English

The National Curriculum clearly states that teaching the English language is an essential, if not the most essential role of a primary school.

At Roe Green Infant and Strathcona School 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 throughout school life and beyond. It is part of the ‘essential knowledge’ 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.

Throughout the school, high expectations are set by staff and we recognise the importance of accurate and regular assessment in order to support individuals at every stage of their learning journey. 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’ and we strive to enable all children to achieve their potential. 

Spoken Language:

The National Curriculum states that pupils should be ‘taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently in Standard English’. They should:

  • Justify ideas with reasons

  • Ask questions to check understanding

  • Develop vocabulary and build knowledge

  • Negotiate

  • 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 give children a range of opportunities to express themselves orally in an appropriate way, matching their style and response to audience and purpose. Key texts and literature are chosen carefully in order to enable the teaching and learning of good listening skills and to develop better responses to texts. From the earliest years, children are taught skills to facilitate their knowledge and understanding of giving and receiving instructions. They develop the skills of participating effectively in group discussions. As children progress to up the school they are encouraged to give reasoned justifications for their answers, and to support this with evidence.

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 and performances – including poetry assemblies

  • Weekly assemblies where participation is encouraged

  • Events within the community

  • School council meetings/assembly presentations – which includes annual hustings/speeches in order to vote for class representatives

  • Talk partners and ‘think, pair, share’

  • Book talk sessions

  • Drama/role play

  • PSHE and circle time

 

Reading:

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 a curriculum priority, since through it ‘pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually’. Reading allows pupils to ‘acquire knowledge’ and to ‘build on what they already know’. Reading is primarily comprised of two branches:

  • Word reading/decoding

  • Comprehension

 

We recognise that both these elements are essential to success and we support the acquisition of both 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. Staff know that it is of paramount importance when teaching and encouraging pupils, to overtly display their own literary interests and love of reading and share in the excitement and joy of reading for pleasure with their pupils, so that reading becomes entrenched in the learning ethos of the whole school.

Our chosen reading schemes reflect the need to address both decoding and comprehension skills, when teaching reading effectively.  The teaching of phonics through Pearson Phonics Bug, is further supported by Bug Club phonics books and guided reading books. Further to the use of these in Early Years and KS1, children are supported in their learning of sounds, by the use of a wide range of resources to enhance children’s knowledge and understanding, including props, online resources, games and activities. The various resources enable teachers to target the individual needs of children, particularly considering our belief that not all children learn in the same way or at the same pace. At the same time, the use of a whole school reading scheme for the main teaching of phonics and reading, ensures a consistency in the content and coverage of phonics and reading across and within year groups.

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. Therefore, 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 of varying difficulties and other reading materials. We display and promote books throughout our school and within classrooms, including our well stocked learning library. All children have frequent and regular access to books in their classrooms, both for free choice and to do book-based research to support their learning across the curriculum. We also value and promote computer-based reading resources and the internet to support children’s reading. Our reading scheme enables children to access their reading books online at home. Teachers can monitor and track children’s reading by accessing the results of comprehension questions that children have answered, after reading an online book. This is one more tool which ensures the close monitoring and checking of our pupils’ reading progress.

Reading pervades the curriculum and children have continuous opportunities to develop their reading skills, whatever the area of learning. Throughout the school, classes have regular sessions of guided reading, taught directly by the teacher or a teaching assistant, during which they engage collaboratively in purposeful reading activities and exercises. During guided reading sessions, the teacher can choose a text at an appropriate level with a group of children, 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.

In KS2, ‘Destination Reader’, a daily structured reading program is used to further develop the reading skills acquired in previous key stages. It is a consistent, structured approach to daily reading sessions aimed specifically at improving and developing reading and comprehension skills at KS2. Destination Reader is not a reading scheme, but rather an approach, and therefore enables teachers to choose appropriate texts for the needs and requirements of their pupils. There is a focus on 3 learning behaviours and 7 reading strategies:

  1. To support and actively listen to others.

  2. To discuss and explain ideas.

  3. To take responsibility for our learning.

The seven strategies are explicitly and specifically taught to support reading for meaning: Clarifying, predicting, inferring, asking questions, evaluating, making connections and summarising.

These strategies are applied weekly in verbal and written comprehension exercises. New and specific vocabulary is taught at each session in order for children to access and gain from the reading of the text and furthermore to develop children’s deeper understanding of the text.

 

Our aims and connected provision

  • Pupils learn to read easily and fluently through daily phonics in Early Years and 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 Bug Club scheme (EY and KS1) and Destination Reader (KS2)

  • 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 read to find information in 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

Writing:

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 for a range of purposes including narratives, explanations, descriptions, comparisons, summaries and evaluations

  • Write to support their understanding and consolidation of what they have heard or read

 

The National Curriculum divides writing skills into two branches:

  • 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 use high quality texts, modelling and shared/collaborative writing to demonstrate good practice

  • We encourage and promote ‘talk for writing’ as a way of planning writing

  • We provide writing frames and further scaffolds to support the development of writing

  • 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 and work on their next steps

  • We teach joined handwriting to support fluency and speed

  • We use drama and hot-seating to develop pupils’ ideas

  • We provide support for pupils with learning and motor difficulties

  • We meet with parents to help them support their children at home

 

 

Vocabulary Development:

The National Curriculum makes clear that learning vocabulary is key to ‘learning and progress across the whole curriculum’ since it allows pupils to access a wider range of words when writing and for them to understand and comprehend texts efficiently. We believe that the specific teaching of vocabulary across all subjects should:

  • Be active, progressive and systematic through daily references, direct teaching and regular practice of previously learnt vocabulary

  • Enable children to make links from known words, using knowledge of prefixes, suffixes and root words

  • Develop understanding of shades of meaning, through the use of quality texts and regular exposure to a range of genres.

  • Be subject specific as well as cross-curricular – for example the teaching of accurate mathematical and scientific words during subject lessons

 

Our aims and connected provision:

We encourage our pupils to have a wide and growing vocabulary in a number of ways, which include:

  • Spelling lists/key words to take home and learn

  • Displays of key words linked to topics and subjects

  • Using the correct vocabulary orally

  • In-depth word-based lessons looking at spelling patterns

  • Using dictionaries and thesauruses

  • 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

   

How is English teaching and learning planned?

  • Termly overviews can be found online, including all themes, topics, lesson objectives and skills progression.

  • Pupils are taught in mixed ability classes and planning shows differentiation

  • 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, accurate coverage of the National Curriculum requirements and the inclusion of key skills progression.

  • Short term planning is flexible allowing for assessment for learning after each session/group of sessions

  • Pupils may be streamed for some sessions, interventions and 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

 

How is English assessed?

  • Staff assess pupils learning during and as part of every session, and they adapt their practice accordingly

  • Assessments of writing are carried out, tracked and monitored throughout the term. Attainment targets are highlighted by the teacher termly to ensure ongoing assessment of all the elements of a child’s writing ability.

  • Formal assessments of reading comprehension are carried out, tracked and monitored termly. Guided reading sessions enable teachers to continually assess and monitor a child’s reading skills.

  • Staff attend moderation and other training on a regular basis, either within school or from outside experts/trainers

  • End of Key Stage Assessments are analysed by the Assessment Co-ordinator, Head teacher and SLT team. This information will be fed into the school evaluation and development plans and performance management of staff.

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