Curriculum Policy: English

Philosophy

English language and literature is at the very heart of our curriculum. It develops children’s abilities to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes. Language is used to learn and communicate ideas, views and feelings. It enables children to express themselves clearly, creatively and imaginatively in response to their reading and through their speaking and writing.

Aims

English Provision at Meadowdale is aligned to those of the National Curriculum.

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 language, 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

Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning of English focuses on acquiring and developing the range of skills needed in order that pupils leave us as fluent and confident readers, writers, speakers and listeners. Learning objectives are taken directly from the National Curriculum and are broken down into smaller, manageable and meaningful steps. Skills are explicitly taught and children are given opportunities to practise and master them in different contexts. Our integrated curriculum ensures that learning is contextual and purposeful. For example, children learning about the Romans might read Roman myths, write a diary extract of a Roman soldier or explain how Roman road was constructed. Vocabulary enrichment is a priority throughout.

 

The Spoken Word

Pupils are taught to speak clearly and confidently and articulate their views and opinions.  They are encouraged to express themselves orally in an appropriate way, matching their style and response to audience and purpose, listening and responding to literature, giving and receiving instructions.  Children develop the skills of participating effectively in one to one conversations and group discussions.

 By the time children leave our school, we want them to:

  • be able to communicate effectively and speak with confidence, clarity and fluency
  • be able to fully participate in discussions and debates
  • articulate their ideas and thoughts clearly with appropriate tone and vocabulary
  • respond to questions and differing opinions appropriately
  • recognise how to adapt speech to a range of different audiences
  • retell a range of stories and poems by heart
  • listen carefully and respond appropriately to what is being said
  • ask questions with increasing relevance and insight

 

Statutory Requirements

The teaching of the spoken word at Meadowdale conforms to statutory requirements.

Pupils are taught to:

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  •  use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary  
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments 
  •  use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas 
  • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English  participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication

 

Reading

Pupils are taught throughout EYFS, KS1 and KS2 to become competent readers. We recognise the crucial importance not only of being able to read for meaning across a wide range of texts but also to read for pleasure.

Pupils experience a structured programme of phonics in EYFS and KS1. This is built upon in KS2 where there is a shift in emphasis from word recognition to etymology. Alongside word reading, we have a whole school approach to the development of key comprehension skills. We have a shared language through which we explicitly plan and teach in line with the reading content domains.

 

By the time children leave our school we want them to:

  • read a wide range of texts with competence and confidence
  • have a broad understanding of written vocabulary
  • be a critical reader of texts
  • be able to retrieve information from fiction, poetry and non-fiction texts
  • be able to discuss what they are reading and display a sound understanding of the meanings of texts at a beyond the literal level 
  • understand and explain some of the choices that authors make in their writing
  • be able to make comparisons within and across texts
  • be able to identify the different ways in which texts are structured

 

Statutory Requirements

The teaching of reading at Meadowdale conforms to statutory requirements.

For Foundation Stage, statutory requirements for the development of communication and language skills are laid out in the statutory framework for the early years’ foundation stage.  It states that:

  • Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.

In KS1 and KS2, the National Curriculum states that:

  • 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.

The teaching of reading may take place on a one to one basis, in small groups or with the whole class. Pupils who have been identified as working at a level below that which is age related are given additional intervention sessions. We have a range of resources to support these interventions. These are stored in the Little Den.

All pupils have a school reading book. They progress through the book bands (which are categorised in line with phonic ability). Once they are fluent readers, they independently choose books from our school library. Each pupil has a home/school reading record. In KS2, pupils have a reading journal in which they respond in a written form to what they have read. Each year group has a selection of high quality books, which they read as part of our reading spine. These are sometimes but not always linked with the wider curriculum.

 

Writing

The ability to communicate well through the written word is central to teaching and learning at Meadowdale.  We develop children’s’ writing skills through an integrated programme of explicit skills teaching, exposure to high quality literature, vocabulary development and the ability to articulate thoughts and ideas.  Pupils are given the opportunity, within a broad and balanced curriculum, to practise and consolidate taught English skills.  We aim to make writing meaningful; we encourage all children to see themselves as writers, whether it is informing, entertaining, persuading or discussing.

 

By the time children leave our school we want them to:

  • write with confidence, fluency and understanding, using a range of independent strategies to self-monitor and correct.
  • have an interest in writing and an understanding of its purpose.
  • have an interest in words and their meanings; be developing an increasingly wide vocabulary in spoken and written forms.
  • satisfy the spelling requirements of the National Curriculum
  • understand a range of text types and genres – be able to write in a variety of styles and forms appropriate to the situation.
  • be developing the powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
  • have suitable technical skills to structure their responses.

