Westgate Primary School recognises that teaching and learning in English is an essential part of the whole development of all children, including SEN and disadvantaged children, for their speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. It enables them to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate effectively. The teaching of English is broken into three strands - Reading, Writing and Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar, with reading being the key to developing the other skills together with skills and knowledge development across all other curriculum subjects.
Our teaching and learning in English is intended to help mitigate the barriers to learning identified in the SDP. Speaking and listening skills are developed at every opportunity through all lessons, especially English and reading lessons and through our assembly programme, which is based on debating a range of issues related to current news events (Picture News scheme). The expectation is that any written work, including for topic work, is of the same high standard as the writing in the children’s English books. Reading across the curriculum is also encouraged, with topic related books being available in each class, to help children relate their learning in English to learning in the foundation subjects.
At Westgate, we want all pupils to leave Year 6 reading and writing with confidence, fluency and understanding, using a range of independent strategies to take responsibility for their own learning, including monitoring and correcting their own errors; with a love of reading and a desire to read for enjoyment; with an interest in words and their meanings.
We teach English – both reading and writing – daily from Reception class to Year 6 and base the content of our curriculum on National Curriculum guidelines.
By connecting our British Values through the teaching of English, we explore issues that affect us all in our lives and this helps the children develop skills they will need to be effective citizens now and in the future e.g tolerance and respect are modelled through debates and discussions.
- The teaching of reading starts in EYFS, where the children have short, focused daily phonics sessions as part of the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme of systematic synthetic phonics. This continues throughout the year, becoming more formalised from term 3 (January). Opportunities for reading with an adult and listening to adults read are made as often as possible and a love of books is encouraged from the beginning.
- The RWI programme is used daily throughout KS1, with children working in small groups of 6 with a trained adult. As part of this programme, children use their phonological awareness to read real and ‘alien’ words and to write the corresponding graphemes for each sound.
- In KS2, if children have not completed the RWI programme, they work in small intervention groups or one-to-one with an adult in order to close the gap.
- Throughout the school, from Y1 to Y6, there are daily reading skills lessons following a programme of study (PoS) which aims to develop the children’s reading skills in all areas – decoding the text, understanding word meanings from context and comprehension includinginference skills. Books are chosen at a level appropriate for the majority of the class with provision being made for children with additional needs. The PoS is structured with appropriate amounts of time being spent on the different skills for each Year group. In KS2, the book is changed every term and children are encouraged to finish reading each text independently.
- In order to further develop a love of reading, children are read to daily by the teacher in a timetabled session. Books are chosen for interest and may therefore be beyond the actual reading ability of some of the class. Books are also available in the classrooms that specifically connect to the current foundation subject topics and these are displayed so that children are encouraged to read them and develop their knowledge and understanding of the topic.
- Home reading is strongly encouraged and parent meetings and letters keep parents and carers informed of the school’s expectations and provision.
- Home readers are banded following the RWI colour banding system so that children are given books they can read with confidence. They are expected to reread them and become familiar with them. In KS1, children take home the RWI book they are working on, a matched RWI story book and a colour banded book of their own choice. Higher attaining readers can take a banded book and another book from the class library. This can be a book that parents can share with their child. In KS2, children take home a banded book and can choose another from the class reading area which can be shared at home with parents. In this way, independent reading at home is a manageable challenge and is supplemented with other books to increase the enjoyment of reading a wider range of texts.
- In EYFS, children are taught the letter graphemes as they learn the sounds in RWI and are encouraged to have a go at writing by sounding out words and recording the sounds they hear. This takes place during teacher led sessions and there are also plenty of opportunities during child initiated sessions, with a range of materials and writing prompts available.
- From Year 1 to Year 6, the teaching of writing is strongly connected to the current curriculum topic so that children are immersed in the topic and they are provided with a range of stimuli including relevant vocabulary, books, PowerPoint images, pictures etc
- We follow the 2014 National Curriculum for guidance as to what is taught in each year group and, from this, have devised a specific structure for our school, detailing end of year expectations year by year. Units of work are based on different genres, and a purpose and audience for each piece of writing is decided from the outset. We ensure progression in complexity of tasks and expectations year on year.
- Lessons follow a sequence from a Cold Write, which is used to assess their achievement at the start, through a series of linked Learning Challenges including analysis of a good example of the genre. Grammar and punctuation, together with the structural features of each genre, are then taught through a series of lessons, starting with the basics of sentence construction including full stops and capital letters. Children begin to identify word classes early on (noun, verb, adjective and adverb) and use this understanding in their writing. Teaching builds term on term and year on year using prior knowledge.
- The final piece of writing – the Hot Write – is then written using learning from the previous sessions. This is written in draft form and is then edited and improved by the children before being written out neatly. Children are taught these skills using age appropriate strategies and they make any improvements with a blue pen.
- Teachers provide regular constructive feedback through marking, which also promotes reasoning about the work that has been completed. Peer and self-assessment are an important part of our learning and peer discussion and marking is encouraged, with time planned into lessons for children to respond to marking and feedback.
Speaking and listening
From the very beginning of their time in school, children are encouraged to develop their speaking and listening skills through role play, discussions and debates. These extend the children’s vocabulary, strengthening the connections with their learning in English, foundation subjects and maths. These communication skills are further developed through to the end of KS2 by class discussions, paired and group work about reading books and in all lessons.
These skills are further strengthened through our debating assembly programme where current issues from the news are discussed through whole school and Key Stage assemblies then debated at the end of the week. All children including SEN and disadvantaged are encouraged to participate in these debates.
Our spelling lessons are based on units that follow clear patterns to aid understanding. Throughout the school, a spelling rule or new letter sounds are introduced weekly and relevant spellings are taught, e.g. through mnemonics, word sorting and spelling games.
Key word banks, high frequency words, dictionaries and topic related vocabulary resources scaffold children as necessary. When marking, spellings are identified by teachers and support staff using an agreed code and children practise spelling corrections as part of their response to marked work.
• In EYFS, children begin to use anticlockwise movements and retrace vertical lines with a pencil and begin to form recognisable letters. Children develop good control and coordination in gross and fine motor skills.
• In Year 1, children produce writing with clear spaces between words. Most letters are correctly formed and orientated, including lower case, capital letters and digits although there may be some inconsistency in size. By Year 2, all letters and digits are consistently formed and of the correct size, orientation and relationship to one another. Cursive handwriting skills are also introduced. Spacing is appropriate to the size of letters.
• In KS2, handwriting is legible, fluent and consistently. Legibility in joined handwriting is maintained when writing at speed.