To provide an ambitious, inspiring and creative curriculum that gives all children the tools to communicate ideas and emotions fluently and confidently using Standard English through speaking and listening, discussion and writing.
National Curriculum Aims
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum 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 through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
Hooks are used at the beginning of every Literacy genre to engage, inspire and ‘hook’ the children into the new learning. Providing children with meaningful experiences and essential knowledge ensures that they have the cultural capital and best possible opportunity to access and succeed with their learning. The hooks also tap into children’s creativity and provide a practical context for them to explore a new text and its genre and to provide a purpose for the style of writing. By encouraging children to use stop motion animation to film a scene from a narrative using lego or to become archaeologists and discover historical treasure that will form the basis of a newspaper report, pupils build their cultural capital whilst being immersed in their learning from the very start.
Every year group from Nursery to Year 6 follows a Literacy Unit. This ensures a structured approach to the teaching of Literacy across the unit and across the school. The Literacy Units are adapted for each year group to ensure that they have age appropriate coverage, meeting the learning goals of each year group in speaking and listening skills, composition, handwriting, spelling, punctuation, grammar and editing. Skills, knowledge and understanding of a genre are built and developed over the progression of the unit, culminating in an independent piece of writing. In EYFS, children follow a two week unit and in Key Stage 1 and 2, children follow year group appropriate 3 week cycles.
In EYFS, the Literacy Unit happens once per topic and is focused on bringing stories to life. Stories are linked carefully to the current topic and children are immersed in the world of the story through exploration, props, images, actions and play. Using reciprocal reading, children practice retelling the story and build their language development through exposure to new vocabulary within and related to the story. Story maps and actions are used to support and build up children’s independence in retelling the story. Children are encouraged to understand the purpose of writing and it becomes a part of their play and used for enjoyment.
In Key Stage 1 and 2, our approach to the teaching of writing is genre based. Children are exposed to a broad and diverse range of genres; fiction and non-fiction; formal and informal. This allows for a complete immersion into a specific style of writing. Learners explore a variety of exemplar texts for the genre that they are studying and identify key linguistic and structural features that define it as well as the purpose of the genre and its key audience.
For every Literacy lesson in Key Stage 1 and 2, children are provided with a comprehensive Success Criteria that they self-assess against at the end of the lesson. This provides learners with the specific steps that they must meet at each stage of the Literacy Unit in order to be successful. As they are exposed to more features of the genre, these features are included into all future Success Criterion.
Letter formation and handwriting is taught throughout the school, from mark making to leaders and joiners to continuous cursive. Children are encouraged to use the correct pencil grip and adaptations are provided to ensure to support the development of fine motor skills where needed. Handwriting is taught at the start of every Literacy lesson in Key Stage 1 and 2 and children have the opportunity to practise particular letters or joins.
Spelling - In our school, we believe that for spellings to be learnt most effectively, teaching and learning should be fun and active through practical and lively activities that explore spellings in context.
In Reception and Year 1, children are encouraged and taught to apply their increasing phonics knowledge to construct phonetically plausible attempts at spelling words, at their relevant phonics stages. As they progress into Year 2, children are discretely taught spelling rules through the Read Write Inc programme through daily practical, engaging and active sessions. This continues through Key Stage 2, with children following the Rising Stars Spelling programme supporting children as they move from phonics for reading to spelling. The systematic programmes support children with a rigorous pathway that builds knowledge throughout the year and year on year.
We ensure that lessons are consistent and all statutory word lists are covered. Throughout Key Stage 1 and 2, children are given a weekly spelling list of words to learn at home and a weekly Spelling Test to check their accuracy. Where possible, these words with link with the year group’s weekly spelling rule and will appear on the Success Criteria for that unit’s genre.
Alongside Spelling, children receive at least one hour of discrete Punctuation and Grammar teaching per week. This is then applied to the writing process for the rest of that genre. Skills are built on year on year and are differentiated to suit the individual learning needs. Children are exposed to high quality examples of punctuation and grammar in the context of their Literacy genre and are always provided with the opportunity to apply this learning into their own writing, either through their structured or independent writing, through the editing process or through cross-curricular links in other topics in order to further embed learning.
Boosting vocabulary and exposing children to new, ambitious and wide-ranging words is an important part of the curriculum. Throughout spelling sessions, children are exposed to a variety of spelling rules, learning their morphology and etymology. Within their topic curriculum, children are provided with topic word mats with key vocabulary that they will encounter throughout their study. They will spend time exploring the meaning of words, its usage and its application throughout their learning in foundation subjects. Throughout Guided Reading, as children read the text during the pre-read stage, they will make notes of any unfamiliar words. These will later be addressed using dictionaries or discussions with the teacher and their peers where the meaning will be explored through its word type (noun, verb, adjective etc) and the context of the sentence.
Discretely within the Literacy unit, vocabulary is also taught with a range of practical, memorable and engaging short activities. The children have five focus words from their Guided Reading text and these are reinforced daily through the Literacy Unit, from creating an action to represent them to applying them orally in a sentence to spelling the words correctly. These words and their spellings appear on daily success criterion to encourage the written application of them within their genre and in the appropriate context.
Developing learners to be confident speakers and listeners in Standard English provides them with the necessary foundations to develop their flair for writing and their individual voices. Activities throughout the Literacy Unit encourage children to debate an idea using persuasive language; to interview a ‘character’ from a novel’; or to use intonation, expression and volume to perform their own pieces of choral poetry. This is supported through outside agency provision within school for performing arts.
Stamina for writing is developed through the Literacy Unit with a weekly opportunity for all children to write at length, either independently or with a more structured approach through modelled or shared writing. Prior to the writing session, children plan their writing in note form, clearly outlining what they will cover and organising their work appropriately.
Editing writing is taught throughout Key Stage 1 and 2 with children encouraged to proofread, uplevel and make revisions to their spelling, punctuation and grammar as well as to improve their use of vocabulary and the way that their writing reads or flows. Children in Year 2-6 use a purple ‘polish pen’ to make their editing clear. At the stage of the Structured Edit, learners are given in-depth specific guidance on how and where to improve their work in relation to their spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as an individual target.
Termly spelling, punctuation and grammar tests will be delivered for children to apply their learning. This assesses what the children can do at that point within the year and identifies the next steps with their learning.
Writing is assessed through Teacher Assessment on a half termly basis based on the independent piece that children completed at the end of each Literacy Unit. Teachers will highlight the children’s progress on an assessment sheet at the back of every child’s Literacy book so that they can clearly see their progress against end of year targets. Teachers will base assessments on a combination of criteria including: composition, spellings handwriting, grammar and punctuation.
The impact of our Writing curriculum is that the majority of children, in our school, are able to: