The National Curriculum (2014) clearly states that teaching the English language is an essential, if not the most essential, role of a primary school.
At School we recognise that without effective communication, little achievement can be made. We know that we have a duty to ensure that English teaching is a priority and we recognise that this is necessarily cross-curricular and a constant through-out school life and beyond. It is part of the ‘essential knowledge’ (p6 National Curriculum) that is needed in society:
‘Teachers should develop pupil’s spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.’ (p10 National Curriculum).
We are an inclusive school, we set high expectations and challenge all children. We recognise the importance of accurate and regular assessment in order to support individuals at every part of their learning journey and in whatever circumstances. We use one to one support, small groups and cross-phase work to help with this. We plan teaching opportunities to help those for whom English is an additional language and those with disabilities outlined in the SEN code of practice. We agree with the statement of the National Curriculum, that ‘pupils…who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised’ (p13).
The teaching and learning strategy is based on the new national curriculum for English. Approximately seven hours of dedicated English teaching is planned, including reading and writing, spelling and handwriting, drama and listening to stories.
Rights Respecting School
As a Rights Respecting School, the school recognises that all children have the right to a primary education that is free and develops each child’s character, talents and abilities as set out in Articles 28 and 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The National Curriculum states that pupils should be ‘taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently in Standard English’ (p10).
Pupils at Darrick Wood Junior School should:
Spoken Language Teaching Strategies
The four strands to speaking and listening are:
2. listening and responding;
3. group discussion and interaction
These oral skills are directly taught, modelled and sensitively encouraged in whole class and small group settings. Opportunities across the whole curriculum are planned for and developed. Children play an active part in presentations, topic talks, group discussions, debates and drama activities on a weekly basis. We follow the guidance and ideas from the 2014 National Curriculum to support the teaching and learning of speaking and listening. There is progression in the skills taught and assessment of significant achievements in speaking and listening. Digital videos and photos are a means of capturing progress and keeping records.
The National Curriculum states that pupils should be taught to read fluently, understand extended prose and be encouraged to read for pleasure. Reading is singled out as of paramount importance since through it ‘pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually’ (p13) Reading allows pupils to ‘acquire knowledge’ and to ‘build on what they already know’ (p13).
Pupils at Darrick Wood Junior School should:
Reading Teaching Strategies
1. Whole class reading that develops listening skills, a love of story and reading for pleasure. A class book is selected carefully and thoughtfully by the teacher to ensure it is a quality text which will challenge and inspire all learners.
This is teacher-led reading usually after lunch or at the end of the day with children listening and responding to questions, making predictions and discussing vocabulary choices.
The whole class reading lesson includes a starter activity in the form of an ERIC/RIC (Explanation, Retrieval, Inference, and Authors’ Choice) series of questions linked to an age appropriate text. Following the starter, the children will complete an activity based on a reading skill from the National Curriculum such as summarising, deducing and inferring or justifying an answer.
2. Shared reading that immerses children in the pattern of story and features of text types.
This happens in English sessions when introducing text and prior to writing. The teacher models as an expert reader and draws out the key elements of the content.
3. Independent reading in school and at home. Every classroom has a wide range of books for children of all abilities to read, which they are welcome to take home to read. Some children choose to read their own reading books, which is also welcomed. In all year groups, children fill in a reading record to record independent reading. They are encouraged to make reflective comments about their reading.
4. The reading environment.
The print rich environment encourages children to interact with displays, to follow instructions and signs, promoting functional language. Within the classroom the reading area is attractive and inviting, books are clearly accessible. Books are also displayed and promoted around the classroom and the whole learning environment of the school.
5. The school information centre (non-fiction library) provides reference materials for children and teachers. The school encourages all children to join and use their local library and for children to borrow and return books. Every summer, a visitor from a local library comes to school to promote the summer reading scheme run by all libraries, and participation in the project over the holidays is encouraged and then rewarded at school.
6. Book fairs, which take place in school twice every year. This gives children an opportunity to find out about newly-published books and fosters an atmosphere of excitement about reading. Children in Year 6 are given the opportunity to help to run the book fair.
The 2014 Curriculum divides writing skills into two dimensions:
We recognise that both these elements are essential to success and we support the acquisition of both sets of skills through various methods. We recognise that these areas are clearly linked to the other aspects of English learning: speaking and listening, reading, grammar and vocabulary.
