At St. Luke’s CE Primary School from Early Years to Year 6, our English curriculum is designed to develop children’s love of, and skills of, reading, writing and spoken language and prepare our learners for life as successful, valuable and socially responsible citizens. We inspire an appreciation of a rich and diverse variety of literature and place this at the heart of our English curriculum. 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 aim to develop children’s word-reading and comprehension strategies to allow them to open up a gateway into the fantastic world of books and language, helping to feed their imagination and broaden their horizons, whilst also developing their understanding of the wider world and fostering a love of reading – we aim to develop lifelong readers. From when the children start in Reception, we immediately develop their early reading skills, through our phonics programme and then build on and improve comprehension skills through high-quality discussions around quality texts, guided by the class teacher. Once children have mastered phonics, they take a Star Assessment to gain a ZPD (Zone of Proximal Develop) as part of our Accelerated Reader programme. To promote their importance, we place a focus on key English skills within our wider curriculum, from developing word-reading and basic comprehensions skills in weekly topic lessons, to producing high-quality topic essays each half term in science, geography and history. This teaches pupils of the importance of reading, writing and language and how they can use their skills to articulate their thinking and understanding. During Reception, we also focus on the children’s English skills within the wider curriculum. The children have access to writing and mark making in all areas of continuous provision and they are encouraged to use their phonic skills throughout the different areas. For example; this may link writing and mark making to Understanding the World in the enquiry area.
Reading and writing is taught at St. Luke’s through carefully selected quality texts, and further developed across the wider curriculum. 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 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.
In Reception and Year 1, in addition to direct teaching, the carefully thought out continuous provision allows our children to build on skills which provide a strong foundation for their writing development throughout school. Both the environment (indoor and out) and skilled practitioners foster curiosity and encourage mark making during their play. All of the practitioners are fully aware of all of the children’s learning development and how to extend their learning within continuous provision. As well as the Reception and Year 1 children having access to a carefully planned writing/mark making area, they also have carefully planned resources within all areas of continuous provision. These resources are planned to engage and inspire children to want to apply their phonic knowledge within their independent learning.
In Key Stage 1 and 2, planning in writing lessons are based on ‘The Write Stuff’ approach by Jane Considine, and carefully selected units ensure coverage and progression through the curriculum. This approach allows us to target areas of children’s writing which were seen to be weaker nationally, as well as having a focus within lessons on developing language and tier 2 vocabulary. The approach breaks lessons down into manageable chunks to keep children ‘in the moment’ at the point of writing, and is built upon three key elements:
- Engage – hook the children in and develop a broad vocabulary;
- Model – explicit teacher modelling of writing skill;
- Enable – the opportunity for children to practise applying their writing skills.
We aim to help children develop the following skills as they progress through the writing curriculum at St. Luke’s:
- Identifying the audience for and purpose of the writing, selecting the appropriate form and using other similar writing as models for their own.
- Note and develop initial ideas, drawing on reading and research where necessary.
- Write narratives, considering how authors have developed characters and settings in what pupils have read, listened to or seen performed.
- Select appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning.
- In narratives, describing settings, characters and atmosphere and integrating dialogue to convey character and advance the action
- Precise longer passages.
- Use a wide range of devices to build cohesion within and across paragraphs.
- Use further organisational and presentational devices to structure text and to guide the reader (for example, headings, bullet points, underlining).
- Assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing.
- Propose changes to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation to enhance effects and clarify meaning.
- Ensure the consistent and correct use of tense throughout a piece of writing.
- Ensure correct subject and verb agreement when using singular and plural, distinguishing between the language of speech and writing and choosing the appropriate register.
At St. Luke’s, we aim for our pupils to become fluent and effective writers. We use the National Curriculum 2014 as a basis for teaching Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar and have discrete grammar and spelling lessons as part of our weekly timetable. We have developed Grammar and Spelling curriculum maps to ensure children are taught year group specific curriculum content, whilst having the opportunity to revisit and recap prior learning.
Throughout Early Years, 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. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children.