 

Statutory Requirements

The teaching of writing at Meadowdale conforms to statutory requirements.

For Foundation Stage, statutory requirements for the development of communication and language skills are laid out in the statutory framework for the early years’ foundation stage.  It states that:

  • Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.

Statutory requirements for the teaching and learning of English in key stages 1 and 2 are laid out in The national curriculum in England Key stages 1 and 2 framework document. It states that:

  • Pupils should develop the stamina and skills to write at length, with accurate spelling and punctuation. They should be taught the correct use of grammar. They should build on what they have been taught to expand the range of their writing and the variety of the grammar they use. The writing they do should include narratives, explanations, descriptions, comparisons, summaries and evaluations: such writing supports them in rehearsing, understanding and consolidating what they have heard or read.

 

Approaches to writing

Writing is taught through a progressive build-up of skills and knowledge and allows for lots of opportunity to practise and consolidate previous learning.  Cross-curricular writing opportunities are key and teachers seek to take advantage of opportunities to make cross-curricular links. They plan for pupils to practise and apply the skills, knowledge and understanding acquired through English lessons to other areas of the curriculum.

In English lessons, specific teaching strategies are used to develop children’s skills: phonics; encouragement of emergent writing; modelled writing; shared writing; guided writing.

 

Handwriting

Great emphasis is placed on achieving fluent handwriting. When handwriting becomes second nature, it allows children to focus on higher order composition skills.  Meadowdale uses the Nelson scheme for the teaching and practice of handwriting.

 

Grammar and Punctuation

All year groups are taught in accordance with the requirements of the National Curriculum.  Wherever possible, grammar and punctuation are contextualised within the context of the reading and writing lessons.

 

Spelling

Pupils are taught to spell firstly through phonics. Throughout EYFS and KS1, all pupils have regular phonics lessons. This knowledge is built upon in their independent writing. As part of this process and beyond it into KS2, pupils are taught to think critically about words, their sound patterns, meanings and origins. They observe words, discuss them and reason about them in Word Study lessons. Pupils compare and contrast words and, through their investigations, formulate rules about spelling patterns. Word Study lessons are taught in mixed ability groups. Pupils are tested on their understanding of spelling rules rather than on their ability to spell words from a list. Pupils who have specific difficulties may have additional teaching as part of an intervention.

 

Planning, Assessment, Recording and Reporting

Reading

  • In EYFS, daily phonics sessions are planned and delivered for teaching new sounds, and to practise the skills of blending and segmenting. Children’s phonic knowledge and their understanding of what they have read, is determined through teacher observations, and both formative and summative assessment. Teachers plan both shared and guided reading sessions using the development matters statements and Early Learning Goals, taking into account the current knowledge and understanding of the children. Assessment records following guided reading activities are recorded on the ‘Earwig Academic Time lines’ online system.
  • The planning format for KS1 and KS2 is based upon a teaching sequence of guided reading with a teacher and a follow up written response. At other times across the week, children read independently to develop the skills related to the reading content domains. Throughout all reading lessons, there is a strong emphasis on the explicit teaching of vocabulary.
  • Formative assessment is carried out by the class teacher each week and is recorded.
  • Summative assessment is on a termly basis. Pira assessment materials are used.

 

Writing

  • Planning focuses on engaging children in the writing process by immersing them in quality stimuli, reading in depth, oral rehearsal and drama based activities.
  • Independent writing opportunities are planned for across the curriculum.
  • Planning for writing breaks down year group objectives into smaller, manageable steps.
  • Formative assessment is carried out by the class teacher each week and is recorded. Writing is assessed against key objectives for each year group.

 

Grammar and Punctuation

  • Planning for grammar and punctuation is contextualised within writing planning wherever possible.
  • Children are assessed against the objectives for their year groups and formative assessment takes place and is recorded each week.
  • Summative assessment is on a termly basis. Pira assessment materials are used.

 

Spelling

  • Phonics planning is based on the Sounds-Write Programme
  • Phonic trackers are used throughout EYFS and KS1
  • Word Study planning is based upon resources at www.wordstudyspelling.com
  • Formative assessment is based on observations, marking of independent work and mini quizzes
  • Children are tested on their ability to correctly spell the words from the common exception word lists for their year group.