English at Grimley and Holt
The English Curriculum
Our English curriculum is designed to develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion and prepare our learners for life as successful, valuable and socially responsible citizens. We inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage and a habit of reading widely and often. We nurture a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly, imaginatively and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and to use discussion to communicate and further their learning in all areas of the curriculum.
We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in Literacy, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. Our carefully sequenced, broad and balanced curriculum, underpinned by inclusive practice, aims to provide our children with the opportunity to build on their experiences in order to achieve their goals. We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education across the curriculum. We whole-heartedly ‘promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.’ (National Curriculum 2014).
Our English curriculum is implemented through the use of rich texts and engaging pupils with a cross-curricular approach. Texts are chosen to link with the topics pupils are learning about and these are used as a springboard to inspire pupils to read and write. We believe that choosing the right context and starting point to engage our children in their learning is vital in fostering a love for reading and writing.
Our English curriculum aims to provide many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We want all of our pupils to be proficient readers, writers, spellers and speakers, who can transfer their English skills to other curriculum subjects and who are prepared for the next steps in their education. Our English lessons develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary, teaching them how to write within specific genres and which structural and language features to include to be successful. Example texts are used to start this process to enable pupils to use other similar writing as models for their own. Lessons also focus on teaching specific spelling, grammar and punctuation skills to enable our pupils to apply the skills they have been taught to their extended writing and writing across the curriculum. We teach our pupils to speak clearly, to convey their ideas fluently and confidently and to ask questions. Teachers use a wide variety of resources as appropriate to their classes, but also ensure that cross curricular links with concurrent topic work are woven into the programme of study.
In addition to daily English lessons, our pupils develop their early reading skills through the use of a rigorous daily phonics programme from the very beginning of Reception through to year 2. Phonics sessions take place daily (30 mins) throughout the week. Phonological awareness helps the development of reading by segmenting and blending sounds and the children will be heard reading regularly, both individually and in groups. We ensure that children receive high quality phonic teaching on a daily basis throughout school. At Grimley and Holt, we also provide individual or focused spelling and phonics sessions to ensure that our children are well placed to read and spell words with fluency and confidence.
Quality children’s literature is at the heart of our pupils’ learning.
Throughout Key Stage 1 and 2 we teach English through the use of high quality picture books, novels, poetry and non-fiction engaging pupils using a wide range of teaching approaches. Children are immersed into the text through music, art, drama, discussion and role-play as part of Mantle of the Expert topics. Other approaches include regular sessions with our ‘Writer in residence’ Alan Stott.
Our pupils are encouraged to read for pleasure and to read widely through our reading scheme and frequent use of the school library. Pupils at Grimley and Holt School continue to develop a range of reading skills, as well as a love of reading through the PALS programme and the use of focus fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts during daily guided reading sessions. Pupils read books at their own reading and interest levels, enabling a greater sense of enjoyment and success. Best of all, they learn and grow at their own pace. There is a quizzing element to the programme to encourage challenge and interest directly linked to the books pupils have read. Our guided reading sessions cover a wide variety of both fiction and non-fiction books and help to advance the children’s comprehension skills. Metacognitive strategies are used explicitly throughout all reading sessions, encouraging automaticity and embedding of vital reading skills.
We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. For our early readers and pupils not yet off the phonics program, books are matched to the grapheme-phoneme correspondences pupils have been taught. All pupils who are ready are assessed regularly so the books they are reading are matched to their reading ability.
We also provide enrichment opportunities, such as exploring our local area with our pupils to inspire reading and writing, hosting author workshops, participating in Book Week and celebrating World Book Day and running poetry and creative writing competitions. This ensures that children benefit from access to positive role models from the local and wider locality as well as being inspired by what surrounds them. These additional experiences help us to enrich the curriculum even further and continue to deepen the children’s learning.
