Christchurch Infant School
What does English look like in our school?
English Curriculum Statement
English is a fundamental life skill and a tool used in all aspects of the curriculum. It is essential in teaching children to communicate effectively with others, through speaking, reading and writing. These skills are interrelated and are taught within integrated programmes of study.
Our aim is to awaken the creative, literary talents of all of our children, allowing them to become literate and articulate young adults.
Through our exciting and diverse curriculum, we aim to create roving reporters, perfect playwrights, sensational short-story crafters, budding biographers, nifty novelists and punchy poets!
We are proud to have enthusiastic and experienced teachers who are dedicated to unleashing every child’s potential in all aspects of English: phonics, reading, writing and speaking and listening. Sound literacy skills underpin every curriculum area and provide the key to unlock the doors to every subject.
So, take a look at our English pages to find a whole array of information and access useful materials to help you unravel the secret to success in English at Christchurch Infant School.
At Christchurch Infant School we believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions. We want pupils to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in our school. Reading allows pupils to access knowledge to build on what they already know in all other subjects. Writing and Spoken language allow pupils to communicate their ideas and emotions to others. Children should be enabled to appreciate different literature and become critical readers of stories, plays, poetry, non-fiction and multi-media texts. This, in turn, will encourage their spiritual, emotional, social, cultural and intellectual development. We do not put ceilings on what pupils can achieve in English and we do not hold pre-conceptions about any pupils’ ability to make progress. We understand the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop both grammar, spelling and composition skills, and so we want to encourage a home-school partnership which enables parents and carers to understand how to enhance the skills being taught in school.
We teach English as whole class lessons, so that all children have access to the age-related skills and knowledge contained in the National Curriculum. Within lessons, teachers and teaching assistants target support for slower graspers to enable them to achieve at an age-related level wherever possible. This may involve a greater level of scaffolding and access to additional support materials such as Word Banks or a greater level of modelling. Rapid graspers are given opportunities to extend their writing in a variety of ways, including through showing greater control in their writing, a deeper understanding of the impact that their writing has on the reader and by using a higher level of vocabulary and grammar features. Spellings are taught according to the rules and words contained in Appendix 1 of the English National Curriculum.
Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are taught through English lessons and RWI as much as possible. Teachers plan to teach the required skills through the genres of writing that they are teaching, linking it to the genre to make it more connected with the intended writing outcome. Teachers sometimes focus on particular grammar and punctuation skills as stand-alone lessons, if they feel that the class need additional lessons to embed and develop their understanding or to consolidate skills. Feedback and marking should be completed, where possible, within the lesson. All marking and feedback is given in line with our marking and feedback policy.
· Pupils will enjoy writing across a range of genres
· Pupils of all abilities will be able to succeed in all English lessons because work will be appropriately scaffolded
· Pupils will have a wide vocabulary that they use within their writing
· Pupils will have a good knowledge of how to adapt their writing based on the context and audience
· Pupils will leave our school being able to effectively apply spelling rules and patterns they have been taught
· Parents and carers will have a good understanding of how they can support spelling, grammar and composition and home, and contribute regularly to homework
· The % of pupils working at ARE within each year group will be at least in line with national averages.
· The % of pupils working at Greater Depth within each year group will be at least in line with national averages
· There will be no significant gaps in the progress of different groups of pupils (e.g. disadvantaged vs non disadvantaged)
Reading opens the door to learning. A child who reads a lot will become a good reader. A good reader will be able to read more challenging material. A child who can read more challenging material is a child who will learn. The more a child learns, the more he or she will want to find out.
The government strongly recommend the use of synthetic phonics when teaching early literacy skills to children. Synthetic phonics is simply the ability to convert a letter or letter group into sounds that are then blended together into a word.
Here at the Christchurch Infant School, we are using the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their literacy. RWI is a method of learning based upon letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.
Using RWI, the children learn to read effortlessly so they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so they can put all their energy into composing what they write.
