively
- We encourage joined handwriting to support spelling and speed
- We use drama and hot-seating to help pupils to think about another point of view
- Support for pupils with learning and motor difficulties
- Meetings with parents to help them support their child
The National Curriculum makes clear that learning vocabulary is key to ‘learning and progress across the whole curriculum’ (p11) since it allows pupils to access a wider range of words when writing and for them to understand and comprehend texts efficiently.
Vocabulary teaching needs to be:
- Progressive/ systematic
- Making links from known words
- Develop understanding of shades of meaning
- Include ‘instruction verbs’ used in examinations
- Subject specific- accurate mathematical and scientific words
Our aims and connected provision:
We encourage our pupils to have a wide and growing vocabulary in a number of ways, these include:
- Spelling lists/ key words to take home and learn
- Display of key words linked to topics and subjects
- Using the correct vocabulary orally
- In-depth word based lessons looking at patterns
- Using dictionaries, thesaurus and similar programmes
- Using texts to explore vocabulary choices and the effect they have
- Carrying out systematic testing and providing feedback to pupils
- Targeted one to one/ small group support, where appropriate
- Long term overviews can be found online on our school website for Key Stages One and Two
- Pupils are taught in mixed ability classes and planning shows differentiation
- Medium term (half –termly) planning is stored centrally.
- English is planned for separately to other subjects
- Schemes of work for English, phonics/spelling and grammar are used to ensure developmental learning building on prior knowledge
- Short term planning is flexible allowing for assessment for learning after each session/ group of sessions
- Pupils may be streamed by ability for some sessions/ types of homework/ support
- Pupils entitled to Pupil Premium funding will be given additional English support which is tracked and monitored termly
- Pupils with EAL will be given additional English support which is tracked and monitored termly
- Staff assess pupils learning during and as part of every session, they adapt their practice accordingly
- Formal assessments of Writing ability are carried out, tracked and monitored at least termly
- Formal assessments of Reading Comprehension ability are carried out, tracked and monitored at least termly
- Reading and Writing are assessed using new KS1/KS2 reading and writing objectives to create a best fit.
- Staff attend moderating sessions within the local borough including the local cluster
- End of Key Stage Assessments are analysed by the Assessment Co-ordinator, Head teacher and SLT team. This information will feed into the school SEF, development plan and performance management
English Teaching in the Foundation Stage
The Early Years Foundation Stage:
We teach literacy skills in our Nursery and Reception years as an integral part of the EYFS curriculum. Progressive skill development is outlined in Communication, Language and Literacy (CLL), one of the six Areas of Learning in the EYFS curriculum. In particular, in the EYFS, the CLL curriculum cannot be covered in isolation from the other five areas of learning. Opportunities to practise literacy skills, for example, reading labels, responding to written instructions, mark-making and early writing as part of play-based learning will be provided throughout the learning environment in the Reception classroom and outdoor area. Children have a daily phonics lesson as a crucial element in developing their early reading and writing skills.
We plan the teaching and development of literacy skills to the objectives set out in the Early Learning Goals, which underpin the curriculum planning for children aged 0 to 5. We give all children the opportunity to talk and communicate in a widening range of situations, to respond to adults and to each other, to listen carefully, and to practise and extend their vocabulary and communication skills. They have the opportunity to explore words and texts, to enjoy them, to learn about them, and to use them in various situations.
The teaching of reading and children’s acquisition of reading skills is the bedrock of our English curriculum. Becoming an effective and proficient reader is the gateway to learning for our children, and success in most other subjects of the curriculum is dependent upon learning to read well.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage, we aim to give children continuous experience of the medium of print and text through all their learning experiences and across all Areas of Learning in the EYFS curriculum. The environment is rich with appropriate text: labels, captions, simple instructions, names, alphabet prompts and children’s own mark-making. Adults continuously model reading in the learning environment, embedding in children’s understanding the idea that print conveys meaning and is invaluable to us in our lives. Children are taught from the youngest age to value and care for books, to understand their structure, to handle them appropriately and to enjoy sharing them with each other. We believe that an understanding and knowledge of phonics, the relationship between graphemes (letters or groups of letters) and phonemes (the 44 constituent sounds of spoken English) is essential as children learn to read. Children’s ability to phonetically ‘decode’ letters and words into oral sounds is continuously assessed throughout the EYFS and Key Stage 1, in order that the next steps in children’s knowledge of phonics can be effectively planned and taught. All children in these key stages have a daily phonic session to support their development of both reading and writing skills, following national guidance on teaching a programme of progressive, structured phonics.
Emergent writing is encouraged throughout the six areas of learning. The learning environment provides purposes for writing, with children encouraged to self-select from a range of resources. Children are introduced to phonics and letter formation through the Bug Club phonics scheme. As they begin to assimilate the sounds they are encouraged to attempt more focused forms of writing using initial, medial and final sounds in words. Children are also encouraged to read and write decodable and tricky words both in school and at home as soon as they can.
Through careful planning, teachers will ensure that Foundation Stage pupils’
needs are provided for through activities linked to the principles outlined in the EYFS framework.
Contribution of English to teaching in other curriculum areas:
The literacy skills that children develop are linked to, and applied in, every area of our curriculum. The children’s skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening enable them to communicate and express themselves in all areas of their work at school.
Mathematics, Science and Design Technology:
The teaching of literacy skills contributes significantly to children’s mathematical understanding, in a variety of ways. Children in the EYFS develop their understanding of number, pattern, shape and space by talking about these matters with adults and other children. Children in Key Stage 1 meet stories and rhymes that involve counting and sequencing. They explain and present their work to others during review and plenary sessions, and they communicate mathematically through the developing use of precise mathematical language.
Pupils will be expected to engage in research as part of their learning in Science and Design Technology, to write a range of types of report on their work and to explain and communicate verbally about their learning, to the teacher and each other.
History, Geography and Religious Education (RE):
While these humanities subjects involve significant subject specific knowledge, skills and conceptual understanding, the medium for researching, learning about and communicating is, of course, the English language. Pupils will constantly call upon and develop their literacy skills in finding information, ordering and making sense of what they have learned and communicating it in writing and orally.
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Citizenship:
The teaching of literacy skills contributes to the teaching of PSHE and citizenship by encouraging children to take part in class and group discussions on topical issues. Older children also research, debate and write about topical social problems and events. They discuss lifestyle choices, and meet and talk with visitors who work within the school community.
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development:
The teaching of literacy skills enables our children to offer critical responses to the moral questions they meet in their life, both within and outside school. Their understanding and appreciation of a range of texts bring them into contact with their own literary heritage and with texts from a diverse range of cultures. The organisation of our lessons and break times allows children to work and play together, giving them the chance to use their speaking and listening skills in developing social collaboration and understanding.
English and Computing:
The selective use of computer software, with clear learning objectives, will promote, enhance and support the teaching of English at word, sentence and text levels. It also offers ways of developing learning which are not always possible with conventional methods, for example, through individualised interactive learning. Software is used to support independent reading (text to speech) and writing (predictive word processors, word banks and spell checkers). A range of software is used to develop specific grammatical and spelling skills.
Pupils frequently use word processing facilities to record and edit their writing, and have access to netbooks and computers in the classroom, as well as regular access to the Computing suite.
Computing is used at whole-class, group and independent levels. Screen projection of text, and the use of visualisers enables published texts and pupils’ own writing to be read, shared and discussed. Through these means, classes engage in writing and reading, guided or modelled effectively by the teacher. A wide variety of text types and resources are available through the internet to support specific learning, focused on particular textual analysis.