How we teach English
English Curriculum Statement
At Leighswood we believe that Literacy is a fundamental life skill. Through language not only do we communicate our knowledge, ideas and feelings, but we also structure and make sense of our experiences; in this sense, language is a tool for both our thinking and learning.
To enable children to:
- Enjoy using language in different contexts and have the confidence and ability to do so.
- Develop understanding and skills to become independent, enthusiastic readers and writers.
- Use a range of spelling strategies and apply them in their independent work.
- Enable children to be articulate speakers and good responsive listeners in a variety of situations.
- Develop a fluent, legible handwriting style and take care with presentation of their work.
- Understand that language they have acquired may be relevant across all areas of their learning and life and to apply that language where possible.
- Foster the enjoyment of writing, and a recognition of its value; resulting in accurate and meaningful writing, be it narrative or non-fiction;
- Improve the planning, drafting and editing of their written work.
English content and approach
English is taught using the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. Wherever possible, English units are planned so that they link to learning in other areas of the curriculum and the Cornerstones Topic curriculum in particular. This gives a meaningful context and purpose for children to develop and apply skills and knowledge in English.
At Leighswood we use a variety of teaching and learning styles in our English lessons in order to meet the needs of all our pupils. Our principal aim is to develop children’s knowledge, skills, and understanding. We do this through a daily lesson in which children experience a reading or writing activity, a focused handwriting and spelling activity, a guided group or independent activity, and a whole class session to review progress and learning. In all classes children have a wide range of abilities, and we seek to provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. Staff have high expectations that all children can achieve their full potential. Wherever possible, Teaching Assistants work in class, supporting specific individuals or groups of children, ensuring that work is matched to the needs of the child. Some aspects of English such as guided reading and handwriting are taught outside of the daily English lesson.
Writing in KS2
Writing in KS2 is taught in such a way that children can follow the process through incorporating modelling, scaffolding, independent work, re-drafting and producing a final piece. On a typical journey through an English unit, children will:
- Explore texts related to the genre which are both accessible and aspirational;
- Deconstruct and label features of the texts;
- Identify what makes good in the genre of writing (ie devise success criteria for their future writing);
- Learn specific skills to achieve What Makes Good (WMG) through modelling and shared writing as well as independent practice;
- Incorporate specific sentences types or grammar features relevant to the particular genre;
- Draft pieces of writing applying the skills and knowledge they have learnt, continuously improving their writing;
- Re-draft their writing as a “Big Write”, using the WMG success criteria paying particular attention to audience and purpose.
Children learn about grammar and punctuation as an integrated part of their English lessons. Specific grammatical devices are modelled and practised during children’s journey through different English units. In particular, children’s attention will be drawn to the sentence types (Writing Codes, i.e. 2A = 2 adjectives before a noun, C = connective, AD= adverb, SS = short sentence, S = simile) which are pertinent to the particular text type being studied. The logic behind the Writing Codes is a simple one: if you give a sentence type a name (such as ’2A sentences’) and all staff throughout the school use the same name, then pupils will quickly develop a vocabulary which helps them to analyse sentences in the writing of others AND use a broader range in their own writing.
Spelling in KS2
From Year 2 onwards, children are taught spelling using the Read Write Inc Spelling programme. The RWI Spelling programme fits perfectly with our phonic approach to teaching reading and further embeds and develops the children’s phonological awareness. What’s more, the RWI Spelling programme covers all of the National Curriculum’s Programmes of Study relating to spelling. Through short, fun, progressive activities which form part of the daily English lesson, children develop their ability to spell accurately. The emphasis is placed on learning how to spelland the application of this knowledge. Activities include:
- Introduction to words following a particular spelling pattern using “Spelling Zone” video;
- Looking at root words and identifying the graphemes/phonemes (letters and sounds) in these words;
- Building words using prefixes (beginnings) and suffixes (endings);
- When given a choice, identifying the correct word to use in the context of a sentence;
- Dictation of a single sentence containing current spelling pattern;
- Peer teaching of possible strategies to help remember spellings;
- Spelling games and rhymes.
The programme is based on the principles of ‘little and often’ and that ‘practise makes perfect’, and since the English alphabetic system is the most complex in the world, a lot of practice is required to achieve proficiency in spelling. Our aim is that children at Leighswood can apply their spelling knowledge in their independent writing.
Reading Comprehension in KS2
Reading Comprehension is taught to classes once a week as part of English. Guided Reading is taught discretely four times a week in short sessions, using a reading scheme. Points of grammar are discussed as they arise. Children will read to and be read to by teachers, other adults and each other during English sessions and at many other times during the school day on a regular basis, as part of a broad and balanced curriculum according to their individual needs. We expose children to a wide variety of text types such as narratives, play scripts, poetry and a range of non-fiction texts.
The value of parents and other family members helping children with their reading cannot be overestimated. Children are expected to take books home regularly from the class library and school library. Parents/carers are encouraged to take an active role in their child’s progress through regular reading with their child at home. Parents/carers are encouraged to complete the Reading Record book with their child. Children are rewarded for home reading; we celebrate their reading achievements in special assemblies.