Children in Years 1 - 6 follow the National Curriculum for English, click for more information:
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) has always been taught as part of the English curriculum as part of everyday lessons. In 2013 a summative assessment of these skills was introduced for Year 6 pupils as part of their Key Stage 2 SATs. As children progress through school they are encouraged to apply and explore grammar concepts in their own speech and writing and to note where it is used by others. Young pupils, in particular, use more complex language in speech than in writing, and teachers aim to build on this, to encourage a smooth transition to sophisticated writing.
SPaG skills are taught throughout the school in both discrete sessions and as part of wider English work. These sessions will take many different forms including games and ICT-based activities to enhance learning. Children may also receive homework to reinforce this.
We are proud of our high levels of attainment in reading but also aim to foster a lifelong love and enjoyment of reading which will stay with our children long after they leave us.
EYFS and Key Stage 1
Children encounter a range of reading learning opportunities in school to ensure that fundamental skills are securely in place.
Daily phonics sessions provide a very structured approach, children are taught in smaller groups and progress is assessed regularly. Whole class teaching also takes place and texts are often used as a stimulus for further English based activities. In Guided Reading sessions, pupils work in small, adult led groups to explore texts, building particularly on comprehension and early inference skills.
In addition pupils read regularly on a 1:1 basis to ensure both accuracy and understanding. Whilst this may be with a teacher or teaching assistant, we are fortunate in that we are supported by a committed team of volunteers comprising parents, grandparents and friends of the school. Children are encouraged to read at home and generally take a book home each night. Whilst reading scheme (colour banded books) are used for this, each class also has its own 'mini library' in the form of a 'woodland basket'. These books cover a range of genres and levels, the emphasis being on enjoyment and sharing with parents and carers. Woodland baskets are rotated between classes on a half termly basis to ensure variety. Enjoying a class book at story time, remains a highlight of the school day for many, pupils and teachers alike!
Key Stage 2
As pupils progress through Key Stage 2 the emphasis switches from decoding skills to developing comprehension and inference skills.
Again, texts frequently provide a focal point for English work, often linking with on going topic work to develop a theme. In addition to whole class teaching, Guided Reading sessions continue. These enable children to develop the high levels of inference and understanding needed for Secondary school. Pupils also have the opportunity to explore and respond to text through follow up tasks and activities. There remains an expectation for children to read at home on a regular basis.
Throughout school, reading resources are regularly reviewed and updated. In addition to scheme books and woodland baskets, we also borrow from the Cheshire School Library service. The mobile library visits regularly and children are involved in choosing class collections. Each year in March we celebrate World Book Day, by enjoying different reading themed activities. We also host twice yearly book fairs which are really popular and well supported.
From a very young age children begin to make marks. It is our aim to guide them from this to become confident in expressing themselves in the written form.
As with reading, writing skills are taught in different ways appropriate to the age and development of the child.
Initially children are given opportunities to make marks in a variety of contexts. For example 'writing' lists, letters or invitations in a role play area, shapes in sand or with chalks on the playground. The next stage is to move towards the correct formation of recognised letters and early stages of handwriting. From early years onwards children are given opportunities to write for different purposes and always within a context such as role play or as part of topic work. Spelling is taught as part of daily phonics sessions alongside reading skills. Initially as separate sounds, then blending sounds together to make words.
As children progress, teaching incorporates different aspects of writing skills such as sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling and handwriting, enabling children to become increasingly competent and confident writers. They encounter a range of different writing genres in both fiction and non fiction forms and begin to recognise the features of each. Wherever possible writing is given purpose and set within a real context. For example writing a letter to a favourite author or writing instructions for other pupils to follow. Opportunities for writing are strongly text centred, for example based on a class book and children frequently begin units of work by analysing examples of a genre first.
From a very young age, children are encouraged to see themselves as authors fully immersed in the writing process. They learn to analyse and structure text appropriately, building on the skills of composition and recognise the importance of editing and improving their work. As well as refining technical skills, a great emphasis is also placed on exploring creativity, selecting and manipulating words, ideas and themes for impact.
Our children are assessed on their writing by their class teacher at the end of each year. Formal assessments take place at the end of key stages in year 2 and year 6. Teacher judgements are made several pieces of work from a variety of genres, e.g. a letter, a short story, explanation text, diary entry, etc.
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and Listening forms a vital part of the English curriculum; unless children can verbalise ideas they will struggle to be able to convey them as text. Similarly presentation skills are critical in our modern world.
Children do not learn these skills automatically, it is important that they are taught such skills in a structured way, from an early age, alongside reading and writing.
Early opportunities for speaking may begin within the context of drama, as part of role play activities. Young children may present informally by sharing ideas in 'show and tell'.
However as they grow up, children in our school encounter a range of opportunities appropriate to their age and stage of development. For example, pupils are often asked to act as researchers and then present their findings to the class. Drama techniques such as 'hot seating' or 'conscience alley' are often used as part of English sessions. Such techniques enable children to explore concepts such as empathy, which in turn contribute to planning for writing.
As well as these frequent opportunities within class, pupils also have the chance to present to a wider audience through annual year group presentations to parents.
We recognise the huge benefits of working together with parents and carers to support learning at home. Regular English homework is set from the first days of Early Years but of course is age appropriate to the child.
Reading at home
English homework quite simply begins with regular reading at home. Although simple, this has huge impact and can be a really special time of the day with young children, sharing and enjoying books.
Indeed right through school we actively encourage pupils to read regularly at home. Even when children appear to be confident readers there is enormous benefit in discussing texts in order to develop higher level inference and deduction skills.
Spellings and Handwriting
Some year groups set weekly spelling and/or handwriting activities. This may be a list to learn for a weekly test or may be investigating spelling rules etc.
Written English homework
In some year groups a weekly written English homework is set, usually focusing on a specific writing skill. Year group specific information is given at our annual 'Meet the Teacher' night in September.