At Higham, English and the teaching of English is the foundation of our curriculum. Our main aim is to ensure every single pupil becomes primary literate and progresses in the areas of reading, writing and speaking and listening. English is embedded within all our lessons and we will strive for a high level of English for all.
Higham Primary School shares the aims of the National Curriculum for English (2014) by ensuring that all pupils:
• 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.
At Higham, we believe that all pupils should have the opportunity to be fluent, confident readers who are able to successfully comprehend and understand a wide range of texts. We want pupils to develop a love of reading, a good knowledge of a range of authors, and be able to understand more about the world in which they live through the information they gain from texts. By using high-quality texts, immersing children in vocabulary rich learning environments and having a clear progression of skills, the children at Higham will be exposed to a language heavy, creative and continuous English curriculum which will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening.
At Higham, we believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their writing. We want pupils to acquire a wide vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words effectively by applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in primary school. We want them to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing, in part by developing a neat, joined, handwriting style by the time they move to secondary school. We believe that all good writers refine and edit their writing over time, so we want children to develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement in pieces of writing, editing their work effectively during and after the writing process.
We understand the importance of parents and carers in supporting their children to develop word reading, comprehension skills, grammar, spelling and composition skills, and encourage a home-school partnership which enables parents and carers to understand how to enhance the skills being taught in school through high-quality texts.
In our school, the teaching of English allows pupils to incrementally build their skills in reading and writing within a carefully designed curriculum. We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum and framework that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and film clips to motivate and inspire our children. Teachers also ensure that cross curricular links with concurrent theme work are woven in the programme of study.
Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing and is integral across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding of reading and writing. Teachers ensure pupils are confident and competent in spoken language and listening skills, by building secure foundations through use of discussion and debate. Pupils are encouraged to listen and respond appropriately; ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge; articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions; and give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes. Pupils are taught to maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations and to consider and evaluate different viewpoints. Teachers provide opportunities for pupils to participate in presentations, performances, role play and improvisations and debates. Through drama, pupils are given the opportunity and encouragement to develop and demonstrate their creative talents and imagination.
Phonics is taught throughout the school using the Read Write Inc. scheme, which ensures systematic coverage and progression. Children start phonics when they join our reception class and is initially taught as a whole class, focusing on children's recognition of the letter sounds and how to read and write these. From the spring term of reception, and into Key Stage 1 children are taught in smaller groups, led either by the class teacher or by trained teaching assistant. The children are assessed regularly to ensure that they are in the appropriate group for supporting and extending their individual needs. During the summer term in Year 1, pupils undertake the statutory Phonics Screening Check which assess their ability to apply what they have learnt, and parents are informed of their child's achievement at the end of the school year. Pupils who do not pass their Phonic Screening Check continue to have intervention to support the acquisition of these key skills.
We aim to create successful, fluent, readers who will monitor their understanding of what they are reading and review the text when something does not make sense. In reading lessons, pupils are explicitly taught strategies including inference, questioning, clarifying, summarising, prediction and activating prior knowledge. The pupils use these strategies to check how well they comprehend what they have read and overcome barriers to comprehension. Pupils develop skills in skimming and scanning, forming opinions, thinking aloud, asking questions, getting the gist, connecting to prior knowledge, inference and prediction. These skills are applied by the pupils with increased independence when interacting with texts across all curriculum areas. Pupils are exposed to a rich and varied reading curriculum which helps them develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.
At Higham we use the Read Write Inc programme for the teaching of early reading skills and pupils have access to a selection of phonics based scheme books for reading at home. Once pupils have acquired the sufficient reading skills to be able to independently access texts, we use the Accelerated Reader Programme to continue to support their reading and vocabulary development. A Star test is completed as a baseline and then repeated regularly which provides teachers with the child’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).
The scheme is structured to ensure that children have access to a wide range of texts, and allows for pupils to develop their skills within a specific level before moving to the next level. Our aim for all pupils is to be on the Accelerated Reader Programme by the beginning of Year 3. Where a pupil has been identified as not on track to achieve this target, intervention is put in place through 1:1 and small group reading support to enable them to catch up and achieve in line with their peers. Pupils are able to access books from our extensive library within their ZPD and once they have finished a text they then undertake a comprehension ‘quiz’ and/or vocabulary test. Time is allocated throughout the week for quiet reading and for children to complete a quiz. Assessments are analysed regularly and a report is produced which informs both the class teacher and parent of their child’s attainment in reading.
Each classroom has vibrant and inviting reading area, with a range of non-fiction and poetry books relating to a variety of curriculum subjects to ensure engagement remains high. There is also a selection of books which are directly linked to the theme for the term so that pupils can apply their reading skills across the curriculum and read more widely around a subject.
