We believe that skills in English are essential foundations for communication and learning throughout life. At Sutton Courtenay, we are passionate about developing children’s fluency and creativity across the English curriculum so that they become enthusiastic and confident communicators. We believe that fluency in English skills and an exposure to rich and varied vocabulary are the cornerstones of learning throughout the curriculum and are vital for their ongoing success.
We are passionate about reading and writing and we want out children to develop the same attitudes. We aim to nurture in them a life- long love of reading which will enable them to gain a better understanding of others, the world around them and themselves, and to gain tolerance by being able to ‘stand in another person’s shoes’ and ‘see things through another person’s eyes’. We want them to use their reading experiences to appreciate the craft of writing and to use the ideas to develop and extend their own writing, becoming confident, fluent, creative and expressive writers, able to draw upon a rich and wide- ranging vocabulary to shape their ideas.
We want our children to become, proud, confident and fluent speakers, readers and writers.
Although there are three distinct areas of English within the National Curriculum: Speaking and Listening, Reading and Writing. These elements are interdependent and our English curriculum is designed to weave them together through exciting, language rich and well- planned lessons.
Language and communication is at the heart of learning in the early years with speaking and listening at the foundations of learning. Teaching in the early years is based on direct, first-hand experiences within a play-based environment. Children are taught through well planned activities which excite and engage the children. Teachers and teaching assistants support and extend children’s vocabulary and speech through good modelling for a range of purposes. The environment and teaching is language rich and children are taught pre-reading and writing skills necessary as good foundations for the discrete teaching of reading and writing. When ready, they are taught discrete reading and writing skills which are founded on the principles of good language acquisition. The aim is for all children to be ready for the next stage of learning by:
Being able to concentrate and listen carefully to stories and instructions with understanding.
Being able to talk about things of interest to them and about their family and close community
Having the fine and gross motor skills needed for writing
Using their phonic knowledge for reading and writing simple words and sentences
KS1 & KS2
Speaking and Listening
Across the school, speaking and listening is embedded in all lessons across the curriculum as well as part of the English curriculum. Children are encouraged to discuss ideas with partners, groups and the whole class. Opportunities for questioning and discursive talk underpins all teaching and learning and we use higher order questioning to encourage children to explore ideas at greater depth and help them to ask their own probing questions. New vocabulary and sentences structures are rehearsed orally to ensure that children are able to use them within speech as well as writing. Every year group takes part in a production which is performed in front of the whole school and families, as well as taking part in class assemblies. Children engage in questioning and discussion with visitors to the classroom and during school visits. These have included talking to people from other countries via Skype and being interviewed by reporters about topical events.
High quality, language rich texts are at the heart of our lessons. Children are taught reading through the following activities:
1:1 reading sessions
Small group and whole class guided and shared reading
Written and verbal comprehension.
Our reading scheme is organised for clear progression starting with phonically decodable texts which link progressively with children’s learning. It has built in progression based on Oxford Reading Tree and covers a wide range of story genres and text types to ensure that children have exposure to a wide range of models of language. Children have daily independent reading sessions at school and are expected to read at home each evening, recording their independent reading in their home / school diary.
Teachers plan weekly reading lessons using high quality, language rich texts, linked to other curriculum areas where possible and plan activities to help children explore characters, themes and dilemmas through a range of activities such as ‘Book Talk’, drama, ‘Quotation Explosion’ and ‘Role on the Wall’.
Daily sessions are set aside in all classes for reading a class novel which often allows children to access language at a higher level than their independent reading. Children are encouraged to explore their ideas through book talk and higher order questioning.
Teachers organise groupings for reading according to the child’s fluency and confidence and provision is made to support children at their own level to ensure that they make good progress and help them to meet or exceed age related expectations. This includes providing extension activities for children working at greater depth. We are supported by a colleague at DGS who works with groups of children to support their learning.
Timely interventions and extra 1:1 reading sessions are put in place where children are not meeting age related expectation.
We teach a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and ensure that children meet specific writing types each year. Each year builds upon the skills learnt in the previous year so that writing is consolidated and extended. Grammar for writing organisers for each year group support teachers in ensuring that the necessary skills are covered.
Opportunities to practise and consolidate writing skills are used throughout the curriculum and writing is often planned with a cross curricular focus but only where this provides the best opportunity to deliver the writing skills taught.
As a starting point, good models of language from high quality texts are explored and children are taught to evaluate language used. They reflect upon the impact of the writing and why it is effective so that they have a model of writing on which to base their own.
All units of writing incorporate vocabulary development and children are encouraged to generate their own ideas and are introduced to new vocabulary. They are taught to reflect upon its effect and impact within the writing.
The principles of ‘Grammar for Writing’ are embedded in our teaching of writing. Specific grammar is not taught in isolation but within the context of the writing. Correct terminology is used when referring to the grammar point, but we feel it is most important that the purpose and effect of the grammar is at the forefront.
Speaking and listening principles of ‘Talk for Writing’ underpin our writing curriculum which we deliver through ‘Sentence Stacking’. Children are taught to write different types of sentence, trying out their own words and phrases within a given structure. This scaffolds their writing and builds a bank of sentences types to be used in their fully independent writing.
Teachers use live modelling and editing demonstrations for writing so that children are able see writing as a dynamic process.
Within writing units, children are encouraged to enjoy, and ‘play’ with language and to take risks rather than ‘play safe’, through a range of creative activities.
At the end of a unit of writing, children are given an independent extended writing task to demonstrate the skills they have learnt through the unit of writing.
Ongoing assessment of children is at the heart of monitoring the progress of children which enables teachers to provide timely interventions to support and extend children’s learning.
Responses during lessons and observations of engagement and attainment, are used to provide an ongoing and dynamic shaping of teaching and learning. Regular marking informs teachers and enables them to adapt and shape lessons
Within English, difficulties within written responses can mask ability in reading and therefore assessments are made using a variety of different reading events. We ensure that children who struggle with decoding are not limited in their development of higher order comprehension skills
Our ongoing formative reading assessment is based Ros Wilson Oxford Reading Assessment Criterion Scale.
Formal reading assessments are made three times a year and include an assessment of children’s reading speed and their current reading book level.
To support the overall assessment picture, we monitor children’s home reading and progression through the reading scheme.
For SEND children, we use Phonic Phase Assessments, Salford Sentence Level and NARA reading assessments to help monitor their progress.
Assessment for writing is an ongoing process and formal writing tasks are not undertaken. For assessing writing, we use our own KPIs based on national attainment targets and targets that we feel are important for each year group. Assessment is based on independent writing activities which are built into writing units.
Helping children to learn at home with English
Talking and Reading are two key foundations for learning so opportunities to develop these are very valuable. Engaging parents and carers in conversations about what they are doing, what they watch and about things that interest their children will enable them to support learning effectively. Listening to children read each day and talking about what they have read is our expectation and we regularly communicate this to parents.
We have put together some resources which may help you to support your child with their home learning. If there is anything else you would like added, please let us know.