We believe that writing should be a creative/developmental process both at a functional and an imaginative level. All attempts at writing are valued and we know that all children have potential to be successful writers. The compositional and transcriptional skills are taught alongside the creative aspects. Immersion in reading, talk and preparation for writing is essential to the writing development process.
Writing Teaching Strategies
Writing is taught through:
1. Shared writing that is modelled by the teacher as the expert writer with contributions from the children.
This is teacher-led writing with children watching and contributing ideas. Shared writing is not exclusive to English sessions and can be taught within Foundation subjects. The emphasis may be on the generation of ideas, grammatical awareness, spelling and phonics, compositional, transcriptional, presentational and text level skills or other key strategies needed in writing. Not all of these can be modelled in one session, but the teacher as the expert writer leads the cumulative writing process.
2. Guided writing that targets children at their point of writing. Guided writing takes place in small groups with a teaching focus using targets and writing already modelled. The main part of the session is spent by the child writing with the adult intervening as appropriate.
3. Opportunities for developmental writing where appropriate for the level of the child, children’s own attempts at writing should be celebrated and promoted, alongside the direct teaching of the key skills that will enable the children to progress through the stages of writing development.
4. Independent writing
Throughout the school children need opportunities to develop their confidence and practise their writing skills. All writing activities should have a purpose and quality should be promoted. Writing is modelled and supported from immersion to quality writing. Independent writing is supported through the use of dictionaries, word banks, writing frames or plans.
5. Drafting and Editing
The drafting and editing elements of the writing process are a vital part of the writing process. Writing is marked by the teacher with successes highlighted in green and improvements to be made in pink, this is often as a conversation between the pupil and class teacher. Developmental feedback is given both verbally and as written feedback, which children are given time to respond to. Peer feedback is also taught and valued. Children are encouraged to embrace the editing process and see it as a positive step.
6. The writing environment celebrates quality writing through displays of work in both handwritten and typed form as well as signs and labels. All classrooms have a learning wall for English, which shows the stages in the learning about a particular text type. Opportunities for writing are planned for and accessible throughout the learning environment and school day.
7. Pupil writing targets
Target-setting at Darrick Wood Junior School is designed to be individually-focussed and allow for children to take ownership of their own targets. Targets are to be referred to as ‘IFs’, which stands for ‘Individual focus’.
Children will be provided with a ‘flip out’ card at the back of their English books, with an ‘IFs’ sheet attached. This should be visible in lessons, at the point of writing.
When marking written learning, teachers should identify an area that the child particularly needs to focus on. Teachers should use a triangle symbol to indicate to the child that an individual focus area/s (IF) has been identified. The wording can be brief and in note form. The key issue is that the child understands what their IF is. The child then transfers this to the IF card at the back of the book.
The IFs will be managed by the children. Once an IF has been identified and entered onto the card, the child will decide when they have mastered it.
Phonics and Spelling
In order to be an efficient speller, a child needs to:
Phonics and Spelling Teaching Strategies
Year 3 children and, if there are concerns, children joining the school at a later stage will be screened regarding their phonic knowledge upon entering the school.
In Year 3, children will be taught phonics if they need to revisit. Children will be taught in groups according to need using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document, but also with a heightened focus on phonics for spelling, so that they can become successful writers.
All classes are taught to sound and blend letters for reading. Children in years 4, 5 and 6 who are struggling to apply their phonic knowledge will continue to revisit sounds taught lower down the school. The school has a number of carefully graded phonic-based reading books, which are used for group reading as well as for independent reading.
All teachers and TAs are trained in a resource-based synthetic phonics whole school approach (Letter and Sounds).
Beginner readers/writers are taught:
Phonics teaching at Darrick Wood Junior School is:
The New National Curriculum in spelling is the basis of the words and patterns which are taught.
In order to guide children to becoming more confident spellers, the teaching of spelling is as investigative as possible. The lessons provide visual, auditory and kinaesthetic elements in which the children play a vital role in their own learning.
The spelling Appendix in the New National Curriculum for English will be used as guidance.
