‘It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations- something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.’
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
We believe that a high quality effective English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. Our children are taught to ‘be SMARTER’ allowing them to build the resilience to succeed in all aspects of English. We will provide the means for children to develop a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. We thrive for our children to be confident, fluent and expressive readers who have a love for reading. Our intent is for our children to be enthusiastic, confident and awe-inspiring writers. They are brave and ambitious with their choice of vocabulary and sentence structures. We want our children to be articulate and responsive people who listen carefully and are able to express their ideas, thoughts and opinions clearly and constructively. We believe that a secure basis in English skills is crucial to a high-quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society.
As many of our children enter our school with limited vocabulary, we quickly work to expose them to a wealth of sounds, words, rhymes and stories. In the foundation stage, there is a huge emphasis on developing listening skills and early oracy.
The teaching of phonics is crucial to children’s early reading development. We follow the Read Write Inc approach to teach phonics in EYFs, Key Stage 1 and for those children who require further phonic intervention in KS2.The programme focuses on securing word recognition skills, which are essential for children to decode and encode words accurately. Pupils are given reading books which closely match the phase of phonics that they are currently working within.
Reading is delivered daily throughout the school, with a focus on phonological awareness and fluency in key stage 1 progressing to an extensive knowledge of comprehension of a variety of texts in key stage 2. Lessons are filled with rich vocabulary and high-quality discussions. We promote reading for pleasure as part of our reading curriculum where children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors. During both reading for pleasure and guided-reading sessions, pupils have an extensive experience of listening to, sharing and discussing a wide range of texts with the teacher, other adults and each other to engender a love of reading.
In key stage 2, we use a whole-class guided reading approach, taking resources from either ‘FRED’ or the Ashley Booth’ scheme where all children in the class access the same high-quality text. A wide range of effective questioning is used during class discussions to challenge, probe and extend children’s understanding and learning. We use the Golden Ticket and Book Worm award system to praise and motivate our children to read at home. Our reading scheme is book banded which allows the children to access a range of books whilst still being at the appropriate reading level for each child. As our children progress in fluency, stamina and comprehension they become independent readers, allowing them to make their own choice about which book they want to read. We have a library in each key stage, which is enjoyed by all children, encouraging them to read for pleasure too! Children have access to the libraries throughout the school day.
In writing, we use a novel based approach where carefully selected, vocabulary rich texts are used as a vehicle for teaching reading and writing. Through these novels/texts, children follow clear, sequential episodes of learning based around an ambitious model text, that allow for the development of vocabulary and contextualised spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Units start by engaging children in a variety of reading activities, so that they fully understand the text and are able to ‘read as a writer’. Reading as a writer is a key component of our approach and involves children analysing the model text to understand the techniques the author has used and the subsequent effect on the reader. Throughout the writing process, the teacher models writing and undertakes shared writing and guided writing to develop the children’s knowledge and skills, in readiness for independent writing. By providing children with a range of writing opportunities, they are given the chance to draw on their reading and to adapt their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes, and audiences. Each unit of work follows the structure outlined below:
Immersion in text
Determine purpose, audience and form
Enjoy, explore and respond to text
Familiarisation with text structure
Familiarisation with language features
Collect writer hints
Modelled and guided writing (WAGOLL)
Application of writers’ skills and knowledge
Independent writing - draft, revise and edit
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
In line with the national curriculum, we ensure that each year group is teaching the explicit grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives required for that age group.
Within EYFS and year 1, spelling is part of the read write inc programme. Children will use Fred Fingers to first sound out a word before they write it down. This way of teaching spellings allows children to use Fred fingers whenever they get stuck with spelling a word. Children pinch each sound on their fingers before writing the word. From Year 2, we follow the ‘Spelling Shed’ scheme where specific spelling rules and strategies for spelling are taught discretely. Spelling Shed is an online platform that combines different online games with offline activities and worksheets- creating a hybrid model to help students learn English Spelling. All weekly spelling tests then link to the spelling rule or strategy that is being taught that week.
