We use the National Curriculum Programmes of Study for English and the Herts for Learning materials as the basis for planning and teaching. English is taught on a daily basis from reception to Y4 and this is supported and enhanced through other curriculum areas. We follow a Creative Curriculum and wherever possible, English activities are linked to current topic work.
Teaching and learning usually takes place within a whole class setting. Children’s learning is in ability groups in their class, with differentiated tasks and support as appropriate. Their learning will also include independent and partner work. Good practice in reading and writing is shared and modelled in whole class teaching. Teachers use a variety of interactive teaching methods to deliver the curriculum and to achieve set learning objectives.
In the Foundation Stage English forms the basis of one of the seven areas of learning: Communication, Language and Literacy. The emphasis is on teaching English through stories and non-fiction texts with strong topic links, child-initiated learning through play (with some adult intervention) and the demonstration and use of language.
Speaking and Listening
It is our intention to develop each child’s ability to speak with confidence, clarity and fluency in a variety of situations, for a variety of audiences and for a range of purposes. Also we want to develop their capacity to listen with attention and understanding. Teachers model correct use of Standard English and accurate speech in order to improve grammar in children’s writing.
Shared reading takes place within the English lesson; the teacher models the reading process to the whole class as an expert reader. Teaching objectives are pre-planned and sessions are characterised by explicit teaching of specific reading strategies, oral response from children and high levels of collaboration. The children join in, where appropriate, with the reading of the text. Quality texts are selected that reflect the learning objectives. Each class has a class story book, which the teacher reads to children over the course of a week/half term/term
Each child participates in a teacher/adult led guided reading session once a week. Children are grouped by ability. During a guided reading session, the children will read and respond to a challenging text with the teacher supporting. Each session has an assessment focus, against which children’s knowledge and understanding are assessed. Guided reading provides an opportunity for children to demonstrate what they have learned about reading and to further develop and extend their reading fluency. They will also improve their use of expression and comprehension skills. The guided reading session also includes other reading opportunities and activities for those children not in the teacher focus group.
All children have access to a book from a graded reading scheme to support the development of their individual reading skills. Children start the reading scheme in Reception and continue until they become competent, independent readers. The reading scheme was revised and reorganised in January 2017. In September 2017 phase 2 (Reading Pro) of the reading scheme will be launched. For children who are moving towards and beyond ‘free reader’ status, they will choose a book within their reading range and take an online quiz after reading the book. The quiz aims to check comprehension and contextual understanding. Children will have their own reading list generated which takes into account their chronological and reading age. A huge range of new and exciting reading books have been purchased for this.
School expectation is that daily reading at home (minimum of 5 times per week) should take place. A reading record is used to record books read and observations made. An adult from home is expected to sign the reading diary and add a comment.
Reading is not restricted to the English lesson. Many opportunities are provided for children to practise and extend their reading in other subjects.
ERIC (Everybody Reading in Class): takes place for 15 minutes each day throughout the whole school. During this time children read their school book or undertake specific reading activities. The teacher hears a number of children read on a 1:1 basis during this time so that across the week all children have been heard. Teaching Assistants are assigned ‘reading buddies’. These are for children that are working below age-related expectations in reading.
Children are provided with opportunities to write every day. Our aim is to encourage the children to enjoy writing and to write imaginatively and accurately. Great emphasis is put on drafting initial pieces of writing and editing work for improvement. Writing is proudly displayed in the classrooms and on the central display in the corridor. Writing in other areas of the curriculum is a good way of seeing if children are applying the skills taught in English lessons to other areas.
Reception children initially work on basic letter formation this leads them onto practising writing letters with a ‘lead-on’ and a ‘lead-off’. When children are able to form all letters correctly, with the appropriate lead-on and lead-off they are taught to use cursive joined up handwriting. Handwriting and presentation has been a big focus in the school in the recent years. Teachers expect high quality presentation in all written work.
Phonics and spellings
The teaching of phonics is key to the development of a child’s reading. We follow the Letters and Sounds programme which is directly linked to spellings. Children have a daily small-group phonics lesson, organised by the phonic phase that they are currently working in. When children are fully secure in Phase 5 (for reading and spellings) they use this time to have a specific and additional Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling session. Reception children take home five high frequency words each week for them to learn how to read (not spell) and children from Years 1-4 have weekly spellings. Spellings are taken from high frequency word lists, phonics from the week and age-related spelling lists.