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.
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.
Foci for learning:
1. To acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills associated with Spoken Language.
2.To acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills associated with Reading, including:
- Word reading;
3.To acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills associated with Writing, including:
- Handwriting and presentation;
- Vocabulary and grammar;
Phonics and Spelling
During their time in pre-school, our children participate in planned activities to support the development of speaking and listening skills. Activities are planned to develop auditory memory and sequencing skills, which in turn lay the foundations for future phonics teaching. From the start of the Reception year, we introduce regular phonics teaching for about 15-20 minutes each day.We use the Read Write Inc (RWI) synthetic phonics scheme to deliver our phonics teaching. Set 1 and 2 sounds are introduced during the Reception year and these are consolidated in Year 1, prior to the introduction of set 3 sounds. Once children have a secure knowledge of RWI sounds and are using these independently in writing, they are taught spelling using the Read, Write Inc spelling programme, which covers the objectives outlined in the programme of study laid out in Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum 2014. Further information about these schemes can be found by visiting the Read Write Inc website.
We believe that Reading fluently is the key skill that children need to acquire, to be successful in all areas of learning. Whilst children are in the Early Years, we take every opportunity to share books and stories on a daily basis and use resources such as storysacks and puppets to enthuse learners and encourage a love of books. Staff model good practice, teaching children how to handle books carefully and developing their awareness of print in the environment and an understanding that print carries meaning. Reading aloud with intonation and expression and explaining new vocabulary, helps children to develop an understanding of what is happening in the text.
During their Reception year, children are introduced to independent reading through a selection of pre-readers, and the initial emphasis is focused on encouraging children to discuss pictures and begin to orally retell stories. Once children begin to develop their phonological awareness, we introduce reading through the RWI reading programme. Books are carefully matched to pupils’ current attainment of phonic skills. Once children are confident to blend fluently and have a secure grasp of the RWI phonics programme, their reading is assessed and they are introduced to Accelerated reader at the appropriate level. This scheme grades a range of books into developmental bands and provides online quizzes to support the development of comprehension skills. Children read these books at home with parents and in school with staff and volunteers and each child has a reading record book to encourage dialogue between home and school. We operate a reward system to encourage children to read regularly at home to help children to build up their fluency. Guided reading lessons are taught regularly to Year 2 and KS2 pupils. These may be based around a text that links to the current theme or to an extract from the Cornerstones resources package. We continue to read regularly to pupils at the end of the school day, to provide opportunities for pupils to access high quality texts which they may not be able to read independently. This enables staff to introduce children to a wide range of different genres.
We use a range of published assessment resources and online reading tests, which assess both decoding and comprehension skills, to establish children’s current developmental stage. Where discrepancies are identified between decoding and comprehension skills, we provide interventions to address identified areas of difficulty.
We believe that children produce the most effective writing when they are offered real experiences and purposes for their writing. Where possible, writing opportunities are linked to our current theme or to educational visits and events. The process of editing and redrafting is introduced to pupils from KS1 onwards so that they can evaluate and improve their own work effectively.
Vocabulary and Grammar
As a staff, we are aware that the more words children know and understand, the more successful they are likely to be in their learning. We therefore take every opportunity to extend pupils’ vocabulary. Key vocabulary is identified for each topic taught and pupils are provided with a glossary or word mat and encouraged to use the vocabulary in spoken language and writing. Staff ensure that the meanings of the vocabulary identified are explained to pupils. Where possible, grammar is taught as part of the teaching of writing and new features are introduced with the relevant genre, but some discrete teaching of grammar is also necessary to ensure effective coverage.