The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
At The Spinney Primary School we are passionate about English as we believe that it lies at the heart of the curriculum. Being able to read, write and communicate, opens doors and lifts barriers to learning for children and will enable them to flourish and grow as they progress through primary school and into their future education and adult lives.
Our children are empowered by a high-quality English curriculum that encourages them to develop a love of reading and writing as well as learning the skills they need to communicate effectively. Our curriculum teaches the children the skills and knowledge that will enable them to speak and write fluently and to communicate and express their ideas, views and emotions to others effectively and creatively and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.
How do we teach Reading?
At The Spinney Primary School, we aim to inspire and motivate our pupils to become enthusiastic readers; pupils who read for pleasure and enjoyment and who also have the necessary skills to acquire knowledge and conduct research.
The English curriculum at The Spinney Primary School is delivered using the National Curriculum English Document. The Early Learning Goals are followed to ensure continuity and progression from the Early Years Foundation stage through to the National Curriculum.
Through our curriculum and reading provision, the pupils have the opportunity to experience a wide range of high quality and carefully chosen texts. This selection includes a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books which are often linked to our class topic areas or our Spinney Golden Threads.
Having engaging and challenging core texts is one of the ways we encourage our pupils to develop a love of literature and to read for enjoyment. Evidence from research shows that ensuring our children develop all the skills of language is essential to unlocking access to the rest of the curriculum. Therefore, opportunities to read and write are embedded across the curriculum. This approach also expands our children’s knowledge of the world in which we live. When children encounter words in their reading that they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech, we can systematically teach our children new vocabulary. Therefore, rich and lively vocabulary instruction is an essential component of all our reading lessons. We know that by explicitly teaching vocabulary, we will encourage students to become interested and enthusiastic about words, curious and keen to explore relationships among words and use them in a way that they come to ‘own’ the words.
Children explore texts as part of a daily reading session. These are generally taught in whole class reading sessions or in guided groups, depending on the age/experience of the children and the texts themselves. These daily reading sessions provide opportunities for the pupils to explore texts in depth and further develop their word reading and comprehension skills. Building on their early reading learning, we continue to teach our children to decode unfamiliar words and increase the number of words they can read on sight. We focus on comprehension and teach our children skills such as summarising, posing questions about what they have read and making predictions and inferences. Children are also given time for independent reading and shared reading of class texts as well as regular book talk with adults.
We encourage the children to also read at home regularly whether that is to an adult (for developing readers) or independently (for fluent readers). We provide a reading record book for this reading to be logged and we encourage children to discuss and talk about their reading at home.
At The Spinney Primary School, we promote a love for books and for reading. All classes have a designated reading area that is full of age-appropriate books to engage the interests of the children and that also reflects the reading interests and preferences of the children in the class. All classrooms have access to subject specific books that further develop their curriculum knowledge. We encourage children to choose books from the school library to read and a celebratory ‘Book Week’, to coincide with ‘World Book Day’, is organised each year. During this week, a range of Reading for Pleasure activities are planned to promote enjoyment of reading.
Children take part in regular Dialogic Literary Gatherings (DLG) where each class focuses on a Classic Literature book that is adapted and age appropriate. Children have the opportunity to develop their comprehension skills alongside developing skills of expressing and debating their thoughts and opinions about a text.
Effective composition involves articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
At The Spinney Primary School, we seek to provide a range of exciting and engaging opportunities for children to develop their writing skills. Carefully planned, regular writing opportunities are planned for using class texts or cross-curricular learning as an engaging stimulus. Each week our children write at length for a range of real purposes and audiences and are given many opportunities to write about the things that interest them. The pupils are taught how to plan their writing by exploring and collecting ideas, drafting and re-reading their writing as it flows. Each class has an interactive writing working wall where ideas for writing are gathered and displayed to support children with their own writing.
When teaching writing we follow this cycle of learning:
- Immersion: reading and discussing high quality examples of the genre
- Analyse: discussing and investigating the features of the genre and generating ideas for writing
- Plan: organising and planning their own ideas for writing
- Writing a first draft
- Editing and improving with support from their teacher and peers
- Reflecting on their improvement comments and finally redrafting and sometimes publishing their work.
Punctuation, Grammar and Spelling
The teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar is embedded within reading and writing lessons so that children learn these skills and use them in context, however where necessary, discrete sessions are taught. Explicit knowledge of grammar and punctuation is important to enable the pupils to have a more conscious control and choice of their language. Once the pupils are familiar with a grammatical concept or punctuation markings, our teachers encourage them to apply and explore this concept in their own speech and writing.
In Key Stage 1, spelling is a focus of phonics, which is taught using the Story Time Phonics programme. In Key Stage 2, children follow the Rising Stars Spelling programme.
Each week the pupils have a set of spellings to revise and practice at home. These spellings are linked to the spelling focus taught that week.
As a school, we know that writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription so handwriting is taught frequently in short handwriting lessons. We use a fully cursive style of handwriting from EYFS upwards, based on the ‘Letterjoin’ programme. This enables the children to communicate clearly and effectively.
Our teachers spend time explicitly teaching and modelling handwriting across the school and children are given regular opportunities to revise and practise correct letter formation. In the Early Years, our children begin this journey by mark making and drawing patterns, which develops their fine motor skills. This develops through our EYFS with ensuring correct pencil grip by the children when they begin to make letters and string letters together to make words. As soon as they can form letters securely with the correct orientation, we begin teaching continuous cursive script using the ‘Letterjoin’ programme. We continue to teach handwriting as the children progress from Key Stage 1 to 2 with the aim of increasing the fluency with which children are able to write down what they want to say.