English

Intent

At Heytesbury C of E Primary School, we make the teaching of English the foundation of our curriculum. Our belief is that reading, writing, speaking and listening are the keys to all learning and our ability to communicate. We are determined to help our children develop into articulate and imaginative communicators, to support and enhance their thinking and understanding of the world around them through a broad, rich and engaging English curriculum.

Our curriculum also gives children the opportunity to further develop and understand our school values: courage, perseverance, truthfulness, wisdom, forgiveness and friendship. Through the teaching and learning of English, and an exposure to a language-rich environment, our students learn about themselves, their values, rights and responsibilities and enhance their ability to empathise. We place books, vocabulary and reading at the heart of everything we do, as tools to gain knowledge and develop emotional literacy.

Our aim is to ensure that every child becomes primary literate and progresses in reading and writing as well as speaking and listening,. We mindfully endeavour to ensure that children develop a lifelong, healthy and enthusiastic attitude towards English, to equip our students with the necessary skills and passion to support them in their forthcoming secondary education.

 

Implementation

At Heytesbury, we use the 2014 National Curriculum and EYFS curriculum for directing the teaching of English. It underpins the whole of the curriculum, as the children develop their English skills in all subjects.

For phonics, we follow a systematic approach using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Through this rigorous and consistent approach, each grapheme is introduced clearly; a focus is placed on blending to read and segmenting to spell. This provides children with the skills they need to begin to read words, captions and whole sentences as soon as possible. The teaching of phonics begins in Reception, and teaching continues daily to at least the point where children can read almost all words fluently.

Right from Reception through to Year 2, children practise reading using decodable books that are closely matched to their developing phonic knowledge. Our children often reread the same text multiple times to develop their comprehension and fluency which includes their accuracy, automaticity (rapid recall of whole known words) and prosody (reading with expression). Alongside their independent reading of decodable books, our youngest pupils have daily story time and share books across the curriculum to ensure they develop a true love of reading. This is evident in the books they bring home: a reading practice book for them to read fluently and a sharing book for families to read together.

As soon as children master the alphabetic code and can read fluently then, in Year 2, they begin whole class reading lessons. We have developed our own Heytesbury Reading Spine which allows the children to be inspired by a diverse range of fiction books which are progressive as the children move through the school. Within every lesson, time is taken to explicitly teach vocabulary encountered in our reading, to enable our students to learn a variety of words and increase their own, overall comprehension of a text. During each lesson, there will also be a focus on one of our reading strands: inference, link-making, prediction, summarising or retrieval. These are taught progressively as our children move through the school. Our daily story time sessions ensure the children are read to everyday and share, discuss and enjoy the endless possibilities of books. The children in our school have access to The Heytesbury 50 Recommended Reads in which they have the ability to choose which book they read. In KS1, these are called ‘Sharing Books’ as we actively encourage these children to share these books with adults at home. In KS2, these are called ‘Free-Reading Books’ so they can begin to challenge themselves independently. Across our whole school, each child also has a banded book which matches their reading ability, to ensure they experience the right level of success and challenge.

In writing, our units have three components: The Understanding Phase, The Build-Up Phase and The Writing Phase. The Understanding Phase focuses primarily on the task, audience and purpose of the writing for that week. It aims to ensure that children have a full understanding of the genre and what to expect throughout the two-week block of writing. These lessons may include discussing features of the text, analysing what a good one looks like or recapping previous pieces of work that may link and support their knowledge in their current piece of work. The Build-Up Phase focuses on setting the children up to begin their first draft. The children will have the opportunity to create vocabulary grids and plan their work to enable them to become confident writers during the next phase. It is here where the majority of our punctuation and grammar teaching also happens, all in context. Finally, in The Writing Phase, children will apply the skills they have developed to their own text and begin their first drafts and continue to edit and improve their work throughout the week to produce a final piece.

Our writing curriculum develops progressively and ensures that children are taught how to write narrative, poetry and range of non-fiction texts. Our children revisit and consolidate their skills through different units and our daily writing lessons are enhanced with short spelling, punctuation and grammar sessions throughout the week to ensure the children know, and can apply, those key elements of writing.

 

Impact

The impact of our English curriculum on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident readers and writers and, by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.

In order to measure the impact of our curriculum effectively, we use a two-tier approach to assessment. Firstly, teachers use a range of strategies to take a snapshot of learning within the lessons and then adapt subsequent sessions and learning experiences accordingly so that all children make progress. Secondly, through summative assessments, we make more formal record of the children’s learning against age-related expectations and exemplification materials. At Heytesbury, we also use No More Marking, which is an assessment tool used to measure children’s writing ability against children their own age. This gives us a more accurate picture of where our children are compared to national and within our year groups.

By having such a continuous cycle of assessment, we can ensure that we meet our ambitions and that children leave us with the skills, passion and knowledge necessary to continue to excel in their secondary education. We hope that, as children move on from us to further their education and learning, that their creativity, high aspirations and passion for English stay with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.

Progression Maps
The Heytesbury 50 Recommended Reads
Our Writing Framework