At Holy Cross CofE Primary School we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. One of our priorities is helping children read and develop their all-important comprehension skills. We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of purposed. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to communicate and further their learning.
Phonics learning begins form day one in EYFS and the children learn and develop their skills in phonics, reading and writing. Books that are read to the children are closely matched to their learning and we use these to increase the children’s growing vocabulary. Individual reading books are matched to their phonics learning to ensure that the children are given many opportunities to learn and use the sounds they are learning. Writing is encouraged both adult-led and child-initiated in various activities and tasks.
We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in English, which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. We believe that a secure basis in the broad range of literacy skills is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society. We are continually developing our English curriculum in response to keep our teaching and learning fresh and in keeping with an ever changing world with essential recognition of the wonderfully rich history of language, books and communication.
These aims are embedded across our English lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well sequenced English curriculum and framework, that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. Teachers also ensure that cross curricular links with concurrent topic work are woven into the programme of study to ensure children are given opportunities to recall background knowledge from foundation subjects, thus strengthening and securing their learning to long term memory. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
● read easily, fluently and with good understanding
● develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
● acquire a wide, ambitious 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, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
● use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
● are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
At Holy Cross CofE Primary School, we have been busy overhauling the range of children’s reading books, investing in a new set of books to match our Sound Write phonics scheme. This ensures children are able to access reading books that match their current level of reading. From September, we will be launching our exciting Reading Buddies scheme. This will entail children to reading to a buddy, or hearing fiction and non-fiction texts read to them by older children. At Holy Cross CofE Primary School, we identify children who need support and provide intervention in the most effective and efficient way that we can such as intervention reading groups and a lunchtime book club. Teachers plan and teach English lessons which are differentiated to the particular needs of each child. We help each child maximise their potential by providing age appropriate scaffolds and support where necessary whilst striving to make children independent workers once we have helped to equip them with the confidence, tools and strategies that they need.
Marking is rigorous in English and across the curriculum, with time allocated to review and respond to next steps and spelling corrections which supports children to consolidate their understanding and confidence. In Years Five and Six conferencing will be trialed in the upcoming year. This will be allocated 1:1 time with the class teacher, who is also the English lead for the school, where children will be given time to explore what is going well within their writing as well as setting clear and concise targets which will be reviewed at timely intervals. This helps to develop children’s awareness and ownership of their own progress and aspirations with writing.
Regular English book scrutinies are carried as part of staff meetings out to check all teachers are following our marking policy rigorously. We love to celebrate success of all learners during these sessions and also provides excellent opportunities for professional discussions and collaboration in order to maintain a culture of high expectations for all students.
Reading is celebrated and promoted across the school as well as in classrooms, where our bright and colourful displays celebrate children’s writing and their favourite books. We are also extremely proud of our extensive library which offers children and parents the opportunity to borrow books to support developing a culture of reading at home as well as school.
In addition, throughout the school year our English curriculum is enhanced through World Book Day, which has proven to be very successful and a day treasured by all as well as whole school book studies which provide wonderful opportunities to share learning and experiences across the three classes.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage Two, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills. Termly assessment is showing very encouraging signs of progress across the entire school in both reading and writing. Alongside sustained levels of progress and attainment we aim to ensure each child, regardless of background, ability or educational needs, develops a love of the English language and are able to communicate who they are as well as their hopes and dreams in an ever changing world, enabling them to challenge themselves to reach their potential every day and in their futures.
We hope that all the English initiatives outlined above will help to boost children’s learning and progress. As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.