All children from Reception to Year 6 are provided with many opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across the curriculum. Initially, pupils need to be able to form the letters needed and then be able to express one’s ideas using these letters. Through shared and guided writing opportunities, we equip children to develop the skills of writing clearly and legibly. When the child is confident with these basic skills, they work towards being able to write with a greater sense of purpose and learn to organize their writing according to this purpose. Children are equipped with the necessary tools to do this, being given daily opportunities to focus on spelling and/or grammatical structures.
We develop our pupils writing skills so that they have the stamina and ability to write at length, applying the skills set out in the English National Curriculum. To support children in moving towards independent writing we provide a wide range of activities including the use of film and imagery, music, ICT, modelled, shared and guided writing, peer assessment and discussion. We provide varied and exciting opportunities for writing for purpose and we encourage pupils to see themselves as authors and poets. We promote the importance of written work by providing a writing purpose and opportunities for children’s writing to be read aloud and listened to by an audience. We have a range of extra activities which are used to promote English within the school including: whole school writing challenges and competitions; monthly class writers’ awards with pupils’ writing celebrated on our ‘Writing Hall of Fame’ boards; whole school shared writing of a narrative during Book Week a weekly newsletter, as well as taking pupils out into the immediate and local area as a stimulus to inspire experiential writing
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation:
At Grimley and Holt School, we aim for our pupils to become fluent and effective writers. Accurate use of spelling, punctuation and grammar is essential to this. We use the National Curriculum 2014 as a basis for teaching Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar by introducing patterns or conventions and continually practising those already introduced.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar strategies are taught explicitly in short interactive and investigative sessions in English. Pupils are taught key rules and strategies with opportunities to analyse how other writers have applied these skills to model texts and extracts in order for our pupils to apply these skills independently and effectively to their own writing. Pupils are taught to recognise which strategies they can use to improve their own spelling. They are encouraged to apply learnt strategies to their independent writing.
In KS1, children learn spelling largely through their daily phonic sessions. In KS2 children are taught spelling through discrete sessions each week. The teaching and learning of grammar and punctuation is embedded within the English teaching sequence. This means, grammar and punctuation skills and knowledge are built into a sequence of preparatory work which is then applied within longer pieces of writing during the teaching sequence. As they become more confident, children are encouraged to check spellings using a dictionary and to expand their vocabulary using a thesaurus.
Teachers and teaching assistants show pupils how to understand the relationships between words, nuances in meaning, and how to develop their understanding of, and ability to use, figurative language. They will also teach pupils how to work out and clarify the meanings of unknown words and words with more than one meaning.
Cursive handwriting is taught with a sequential and progressive approach with teachers and teaching assistants modelling the handwriting style. We believe that children’s self-esteem and pride in their work can be raised by good quality presentation. Handwriting sessions are taught discretely in Reception and KS1 and regularly incorporated into the English lessons in KS2. Where pupils are off-track, extra handwriting practice opportunities will be given. Resources such as handwriting slopes and pencil grips are provided when needed. We strive for our children to correctly form their letters, joining with a cursive style with pupils having good handwriting habits so that they can write fluently and legibly by the end of KS2. Children start by learning how to form their letters in the early years. Then pupils are introduced to cursive style writing from year 1 onwards.
During lessons, we ensure that our pupils sit, position their paper/book and hold their pen/pencil correctly using their other hand to hold their work firmly. It is important that in the Early Years and at Key Stage 1, children are observed closely during the lesson to ensure that letter formation is correct and corrected if needed. In addition to specific handwriting lessons, children are expected to apply their learning in their exercise books and to show care for the presentation of their work.
This underpins the development of reading and writing and is vital for pupils’ development across all aspects of the school curriculum. We provide our pupils with a wide range of opportunities to hear and use good quality and adventurous vocabulary, focusing also on variety. Correct, standard English is always modelled by the teachers and teaching assistants. Children are encouraged to ask questions, discuss in pairs and groups and to use conventions for discussion as well as debate. Opportunities for drama are sought throughout our curriculum as it is recognised that the skills that are developed through this medium are unique.