English at Four Swannes.
At Four Swannes Primary School, we recognise the crucial importance of studying the English language. Improved performance in reading, writing and spoken language will enable our pupils to express their thoughts and ideas more fluently, accurately and ultimately to their greater satisfaction. This will also help them to deal more successfully with other curriculum subjects, while enriching their lives beyond school. The teaching and learning of language skills are therefore given a high priority in our school and, where possible, the curriculum will be used to enhance this.
Our overarching aim for English is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word and to develop their love of literature by promoting widespread reading for enjoyment.
We aim for our pupils to be able to :
At Four Swannes Primary School, we encourage all the children to become independent learners and be confident in all strands of learning. The children will be given opportunities to speak in a variety of contexts and learn to listen to and value the views of others.
In Reception through to Year 6, children are taught English within their classes. Through differentiation and adult support, all children will receive high quality teaching and appropriate support in order for them to reach their full potential. Children may receive additional support or intervention if needed, outside the English lessons.
A clear lesson objective and success criteria are required in all English lessons. Working walls may support learning in the classrooms. Teacher marking will inform children of their next steps for learning and assessment will inform planning.
At Four Swannes Primary School, we have adopted the ‘Little Wandle’ scheme for phonics, which is delivered daily to the whole class in Early Years and Key Stage One, with additional ‘keep up’ sessions for those who need extra support. In this way, the children receive the specific intervention that they need for their age and stage of development, which in turn will support and improve their reading and writing ability as they move through the school.
Within these sessions, children are taught to identify individual letter sounds, progressing onto segmenting and blending words, leading onto applying their learning for reading decodable and tricky words. A range of activities are used by teachers to help children achieve the goal of fluent word recognition. During these sessions, children are also explicitly shown how to apply their developing skills to writing.
The Little Wandle programme has assessment tools built into it that are used every six weeks in order to gauge the children’s ability and understanding. Those that pass the assessment are ready to move on and those with gaps are then given extra ‘keep up’ sessions in order to keep them in line with their peers. Children are grouped according to their individual needs and the phase that they’re on, with groups able to move and change as the year progresses.
All new starters in Key Stage 2 undergo a short phonic assessment to ascertain whether or not they need phonic support. This is delivered daily, as needed, in the form of group sessions, keep up and reading practice sessions, as required.
Towards the end of Year 1, all children will take part in the national phonics screening test, where they will achieve either a pass or fail. If a child fails the screening test, they will retake it in Year 2.
Pupils have opportunities to undertake guided, shared and independent reading throughout the school day. A diverse range of reading books are used to make up the school reading scheme, which are taken from multiple published schemes as we do not believe that one scheme alone provides enough variation. By using the Oxford Reading Tree complemented by thematic books, we aim to provide pupils with a selection of books and experiences of different genres and subject matter to broaden their exposure to a wider variety of the written word. Lower down the school (and in intervention groups in KS2), children will also use books in line with the Little Wandle reading practice programme, which is designed to support their phonic development.
Staff regularly listen to children read in order to improve their fluency, intonation, decoding skills, pronounciation and comprehension. Home reading is encouraged as an integral part of the child’s development and parents are expected to read with their child for at least 20 minutes every day. Children are awarded a sticker every time they read at home and for every 60 stickers they receive, they will be awarded a certificate during celebration assembly, as a way of encouraging continual home reading. Home-school communication is encouraged via the reading records where both the child and parent write comments about how the child is progressing with their reading.
In addition to the reading scheme, children are also encouraged to read for pleasure, by choosing a book of their own to read in school and at home. When it is felt appropriate by the class teacher, children may become ‘free readers’ and will no longer need a book from the school reading scheme, however they should still be heard read by an adult once a week.
