English at South Failsworth Primary School
At South Failsworth, we strive to provide our children with opportunities to develop a high level of literacy understanding that is required for success in adult life, and aim to deliver an exciting, innovative English curriculum, which enables and empowers children’s written and oral communication and creativity. We provide our children with a variety of opportunities, both in discrete English lessons and though cross-curricular tasks, which will enable them to make the connections in learning needed to establish a greater depth in their learning. We enhance and engage learning in a multitude of ways, for example: classroom libraries, online books, displays, hosting authors, visitors to and visits outside of school, library visits, World Book Week events and hosting the Book Bus. We aim to deliver a curriculum that meets the needs of the children in our school by providing a diverse range of reading and writing opportunities, because our children live in a predominantly white ethnic community. Our EYFS curriculum lays strong foundations for the English curriculum aims - these being that the children of South Failsworth build upon their skills and knowledge to enable them to:
A clear sequence of progression is planned for between and within year groups, which has the appropriate balance of narrative, non-fiction and poetry. The curriculum provides challenge for all children (groups such as SEND, more able, pupil premium, boys and girls etc.) with its opportunities for reading and writing across the curriculum, using engaging vocabulary and content rich texts. Regular time is built in for re-visiting of learning, using grammar warm-ups and editing stations and interventions are set up, based on the assessment of children who need to boost their learning to catch up/narrow the gap with their peers.
At South Failsworth, our teachers have a secure subject knowledge and understanding of the curriculum. All teachers are exposed to high quality CPD to help support their teaching and delivery of the different elements of the English curriculum. To support our teachers with the planning and delivery of high quality English lessons, we use a range of planning resources including those provided by Wordsmith, Focus English and the Lancashire NGFL. One of our Key Skills at South Failsworth is communication; from the high quality English lessons that the children are exposed to, they are able to transfer the skills and knowledge to other subjects across the curriculum. This will be evident as part of children’s work under the World themes of our curriculum: Where In The World; World Events; World Heroes; Wonderful World; The Wild World and The Natural World. Teachers check on children’s existing knowledge and understanding and formative assessment is used throughout units to inform the children’s immediate next steps. Our marking and feedback symbols in books allow children to reflect on their learning, edit and improve. Coherent progression is planned for across units of work, using the teaching sequence of reading to writing. Vocabulary enrichment is specifically planned for using Word of the Day and there is a clear focus on speaking and listening, reading, grammar and writing skills based on the National Curriculum.
Parents are encouraged to become involved with their child’s learning and are invited to attend year group specific meetings at the beginning of each academic year and additional meetings for phonics, reading and SATs. Parents are asked to support children by listening to them read and record ‘reads’ in the reading record comment book (as the children move into Key Stage 2, the children are asked to write in their own comment about their reading too). Parents are also asked to help their child to practise their spellings and support them with homework.
Phonics and Spelling Implementation
There is a dedicated phonics leader for the school who oversees that there is a systematic, synthetic approach to the delivery of phonics throughout Foundation and Key Stage 1 based on the principles of Letters & Sounds. Active and engaging sessions are planned with a clear lesson structure including clear modelling, practice and application opportunities which include opportunities for including the spelling elements for Year 1 and Year 2. Sessions are planned to meet the needs of all learners in the different groups and formative and summative assessments ensure that children are tracked and regrouped if necessary with interventions put in place to enable children to catch up/close the gap.
In Key Stage 2, children work on age related spellings and patterns in class – using a daily ‘Beat your own score’ repetitive practise and daily test method. The main teaching sequence for spellings is revise, teach, practise, apply, assess. Teachers use a range of strategies to teach spellings and spelling rules e.g. look, say, cover, write, check; mnemonics; rainbow writing; pyramid words; drawing an image around the word; using colours for patterns/words within words/tricky parts of the word etc. Spellings which are based on the child’s ability are sent home to learn (and can be practised using any of the games introduced on our interactive Spelling Shed). Individual log-ins for Spelling Shed also allows the children to practise spellings at home through a range of exciting games.