As the children in Reception start their reading journey with us at St Luke’s, we have a balance of reading for pleasure and gaining skills to word read accurately and fluently. At St. Luke’s, the systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority in Early Years and Key Stage 1. We use a synthetic phonics teaching programme produced by Ruth Miskin called Read Write Inc. (RWI) Phonics as a basis to teach our pupils to read. The children are encouraged to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’ and this is implemented through fast track tutoring, which takes place daily, in Early Years and Key Stage 1.
In addition to the systematic teaching of phonics, Reception and Year 1 promote reading for pleasure through group story time sessions and the planning of books in the areas of continuous provision. In Reception, high-quality picture books are used to engage children in story times and they are planned following the Ruth Miskin, Talk through Stories approach. This programme extends and deepens children’s vocabulary so that they can understand the books they will soon be able to read for themselves. The stories used are also accessible within the areas of continuous provision and in the ‘lending library’ so they can continue and extend their own learning.
Within areas of continuous provision in Reception and Year 1, high-quality books have been carefully planned for and made accessible for all children. The children are encouraged to independently use the books during their play by retelling the familiar stories, using the pictures to talk about the stories and using the pictures to support their learning within the different areas. For example, in the construction area, children have the resources available to find a picture of a house and then use the resources to build it.
For our early readers and pupils not yet off the phonics program, books are matched to the grapheme-phoneme correspondences pupils have been taught. We use RAMP (Reading and Modelled Practise) Reading, based around the Reciprocal Reading approach, to model key comprehension strategies and to support children in articulating their ideas during guided reading sessions. This focuses on the following key skills:
- Activating prior knowledge
- Making predictions
- Clarifying vocabulary
- Asking questions
- Discussing authorial intent and use of grammar
- Inferring information
We understand that reading is the key to accessing and unlocking the wider curriculum, and we aim to develop fluent readers, using the Fresh Start Phonics approach across upper KS2 for those who are not yet able to fully decode. We aim to help children develop the following skills as they progress through the Reading curriculum at St. Luke’s:
- To 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.
Children are also assessed through our Accelerated Reader programme when they have completed our phonics programme. This allows children to track their reading and select books appropriate to their reading ability and most suitable to make good progress in reading. Regular quizzing helps us to track children’s understanding of what they have read. MyOn also opens up a library of online literature for our children, where they can access a range of different text types, genres and contexts. Teachers are also able to create bundles to help children read around a topic, furthering their learning and understanding of what they are learning in class across the curriculum.
We also provide children with the opportunity to apply their writing sills across the curriculum, with a focus on articulating knowledge gained in the wider curriculum through the conduit of topic essays. One essay is produced each half term, culminating in two Geography, History and Science essays across the academic year. As well, as showcasing knowledge gained, the children are provided the support and opportunity to articulate their ideas clearly and concisely across a range of coherent pieces of writing.
We use both formative and summative assessment information in reading and writing. Assessment informs learning to ensure that all pupils including disadvantage and those with SEND achieve highly and acquire the knowledge, skills and concepts they need to succeed. Staff use formative assessment in guided reading sessions and independent writing (including that produced across the curriculum) to inform their short-term planning and address misconceptions. This helps us provide the best possible support for all of our pupils. We also use summative assessment data and analysis to identify strengths and areas for development for our children, to ensure pupils work towards end points in each year group, including data from PIRA and Star Assessments. The essential knowledge, skills and concepts in reading are progressive and build year on year.
Reading for Pleasure
At St. Luke’s, we look to foster a develop a love of reading to create lifelong readers. In EYFS and KS1, children have access to a lending library, which allows them to take home books to read and share with their parents, supplementing our phonics scheme. This helps to promote good reading habits and relationships at home and in school. In EYFS, secret readers are invited in weekly to share a story with the children. These can be parents, family members, or members of the local community.
Each class also has a class text to share throughout the week, fostering a love of reading and the chance to share a range of stories. Our ‘Six to get started’ packs ensure we have a range of quality texts to share with the children in each year group. This book is often shared in social reading time, where the children have chance to read together and talk about the books they love, recommending them to other pupils in the class. They are able to discuss books, recommend books to others and post reviews on our reading rivers, which track reading for pleasure in each class. We use this to create shopping lists for each class and use the money raised from our annual book fair to buy books for reading for pleasure and social reading times.