At Mount Pleasant our English curriculum has been developed to instil a love for reading, writing and discussion. We want children to appreciate our rich and varied literature heritage and to develop a habit of reading widely and often so that they become lifelong readers. We want our children to take pride in their writing, convey their ideas clearly and adapt their writing style for different purposes. We encourage children to speak clearly and listen attentively so that they can use discussion to communicate effectively and further their learning.
We want our children to have a secure basis in English as we fully appreciate how the skills learnt in this subject are vital in them accessing and achieving in the wider education and participating fully as successful members of society.
These aims are embedded in our English lessons and in the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use texts recommended by Power of Reading and Pathways to Write which also link to our topic so that cross curricular learning can take place. Our curriculum closely follows the aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure 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.
In addition to daily English lessons, children excel in early reading through daily phonic sessions from reception to year 2. ‘Keep up’ intervention sessions are used to ensure children do not fall behind. Phonic sessions continue for children in KS2 who have not achieved in phonics by the end of KS1 and for children who have gaps in their phonics learning due to factors such as being new to the country. As well as daily phonic sessions, we have daily guided reading sessions where we use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. We also provide a wealth of enrichment activities, from hosting our own Spelling Bee to poetry writing competitions which have resulted in our children’s work being published in the Young Writers books.
As a result, we have a community of enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy knowledge and skills. Children have stamina for both reading and writing and love to discuss and share their ideas. Our attainment at the end of KS1 and KS2 is broadly in line and above national.
Teaching and Learning
Our English provision follows the 2014 National Curriculum and is taught through daily English lessons and also through other subjects. English lessons run for approximately 1-hour daily to ensure continuity and rigour in teaching and learning of knowledge and skills.
We use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised for the teaching of phonics and children in EYFS and KS1 have daily phonic sessions. This systematic approach to teaching phonics ensures most children are able read fluently by the end of KS1.
We recognise that spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak is vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and understanding for reading and writing. Teachers ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in their knowledge of spoken language and listening skills. They are assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others and teachers ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion.
Building on this foundation, we teach English using a range of strategies which include:
- Reciprocal Reading- whole class teaching of reading where children are able to fully engage with texts using the skills of clarifying, predicting, questioning and summarising.
- Collaborative Learning – children discuss and interrogate new ideas in a small group or whole class setting. They listen to and value each other’s ideas whilst taking on board feedback on as to how to improve their own explanations.
- Questioning – teachers use a range of questioning strategies to establish children’s current understanding and develop their learning. Higher level questioning is used to elicit a deeper understanding.
- Modelled Writing – teachers model writing and editing to demonstrate the high expectations they have. They verbally ‘think aloud’ in order to make the writing process explicit and provide a rich and varied vocabulary for the children to utilise in their own work.
- Shared Writing – teachers use the ideas from the children to create shared pieces of writing. This enables the children to see the writing process in action as well as having pride and ownership over the finished piece.
English activities are effectively differentiated so that all children feel empowered by their own accomplishment. Nevertheless, all children are given the chance to reach the same high level in every lesson. Effective differentiation is in place so that all children have the opportunity to meet every learning intention through having vocabulary word banks, writing frames and sentence starters, mixed ability groupings and adult support. Teachers also ensure that children are taught and know how to demonstrate greater depth in their outcomes of work, and this is reinforced through the success criteria which children refer to throughout their work and assess against on completion.
Displays are used throughout the school to promote reading, writing and discussion. We recognise the important role display has in the teaching and learning of English. Each class displays work, which celebrates a variety of children’s achievements to a high standard of presentation. Aspects of the writing learning process are illustrated through displays including vocabulary enrichment, grammar and punctuation support and finished pieces of writing. Every classroom has an attractive book corner to promote and celebrate a love of reading.
Children are assessed formatively through questioning and marking to ensure that teachers understand where children are currently in their learning and what their next steps need to be. This helps to ensure that maximum progress is made throughout English teaching across the school.
In addition to this, regularly timetabled summative assessment and moderation opportunities are planned into the academic year to ensure that the progress in knowledge and skills that each child makes is accurately measured. Summative assessment opportunities are used to support teachers in their assessment judgements and do not replace teacher judgement based on experience of the child in everyday lessons.
In Early Years and KS1 children are assessed in their phonics every six weeks. Teachers establish which sounds they are confident in and which strategies they are able to use to effectively read familiar and unfamiliar words. These include common irregular words and ‘alien’ nonsense words.
In KS2 classes, children complete a reading test termly. The test they complete matches the instructional reading level of the individual child so often children in the same class will complete different tests. Children in KS2 who are still receiving phonics lessons will be advised on which reading comprehension assessment to complete. Years 2 and 6 use SATs materials too.
The PM Benchmarking system is used to accurately level a child’s reading ability and to find out the strategies they are using to understand the text. This test is used with all children working below ARE and its finding used to identify which colour band the children need to read from; they receive books from their allocated band in addition to their library books.
As well as ongoing formative assessment, all teachers assess the writing of every child termly against statements on the writing assessment grids. Moderation is carried out within school and with other local schools to ensure standardisation of judgements in each year group.
Planning and Resources
From nursery to year 6, Pathways to Write and Power of Reading texts are used as a foundation for creating our own exciting and varied English lessons. There are English resources throughout the school which are used on a regular basis.
- Each class in EYFS and KS1 have a complete set of Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised phonics resources. These are used to support the teaching and learning of phonics.
- EYFS and Year 1 group rooms, contain books which are used for reading practise and are matched to the phonics sounds/phases.
- Year 2 group room and the KS2 group rooms have multiple copies of banded books that are used for guided reading as well as individual reads.
- Books to support children in FFT are kept in the year 2 group room. These are used with children who are working below ARE and are completing the Wave 3 FFT catch-up programme.
- The KS1 Library has an excellent stock of fiction and non-fiction books. The library is timetabled for EYFS and KS1 children to enjoy reading books in the library. They are able to take books out weekly.
- Like the KS1 Library, the KS2 Library has an extensive range of fiction and non-fiction books and is used by children from Y3-Y6. Children access the library once a week with their classes and are able to take out books.
- Children have access to an online reading resource at home- Oxford Reading Buddy. This site has hundreds of books and the children simply login to access the books at their correct level. Teachers can monitor how much a child reads at home and use the results from the quizzes they complete to determine how well they are reading.
- com is used in UKS2 for children to practise their grammar skills both in school and at home. The site covers all areas of grammar and allows children to practise their skills by answering SATs style questions. Teachers use results from mini test children complete as formative assessment and plan accordingly.
- Letter-join is used to develop continuous cursive handwriting across school. There are a variety of resources available to use in class, often making links with other areas of the curriculum such as phonics and spellings. It is desktop and tablet compatible so tasks can be set for children to complete using technologies. The children are able to access the site from home to continue to practise their handwriting