English at PBPS: Vision and Intent
Our aim is that all children:
- are excited and motivated to read, write and express themselves;
- are provided with a rich, experimental and imaginative curriculum;
- are exposed to a wide variety of high-quality literature;
- build and internalise a bank of stories that support them in developing their imagination, vocabulary, writing techniques and confidence;
- are taught phonics, spelling and grammar through a creative approach that is contextualised within the art of writing;
- are exposed to high-quality shared and guided reading and writing, modelling the skills and techniques of being a confident reader and writer;
- receive informative and motivational feedback in order to move them on developmentally, as well as motivationally as readers and writers.
Here at Pratts Bottom our vision is that all children love English and are excited to read, write and express themselves. In order to achieve this, we follow Literacy Tree which is a complete, book-based platform that covers all requirements of the Primary English curriculum.
The books that are chosen help children to grow ideas and expand their minds. It starts at the roots. Writing Roots, which embeds complete curriculum coverage and engages children to write with clear audience and purpose. The Teach Through a Text pedagogy is the backbone of each sequence.
We sow a seed with Spelling Seeds which is a sequence for teaching spelling and vocabulary in context, through investigation and at the point of application. Spelling Seeds complements Writing Roots and uses the same texts to provide further short writing opportunities.
We grow literary knowledge through Literary Leaves. We provide a range of sequenced activities that take children through whole books to teach reading comprehension and create critical readers. Literary Leaves use novels, poetry collections and high-quality, non-fiction books that connect to the Writing Roots through literary themes.
Literary Themes are the tree canopy; providing an overarching structure that allows our children to make deeper connections through subjects and themes. These appear on the Curriculum Maps for each mixed-age class.
National Curriculum English
The National Curriculum (2014) clearly states that teaching the English language is an essential, if not the most essential, role of a primary school. At PBPS, we recognise that without effective communication, little achievement can be made. We know that we have a duty to ensure that English teaching is a priority and we recognise that this is necessarily cross-curricular and a constant through-out school life and beyond.
It is part of the ‘essential knowledge’ (p6 National Curriculum) that is needed in society:
‘Teachers should develop pupil’s spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.’
(p10 National CurriculWe are an inclusive school, we set high expectations and challenge all children. We recognise the importance of accurate and regular assessment in order to support individuals at every part of their learning journey and in whatever circumstances. We use one to one support, small groups and cross-phase work to help with this. We plan teaching opportunities to help those for whom English is an additional language and those with disabilities outlined in the SEN code of practice. We agree with the statement of the National Curriculum, that ‘pupils…who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised’ (p13).
The teaching and learning strategy is based on the new national curriculum for English. Approximately seven hours of dedicated English teaching is planned, including reading and writing, spelling and handwriting, drama and listening to stories.
Oracy and Spoken English
The National Curriculum states that pupils should be ‘taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently in Standard English’ (p10).
Pupils at Pratts Bottom Primary School should:
listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.
Spoken Language Teaching Strategies
The four strands to speaking and listening are:
2. listening and responding;
3. group discussion and interaction
These oral skills are directly taught, modelled and sensitively encouraged in whole class and small group settings. Opportunities across the whole curriculum are planned for and developed. Children play an active part in presentations, topic talks, group discussions, debates and drama activities on a weekly basis. We follow the guidance and ideas from the 2014 National Curriculum to support the teaching and learning of speaking and listening. There is progression in the skills taught and assessment of significant achievements in speaking and listening. Digital videos and photos are a means of capturing progress and keeping records.
Research shows that teaching Phonics in a structured and systematic way is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. Almost all children who receive good teaching of Phonics will learn the skills they need to decifer new and unfamiliar words.
At Pratts Bottom, Phonics is taught on a daily basis and follows the Little Wandle Scheme of Work. Children are taught the skills for segmenting and blending words and are introduced to new phonemes as part of a systematic synthetic approach. The teaching of Phonics begins in Nursery and continues in Years 1 and 2 as children are introduced to alternative graphemes, letter known sounds and begin to learn some of the more complicated spelling rules.
At the end of Year 1 children are required to sit the Phonics Screening Check to assess their ability to segment and blend words. Children are presented with 40 words – a mixture of real and pseudo words and they are expected to apply their Phonics knowledge to read the words. If children are unsuccessful in Year 1, they have the opportunity to retake the test in Year 2. Intervention groups are set up for those children requiring additional support with their Phonics learning and this additional support will continue in Key Stage 2 if necessary.