English Curriculum at Bexton
By creating a love for reading and writing, we believe that our children will develop a life long appreciation of and desire for quality literature. We believe that the study of English develops children’s abilities to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes. It enables children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively. Its mastery empowers the learner and is essential for independent learning. It is essential in the world of work and in most other aspects of our everyday lives. We want our children to be enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. This will allow them to apply their knowledge, skills and understanding across a range of situations.
Pie Corbet states “Reading is magic. Writing is also magic. Narrative helps us to understand ourselves and our world.”
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
Curriculum Development and Organisation
We teach English in the Reception class as an integral part of the school’s work. As this class is part of the Foundation Stage of the National Curriculum we relate the English aspects of the children’s work to the Early Learning Goals as set out in the Foundation Stage Profile.
Children are given opportunities to use language for communication and thinking, where they are encouraged to listen, interact and respond with others in a variety of ways and to use speech in a clear and controlled manner. Teachers and teaching assistants model, encourage and support children’s language development in a language rich environment. At Bexton we recognise that children develop language at different rates and those children with special educational needs or English as an additional language may need extra support in developing their communication, language and literacy skills.
In reading and writing there will be opportunities to develop an interest in books at a level they are comfortable with. This will involve listening to stories and begin to develop skills to be able to read independently. The children will also have experience of reading as part of a small group on a weekly basis with the class teacher.
Through the use of the phonic scheme ‘Floppy's Phonics' the children will learn how to sound out and word build both familiar and unfamiliar words. The aim during the Foundation stage is to develop the child’s ability to write independently using a ‘phonetic knowledge’ as well as to be able to re-read and explain their writing clearly. This is encouraged through emergent writing where a child is encouraged to write down exactly what they hear when sounding out words in a sentence. This is a method used to promote independence in writing. By offering this opportunity the children are extended appropriately as and when they are ready.
Key Stage 1 and 2
As English is a core subject in the National Curriculum children will have a daily English lesson, with additional time in the school day devoted to group and individual reading. Teachers work together to plan their lessons in three phases (long-term, medium-term and short-term). Long term plans ensure each year group is meeting the aims of the national curriculum. Our medium-term plans give details of the main teaching objectives for each half-term. These plans define what we teach and ensure an appropriate balance and distribution of work across each term. Short term plans identify specific learning objectives over a week. Teachers also carefully plan for opportunities for children to develop their reading and writing skills across the wider curriculum.
The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum- cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Teachers at Bexton ensure that their pupils are developing confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills.
Speaking and listening skills at Bexton are developed through:
- the opportunity to discuss regularly their understanding of the books they are reading
- the opportunity to discuss their ideas before writing
- teachers modelling appropriate and varied language in order to enhance and extend pupils vocabulary
- being taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate
- opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama for one another and a range of audiences
- being able to participate in and gain knowledge, skills and understanding associated with drama, adopt, create and sustain a range of roles and responding appropriately to others in role
- rehearse, refine, share and respond thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances
- a regular story-time when the teacher reads aloud, modelling reading and speaking to the class.
- a range of activities that allow pupils the opportunity to talk more formally, e.g. presenting short talks, conducting interviews and reading their own writing aloud
The programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of two dimensions:
- word reading
- comprehension (both listening and reading)
It is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are needed for each. Children should develop skills to read words by the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. They will also discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction to develop comprehension. Opportunities for children to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction are planned to help them develop an understanding of the world, to establish an appreciation and love of reading and to gain knowledge across the curriculum.
At Bexton we develop reading skills though whole class, guided groups and individual reading sessions using a range of genre. Children have the opportunity to move through a structured reading scheme in the earlier years and a wide range of banded books are provided for the independent reader. Teachers assess the children regularly to ensure their progress is carefully tracked and supported. Please see the progression in reading document below for more information about how reading skills progress through the school.
