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 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 each week, including reading and writing, spelling and handwriting, drama and listening to stories. As well as the daily English lesson (taught in mixed ability classes), there is also a daily 20 minute carousel of reading/writing activities.
At Darrick Wood Junior School, we are keen to embrace new and innovative teaching methods which have proven to be successful. In 2014-15, we took part in the 'Power of Reading' project. This project focuses on using high quality written and visual texts, always teaching through quality whole texts. It has a focus on securing children's engagement with texts through creative approaches such as drama and art as well as high quality writing opportunities. In every year group, texts are chosen with engagement at the forefront. We seek to find creative approaches to secure engagement and therefore progress in all areas of English. We are very proud of the impact this project has had on our children.
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 is taught through:
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 is taught through:
This is teacher-led reading with children listening and responding to questions, predictions and vocabulary choices as appropriate to the level of the children.
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. Guided reading, as part of the daily carousel session, that targets children’s reading skills.
The aim of every guided reading session is to encourage and extend independent reading skills.
Groups of children read the same text
Texts selected to match reading ability of group.
Teacher leads session, guiding the children to focus on a particular objective to ensure progression according to identified next steps.
While working with the group, the teacher gives focussed attention to individuals as they read.
The text used is:
In multiple copies
Matched to ability level/learning need
Challenging but not so difficult as to disrupt the flow of reading (for KS2 children the challenge is often about comprehension, not decoding)
Usually new to the group
Drawn from a range of texts- poetry, playscripts, non-fiction and stories.
Guided reading session may include:
Book introduction or recap on previous session.
Strategy check- KS2 main focus strategies for understanding, although less able and start of year 3 strategies for decoding.
Return to the text
Respond to the text
The emphasis should be more and more on discussion as the children move through Key Stage 2.
Reading may be carried out:
Round the group- a sentence, paragraph or page each.
In pairs- children supporting each other and teacher focussing on each pair in turn.
Out loud all together.
In silence, with the teacher focussing on one child at a time.
Assessment and record keeping
The guided reading record sheet must be used in every guided reading session.
The focus performance indicator is recorded and the pupils’ progress is recorded using a tick/dot system. Brief notes are made when pupils have exceeded or not reached the PI.
The record sheet should then be used to inform teacher assessment of reading on an ongoing basis.
Other learning activities in a Carousel session
Years 3 and 4:
In addition to their guided reading with the teacher, groups will carry out:
Year 5 and 6:
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Pupil reading targets, which are set regularly and focus on the next step in a child’s learning. Targets are also sent home to parents/carers.
8. 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 is taught through:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Developmental written feedback is given 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.
The writing environment
The school 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.
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:
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:
• grapheme–phoneme correspondences in a clearly defined, incremental sequence
• to apply the highly important skill of blending (synthesising) phonemes in the order in which they occur, all through a word to read it
• to apply the skills of segmenting words into their constituent phonemes to spell
• that blending and segmenting are reversible processes.
Phonics teaching at Darrick Wood Junior School is:
• part of a broad and rich curriculum that engages children in a range of activities and experiences to develop their speaking and listening skills and phonological awareness
• multi sensory, encompassing simultaneous visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities to enliven core learning
• systematic, that is to say, it follows a carefully planned programme with fidelity, reinforcing and building on previous learning to secure children’s progress
• taught discretely and regularly according to need at a brisk pace
• mindful of opportunities to reinforce and apply acquired phonic knowledge and skills across the curriculum and in such activities as shared and guided reading
• carefully assessed and monitored, using a range of evidence to track children’s progress in developing and applying their phonic knowledge.
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.
Teachers may also use the Support for Spelling book, the Grammar for Writing book, and the National Strategies Spelling Bank to enhance teaching of required patterns and rules.
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 place 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.