English is a core subject of the National Curriculum and a prerequisite for educational and social progress as it underpins the work undertaken in all other areas of the curriculum. The acquisition of language skills is of the utmost importance and therefore the teaching of all aspects of English are given a high priority within school. Confidence in basic language skills enables children to communicate creatively and imaginatively, preparing them for the future.
It is our intention when teaching the English curriculum that our pupils acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to become lifelong learners. We strive to ensure that all our pupils receive a well-rounded learning experience when reading, writing, speaking and listening which will equip them with the fundamental tools to achieve in the school and beyond. It is our intention to immerse pupils in the wonders of quality texts to instil a love for reading, a passion for discovery and a confidence to explore their imagination. We value the importance of English as an essential tool for life. Our aim is to ensure that every child becomes a confident reader, writer and speaker. We promote high standards of language and literacy by developing pupil’s command of the spoken and written word, we develop their love of literature through using a wide variety of quality texts and promote reading for enjoyment.
Our English curriculum is based around a sequence of high quality age-appropriate cross-curricular texts. We use each book to create opportunities to develop reading fluency and comprehension with a focus on key reading strategies and skills; develop grammar and punctuation knowledge and understanding to use and apply across the wider curriculum; explore the writing structure and features of different genres; plan and write a piece of writing with a clear context and purpose before evaluating the effectiveness of writing by editing and redrafting.
We strive to ensure that our children's attainment is in line or exceeds their potential when we consider the varied starting points of all our children. We measure this using a range of materials, whilst always considering the age-related expectations for each year group. We intend the impact of our English curriculum will ensure our pupils are academically prepared for life beyond primary school.
Reading is a fundamental skill, used to stimulate children's imaginations and learn to acquire a love for books. Reading influences the thoughts, feelings and emotions of all our learners. We carefully monitor the children’s reading at home and encourage parents to be fully active and engaged with us in this in order to support their child’s ongoing development. Reading lessons (ERIC) - 1 hour- are planned within the English weekly lessons. If children are working below their chronological reading age, targeted intervention and support is put in place.
Children in all classes have access to story time and have a class book for a sustained period: this ensures that reading is correctly modelled to children as well as giving them the opportunity to enjoy being read to! At Alston Primary School, we encourage pupils to develop a love of reading by having a well-stocked library and book selections available in each classroom. We actively promote the local libraries and organise events such as World Book Day, and the ‘Caught Reading Challenge’.
Year 6 children take on the role of librarians and promote reading and the love of books through competitions and assemblies across the school.
We aim to develop children’s ability to produce well-structured, detailed writing in which the meaning is made clear and which engages the interest of the audience / reader. Particular attention is paid throughout the school to the formal structures of English: grammatical detail, author’s voice and choice, punctuation and spelling. Our approach at Alston Primary school when teaching writing covers the transcription composition requirements of the National Curriculum.
Throughout Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, our writing follows the Book-Led curriculum in place across the Trust. Writing opportunities are sourced and developed based on the class text within each year group. Our curriculum allows children to have the opportunity to explore high-quality texts in depth, enhancing reading comprehension and providing meaningful contexts and purposes for writing. Teachers are then, in turn, able to apply their own creativity to cover the objectives. Enlarged texts, books or pictures are used at the start of a unit of work to stimulate and enable children to experience what they will be writing about. Drama and role play are also used to encourage interactive learning and promote the children’s imagination, as an aid to scaffolding their writing. At the start of the writing process, children are exposed to many samples of the writing genre, this fundamental stage provides the opportunity to introduce children to a specific genre form, enabling them to capture ideas and secure understanding. As the writing process continues, the teacher models writing and undertakes shared writing, guided writing and talk for writing to develop the children’s knowledge and skills, in readiness for the independent writing they then undertake.
Teachers clearly model writing skills and document the learning journey through consistent working walls; guided writing sessions are used to target specific needs of both groups and individuals. Children have opportunities to write at length, in extended, independent writing sessions at the end of a unit of work – applying their taught skills to an unsupported piece of writing.
As stipulated in the National Curriculum, the grammar of our first language is learnt naturally and implicitly through interactions with other speakers and from reading. Explicit knowledge of grammar is, however, very important, as it gives us more conscious control and choice in our language.
Grammar lessons are taught weekly as part of our book-led curriculum and sequence of lessons. Pupils are taught discrete grammar skills allowing opportunities to identify, practice and consolidate grammatical understanding. It is class teachers' expectations that, following the sequence of lessons to form building blocks to a piece of writing, pupils will begin to independently apply the grammar skills and content taught and embed these within their writing. A 20 minute discreet GPS lesson is taught a week and a grammar starter for each English lesson.
At Alston Primary School, spelling is taught regularly in focused sessions within each class. Class teachers use Rising Stars to support the teaching of spelling. Spellings are sent home in each year group as part of the children’s homework; the pupils are then tested on these words in their weekly spelling tests and use these words in their writing.
ITAF (Interim Teacher Assessment Framework)
These interim frameworks are to support teachers in making robust and accurate judgements for pupils at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The interim frameworks set out the standard(s) a pupil will be assessed against at the end of the key stage for reading, writing and mathematics. Pupils have to meet the standard, teachers will need to have evidence that a pupil demonstrates consistent attainment of all the statements within the standard.
Moderation processes for reading and writing take place regularly within year groups, across year groups, within the trust, Saltley Cluster and the local authority. Opportunities to moderate with other schools allow for consistency of judgements and also provide a platform for schools to enhance their internal and external moderation activities. Information is regularly shared with governors to ensure that they are in a position to provide appropriate challenge to the school regarding the rigour of assessment processes.
The impact of our curriculum will not only be measured by assessment procedures which allow us to measure outcomes against all schools nationally:
· EYFS % of pupils achieving a ‘Good level of development’ (GLD)
· Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1
· End of KS1 % of children working towards or at the expected standard and at Greater Depth in reading and writing.
· End of KS2 % of children working towards or at the expected standard and at Greater Depth in reading and writing but, will in fact be measured by how effectively it helps our pupils develop into well rounded individuals who embody our values and carry with them the knowledge, skills and attitudes which will make them lifelong learners and valuable future citizens.