Parents are given regular feedback about the progress children are making in reading. Parents are encouraged to support their child’s reading development through daily reading at home, which they can record in the home-school diary. Attached to every child’s reading diary is a book mark which gives suggestions as to how reading can be developed through effective discussion and questions.
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)
Writing is developed by:
- opportunities for pupils to plan, revise and evaluate their writing
- opportunities for pupils to write down ideas fluently with effective transcription (spelling quickly and accurately)
- opportunities for pupils to effectively compose ideas and organise them coherently for a reader
- teaching, modelling and practice of fluent, legible and eventually speedy handwriting
- teaching which inspires and motivates pupils to write
- teaching and learning of specific techniques and writing tools as word and sentence level activities which feed into text level composition.
- use of whole-class, guided group and individual writing sessions focusing upon a range of audiences and purposes.
- providing a range of contexts and opportunities for children to practice composition through other curriculum areas.
- providing regular opportunities for extended writing.
We use Jane's Considine's Write Stuff planning materials to support our writing curriculum. The children become very familiar with the symbols in the 'writing rainbow' and use them to support their writing.
Sentence stacking: Lessons concentrate on the teaching of writing with a sharp focus on the craft and construction of sentences. Each Sentence Stacking lesson is organised into three learning chunks. Sentences created by the pupils are celebrated and used to form a large class Sentence Stack which builds over the duration of the whole piece of text .
Experience lessons: Teachers use immersive teaching to stimulate ideas. The experience lessons can take many forms, e.g. a visit out or a drama technique deployed to stregthen and build children's imagination.
Daily lessons will be structured to support the development of children's writing sequence and allow opportunities for children to write independently, subsequently this becomes an opportunity for teachers to assess what the children have learnt. Each lesson will have three parts and these will be repeated three times. The teacher will 'initiate' some ideas with a focus on a writing objective and 'model' this to the children, followed by the 'enable' part of the session where the children write their ideas.
Teachers also use lots of visual symbols from our 'writing rainbow' to help children understand the different parts of their writing.
Spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation
In Literacy lessons teachers will teach pupils the vocabulary, grammatical terms and punctuation needed to read and write effectively. These skills will be taught in the context of class texts and not in isolation. Each year group has a spelling and grammar scheme of work to follow.
Spelling is developed by:
- systematic teaching and learning of phonics and spelling patterns/rules from the national curriculum
- regular learning of spelling lists allocated by ability
- encouragement of independent spelling strategies taught in Literacy sessions.
- use of dictionaries, personal word banks and spell-checkers (upper juniors).
- the discretionary marking and correcting of spelling errors, learning mis-spelt words
- encouragement of an interest in words and their meanings and a growing vocabulary.
In KS2, we currently use Jane Considine's spelling programme to support children’s progression in spelling. This can be used as a whole class teaching or a specific intervention for children who need to revise specific spelling patterns. Vocabulary is taught explicitly in KS2. This varies from topic and science related words used more in writing than in speech (Tier 2). Children are encouraged to use the words they have learned in their writing too.
Contribution of English to teaching in other curriculum areas
The skills that children develop in English are linked to, and applied in, every subject of our curriculum. The children’s skills in speaking and listening, reading and writing enable them to communicate and express themselves in all areas of their work. There is an expectation that the correct use of vocabulary and terminology will be used by teachers and understood by children for continuity and progression through the school. Teachers use opportunities in the wider curriculum to reinforce and develop speaking and listening, reading and writing skills.
Inclusion - Teaching English to children with special educational needs
We teach English to all children, whatever their ability. English forms part of the school curriculum policy to provide a broad and balanced education to all children. Teachers provide learning opportunities matched to the specific needs of children. Work in English takes into account the targets set for individual children in their Send Support plans or Education Health Care Plans.
Teachers provide help with communication and literacy through:
• using texts that children can read and understand
• using visual and written materials in different formats
• using ICT, other technological aids and taped materials
• using alternative communication such as signs and symbols