As a maintained school in England, we are legally required to follow the statutory national curriculum which sets out programmes of study and subject content for English. The overarching aim for English in the new national curriculum is to “promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.”
Heavy emphasis is placed on the teaching of English at Langney Primary School. As part of our curriculum design we are continue to evolve our own school curriculum, which reflects the programmes of study for each year group in the national curriculum, for the teaching of: Spoken Language; Reading; Writing Composition; Spelling; Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation.
Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. At Langney Primary School, opportunities for pupils to talk and learn from each other in lessons are commonplace and specific ‘group discussion and interaction techniques’ are implicit in planning. This includes role play, drama and debate which are often used as effective teaching strategies across the curriculum.
For children who are identified as struggling with the spoken language, a range of personalised intervention programmes are available to develop children’s oral skills. Focus of these interventions aim to develop pupils’ ability to speak more clearly, use correct grammatical structures and / or use the appropriate verb tenses.
1. Talk for Writing
As part of Writing Composition, ‘Talk For Writing’ strategies are regularly used by class teachers when analysing texts, examples of which include:
Book Talk – the use of talk to explore children’s responses to a text as a reader;
Writer Talk – exploration of the thinking and creative processes involved in all stages of writing; talk that helps children to think and behave like a writer;
Story Telling and Story Making – involves learning and repeating of oral stories, developing children’s confidence to develop them through telling and then extending that development into writing.
2. Author’s Chair
Children in Years 1 to 6 are given plentiful opportunities as part of the school curriculum to participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates. In such activities, the children assess their peers according to a standardised ‘spoken language rubric’ in order to provide immediate feedback about control and clarity of their speaking as well as their use of Standard English.
The national curriculum states “all pupils should be enabled to participate in and gain knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of drama.” In addition to role play and drama used as part of a teacher’s repertoire to engage pupils, children in all year groups are also given opportunity to prepare, read aloud and perform poems and play scripts.
For children showing natural talent in performance, extra provision is put in place through attendance at our weekly drama club and involvement in numerous school productions. Langney pupils enjoy performing on stage and the school has a strong reputation for its quality theatre productions and performances.
1. Reading Scheme
At Langney Primary School we have a large collection of books, from a range of schemes, graded by difficulty and labelled by coloured groups (often referred to as coloured ‘book bands’). The books range from wordless picture books to full chapter books; and gradually increase in difficulty, length and technical elements. Book banded books are used to ensure each child is reading at an appropriate level for guided, shared and independent reading.
In conjunction with book banding, the school uses the PM Reading Programme. PM breaks down each book band to an even finer level and is used to explicitly assess pupils’ instructional and independent reading. The PM Benchmark Tool is used to ensure each child is on the correct book band level by measuring their reading accuracy, fluency, comprehension and ability to retell. Individual pupil records are kept by teachers to demonstrate progress.
2. Word Reading / Phonics
Skilled word reading involves both the speedy recognition of familiar printed words and the pronunciation of unfamiliar words (decoding). In addition to rehearsal of sight vocabulary, phonics is at the heart of early reading at Langney Primary School and taught as the prime approach to word recognition.
At present, the school uses ‘Letters and Sounds,’ a detailed and widely recognised systematic programme for the teaching of synthetic phonic skills with the aim of children becoming fluent readers by age seven.
The programme promotes speaking and listening skills, so that, by the end of key stage 1, children have fluent word reading skills and also a good foundation in spelling.
From Nursery to Year 2, phonics is taught discretely on a daily basis based on assessments of the children’s needs. It is multi-sensory and an enjoyable part of the reading journey. It is taught at a brisk pace through the phases of Letters and Sounds but is sensitive to children’s developing abilities. Phonics teaching is applied across the curriculum and in guided reading sessions where children are prompted to use the skills and knowledge they have been learning in phonics. For children who are struggling, additional phonic interventions are delivered in small groups or on a one-to-one basis.
The teaching of phonics and additional phonic interventions continues into Lower Key Stage 2; and when relevant in Upper Key stage 2.
In Upper Key Stage 2, spelling is taught on a daily basis and additional phonic interventions are delivered for pupils experiencing difficulty in reading and/or writing because they have missed or misunderstood a crucial phase of systematic phonics teaching. The programme is rigorous so that children who may be struggling to decode can catch up rapidly with their peers.
Comprehension is the ability to understand and elicit meaning from any type or written or illustrated material. It is the reason for reading. If readers can read the words but not understand what they mean, they are not really reading.
We have adopted The Scholastic Comprehension Scheme and this covers the teaching of the essential comprehension skills of summarising, predicting, clarifying and questioning. Alongside these skills, children are able to identify and apply the three fundamental questioning skills:
Literal – explicit meaning (Who? What? Where?)
Inference - hidden and implied meaning (detective work – thinking and searching for clues to make deductions).
Evaluative – personal meaning (using own experience to explain events or characters’ actions, feelings and behaviour and linking them to the author’s viewpoint).
