At Thakeham Primary School, we believe that literacy and communication are key life skills and the foundation of our curriculum and the love of reading is essential. Through English and the teaching of English, our main aim is to ensure we support every child develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language and equip them with the skills to become learners for life. We recognise that each child has their own starting point upon entry to every year group and progress is measured in line with these starting points to ensure every child can celebrate success. Literacy is central to children’s intellectual, emotional and social development it has an essential role across the curriculum and helps pupils’ learning to be coherent and progressive. English will not only be a daily discrete lesson, but is at the cornerstone of the entire curriculum. It is embedded within all our lessons and we will strive for a high level of English for all. Through using high-quality texts, immersing children in vocabulary rich learning environments and ensuring new curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met, the children will be exposed to a language heavy, creative and continuous English curriculum which will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening.
The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. 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, practitioners 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.
It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).
Key Stage 1 & 2
The structure of English teaching is based upon the 2014 English National Curriculum and covers all of the recommended objectives. To ensure that there is adequate time for developing English skills, each KS1/2 class has a dedicated English lesson each day. This is a session which incorporates all handwriting, spelling/phonics, reading and writing activities so that the children are able to use and apply their skills in different contexts. However, children will have opportunities to use and apply their English skills across the curriculum both with guidance and independently. Teaching and learning takes place within a whole class setting and, in the main, differentiation is through a variety of means including task, resources, adult support, groupings and outcome. Phonics groups in EYFS and KS1 are set following assessment and children may move between groups depending on their progress and achievement. Within guided teaching, teachers move children forward by focusing specifically on reading and writing targets which are particular to that group of children. Additional adults are used to support the teaching of English. They work under the guidance of the teacher with small groups of children or individuals. Clear objectives are set for each session and are shared with pupils. ‘Toolkits’ are regularly devised with children, and are used to outline the key features/elements expected in the outcomes of the pupils’ work. Computing is used where it enhances, extends and complements English teaching and learning. Teachers are also expected to plan time within certain writing lessons for children to reflect on their marked work, and independently respond to teacher prompts to improve their writing (see Assessment and Feedback Policy). Teachers use a variety of interactive, creative and cross-curricular teaching methods to deliver the curriculum and achieve set learning objectives.
At Thakeham Primary School, we believe that speaking and listening form the foundations of all learning in English. In formal and informal situations, we create and facilitate opportunities for conversation, discussion and talk around learning. Questioning forms the basis of our teaching and we strongly encourage children to be inquisitive and to share their thoughts confidently in a supportive environment.
How do we achieve this?
Reading is the way in which children can access the world around them. It offers children a chance to develop their imagination and provides a new and rich vocabulary which in turn enables them to become inspirational and creative writers. Our aim therefore is to ensure that reading is an integral and enjoyable part of school life for all learners. We seek to ensure that there are multiple opportunities to read throughout the school day as well as giving children many opportunities to listen to stories being read by other children or staff. Through a reading focus we deliver a curriculum that teaches a range of reading skills:
How do we achieve this?
Reading sessions should relate to the genre of writing where possible. The sessions should empower further learning and promote excitement and love of books and build on previous reading experiences.
Developing a Love of Reading
In line with our Home-Learning Policy, children are expected to read at least 3 times a week at home, writing in their reading diaries to share ideas about books and to keep a record of what they are reading. This is monitored very systematically by staff who liaise directly with parents if it is not happening. For children who struggle with reading or are not heard at home extra in school support is given and they become a ‘daily reader’ reading to an adult each day in school and are heard reading by our group of adult reading volunteers.
Pupils have access to a wide range of writing opportunities that include:
In order to support and develop children of all ages and abilities into becoming confident and independent writers, we plan for a wide range of writing opportunities across the school year with a range pf purpose and a variety of audiences. We ensure that writing has a stimulus or a hook to capture the children’s interest and give them the drive to produce their best.
At Thakeham Primary School, there are four reasons for writing:
To support teaching and learning of writing, the children must first be immersed in high quality texts and experience watching a writer, write. In Key Stage 1 and lower Key Stage2, this may include some elements of the Talk 4 Writing project, developed by Pie Corbett. Through this style of teaching the children become fully immersed in a text, which they learn and retell in different ways, before moving on to using the model text to support their own writing. It incorporates all elements of the English curriculum in a practical, engaging and memorable way, developing visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning skills. To complement this approach, we also plan regularly for opportunities to write independently, away from the point of teaching, without scaffolded support and across the wider curriculum. The children work collaboratively to produce writing toolkits and are given planned in opportunities to achieve their own personal writing targets.
We introduce the children to grammatical terms from a young age and have developed consistent terminology which teachers use in lessons throughout the school. To enable children to use the correct grammar and punctuation in their writing, we teach it discretely as well as embed it into the flow of lessons to encourage the children to use it in their own writing.
How do we achieve this?
Children leave Thakeham Primary School as happy, confident learners who have developed a love of reading and writing with the key skills and knowledge necessary for the next stage of their learning. They have shown good levels of progress, sustained learning and have developed transferrable skills. They have high aspirations and are confident in the art of speaking and listening, able to successfully use discussion to communicate and further their learning.
Assessment criteria has been developed in line with the National Curriculum requirements, and enables us to assess children as they move through each stage of their learning journey. We attend Locality moderation meetings to discuss standards wider than just within our own school. In addition to this, the teachers in EYFS and Years 2 and 6 attend Statutory Assessment Training each year.
It is intended that every child in our school continues on their learning journey with a love for reading and writing that will last a lifetime. We are confident that our pupils have developed the knowledge and skills that will help them as they continue on to high school.
However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. Through weekly library sessions, sharing reading as a class, reading assemblies and the work of our school pupil group ‘The Book Worms’, we promote reading for pleasure continually.
Our Writing curriculum is planned to demonstrate progression. We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
We also measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
- Pupil discussions and interviewing the pupils about their learning (pupil voice).
- Governor monitoring with our subject link governor.
- Annual reporting and tracking of standards across the curriculum.
- Photo and video evidence of the pupils’ reading fluency, speaking and listening and practical learning.