It is our intent for all children at Edwalton to access an exciting, relevant and purposeful English curriculum that allows them to become life-long readers, writers and communicators. We intend to give children opportunities to showcase their creativity and imagination and express themselves in different ways. We strive to immerse children in high quality texts that will develop a love for reading and expose them to new words and meanings. We want to encourage children to be readers for life and we want to foster a love of reading. We want to ensure that our English teaching gives children the confidence to share ideas and feelings with others through reading, writing, speaking and listening and therefore equip them with the essential tools to continue to achieve and thrive after life at Edwalton Primary School.
Writing is taught through our rich, broad and balanced curriculum. Rather than ‘English’, we have daily ‘curriculum’ lessons that focus on our current topic. Children may learn the history of WW2 by writing evacuee letters, they could write instructions for looking after our farm animals, they may learn about solar energy by persuading people to use renewable energy, or may write an explanation of how volcanoes erupt. These ‘curriculum’ lessons will involve learning a variety of English skills within an engaging and purposeful context.
Here are some of the things we practise on a regular basis:
We want to celebrate all the amazing writing going on at Edwalton Primary School. Every Friday, teachers will choose a child’s piece of work that they believe showcases that individual's best efforts. This will then be displayed in the hall on the ‘Star Writers’ display and celebrated in class.
The children are given handwriting sessions each week. These lessons focus on improving the pupil’s presentation skills. In Foundation and Year 1, the children are taught letter formations, pencil grip and fine motor skills. As they progress into Year 2, we move onto a cursive style of handwriting. The children learn these in groups of letters that we have developed as a school.
Once the children get into Years 3 and 4, they can work towards earning a pen license. Their teacher will decide when their handwriting in ready to be presented in pen rather than pencil. This will be celebrated in class through receiving a certificate and a handwriting pen.
Children will have at least four weekly phonics lessons from Foundation to Year 1. At Edwalton we use the Letters and Sounds Phonics Programme. From Year 2 upwards, children will continue with Phonics if they have not reached the end of Phase 5.
From Year 1 upwards, children will have spelling lessons at least once a week. Each week will focus on a new set of spellings based around a particular spelling rule or pattern. The children will be asked to learn their spelling list at home over the week. The next week will start with a recap and quick check to see if the children have learnt their list before introducing the next set.
We encourage children to imitate and ‘talk’ the sentence/story orally before committing it to paper. As well as this, pupils use ‘story maps’ to plan their writing and will often use actions when retelling stories. This helps them to remember specific vocabulary and use it correctly in their own writing. Classes will do a lot of shared writing together and teachers will model as an “expert writer” to show them how to craft their writing.
We have weekly ‘extended writing’ sessions which allow the children to put everything they have learnt into practice and will write a longer piece of work. This might not necessarily be part of their English learning, it could be writing up a Science experiment, writing about someone famous that they have learnt about in Topic or describing an important event in a religion they may be studying. We want to offer children writing opportunities throughout our curriculum, not just in ‘English’ as we believe that they will help the children understand the importance, purpose and pleasure behind writing.
Once the children have completed their ‘extended write’, they will be given the opportunity to ‘up-level’ their writing. The class teacher will look through the writing and decide what the child’s next steps are. The children will then work in a group to practise the next step before implementing into their writing.
In Foundation and Key Stage 1, all children take home at least one fully decodable book, if working within or below phase five phonics, along with a reading book from the school’s colour banded reading books. At Edwalton we use the Big Cat Reading Scheme. Once the children make their way through the book bands, they will progress onto ‘free reader’ books which they can choose from the school library or bring from home.
The colour banded scheme will be used to support children’s reading development. Children who are not ready to advance to the next band will be encouraged to read more broadly at their appropriate level. We will support and encourage children through these bands but we will not rush or push children through them when their decoding and/or their comprehension skills are not sufficiently developed.
Guided reading (group and whole class)
We have weekly guided reading sessions to help the children develop their comprehension, vocabulary and love of reading. These sessions may take place in small groups or as a whole class. In group guided reading, the children will all read the same book at a level suited to them. Guided reading sessions will have a learning focus and will be largely discussion based and will feature a lot of comprehension questions. When guided reading is done as a whole class, the children will read through the text (book, image, video etc.) together so that every ability can access it. This will then be followed by discussions and questions about the text and vocabulary.
We also encourage all classes to have ‘Story time’ where they may read a picture book or a chapter book over many sessions. During this shared reading, the children can access a text which may be challenging to them individually. Reading skills and strategies should be clearly modelled, and discussion should help children to deeper understanding of the text. This is an opportunity to discuss the use of language and widen the children’s vocabulary.
Reading at Home and Star Readers
Reading at home is paramount a child’s reading development and enjoyment and we reward children who read four or more times each week through our Star Reader scheme.
Each week, staff will check the children’s reading diaries to see who has read four or more times at home. If a child has read four or more times, they will get a gold stamp in their reading diary and their name will go on a raffle ticket. Each week, the raffle tickets are collected in and put into a drawer in the hall. A winner will be chosen from Foundation, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Those winners will get to choose a brand new book as their prize!
We hope that our English curriculum will allow children to thrive not only at Edwalton Primary School but in their future as well. Children will access learning that has a purposeful and relevant outcome, they will develop the key skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening, as well as learning new vocabulary. Our English curriculum will make sure that our children are academically prepared for life throughout their educational journey in primary school and beyond. Our English curriculum should foster a love for learning and should develop creative, confident, responsible and aspirational children.