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.
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.
Our Writing Vision At Heytesbury C of E School, we are committed to ensuring our children develop into highly literate, creative writers and articulate speakers.
Using high-quality texts, we introduce children to rich and meaningful vocabulary, and make the planning, drafting, writing and editing stages of writing explicit so that children experience the breadth of techniques required to ensure they are competent writers that can write for a range of purposes and audiences.
We aim for all pupils to:
- Communicate in writing clearly, confidently and appropriately, while demonstrating an awareness of purpose and audience.
- Become adept at writing both fiction and non-fiction and leave Year 6 being able to write effectively.
- Foster a genuine love of writing.
- Be immersed in what they write, through the use of high-quality texts, experience days and a rich language environment.
- Become experts at apply literary techniques, in order to engage readers.
- Use accurate spelling through the use of a systematic spelling system – from y2 upwards =The Spelling Shed
- Present work that they are proud of
We ensure children are immersed in a learning environment that values speaking, listening and the development of language as a vital part of the writing process. We use Jane Considine’s The Write Stuff (TWS) methodology to ensure pupils are explicitly taught the skills and craft of writing.
Teaching sequences include experience days and sentence stacking lessons, that have modelling at the heart of them. Sentences are taught under the structural framework of The Writing Rainbow, where teachers prepare children for writing by modelling the ideas, grammar, or techniques of writing. Each writing unit begins with an ‘experience day’.
Children need experiences to enable them to write so, we need to immerse them in what we want them to write about. We might use: trips, visitors, video clips, sound clips, artefacts, objects, drama…etc. From this experience, we ‘wring out’ (generate words and phrases) all the different ways a child could think about that experience and thus enable the child to develop their understanding of what they are going to write about; it has meaning.
- Experience lessons stimulate ideas, and are used thoughtfully to further generate ideas and vocabulary for writing.
- For non-fiction texts, we ‘find the shape’ first, or look at model narratives to understand the writer’s craft.
- Each Sentence Stacking lesson is organised into three learning chunks to stimulate, model and enable pupils to build clear and progressively rich language alongside contextualised application of specific writing objectives.
- Each sentence stacking lesson is based around another ‘plot point’ for narrative, or part of the ‘shape’ for non-fiction genres.
Initiate: teacher shares a stimulus e.g. Film clip picture, drama; word gathering and discussion; ‘chotting’ – pupils chat and jot words they want to use in their exercise books.
Modelling: the teacher demonstrates writing, explicitly explaining choices of words etc, using 2-3 lenses from the Writing Rainbow, modelling thesaurus thinking – to write three sentences, using vocabulary gathered in the initiate stage.
Enable: Being clear about the sentence idea, the children are then asked to write their sentences sticking to the focus. The children have their ‘chottings’ to support their word choices.
For every sentence written: children need to think about the IDEA of writing and the INTENT – e.g. positive or negative – that will affect word choice.
The Write Stuff revolves around the ‘writing rainbow’ which is split into 3 tiers. Each chunk of learning will focus on at least one of the lenses from the rainbow.
The FANTASTICs – are the five senses plus feeling, imagining, action and asking.
The GRAMMARISTICs – the National Curriculum
The BOOMTASTICs – techniques that writers use to engage the reader.
Pupils apply their learning from the sentence stacking lessons to a new task based around the text/genre. They plan (choosing lenses from the writing rainbow) and write independently, using the vocabulary they have gathered, and examples of sentences structures and generic features they have learnt. Pupils are given the opportunity to practice writing in a range of styles and genres.
During the Independent Write it is crucial that children’s errors or amendments are highlighted directly but in a way that expects the children to use their knowledge and understanding to address. The final part of the writing process looks at revision of what has been crafted. The suggested approach is to interrogate the writing in three ways. Teachers use this code to encourage pupils to edit their work:
E1 = Revise spellings, punctuation and omitted words
E2 = Rewrite a sentence because something isn't right (no guidance is given regarding why it needs a rewrite)
E3 = Re-imagine and tell me more by writing additional sentences or a section
Pupils work independently and in small groups to edit and improve their writing.
Support and Challenge:
The use of a visual narrative or shape map in the classroom for sentence stacking lessons, the structured explicit nature of those lessons, and the writing rainbow supports weaker writers. More able writers are encouraged to ‘deepen the moment’, and to extend detail or make independent choices in the sentence stacking lessons and in independent work, using their knowledge of the writing rainbow.
Links to reading.
Choice of text; The fiction books used as stimulus for writing are sometimes the guided reading book, or a book linked to history, geography or science. For non-fiction pieces, the stimulus is also used as a model.
Cross curricular opportunities
By the end of KS2, most genres of writing are familiar to pupils and teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills when writing in other areas of the curriculum.
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 in Reading KS1
- Progression in Reading LKS2
- Progression in Reading UKS2
- Progression in Writing KS1
- Progression in Writing LKS2
- Progression in Writing UKS2