Spellings will be taught in ability groups at least twice weekly and spelling patterns are also revisited in English lessons on a regular basis. Spellings tests are conducted weekly and an emphasis is placed on learning the rule as well as the word. To encourage this, teachers test at least 2 words that have not been learnt but follow the same spelling pattern each week.
Handwriting and letter formation is explicitly taught throughout the school. The correct way of forming letters with joining flicks is modelled by the teacher and patterns of letters are taught where appropriate. Good presentation is emphasised at all times and through all forms of writing. Throughout the school, writing is on lined paper or with line guides. A teacher can assess when a child is ready to use a pen. A ‘licence’ will be issued for this. To achieve a licence, children must be forming letters correctly and fluently joining.
Information and Communication Technology is used to enhance the learning experience and support effective teaching. All classes have an interactive whiteboard and computer and there is a computer suite available with at least one computer between two children. There are a range of writing and teaching programs on all computers to support the teaching and acquisition of English skills and for presentation of work. A flipchart or whiteboard is used throughout lessons, for example: for teacher modelling of writing for handwriting and Shared Writing sessions.
Cross Curricular Skills and Themes
Language pervades all aspects of our lives and culture. It is the driving force behind learning and across all aspects of the curriculum.
At Darrick Wood Junior School, we recognise the importance of English across the whole curriculum, knowing that English skills can be taught in any lesson. In line with our topic- based teaching of the foundation subjects, we aim to link our learning in English with the topic we are currently working on whenever possible, particularly in the area of non-fiction writing. Any links made are chosen because they will enhance children’s learning. In fiction units of work, texts may be chosen that link with the topic, or they may not. The priority is giving the children access to quality whole texts, particularly ones that they may not be able to access on their own.
Differentiation and Special Educational Needs
We pursue a policy of inclusion wherever appropriate. Most children with Special Educational Needs are taught within the classroom and are aided by the support of a teaching assistant and benefit from small group tuition. Children who require further support are withdrawn for some lessons to receive more targeted teaching, from trained classroom assistants. This teaching is planned by the SENCo. Differentiated teaching and learning, which meets the needs of the full ability range of the children in the classes means that mixed ability classes support the most and least able within the class.
The high attaining child is identified through teacher assessment and tests in English. Their English needs are met through offering them more challenging and demanding texts and depth of questioning; in addition, writing activities are structured to allow the high attaining child to demonstrate their thinking in written format.
English as Another Language (EAL)
Children with EAL are taught within the classroom and receive support from a trained teaching assistant who works in conjunction with the SENCo. Opportunities to celebrate the increasing diversity of native languages within our school are taken whenever possible.
Children of all ethnic groups, both genders and all abilities have equal access to the English curriculum. Positive images in terms of such groups are promoted throughout the school, both in the use of language and the provision of resources.
Assessment, Recording and Reporting
Assessment in English is continuous, to inform planning and diagnose strengths and weaknesses. In speaking and listening, this involves observing children using a variety of spoken language for different purposes.
In reading, this involves formal and informal observations and close monitoring of children’s developing use of strategies and responses to texts. Children’s progress towards targets is also monitored. Teachers use the reading levelling tool from Target Tracker to assist them to arrive at the correct reading level for a child.
In writing, feedback to children about their progress in English is through verbal comment, discussion and the marking of work. Formative assessment includes marking against clear learning intentions and differentiated success criteria. (see Feedback Policy for more detailed information.)
Summative assessment is through End of Key Stage assessments, year group optional tests, teacher assessment and marking. Unaided writing is assessed once every half term, and once every half term is carried out in ‘Special Writing’ books. For these tasks, teachers choose a text type the children have been working on and the children write in response to a stimulus set by the teacher. There should be a variety of text types, both fiction and non-fiction. The need for quality rather than quantity is emphasised to the children. All year groups also undertake reading assessments in the summer term. Children’s teacher assessment levels are entered into Target Tracker (an assessment tool to monitor and track children’s progress) 6 times a year. This information is then used to determine which children need extra support in order to reach their targets, and interventions are then planned.
Children in year 6 undertake the KS2 End of Key Stage assessments every May and results are reported to parents towards the end of the Summer term.
Reporting is at least twice a year during consultation sessions and annually through a written report. Home/School contact books provide an ongoing exchange of information between home and school.