An introductory guide to the English curriculum for parents
Our aims for children are high: we want them to become very skilled listeners, speakers, writers, and readers. Becoming literate is a complex process that requires skills, knowledge, and a passion to study the language. Becoming literate in English is essential for a child’s educational and social advancement, it is an outlet for emotional well-being and sets a foundation for lifelong learning. As literate learners, the pupils can apply learning strategies when approaching new learning experiences.
This goes beyond primary school life and has the potential to equip them for their ongoing life journey. We believe that English crosses the boundaries of subject learning and that specific subject language enhances the learning of English. To fulfill our aims and to deliver a structured, rich curriculum, with a clear progression of skills, we follow the statutory requirements of the English Curriculum in line with national guidance.
Throughout the school, we adopt a skills-based approach to teach phonics, spelling, and grammar and use structured schemes and a range of high-quality age-appropriate texts. We ensure that the pupils understand the reciprocity between oracy, reading, and writing. We give them opportunities to apply their skills in English by providing a wide range of structured reading books that provide diverse learning opportunities.
The school has a strong culture, and a lengthy track record, in performing arts and has been involved in many projects over the years that enhance the learning of English. These projects have included links with The Royal Shakespeare Company and the RHS Tatton Show and currently the Ambassador Theatre Project supported by the National Theatre. The school collaborates with organisations at a local level and staff and children are supported to develop community projects such as the ‘gardens project’, where people from the local community come and work with the pupils. These enrichment activities help develop reading and writing for an audience and show the children the importance of communicating appropriately in different situations.
In order to maintain our current high-quality reading resources, reading materials are continually refreshed and renewed over time. Home school links are important to us and children take a variety of books home several times a week, to share with their family and friends. Through teaching the skills for reading and writing and the strategies needed to employ these skills, we aim to give the children the tools to develop their use of language into their future.
To help children to become competent readers of the alphabetic code, we start the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics from Reception. We use a validated programme, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. The programme is a complete programme of daily phonic sessions with a review at the end of each week. The resources, such as decodable texts support the application of phonics and match books to support home reading. The weekly informal revision of work and the ongoing assessment process in the school ensure that children needing extra support are identified and provided for.
Phonics, Reading and Writing KS1.
Alongside the daily systematic synthetic phonics session using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, teachers read story books from the class libraries to foster reading for enjoyment. Large texts are sometimes used to teach the children the transition from spoken to written language. Small group work, on text-related activities, help the children to practice their learning and allows the teacher to assess how individual children are progressing. Most children successfully complete the phonic programme by the end of KS1. As the children become proficient word readers, the use of vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation is developed to support the move to working on more complex texts.
Spelling, Grammar, Reading, and Writing KS2.
The use of structured, more complex, high-quality reading texts is continued into KS2. These give teachers the opportunity to teach even more challenging grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Using techniques such as whole class teaching, group work, and Reciprocal Teaching methods, the focus shifts to comprehending texts at a deeper level. The children are taught study skills that take them on to becoming more independent learners, as required by the end of KS2.
Writing development is facilitated using different writing genres and teachers plan for this through cross-curricular topic work. They teach the use of formal and informal language codes, how vocabulary is used to emphasise the exact message, how extracting information from reading supports ideas for writing, how handwriting supports spelling patterns, and how to use their skills and knowledge to extend their learning across the curriculum.