The English Curriculum at Thingwall Primary School
At Thingwall Primary School we believe that literacy and communication are key life skills. Through the English curriculum, we will help children develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to communicate effectively and creatively through spoken and written language and equip them with the skills to become lifelong learners. We want children to enjoy and appreciate literature and its rich variety.
Literacy is at the heart of all children’s learning enabling children both to communicate with others effectively for a variety of purposes and to examine their own and others’ experiences, feelings and ideas, giving these order and meaning. Because literacy is central to children’s intellectual, emotional and social development it has an essential role across the curriculum and helps pupils’ learning to be coherent and progressive.
By the time children leave our school, we expect them to:
- communicate through speaking and listening, reading and writing, with confidence, fluency and understanding and in a range of situations
- take pleasure in reading and writing across a range of genre and have a strong motivation to read and write for a variety of purposes.
- be working at or above national age related expectations.
Reading at Thingwall
Reading is a vitally important life skill. Reading opens up the world of learning to our children therefore our reading and writing curriculums place high quality literature at their core.
The intent of our reading curriculum is to enable pupils to:
- develop positive attitudes towards reading so that it is a pleasurable and meaningful activity
- use reading skills as an integral part of learning throughout the curriculum
- read and respond to a variety of texts whilst gaining increased levels of fluency, accuracy, independence and understanding
- develop different strategies for approaching reading and be able to orchestrate the full range of strategies independently
At Thingwall Primary School we believe that reading should be valued both at school and at home. We provide information for parents in supporting their children with reading and provide a wide range of reading materials for children to read at home and within school. Each child has a reading record which enables parents and teachers to be kept up to date with each child’s reading experiences at home and at school. All children are heard reading individually by teachers and teaching assistants regularly. Vulnerable children and children identified as needing further support will be given additional individual reading opportunities or interventions.
Each class has a vibrant reading corner where children are encouraged to spend time reading for pleasure. All year groups have timetabled daily whole class reading time where teachers and teaching assistants will read to the whole class from books chosen from our literary spine.
From the beginning of FS2 up to Year 6, we use the Bug Club reading scheme ensuring consistency and pace of progress. Bug Club is a whole school reading programme which combines an online reading world with printed books, planning support, assessment tools and professional development to help enable teachers to support children to develop a love of reading. Bug Club is built on a rigorous pedagogy and underpinned by a Reading Progression Map that breaks the curriculum down into small, assessable steps.
From the beginning of FS2, children are taught to read using the Bug Club Phonics scheme which aligns with our whole school reading scheme. The programme is a balanced approach to the teaching of reading using systematic synthetic phonics. It simultaneously teaches the segmentation of words for spelling, and develops phonemic awareness skills (For additional information on how we teach phonics, please see our phonics policy). The Bug Club reading scheme follows the progression in phonics teaching and uses fully decodable books which ensures children are accessing reading material at their own level. Phonics is taught throughout KS1 with the Phonics Screening assessment taking place in Year 1. Phonics teaching continues into Year 2.
From Year 2 onwards, alongside our Bug Club reading scheme, we follow a Mastery approach to English through the programme Pathways to Read. Units of work are delivered using high quality texts and children in all year groups are given varied opportunities for reading. Skills are built up through repetition within the units, and children apply these skills in the reading activities provided.
We deliver one whole class shared reading lesson per week from years 2-6 with bespoke grouped reading for every pupil at least once a week as well as individual reading. For pupils still needing support with phonics from years 2-6, we provide an individual reading programme that has phonically decodable texts at the heart of it. In our shared and grouped reads, there is a clear teaching focus with the opportunity to master key reading skills in each session. There are follow on reading tasks to enable pupils to evidence the skills they have mastered independently. Many opportunities for widening children’s vocabulary are given through the Pathways to Read approach and this builds on the extensive work we do in school to provide our children with a rich and varied vocabulary.
The National Curriculum for reading comprehension has been divided into three sections in Pathways to Read: ongoing skills, core skills and mastery skills.
- Ongoing skills are taught throughout all reading lessons and within a variety of classroom activities.
- Core skills provide pupils with regular opportunities to fully master these crucial reading skills in each shared session.
- Mastery skills are taught as a focus skill in shared and grouped sessions
Throughout the scheme children are taught to:
- Clarify vocabulary
- Retrieve information
- Sequence and summarise
- Make inferences
- Make predictions
- Analyse structure and organisation
- Evaluate and discuss language choice
- Make comparisons
Teachers and Teaching Assistants are supported to deliver the scheme through detailed planning and progression documents including progression in questioning ensuring children are familiar with a range of question types. Teachers regularly assess children’s reading in order to adapt plans for individual learners including those with SEND and provide additional support for those who need it.
Writing at Thingwall
The intent of our writing curriculum is to enable children to:
- write in different contexts and for different purposes and audiences
- be increasingly aware of the conventions of writing, including grammar, punctuation and spelling
- plan draft and edit their writing to suit the purpose
- use IT as a literacy medium for presenting work and manipulating text
- form letters correctly, leading to a fluent joined and legible handwriting style, giving increasing regard to presentation
From the earliest days in school children are encouraged to see themselves as writers. The teacher’s role is one of a facilitator providing a model, support and material, and purposes for writing. Children are encouraged to write for real purposes and to understand that purpose and intended audience will have a direct influence on the style and tone of writing.