The Reading Comprehension Scheme contains seven chapters that are progressive and build on the learning from previous chapters. It uses extracts from real, quality text / known authors.
For children who are struggling with oral and/or written comprehension, additional interventions are delivered using a range of comprehension support programmes based on personalised needs.
4. Reading for Pleasure
Encouraging a love for reading is at the core of our school curriculum. We continue to work tirelessly to promote wider reading by:
Involving children in the design and build of new library facilities (September 2014). This ‘funky’ new space has ignited the children’s interest in reading for pleasure and is now a favourite place to be found curled up with a book!
Introducing many awards for reading including certificates for reading regularly at home, book tokens to purchase books at the school tuck shop and individual class rewards.
Development of a new Home Learning Policy which sets out ambitious expectations for reading at home.
Provision of indoor and outdoor library spaces which can both be used by pupils to read for pleasure at playtimes.
Stop, Drop & Read times throughout the school day for children, and adults, to have time to become absorbed in a book and discuss a text with a focus on oral comprehension skills.
Regular whole-school ‘Reading for Pleasure’ competitions.
The introduction of ‘Mr. Doo’s Book Review’ in weekly assemblies where a book is recommended by our Reading Champion and a character from that book comes ‘alive.’
The purchase of tablets based upon findings from international research which has shown that boys have a strong interest in, and aptitude for, digital reading. The research from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) indicates the gender gap is much narrower when reading texts on screen and this can be exploited to engage reluctant boy readers.
Langney Primary School uses the statutory appendices on spelling which give an overview of the specific features that should be taught in the required programmes of study for each year group.
At Langney Primary School we use the ‘Nelson Spelling Scheme’ to develop an understanding of the spelling rules and patterns that are set out in the National Curriculum. Each year group, from years 1-6 have a programme of study in which they follow. New spellings words are given out and sent home to share with parents each Friday and on the following Monday the children are taught these words through are range of fun and exciting lessons. As the week progresses the children have opportunities to apply and consolidate these words using activities set out in the Nelson activity and workbooks as well as short daily games and activities which allow the children to see these words in a range of contexts. This not only helps to secure spelling knowledge but ensure a clear understanding of the meaning of each word and how to use them appropriately in their own writing. On Fridays the children have a spelling quiz on the words they have learnt during the week. The quizzes, with their results, are then sent home.
Alongside our weekly spelling words the children are regularly exposed the statutory word lists for each phase (Lower Juniors – Years 3 and 4 and Upper Juniors Years 5-6, and in Key Stage 1 the High Frequency words). These words do appear within the Nelson Spelling Scheme but are also explored discretely as well.
At Langney Primary School, we use the ‘Penpals for Handwriting Scheme’ across the school to develop fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
Handwriting is taught discretely in all classes on a daily basis in Key Stage 1 and at least once a week in Key Stage 2, for a minimum of ten minutes. If any children in KS2 are still struggling with handwriting in KS they are supported further with resources and interventions.
In addition to rehearsal of letter formation, the teaching of handwriting provides reinforcement of work on phonics, opportunities to practise writing letter patterns in context and reinforcement of high frequency words.
Children in Years 3 to 6 have ‘Presentation and Publishing’ books. These books are very special and are used as the last stage in the writing composition process for children to present their final version of drafted written work. It also provides opportunity for application of handwriting skills taught.
At Langney Primary School, we have developed a consistent approach to the teaching of Writing Composition which includes the explicit teaching of each stage of the writing process.
Analysis of Text – use of Talk For Writing to discuss / analyse identified text structure, vocabulary and grammar and key features.
Planning of Writing – discussing and recording ideas, use of planning skeleton and other simple organisational devices to brainstorm ideas.
Drafting and Writing – composing and rehearsing sentences orally before and during writing.
Edit and Improve – assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing and suggesting improvements; use of agreed editing symbols to proof-read for spelling and punctuation errors.
Publish and Present – read aloud their own writing, to a group or the whole-class, using appropriate intonation and controlling the tone and volume so that the meaning is clear. Children to peer-assess against agreed ‘spoken language rubric.’
Children are given opportunity throughout the year to write a range of genres including narrative, non-fiction and poetry. Please click here to view the Langney School Curriculum for Writing Coverage. The identified genres are creatively linked to termly topics or themes, as part of our cross-curricular approach to teaching and learning.
VOCABULARY, GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION
Langney Primary School uses the statutory appendices on vocabulary, grammar and punctuation which sets out concepts that should be taught for each year group.
Grammar and Punctuation is taught on a daily basis for a minimum of ten minutes and there is one longer English lesson per week with a sole focus on grammar and punctuation. The detailed content of these lessons are determined by the statutory requirements for each year group in the 2014 national curriculum.
Opportunities to enhance pupils’ vocabulary arises naturally from their reading and writing. In addition, the school is in its early implementation of using the Word Aware programme to promote the development of pupils’ spoken and written vocabulary.