Grammar is taught both explicitly in stand-alone lessons and applied within the context of writing for a purpose.
Children are rigorously taught correct letter formation from the very beginning of their time in school. At Stanley, we use Penpals for Handwriting which is a complete handwriting scheme for 3-11 year olds that offers clear progression through five developmental stages: physical preparation for handwriting; securing correct letter formation; beginning to join along, securing the joins and practising speed, fluency and developing a personal style. Teachers model the school’s handwriting style through writing on the board and on displays around the school.
Communication and Language
In EYFS we promote early language development in a number of different ways. Children's back-and-forth interactions from an early age form the foundations for language and cognitive development. The number and quality of the conversations they have with adults and peers throughout the day in a language-rich environment is crucial. By commenting on what children are interested in or doing, and echoing back what they say with new vocabulary added, staff will build children's language effectively. Reading frequently to children, and engaging them actively in stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems, and then providing them with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, will give children the opportunity to thrive. Through conversation, story-telling and role play, where children share their ideas with support and modelling from their teacher, and sensitive questioning that invites them to elaborate, children become comfortable using a rich range of vocabulary and language structures.
Throughout the school we:
- identify opportunities for speaking and listening in planning and maximise cross-curricular links
- Provide opportunities to use drama, improvisation and performance (e.g., hot seating, freeze frame, puppets, debates etc)
- Provide real life situations to apply their speaking and listening skills e.g., class assemblies, visitors invited into school to share their knowledge and expertise, school performances, class sharing opportunities
- Use talk partners to generate and share ideas in small groups to invent or cement their understanding
- Draw out tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary from across our reading and experiences and explicitly teach these words
Marking is rigorous in English with regular ‘Response Times’ and spelling corrections to help children correct and consolidate their work. We use ‘Tickled Pink’ and ‘Green to Grow’ which allows the children to to understand and recognise work that is of great quality and standard and areas that need editing and improving.
We love to celebrate the success of our learners and strive to help all children achieve their goals. Reading is celebrated in all our classrooms with book corners and reward charts being present and bright and colourful displays celebrating children’s writing, their love of reading and the wonderful activities that take place throughout each term. Working Walls are present in all classrooms, aiding pupils and guiding them through the process of reading and analysing, gathering content and planning and writing. In addition, throughout the school year, our English curriculum is enhanced through World Book Week, a visiting local author, and a range of trips and visits which enrich and complement children’s learning.
With the implementation of our writing journey being taught and embedded in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and are more able to recognise a variety of genres by the time they are in key stage 2. This allows the teaching to become more focussed on creativity and imagination, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
Our students develop a love for English, demonstrating increased confidence in expressing their thoughts, ideas, and opinions both verbally and in writing. They demonstrate high levels of reading fluency, with a deep understanding of a wide range of texts across different genres. Students showcase their writing skills through well-structured pieces that display creativity, accurate grammar, and appropriate use of vocabulary.
Assessment for learning strategies are used on a daily basis. This allows a picture to be built up of the pupils’ progress, any areas of strength or weakness that can then be addressed in teachers’ planning. Assessment of learning is completed termly on iTrack using independent writing pieces that have been completed during a unit of work. These pieces are assessed against our Stanley writing criteria. Analysis of this data impacts upon teachers planning so pupils’ needs can be addressed. Moderation of teacher assessment is also completed termly in order to ensure that judgements are accurate.
At the end of KS1 and KS2 Year 2/6 teachers use the Teacher Assessment Framework to report teacher assessments. In 2022, Year 6 writing was moderated by the LA and all judgements were agreed with. In 2023 Year 2 writing was moderated by the LA and all judgements were agreed with.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught within English lesson are now being transferred into other subjects; this is beginning to show consolidation skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar and punctuation.
The majority of our pupils achieve expected standards in English. Our pupils demonstrate strong analytical and critical thinking skills, enabling them to interpret and evaluate texts effectively.