Reading is a fundamental part of everything we do at South Failsworth. During the early stages of reading, books are selected in line with children’s developing phonic ability. Children are exposed to high quality texts across the curriculum and reading skills are taught explicitly in all year groups. Selected texts are written by a range of authors, in order that children are exposed to literature they wouldn’t naturally choose themselves. Where possible, texts are used to support the wider curriculum and poetry, stories and non-fiction texts are used specifically to expand vocabulary across the curriculum. Teachers model reading e.g. for decoding, fluency, intonation and expression and children are often invited to read aloud following modelled reading. Key reading skills are taught within the reading phase of a unit and linked to responses in writing e.g. ‘to infer character thoughts’ may be included when writing a diary in role. Teachers focus on vocabulary during the teaching of reading - specific vocabulary may be identified for pre-teaching or exploring during reading sessions. Comprehension skills are developed through high quality discussion with a teachers. This is achieved through texts at an appropriate level, which children can read themselves in guided reading and also through texts beyond the level at which the child can read independently in shared reading or using class novels. Reading domains at KS1 and KS2 are used to inform planning, teaching and assessment – both orally and written. Alongside the skills of decoding and comprehension, book talk encourages children to think as a reader and discuss their preferences, likes and dislikes. Reading for pleasure is a cornerstone of our approach and the high profile of reading in school is further enhanced by reading initiatives we carry out throughout the year.
The children all have personal log-ins for Bug Club on the Active Learn online platform. This gives the children the chance to answer a range of questions about the books they read at home and for teachers to have access to these.
Each time they read and record the read, it counts towards the 100 reads badge awards – bronze, silver and gold. Children really enjoy the challenge of trying to achieve the ‘100 read’ status and when the children achieve this, it is celebrated in an assembly and the children receive badges for 100, 200 and 300 reads, which they wear with pride.
Writing is taught through a range of exciting stimuli which includes books, film clips, artefacts, visitors and real life experiences. We strive to equip children to develop a rich vocabulary which can help them bring their writing to life. Basic skills and non-negotiables underpin writing in all areas of the curriculum. Teachers model the writing process and demonstrate the ambitious high standards expected of all children. Every child is encouraged to let their imagination and personality shine through in their writing. We aim to foster a positive writing culture in school, through in a range of prominent ways throughout school to encourage the children to see it a pleasurable activity: writing areas, class library areas, displays, sharing of work with each other, writing for real purposes where possible, rewards and chances to enter writing competitions. Staff have received CPD according to the age-phase that they teach, and understand the progression of writing skills across the school. This is further validated through cross key-stage writing moderation opportunities.
The writing curriculum is underpinned by a reading to writing teaching sequence - using high quality texts as stimuli and vocabulary enrichment. There is a reading and responding phase; reading and analysis phase; gathering content phase; planning phase; writing phase, which includes scaffolded and independent outcomes. Children discuss books, explore the language used and use these ‘models’ as hooks for their own writing. An importance is placed on oral rehearsal prior to writing at each key stage, which may include a range of speaking, listening, drama and role play approaches. Spelling, punctuation and grammar skills are taught discretely and where possible applied in context. Teachers model writing, showing composition, how to use precise and effective vocabulary and how to apply grammar, spelling and punctuation skills. Children are encouraged to re-read aloud writing which has been modelled. Short writing opportunities are planned for within units of work and units work towards a specific outcome e.g. narrative or non-fiction piece of writing, poem, oral or ICT based outcome. Editing and proof-reading skills are modelled by teachers and children use green pens to edit their own work (on the left hand side of English books if more than an odd word is needed to be changed). This may be aided by feedback across the writing phase. Independent writing opportunities are based on the genres and skills which have been recently taught. They may be an innovation of a narrative, emerge from topics, experiences or cross-curricular links.
There is a consistent approach to the teaching of handwriting, using an agreed cursive script. Gross and fine motor skills are practised in EYFS and where necessary in KS1. The handwriting approach is visible in the children’s books; modelled by adults on IWB, whiteboards and flip-charts and expectations for handwriting and presentation are high.
Children enjoy English lessons. They read for pleasure and know that good communication, reading and writing are skills for life. Children are confident speakers in front of audiences, in class and when performing/speaking to others in assemblies. Through our teaching we continuously monitor children’s progress against the expected attainment for their age. We make formative assessment notes and use these to inform our discussions in termly Pupil Progress Meetings. Teachers update FFT Aspire (our school assessment tracker) on a termly basis for reading. Writing is assessed using independent pieces of writing and tracked using the age related expectations for each year group. The development of reading and writing skills is evident in children’s work within books and progress is evident for individuals throughout the year and from year to year. As well as positive data, the understanding, engagement, and attitudes of the children show their commitment and pride in their work. Children are able to use targets and respond to feedback to take their learning forward. Interventions have enabled a greater proportion of children to be on track to meet year group expectations or in the case of those working significantly below expectations to make better than expected progress.
Standards are being met and they often exceed national averages at the end of EYFS, KS1 and KS2 in relation to the Early Learning Goals for reading and writing, the phonics screening check and the English National Curriculum programme of study.