Our exciting and inspiring English curriculum will enable our children to write with confidence and accuracy for a wide variety of purposes using a rich and interesting vocabulary. We expect our children to write with accuracy using appropriate grammatical techniques and be able to apply the phonics and spelling patterns that they have learnt. We expect all children to develop a cursive handwriting style which should be embedded by the end of Y4.
Our children will develop a love for reading and will read fluently and widely. They will be able to express their feelings and opinions about what they have read with confidence.
Reading and Phonics
From their first days in school, we start to foster a love of books and reading through daily story time, which continues throughout school.
Children start their reading journey with daily phonics sessions which follow the Oxford Floppy’s Phonics scheme, written by Debbie Hepplewhite, an internationally renowned phonics teacher/trainer/consultant. This is a synthetic phonics programme which is evidence based. Reading books are carefully matched to children’s ability in phonics and reading. Children are heard reading by an adult frequently to ensure the right level of challenge and success in their reading books.
Children are taught to decode, comprehend and read for pleasure through engaging texts and a variety of reading experiences as part of the English lesson and the wider curriculum.
As a federation we adopted the Active Reading approach. Elements from this approach are woven in to all of our reading lessons.
Children are read to frequently by their class teacher. Wherever possible, these books are linked to studies in other curriculum areas.
We use Accelerated Reader throughout the federation for children from around Year 2 onwards. Children are assessed regularly through online tests. This gives each child a ZPD score which is the level of book that is right for them. This level gives enough challenge, whilst still being achievable for the child. Each child's ZPD is a range, for example 3.2 - 4.6. The child can choose to read a book nearer the top end of their ZPD for more challenge, or at the lower end for a book that will be a more comfortable read. Every book in our libraries is colour coded using the book band system and each book also has a number on which corresponds to the ZPD system. When a child finishes a book, they go on to Accelerated Reader and complete a quiz. This give teachers an indication of the child's comprehension of their book and constantly updates their ZPD score.
Children’s phonic knowledge is assessed and they then work in ability groups at the correct stage for them. Following regular assessments KS2 children may be working through the Floppy’s Phonics scheme at the appropriate level. Other KS2 children work through the Jane Considine Spelling programme at an appropriate level for them.
We use Talk for Writing in EYFS and KS1, and Jane Considine's The Write Stuff in KS2. We have found that the two schemes complement each other well and that children progress from one to the other successfully.
We use Talk for writing with our youngest children because of the active nature of the approach. Children learn texts using pictures and actions which then gives them the tools they need to be able to go and write on their own, confidently and independently. The approach starts with imitation, where children use a known text to help them create their own writing. Children then innovate - keeping some elements of the original but becoming more independent. Finally, they move to independent application, where children are creating their own work in the style of the model text.
In KS2, our long term plans for English have been developed using Jane Considine’s The Write Stuff to help our children become brilliant writers. The Write Stuff comprises of two modes of teaching. The first of which is Sentence Stacking lessons which have a sharp focus on the construction of sentences. The second mode is Experience Lessons which are based on immersive teaching to stimulate ideas. This is followed by an independent writing sequence where children are able to apply the skills they have learnt. In addition, they are actively encouraged to engage in set editing processes to make improvements to their writing.
As part of The Write Stuff, we use Jane Considine’s Writing Rainbow which is a visual reminder of the components, or different “lenses” writing encompasses such as similes, metaphors, alliteration, complex sentences and inner thought. The rainbow is prominently displayed in the classroom and children have individual copies to refer back to.
Underpinning all of our work in English are opportunities for children to access a variety of quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
We started using Martin Harvey handwriting scheme in September 2022. Children have handwriting sessions at least once a week, more for children who need more support or are younger. This approach uses a simple cursive style where children are taught correct letter formation from the start of reception with flicks in preparation for joining. As children move through the scheme, they start to join up.
Children are taught to sit properly in preparation for writing and taught to a correct pencil grip. Sessions include patterns as well as letter formation to help children to develop a flowing style.
Our children develop a lifelong love of reading and writing and enjoy discussing and recommending books to their peers. Their vocabulary is increased through the work done in their English lessons and they use a broad vocabulary in spoken and written work. Children are able to communicate effectively through their written work using accurate spelling, grammar, punctuation and neat, cursive handwriting. We assess regularly to track progress and identify next steps in learning to enable each child to flourish.