English encompasses the teaching of speaking, listening, reading, writing skills, spelling strategies and rules and the use of drama. These skills are used and embedded across all areas of the curriculum.
Children take part in a variety of situations and activities in which they are taught how to discuss and ask questions. Many opportunities are planned for so that children can tell stories and build up a repertoire of poems learnt by heart, with increasing confidence and enthusiasm. Whilst sharing and presenting their ideas, children are also taught the value and importance of being active listeners. Talk for Writing is encouraged throughout the school, across all situations and subjects to help children to gather ideas and structure their writing.
From Year R onwards, children are taught specific decoding skills including the use of phonics, recognition of common exception words (tricky words), and making links to known words in order to develop reading fluency.
Children experience a wide range of authors and text types during their time at St Mary Bourne School and will regularly hear books being read to them, in addition to reading for their own pleasure. We aim to foster a love of language and literature and an active use of our school library and class libraries is encouraged. Children take books home to share and a Homework diary is used to develop dialogue about their progress, and for children to reflect on their reading. It is also used to encourage children to identify words that capture their imagination and interest (Magpie them) so that they can broaden their vocabulary and understanding and in turn their use of phrasing in their writing.
The school’s reading scheme is Oxford Reading Tree and is supplemented by Project X, Big Cat Phonics and Songbirds. This runs from Early Years through to Key Stage 2, and they are taken home to share and also used in guided reading sessions, so all children are accessing books at their reading ability. Key stage 1 also match their reading books to the phonic levels that they can access and are either currently learning or to recap sounds that they have been previously taught.
We are lucky enough to have many reliable parents, who alongside teaching staff, contribute towards the development of the children’s speaking and listening, through group guided reading, allowing children to participate in discussions where they can express their views about a variety of books and poems.
Children are given opportunities to write for a variety of purposes and wherever possible real audiences, using a range of writing form such as: explanations, instructions, persuasion, stories and poems. They will learn to plan, draft, revise, edit and present their work, before evaluating the success of their writing. Feedback from the intended audience will be part of this process wherever possible.
Children are expected to write frequently in a range of forms. This may be responses to a text, completing text feature grids, short writing tasks such as writing as a character or writing a whole story.
To help children realise their full potential and maintain high expectations, we devise a list of writing expectations to be met and ensure that all previous learning is built upon. Any children that need extra support to achieve these expectations will have strategies in place with their class teacher.
Shared and modelled writing, takes place within English lessons. This allows the teacher to demonstrate good writing practice to the children while using their ideas. Teachers ensure that the writing demonstrated shows high expectations and covers the success criteria they would expect to see in the children’s writing.
In the English curriculum, punctuation, grammar and spelling play a key role in the child’s writing. Some sessions are taught as stand-alone lessons and others are taught to ensure that the writing purposes extend from any skills that have been taught. This allows children to develop their understanding or technical terms to be able to discuss and justify choices. Children will steadily build on their understanding of spelling patterns and rules across the school outlined in the National Curriculum. The school has adopted a strategy designed to reinforce and strengthen spelling rules and patterns, using repetition across a tri-stage approach gradually building on prior knowledge and moving children to the stage that most benefits them.
Cursive script handwriting is taught across the school and is considered a skill that affects written communications across the curriculum. Our aim is that pupils will be supported to develop a cursive handwriting style which is clear, joined and fluid. We believe this raises standards in writing in the early years which will impact throughout the whole school, developing confidence, accuracy and fluency and improved presentation. Inevitably some will be neater than others, but each child can acquire a consistent and fluent style. Children must be able to write with ease, speed and legibility.
Drama forms part of the English and wider curriculum and aims to encourage self-confidence, imagination and empathy. It is used to stimulate, explore and challenge ideas.