Guided reading sessions happen in Key Stage 2 on a daily basis and these take a whole class approach. Teachers select an age appropriate text (usually of a higher level than the children could manage independently) to use as a basis for discussion. The class look at the text together, checking they understand vocabulary and answering comprehension questions to confirm their comprehension of the text. Children are encouraged to discuss the text with a partner / small group within these sessions to share ideas and improve their understanding of a text.
Children from Reception to Year 3 also participate in reading practice/ guided reading sessions. The reading practice sessions use planning as laid out by ‘Little Wandle’, the school’s phonic programme and are delivered to all children. All children in Reception and Year 1 receive the reading practice sessions three times a week. Children in Year 2 and 3 only participate in reading practice sessions as part of intervention (I.e. if they have failed the phonics screening or have significant gaps in their phonic knowledge). The aim of these sessions is to expose children to high quality literature (both fiction and non-fiction) with a view to developing their understanding of a text and their vocabulary.
The four strands of spoken language (speaking, listening, group discussion and drama), permeate the whole curriculum. Interactive teaching strategies are used to engage pupils in order to raise their reading and writing standards. Children are encouraged to develop effective communication skills in readiness for later life. We aim for children to speak fluently, clearly and coherently; to be able to listen attentively with understanding, pleasure and empathy and to contribute to group discussions effectively. This is achieved by :
The development of writing throughout the school is an important skill and one that the children will need throughout their life. In order to develop this, children are given lots of opportunities for extended writing, underpinned by discrete grammar lessons in order to improve the structure of their work.
At Four Swannes Primary School, children are provided with experiences to enable them to acquire a confident and positive attitude towards writing. This includes being given opportunities to write for a variety of purposes and audiences in order to develop and sustain writing skills.
In order to support the children with their writing, teachers will model the skills needed to compose, amend and revise writing, thus enabling the children to become critical writers and develop the skills they need to improve and enhance their work.
All children are given personalised targets for their writing (based on the HfL assessment criteria), which need to be seen in their work three times before they can be ticked off and new targets given. Children should be aware of what their targets are so that they can attempt to incorporate them into their writing.
Four Swannes Primary School currently follows the HfL Planning scheme. This consists of different units of work, with a focus text that leads to a specific piece of writing (e.g. non-chronological report, fable etc). All work is marked by teachers, with the end of unit writing task given an in-depth mark with next steps given and targets ticked off if they’ve been achieved. All marking is done in green pen and codes are used as follows to identify errors :
In addition to the modular units, Key Stage 1 and 2 will also undertake the following additional work to develop and enhance their writing :
Peer editing takes place after every Big Write and involves the children looking at their work together, following a set of criteria. The skill of editing needs to be taught to children and teachers will show children how to edit at the start of each session, before they look at one another’s work, with the editing process following the same routine every time, in order for children to become familiar with how it’s done. The children will then purple pen edit their own work based on their partner’s feedback which, in time, will serve to improve their written work.
Spelling tests take place in class on a weekly basis using the Twinkl spelling scheme. Once the test has taken place, children are taught the new spelling rule using a powerpoint which explains how the rule works and gives them examples of how it’s used. For those children who need extra support with spelling, a variety of approaches are used, for example, the incorporation of high frequency words into their spellings or being given less than the full ten to learn.
In order to promote quality writing across the school, grammar displays are part of the learning environment. These displays will remind children of the year group’s ‘non-negotiables’ for writing (I.e. the things that the teacher expects to see as part of all written work). Vocabulary should also be part of these displays, either topic specific or key words that the class teacher is expecting all children are able to spell and use by the end of the school year.
Writing is celebrated across the school in a number of ways :
We place value in children taking pride and care over their work and handwriting is a key part of this. In the early years, handwriting begins with mark-making and patterns. All pupils are given access to a wide range of writing tools and mediums to practice their early fine motor skills.
Pupils are encouraged to develop fluent lines of correctly orientated letters from an early age, which leads onto the use of cursive. For those children / classes who need extra support, discrete handwriting sessions can take place at the teacher’s discretion. This can be for the whole class or for individual children are required.