ENGLISH CURRICULUM INTENT
At SS Peter and Paul School, we have a passion for immersing all children in a rich and varied English curriculum; to provide opportunities for them to develop a love for reading and writing in order to become literate members of society.
Communication and language, reading and writing are the foundations for children’s development and future learning in all subjects. Through cross-curricular/topic-based learning, in addition to discrete English skills lessons, we believe that we inspire children to be active and engaged learners who are able to use their literacy skills across the whole curriculum.
In accordance with the 2014 National Curriculum, we aim to ensure that all our pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly and accurately, adapting language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; and be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in speaking and listening, making formal presentations and participating in debates
Reading is an essential skill required to access learning across the whole curriculum. We aim to ensure that all children are able to read fluently and with good understanding. We actively encourage children to develop a habit of regular reading of a wide range of genres and become immersed in a language rich environment, to acquire knowledge and also to read for pleasure.
We develop a reading culture within our school through:
- providing an extensive selection of fiction and non-fiction books for the children to take home from our refurbished school library, which provides a stimulating environment, a respect and a love of books
- creating book areas in classrooms that include stories, poetry and non-fiction books linked to topic work
- celebrating authors, illustrators and a love of books through events such as World Book Day and Book Fairs
- using reading schemes, eg Oxford Reading Tree, Connections, Songbirds and Project X to develop reading skills
- enabling children to read both fiction and non-fiction texts with parents, teachers, support staff, volunteer adult reading partners and KS1/KS2 reading buddies
- using whole class readers and CLPE Power of Reading, with opportunity for teacher/children to model reading aloud using expression and intonation.
- using Chromebooks and iPads in accordance with our Online Safety policy to research topics
- being taught specific reading comprehension skills such as retrieval and inference in lessons and in Guided Reading group sessions
Writing ideas fluently depends on effective transcription; spelling quickly and accurately using knowledge of phonics and sight words. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.
Phonics is an approach to teaching reading, and some aspects of writing, by developing learners’ phonemic awareness. This involves the skills of hearing, identifying and using phonemes or sound patterns in English. The aim is to systematically teach learners the relationship between these sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them. Phonics emphasises the skills of decoding new words by sounding them out and combining or ‘blending’ the sound-spelling patterns.
Phonics approaches have been consistently found to be effective in supporting younger readers to master the basics of reading.
At SS Peter and Paul, children in Foundation Stage and KS1 have daily phonics sessions. We use the order laid out in the Letters and Sounds programme as a basis when planning, combined with Jolly Phonics and additional resources. Letters and Sounds is a six phase teaching programme to teach children how the alphabet works for reading and spelling. The boundaries between phases are not fixed and the pace can be adapted to the needs of the children. From March 2022 a new phonics programme will be adopted in line with DfE recommendations.
We believe oracy skills are vital in order to learn. Children are provided with opportunities to explain their ideas clearly developing confidence and competence in the art of speaking and listening through:
- having opportunities for discussions with talking partners
- sensitively being encouraged to participate in whole class/group discussions
- learning through talk for writing
- drama (e.g. hot-seating, role-play, conscience alleys – linked with Power of Reading scheme)
- by giving positive comments to others’ contributions and learning to be a good audience
- taking part in individual and collaborative work, including presentations
- through performances/public speaking: class assemblies and plays, readings and prayers at school masses
- reciting performance poetry and singing songs
SPELLING AND VOCABULARY
Children learn new spelling rules through weekly lessons from Nelson Spelling. High frequency and common exception words are revisited regularly. To improve spelling and widen their vocabulary, children:
- try out spellings for themselves in their spelling journals using their knowledge of phonics, decoding and spelling rules before asking an adult
- use a range of strategies
- have topic specific vocabulary on class displays and/or in children’s books
Writing depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting completed with increased stamina. In our school. we are committed to enabling pupils to achieve a high standard of handwriting and presentation of written work through:
- developing fine and gross motor skills and learning how to mark-make
- learning how to hold a pencil correctly to make the writing process comfortable
- understanding the importance of forming letters accurately with distinguished ascenders and descenders
- understanding the importance of spacing between letters and words
- teachers modelling good handwriting
- developing a cursive style where their writing starts on the line and seeing cursive prints often used in displays (Join it font)
- knowing when to change the style of handwriting for deliberate effect (e.g. the use of bold/italics and underlining (upper KS2)
WRITING - COMPOSITION
We believe that writing should be a creative and developmental process allowing children to express their ideas and knowledge clearly. We want our children to be able to write accurately and coherently adapting their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
All children in our school are given the potential to be successful writers through:
- being given opportunities to learn the styles, structures and levels of formality for different text types in English lessons
- English being embedded across the whole curriculum to enable children to apply their literacy skills in meaningful contexts
- using class reader, Power of Reading, Literacy Shed and key topics as a stimulus for writing
- using dictionaries, thesauruses and spelling journals as a point of reference for spellings and vocabulary
- making corrections, in response to teachers’ marking, to errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar
- use personal jotters (UKS2) to take notes to help them to form ideas for writing
- having the opportunity to write a rough draft; proof-read and edit work with the aim of publishing a final written piece (UKS2)
- being taught how to self and peer mark in order to improve their own and others’ work
- being given positive comments to show their work has been valued raising confidence and motivation to write with increasing detail and stamina
- understanding the standard of work that is expected and the importance of working to their full potential
The impact of our English curriculum is reflected in the confident and articulate way our pupils can communicate verbally and in writing throughout the school. By encouraging children to read a wide range of authors, they learn to develop the art of writing using the styles of different genres across the curriculum. This results in children leaving our school being competent writers.
The strong foundations for teaching reading built in EYFS are developed with clear progression through KS1 and KS2 following a clear programme which is age appropriate with challenge. This ensures children have a good foundation in reading including secure knowledge of phonics and sight words. Children leave our school being able to effectively apply spelling rules and patterns they have been taught. A love of books and reading is actively nurtured and encouraged.