Our aims for our English curriculum are to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
We aim for our pupils to:
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.
make progress to becoming a correct speller, using neat legible joined handwriting
make fair critical responses about their own English work, that of their peers and that of popular authors and poets
exercise choice about the best way organise and present their ideas, including the ability to plan, draft and edit their work
At William Harding, English is taught through a ‘Novel Study’ approach. This means that high quality texts are used across the school as a basis for developing both reading and writing skills. These texts are carefully planned to ensure progression and challenge for all of our pupils. Our long-term overview shows how a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts and genres are covered to ensure pupils are exposed to a broad and diverse selection of writing including texts from our literary heritage. This long-term overview also shows the skills progression across all areas of the English curriculum across the school.
The National Curriculum states that pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose and be encouraged to read for pleasure. This is to be taught through word reading/decoding and comprehension.
In the Foundation Stage, the practitioners introduce concepts of print and phonics skills through both daily RWInc sessions and regular English focus sessions, where appropriate.
In Key Stage 1, Phonics sessions continue to be taught daily. Texts are also explored through the main English lessons as the class explore the novel being used within our novel study approach, as well as applying reading comprehension skills to a range of other high quality texts. Skills taught include understanding the questions being asked and returning to the text for the answer, as well as beginning to understand inference and prediction.
In Key Stage 2, the focus is on developing higher order reading skills such as inference and deduction, skimming and scanning and the ability to read texts critically.
Super Quality Uninterrupted Reading Time (SQUIRT) happens four times a week in all year groups to ensure there is a dedicated time to exploring texts and promoting reading skills. This is usually the book being explored within the novel study, but on occasions may be other high quality texts to support teaching specific skills and ensure pupils are exposed to a wide range of texts. The SQUIRT session happens directly before the English lesson for 15 minutes in KS1 (Year 1 start in summer term) and 30 minutes in KS2 and will often feed in to the main English lesson, where relevant. Children will, where possible, have one copy of the text each and will be following the text using a ruler. They will have opportunities to read the text alone, with a partner, by a peer or by their teacher. The rest of the session then explores the texts through various reading skills, linked to learning ladder statements, including lots of questioning using VIPERS – vocabulary, inference, predict, explain, retrieve, summarise.
At William Harding, wider reading and reading at home are well promoted. We have well stocked libraries and we set ambitious expectations for reading at home. Children are encouraged to choose suitable and challenging books, which they are interested in to take home as well as share in school, in order to promote reading for pleasure. Other ways in which we support this include: encouraging individual reading through the reading rocks challenge, whole school book events and reading clubs.
In order to promote writing development, we treat children as writers, from the earliest stage providing a range of experiences where the children can acquire confidence and a positive attitude to writing. Within the curriculum, we dedicate time to providing opportunities for children to explore a range of texts, We ensure they write for a range of purposes and audiences, using guided writing sessions to model writing skills and teaching children how to compose, amend and revise their writing, so they become critical readers of their own writing. Grammar and punctuation is taught in the context of high quality texts, children’s own writing, as well as through discrete lessons where appropriate. We also teach strategies for spelling to enable children to become confident and competent spellers.
In the foundation stage, children have opportunities within their learning environment to develop and practice mark making, see teachers model writing in a variety of contexts and then practicing these skills themselves.
In Key Stage 1, children begin to learn how to write in a range of styles, for a variety of audiences and purposes, with dedicated time to unpick the writing skills discovered within the chosen novel and texts and try this for themselves, exploring a range of grammar, vocabulary and punctuation.
In Key Stage 2, more time is dedicated to planning, drafting, evaluating, editing and proofreading their work. Children are encouraged to use a more sophisticated range of vocabulary and imagery by accessing dictionaries, thesauruses and reading more challenging texts.
Throughout all writing work high quality texts are used, talk for writing is promoted and time for planning, editing and revising is essential. Children are given a range of stimuli for writing, ranging from role-play to ICT, and write for real purposes as often as possible.
Spellings are taught discretely through the RWInc Spellings programme, once children have completed the RWInc phonics programme. In year 2, a half hour session per day is dedicated to this, following the suggested RWInc structure. In KS2 key skills sessions are used to continue the RWInc spellings programme, at least 3 times a week. Those working below age related expectations in spelling will have extra interventions to support them.
Spellings are also taught throughout the novel study as appropriate, to ensure skills are applied throughout the curriculum.
Handwriting is taught and practised at least 10 minutes per day from year 1 onwards. We use the RWI rhymes to help with letter formation.
