At Seer Green CE School, we believe that English has a pre-eminent place in education and society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to read, write and speak fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others, whilst also recognising and learning the ability to listen effectively so others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, we want pupils to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils to develop their imagination and creativity, which feeds into their writing, whilst also acquiring knowledge to build on what they already know. We want pupils to have the best possible chance to participate fully as a member of society and our desire to achieve this is reflected in the importance that we place on English - both reading and writing - in our school.
Our curriculum is based upon the National Curriculum 2014 and ensures 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 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.
Speaking and Listening
Children’s ability to speak and listen is fundamental to their learning. We provide lots of opportunities for children to speak and listen so they can develop their thinking skills, knowledge, use of language and social skills. Richness and variety of talk is also of key importance for all children and through a repertoire of talk for different purposes and audiences, pupils are able to develop their confidence when speaking in small and large groups, informal and formal situations. Links between oral and written language are encouraged and consistently built on, and children for who English is an additional language have opportunities to work with good role models - peers and adults.
The synthetic phonics curriculum follows the Essential Letters and Sounds programme and is explicitly and systematically taught from the beginning of Reception. Children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 follow a structured daily programme of teaching which is delivered to the whole class by the class teacher. Planning is progressive, following clear phases, each with their own set of milestones. Children are taught to read letters and groups of letters by saying the sounds they represent and then by blending or synthesising the sounds together to make a word. Alongside blending and segmenting of familiar words, children are taught to recognise high frequency ‘harder to read’ words at speed and to apply their knowledge when encountering something unfamiliar.
Lessons are fast paced and follow a model of active learning that is structured to incorporate:
- Revist and review
This model ensures there are frequent opportunities for teachers to identify and address misconceptions and misunderstandings.
The phonics programme is supported by a high-quality reading scheme of banded books. From Reception, children are given books to read at home which are matched to their phonic ability so that they are reading and consolidating the grapheme-phoneme correspondences they know. The books cover a range of genres to enable children to apply their phonic knowledge in meaningful contexts.
We believe that the partnership between home and school is integral to children’s success as early readers. Parents of Reception children are invited to attend an annual phonics workshop, held early in the Autumn term. The workshop gives a comprehensive insight into the synthetic phonics programme and equips parents with the skills to support their child effectively following the models used at school.
Children are also taught the skills of reading (outlined in the National Curriculum and the KS1 and KS2 test domains) through the use of VIPERS which were created by Rob Smith (The Literacy Shed). The Reading Vipers are used by both KS1 and KS2 with a little adaption. VIPERS is an anagram to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains as part of the UK’s reading curriculum. They are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts. VIPERS stands for:
The 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics (decoding, fluency, prosody, etc). As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions. They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these, which allows for targeted questioning afterwards.
In KS1, ‘Explain’; is not one of the content domains, rather it asks children why they have come to a certain conclusion, to explain their preferences, thoughts and opinions about a text.
|KS1 Content Domain Reference
|1a draw on knowledge of vocabulary to understand texts
|1b identify/ explain key aspects of fiction and non-fiction, such as characters, events, titles and information.
|1c identify and explain the sequences of events in texts
|1d make inferences from the text
|1e predict what might happen on the basis of what has been read so far
In KS2, the Explain section covers the additional content domains of 2F, 2G and 2H which are not present in KS1.
|KS2 Content Domain Reference
|2a Give/explain the meaning of words in context
|2b retrieve and record information/ identify key details from fiction and non/fiction
|2c summarise main ideas from more than one paragraph
|2d make inferences from the text/ explain and justify inferences with evidence from the text
|2e predict what might happen from details stated or implied
|2f identify/explain how information/ narrative content is related and contributes to meaning as a whole
|2g identify/explain how meaning is enhanced through choice of words and phrases
|2h make comparisons within a text
We see learning to write as a journey from dependence to independence and one which is best supported by a programme of reading well-chosen, high quality texts. This enables children to become increasingly aware of:
- written language structures and rhythms
- language registers and conventions.
Skills of oracy are developed and used to stimulate and inform a wide range of writing through drama, role-play, re-enactment, recount, instruction, debate and discussion. We believe that children make progress in writing where their teachers engage in writing themselves, sharing experience and expertise with their classes and we use modelled and shared writing techniques routinely as part of teaching to demonstrate the process of writing, acting as scribes, response partners, editors and advisors. The planning, drafting, responding, revising and editing process is used to help children establish a clear understanding of the process of writing.
We also recognise that different forms, or genres, of writing are best learnt when children write for authentic purposes and engage with authentic audiences. Relevant and engaging writing tasks that respond to the interests of the children and are planned, with content shaped by audience and purpose. As they find their voice as writers, children are given opportunities to write independently and collaboratively, and to develop and apply skills of writing in subjects across the curriculum.
Developing a broad and rich vocabulary is seen as an intrinsic part of effective writing and within units of work, time is spent developing subject specific vocabulary banks on which children are able to draw when writing - working walls, words mats, thesaurus, etc.
Spelling, Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation
Spelling, punctuation and grammar, linked to language and form, is taught, modelled and explored as an integral part of the writing curriculum. In the early stages of spelling, children are supported to use visual and morphemic approaches to spelling as well as ‘sounding words out’. Later they are taught to analyse patterns in words and to collate word banks and lists to illustrate spelling patterns and rules such as homophones, common prefixes and suffixes.
A variety of age appropriate resources for accessing the correct spelling are available in each classroom and children are taught to use them independently. These might include word banks, wall lists, dictionaries, thesauri and textbooks/reference books on relevant subjects. Weekly spelling lists, which are learnt in class and at home, are tested in class.
Grammar and punctuation are taught both explicitly and in the context of writing to provide a meaningful approach and a model for application.
Handwriting is taught discretely.
English is linked to other subjects in an integral way, as it is the medium through which pupils learn. We recognise that the principles of teaching English can be applied to the teaching of other subjects across the curriculum, e.g. through presentations, group discussions, using writing frames, reading for information, communicating and computing.
Opportunities are regularly available across the key stages for pupils to utilise, demonstrate and further develop their skills by: completing cross-curricular projects; taking part in presentations; class assemblies; school productions and year group rich learning outcomes; and contributing to the school newsletter. Additional events such as visits from theatre companies and authors, book fairs and book weeks also help to inspire and enthuse pupils.
Our English Curriculum should ensure that children leave Seer Green CE School:
- with a love of reading. They are able to reference a wide range of different authors, from different literary traditions and genres.
- with a love of writing. They should be able to express their opinions and their creativity in writing that is well structured, clear, technically accurate and interesting to read.
- able to express their opinions verbally; to understand how to engage – and disagree – with others clearly and articulately.
- having made the best possible progress as a result of consistent, Quality First Teaching and (where appropriate) additional interventions.
- confident to try new things, experiment with their writing, take risks, and continue to expand their experience of reading.
- feeling that their efforts were valued and their opinions heard. That they have had a chance to find their ‘voice’ and were encouraged to use it.