All pupils have a home-reading record which they are encouraged to take home daily. Parents, carers and pupils are asked to add comments to indicate how much pupils have read.
Reading is celebrated in classrooms and around the school at Higham. Children are read to regularly and our bright and colourful displays celebrate the children’s favourite authors, characters and books. In addition, throughout the school year the importance of reading is enhanced through World Book Day.
At Higham, we teach English as whole class lessons, so that all children have access to the age-related skills and knowledge contained in the National Curriculum.
Writing skills are developed through a text-based approach. From ‘hooking’ the pupils in at the start of a unit and exploring the text in order to build an understanding of the writer’s craft, pupils develop a deep understanding of the components of writing – planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating, revising, editing and then publishing. Texts are carefully chosen to deepen pupils knowledge of the wider curriculum, while ensuring pupils are immersed in our rich and varied literary heritage and high quality vocabulary.
As we believe consistency and well-taught English is the foundation of a valuable education, we ensure that the teaching of writing is purposeful, robust and shows clear progression for all children. In line with the new National Curriculum, all year groups are taught the explicit grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives required for that age groups. As well as teaching the objectives, teachers are able to embed the skills throughout the year in cross-curricular writing opportunities ensuring that most children are achieving the objectives at the expected level and that some children can achieve at a greater depth standard. In this sense, assessment of writing is also more fluid as teachers can assess against a set framework. All year groups use the same format for assessing writing which have been produced in line with the end of Key Stage assessment frameworks as published by the Department for Education.
Our pupils are exposed to variety of genres which help them to utilise and embed their writing skills and teachers use a writing journey to plan, structure and teach their English lessons. This journey is designed to show progress, teach the pertinent year group objectives, apply and consolidate these skills and develop vocabulary. Writing is taught through the use of a quality text, which exposes the children to inference, high-level vocabulary, a range of punctuation and characterisation. Each text is purposefully selected in order to promote a love of reading, engagement and high quality writing from each child.
Spellings are taught according to the rules and words contained in Appendix 1 of the English National Curriculum. Teachers use the “No Nonsense Spelling” scheme to support their teaching and to provide activities that link to the spelling lists. Children are given spellings to learn regularly and are given a follow up. When marking work, we do not correct all spelling errors, as this can demoralise children and inhibit pupil’s experimentation with more adventurous vocabulary. Instead we focus on high frequency words, topic words and those studied in spelling lessons.
Grammar and Punctuation
Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are taught through English lessons as much as possible. Teachers teach the required skills through the genres of writing that they are teaching, linking it to the genre to make it more relevant to the intended writing outcome. Teachers will sometimes focus on particular grammar and punctuation skill as a standalone lesson, if they feel that the pupils need additional lessons to embed and develop their understanding or to consolidate skills.
In Key Stage 1 and Year 3, handwriting sessions are taught regularly to the children and follow a cursive programme. The children have separate handwriting books and are expected to apply this cursive script into their daily writing.
Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning and is a continuous process. Teachers use formative assessment strategies daily to assess children’s learning and understanding, through: effective questioning, clear learning objectives and success criteria, facilitating and listening to discussion, providing feedback and the marking of work, including identifying next steps in their learning. At the end of all lessons, teachers and pupils reflect on their own learning against the steps to success criteria. These ongoing assessments inform future planning and teaching. Lessons are adapted readily and interventions are put in place where necessary.
As a result we will have a community of enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy knowledge and skills. They are confident to take risks in their reading and writing and love to discuss and share their ideas.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards will have also improved, as skills taught in English lessons are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar and punctuation. We hope that as children move on from us to further their education and learning that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.
In summary the impact of our English curriculum is:
• pupils will enjoy reading/writing across a range of genres
• pupils of all abilities will be able to succeed in all reading lessons/English lesson because work will be appropriately scaffolded
• pupils will use a range of strategies for decoding words, not solely relying on phonics
• pupils will have a good knowledge of a range of authors
• pupils will have a wide vocabulary that they will use within their writing
• pupils will have a good knowledge of how to adapt their writing based on the context and audience
• pupils will be ready to read in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education
• pupils will leave primary school being able to effectively apply spelling rules and patterns they have been taught.
• parents and carers will have a good understanding of how they can support reading, spelling, grammar and composition at home and contribute regularly to home-school records and home learning
We use the Read Write Inc Programme to teach phonics. Further information can be found here:
Please find an exemplar as to how we write and join letters:
Unfortunately not the ones with chocolate chips.
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