Subject Leader : Hannah Cookman and Laura Mackenzie
English has an important part to play in both education and society. A high-quality education in English teaches children to speak, read and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others.
Our aim is that all of our children become independent learners, who can apply their reading and writing to all areas of the curriculum and endeavour to use these in everyday life.
At Normanton Common Our approach to the curriculum in English is based upon our core belief that reading is the key to the door for a child in later life. Through reading, children have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. The choice of books they read, play a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know in other areas of the curriculum and the wider world. Learning to read is about listening and understanding, as well as working out what’s printed on the page. It provides children with background knowledge of their world, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear, and read.
It is our intention that every child will be a reader. From the start of their journey with us children are supported to develop a love of reading. They are exposed to high quality texts and through a consistent approach to the teaching of phonics, they are provided with the skills they need to decode confidently.
To teach reading we follow Read, Write, Inc, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. Reading books are closely matched to the graphemes taught. These ‘decodable’ books are also sent home for children to practise until fluent.
Every child in Year 2- Year 6 experiences a reading lesson each day that focuses on developing understanding and comprehension. We want pupils to become expert readers capable of making complex comparisons between authors and understanding language choices. Our daily lessons follow a similar structure in each classroom.
Developing a love of reading is vital. We have a high-quality library which is well stocked with both fiction and non- fiction texts. All classes are provided with weekly time to explore the library.
In addition, we place a great deal of importance on story time. This takes place each day and we choose a variety of books designed to foster curiosity and interest.
Reading and writing are heavily intertwined and we aim to provide our pupils with rich opportunities to use the language and vocabulary skills that they have acquired in reading in writing sessions.
Writing sessions are also where pupils can use the knowledge they have gained through other areas of the curriculum to produce writing for an audience or purpose. At Normanton Common, we base our teaching of writing on the content of the National curriculum. We aim to ensure we teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Writing provides our children with a vehicle to express themselves. It provides children with opportunities to explain and refine their ideas to others and themselves.
The programmes of study for writing at key stages 1 and 2 are constructed similarly to those for reading: transcription (spelling and handwriting) composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). We use the objectives for each year group to develop pupils’ competence in these two dimensions. In addition, pupils are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing. We have developed our feedback policy to put a high emphasis on pupils using metacognition to improve their work and try to encourage pupils to be highly reflective when improving their work
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words. This means we also teach additional spelling sessions to help pupils develop fluency. Effective composition also involves forming, 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. As a result, we often start a unit of work by looking at an exemplar piece and identifying the key aspects that need to be incorporated into a finished piece of work. Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting. We use the Nelson handwriting scheme to ensure we model letter formation accurately from an early age.
The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing.
Speaking and Listening is taught through all areas of the curriculum and not in isolation. This includes both foundation and core subjects. We have developed our school Oracy Strategy to support with the progression of speaking skills across all year groups and ensure that opportunities to implement these are provided to all of our learners.
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