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. 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. Children will gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its structures and patterns and be encouraged to continuously increase their vocabulary and enjoy adding to their repertoire of new words.
In the Early Years, our progression for teaching communication and language and writing is taken from the Early Years framework. The teaching of phonics and reading includes a broad and balanced range of teaching strategies fundamentally starting with Read Write Inc (a systematic prescriptive pedagogy) with frequent opportunities to reinforce and consolidate their skills across the curriculum.
Pupils are given opportunities to develop all these inter-related skills across the curriculum as well as within discrete Reading, English and Phonics lessons. In Early Years, progression of skills is informed from objectives set in ‘EYFS Developmental Matters’ for Communication and Language, Reading and Writing. Alongside this, the teaching of phonics (including reading) is discreetly taught using the progression from Read, Write, Inc publication. This progression supports both ‘reading’ sessions, where children read books in groups by ability, and phonics, which is taught whole class initially moving to targeted grouping, and offers challenge through application of spelling. Spellings are taught explicitly through phonic sessions and also during writing inputs. As well as through phonics, the teaching of writing is taught through explicit whole class inputs and through small focus groups, where next steps are differentiated appropriately. During writing sessions, we provide opportunities for children to develop their fine motor skills, pencil control, oral language, creativity and written work. This is created through continuous provision in the classroom, as well as activities set up by the teacher. Within these sessions, the role of at least one adult is to observe, challenge and extend learning through timely intervention, moving learning forward, while keeping children's excitement in the task they are engaged in.
Key Stage 1
This continues through key stage 1 where children have the opportunity to develop their spoken language regularly sharing their ideas in different situations and contexts, including role play. Children work regularly with different chatty partners, study buddies and talking threes.
The teaching of reading is taught through a variety of strategies including whole class, small group and individual sessions to support children’s word reading and comprehension development. Assessment for all ensures that all teaching and learning is appropriate to the needs of the children and moving learning forward.
Phonics is taught throughout Year One following the progression found in Read, Write, Inc, and to support children in Year Two to consolidate their learning.
Children are encouraged to develop and apply their writing skills across many curriculum areas through our thematic topics and within a language rich environment.
During English lessons teachers incorporate story telling language to develop pupils’ vocabulary and imagination whilst a rigorous approach to the teaching of spelling and grammar ensures that basic skills are taught effectively providing them with purposeful writing opportunities.
The children at Christchurch Infant School have a very positive attitude towards their reading and see themselves as authors and storytellers and writing progress is identified from learning walks, pupil surveys and talking to children. All children make progress at their own level through a curriculum that is inclusive and engaging for all. The majority of children reach age related expectations or above in both Reading and Writing.
Children are well equipped to continue learning and access the expectations of Key Stage 2, are engaged in reading and writing and aware of their own expertise and next steps in learning.
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. These include schemes such as Rigby Star, Oxford Reading Tree, Sunshine Spiral and many others.
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.
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.
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.
Children are taught to write by learning how to form their lower case and capital letters in the correct direction as well as starting and finishing in the right place. We use the ‘Penpals’ handwriting scheme and when children are ready, they will be encouraged to start joining up their handwriting. We follow the National Curriculum English programs of study when teaching spelling, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation. Children will be encouraged to compose sentences by rehearsing orally what they want to say, writing and re-reading to check it makes sense. Early writing skills can be encouraged by provision of suitable writing materials and the valuing of any mark making / play writing the child produces.
Acquiring a good standard for spoken English will underpin the development of reading and writing and is essential to communication as a whole. We value the use of drama across the whole curriculum to help children improve their speaking and listening skills. Parents can also help by looking for opportunities to develop speaking and listening skills for example, playing games and sharing conversations over a meal and carefully monitoring children’s access to television and computer games.
The school is very proud to have been awarded the Basic Skills Award for the third time, in recognition of its work in promoting and teaching high standards in Literacy.
The reading schemes we use to compile our book banding collection include: Bug Club- online, Rocket Readers, Comics for Phonics, Rigby Star, Oxford Reading Tree Project and Tree tops and Sunshine Spirals.
Here is a synopsis of Blended Reading in case further explanation is required:
In Year 2 we teach reading through a Blended Reading approach. This is a term used to encapsulate; Individual Reading, Whole Class Reading and our Guided Reading sessions.
Individual Reading happens each half term. Teachers’ listen to each child read individually to assess their progress and which book band colour they should be reading at home.
Whole Class Reading is taught each half-term. The Children work together on one text for a week, answering different types of comprehension questions.
Guided Reading is taught throughout the year in Year 2. Children are initially introduced to a book by the Teaching Assistant on their Day 1, focusing on new vocabulary and the genre of the text. On Day 2 the children have the same book to read independently. On Day 3 the children answer some literal questions about the book they have read. Day 4 is a Teacher directed session to discuss the book that they have been reading and discuss any misconceptions. The children talk through the literal questions from day 3 and answer some inference style questions as part of a group discussion led by the Teacher. Finally on Day 5 the children have the opportunity to reflect on what they have read and do an activity to explain their interpretation of the book.
Foundation and Year 1 also hear children in their class read individually to assess their progress and which book band colour they should be reading at home.
Year 1 also teach reading during whole class sessions in a similar approach to the format Year 2 use.