The children are assessed regularly and grouped according to their ability. They will work with a RWI trained teacher or teaching assistant. In addition to the RWI, children will also be working on writing skills in their classes with their own teacher.
In the Early years, our children are encouraged to attempt their own emergent writing. As their phonic knowledge increases and they are introduced to red words (common exception words), it is expected that this will be reflected in their writing. A wide variety of opportunities are provided for our children to engage in writing activities linked to our engaging projects. These include: shared writing, independent writing and role-play. Through engaging in these activities, the children become aware that writing is used for a range of purposes and can distinguish it from
drawing, learning the left to right convention of writing in English. The children are introduced to basic punctuation and will begin to use this in their independent writing.
In Key Stage 1, our children build on their writing skills through daily English lessons that cover the National Curriculum objectives. These are integrated as part of our curriculum. Children are introduced to a range of punctuation and taught how to use this accurately and effectively in their writing. We encourage children to say their sentences out loud to help them remember what they want to write and to record this accurately, self-editing where necessary. The children are set individual targets for their writing and are encouraged to use and think about these each time they write. These targets are monitored and reviewed regularly.
To enrich the English curriculum, each week our children take part in ‘Free Writing Friday’, an initiative championed by the ‘How to Train a Dragon’ author Cressida Cowell to encourage children to write for pleasure. Each Friday, our pupils are encouraged to write creatively in their own personalised notebooks for at least fifteen minutes. By taking part in these we aim to promote a love of writing for all children and boost their confidence in the subject by allowing them to write freely and creatively without fear of being corrected. Throughout the year, our children are also given the opportunity to take part in various poetry and creative writing competitions, which are celebrated in whole school assemblies.
In the Early Years, our children are provided with a range of opportunities for mark making both in an inside and an outside environment. They also have access to many different gross and fine motor activities to help strengthen and develop these important skills. When teachers are modelling activities, they demonstrate and encourage correct pencil grip. The children are taught how to correctly form pre-cursive letters through the Read Write Inc handwriting scheme using the rhymes to support.
In Key Stage 1, handwriting is taught in explicit, regular sessions focusing on cursive letter formation, consistent size and shape of letters, as well as accurate joining. Extra intervention is offered to children who need further handwriting support.
In the Early Years, spelling is taught daily through Read Write Inc phonics sessions, in these sessions children have the opportunity to practice spelling words containing the sounds they are taught in each lesson using ‘Fred Fingers’. When learning how to spell, the children hold up their non-dominant hand and sound out the word they are spelling. They then put up the correct number of fingers and pinch the sounds to support them. E.g. m-a-t = 3 sounds = 3 fingers.
In Key Stage 1, our children continue with Read Write Inc phonics sessions, learning how to spell words with each sound that they are taught and develop their use of ‘Fred fingers’ to spell longer and more complex words. As the children complete the Read Write Inc scheme, they will begin to learn spelling patterns and rules to support them in moving beyond phonically plausible spelling and will be able to use this knowledge to select the correct graphemes when writing. In Year 1, our children are taught and practise spelling at least three common exception words throughout the week. These common exception words are sent home and the children are encouraged to practise these regularly. In Year 2, our children are given differentiated spellings to learn at home taken from the common exception word list. The children have their own spelling books and are encouraged to complete various spelling activities and games.
The teaching of English enables pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others. Through reading and listening, others can communicate with them and they will be able to access information in all subject areas.
We teach reading through the synthetic phonics scheme ‘Read Write Inc’ and also through developing children’s comprehension of texts. We also aim to encourage reading for pleasure and a motivation to read. The role of parents is vital in developing good literacy skills and they are expected to support the work of the school. The children will bring reading books home on a regular basis.
Parents are asked to hear their child read at home, comment on their progress and ensure that the books and reading records are returned to school every day. Books are also loaned from the school library on a weekly basis for children. Here at Christchurch Infants School we use a range of published reading schemes to form our collection of progressive, book banded, reading books.