The Cursive handwriting style is be used throughout both key stages. The aim is to produce writing which is legible, consistent and of high quality. All staff (including teaching assistants) are to model cursive handwriting when modelling writing, as well as marking. Examples of good cursive handwriting should be seen around the classroom on displays and in modelled writing or labels.
Foundation Stage; the emphasis at this stage is with movement and fine motor skill development. Letter formation (starting at the right entry point and then moving in the right direction) learned at this early stage becomes automatic and has a profound influence on later fluency and legibility. Pupils are to be taught to use lead-in and lead-out strokes, as they are ready for letter formation. Some children may not be taught cursive, if it is not appropriate to them.
Key Stage 1; Building on the Foundation Stage, pupils at Key Stage 1 develop a legible style and begin to use fully cursive handwriting in by starting to join their letters. This is dependent on ability not the age of each child. It is expected that the majority of children will be joining by the end of Key Stage 1.
Key Stage 2; The target for children in Key Stage Two is to produce a fluent, consistently formed style of fully cursive handwriting with equal spacing between the letters and words.
Pupils are moved to using pen when they are ready.
We use the MSL Rescue Handwriting scheme to support the teaching of this handwriting style. Our SEN pupils or others who have difficulties with handwriting may work through this booklet to support them as needed.
Pupils will be taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. They learn to justify their ideas with reasons; ask questions to check their understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others; and develop effective communication. They are taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding through speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. This will enable them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing. These skills underpin not only English lessons, but all subjects, as well being covered by explicit teaching where appropriate.
To promote the development of spoken English skills at William Harding, we ensure that ‘thinking out loud’ is a strategy that all teachers model in all subjects, as well as encouraging other pupils to do the same. ‘Talk Partners’ and ‘My turn, your turn’ are regularly used strategies.
Performance poetry also contributes to spoken oracy and the development of Vocabulary. On a Thursday KS1/2 assembly, one class per week have learnt and perform a poem to the rest of the key stage.
Vocabulary is explicitly taught, across all subjects, to ensure language is developed consistently.
At William Harding, we believe in promoting opportunities for children to develop their spoken oracy skills wherever possible. Our debates offer a platform for children to express opinions, listen to others, whilst developing their understanding of a range of topics. Debates are a great way for students to get involved in class. Students have to research topics, prepare for the debate with their team, and think on their feet as they practice public speaking. Learning how to debate does more than improve speaking skills; it also makes for better listeners. This supplements our explicit vocabulary teaching.
Every Tuesday, classes engage in a topical debate, where speaking and listening skills are taught and modelled and children have opportunities to take on a range of roles.
This term our debate topics have included; is reading important? How to stay safe online, The right to vote, vegan vs meat eating, the power of sport and character investigation activities.
Pupils’ acquisition and command of vocabulary are key to their learning and progress across the whole curriculum and vocabulary must be explicitly taught these skills. Teachers therefore develop vocabulary actively, building systematically on pupils’ current knowledge. They will increase pupils’ store of words in general and make links between known and new vocabulary. In this way, pupils expand the vocabulary choices that are available to them when they write. In addition, it is vital for pupils’ comprehension that they understand the meanings of words they meet in their reading across all subjects, our older pupils will be taught the meaning of instruction verbs that they may meet in examination questions. It is particularly important to introduce pupils to the language which defines each subject in its own right, such as accurate mathematical and scientific language.
Reading Scheme and Reading at Home
Children take home books that match their RWInc level to support their phonics learning. In addition to this, they may also take a book from our reading scheme to ensure they are exposed to a wide range of texts. We have a variety of reading schemes that we use in school for home reading, which mainly consist of Collins Big Cat but may also include Jelly and Bean, Project X, Oxford Reading Tree, Songbirds Phonics etc… All of these are book banded according to colours which progress as; lilac, pink, red, yellow, blue, green, orange, turquoise, purple, gold, white, lime, copper, topaz and then free readers. Once children are reading fluently they have the choice of a variety of books from different authors and on fiction and non-fiction topics.
We promote reading at home with our ‘Reading Rocks’ initiative where children can earn Dojo points for reading regularly, choosing books book lists of high quality texts that have been shared with parents, as well as those from our reading scheme, and taking care of the books, including their new reading record books. Class teachers will check the reading record books each week and award Dojo points to individual children accordingly. Both the infant and junior class with the most points at the end of the half term will win a prize!
Classes also regularly visit the library to take home books to further extend their opportunities with choosing from a wide variety of texts own choice, promoting a love of reading.
Teachers use their knowledge of pupils to support them in choosing books that are at an appropriate level of challenge for them, whilst still allowing them choice to develop their own passion for reading.