From EYFS to Year 6, we follow a Mastery approach to English through the programme ‘Pathways to Write.’ Units of work are delivered using high quality texts and children in all year groups are given varied opportunities for writing. Skills are built up through repetition within the units, and children apply these skills in the writing activities provided. Many opportunities for widening children’s vocabulary are given through the Pathways to Write approach and this builds on the extensive work we do in school to provide our children with a rich and varied vocabulary. The scheme ensures continuity of genre progression across the school.
Pathways to Write planning follows the sequence below:
Session 1: Gateway- Learning hook and assessment of previously taught mastery skills.
Sessions 2-11: Pathway- Mastery skills are introduced with may opportunities along the way to practise and apply these skills in different writing tasks.
Sessions 12-15: Writeaway- Opportunities for children to plan, write, edit, re-draft and publish extended pieces of writing focussing on applying the mastery skills they have been taught.
Pathways to Poetry units complement the writing units, support composition and performance and cover both reading and writing objectives related to poetry. Poetry units should be taught at least termly.
Writing is summatively assessed after each unit of work and regularly moderated within school and across the Reach Collaboration.
Children are taught to form their handwriting in the style of the New Nelson Handwriting scheme. The emphasis is on clarity, legibility and flow so that a child’s thought is not hampered by an inability to write quickly and fluently.
In EYFS children learn the pre-cursive formation of letters alongside traditional formation. This has had a proven impact on handwriting as children move through the school.
Important areas to address are:
- A comfortable pencil hold/grip: An incorrect pencil grip can hamper flow and result in poor control of the writing implement.
- Position of paper/book: This depends on whether the child is left or right handed. The child should be seated in a balanced position facing the table. Right-handed children should have the paper turned at a slight angle to the left. (Left handed children to the right). The paper should be held in position securely by the non-writing hand.
- Pressure: A light and even pressure should be used in handwriting. Too heavy a pressure prevents fluid movement demanded in handwriting.
- Style: Size, shape and fluency of letters.
Towards the end of Key Stage 2 children are not discouraged from developing their own style of handwriting provided it is clear, legible and fluid. Across the school, additional support is given to children who struggle with handwriting and plans and or resources are adapted to meet the needs of individuals. A range of writing implements are provided to meet the needs of individual learners.
The intent of our spoken language curriculum is to enable children to:
- Communicate effectively, speaking with increasing confidence, clarity and fluency
- Participate in discussions and debate in a variety of contexts
- Listen to the views, opinions and ideas of others with increased interest
- Articulate ideas and thoughts clearly with appropriate tone and vocabulary, recognising audience
- Respond to questions and opinions appropriately
- Retell stories and poems which are known by heart
- Ask questions with increasing relevance and insight
Opportunities to develop these skills are embedded throughout our curriculum and in particular through the Pathways to Read, Write and Poetry schemes. Throughout the schemes children are encouraged to read and perform in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. Children are given opportunities to get into role in order to develop their understanding of and empathy with characters. Talking about reading and writing with peers and in groups allows children to become more confident in their ideas and reasoning whilst also developing their listening skills. Children listen to adults reading daily in a variety of contexts using a variety of high quality texts.
Children are given regular opportunities to showcase their speaking and listening skills through class performances and assemblies.
Grammar and Punctuation
New grammar and punctuation skills are taught through the Pathways to Write curriculum and the skills are built upon each year. In addition to this, teachers will revisit and revise the teaching of grammar and punctuation through whole class teaching opportunities and homework activities. Use of the ‘Gateway’ sessions at the beginning of each Pathways to Write unit enable teachers to assess pupil’s previous learning and identify learning needs. Extended writing opportunities at the end of each unit of work give pupils the opportunity to apply the skills taught.
In addition to the Pathways curriculum, teachers use various resources in the teaching and assessment of grammar and punctuation. In KS2 ‘Learning by Questions’ is used to revisit, revise and practise grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills.
Initially, spelling is taught through the teaching of phonics using the Phonics Bug scheme. Phonics is taught daily for 20 minutes in EYFS and Key Stage 1.
The intent of our phonics curriculum is to enable children to:
- Blend and segment sounds easily
- Learn that segmenting words into their constituent phonemes for spelling is the reverse of blending phonemes into words for reading
- Spell words accurately by combining the use of grapheme-phoneme correspondence knowledge as the prime approach, and also morphological knowledge and etymological information
- Use a range of approaches to learn and spell irregular words.
From Year 1, in addition to Phonics Bug, children are taught spelling using the Spelling Shed scheme. This scheme provides an organised progression through the spelling and grammar objectives as outlined in the National Curriculum. The scheme uses repeated practice, short-term retrieval and small-step goal achievement combining weekly spelling lessons with online games and assessment.
The Spelling Shed scheme focuses on three areas:
- Orthography: How patterns of letters are used to make certain sounds in spoken language. Building on the firm foundations of phonics teaching, children will continue to break down spellings into the smallest units of sound and cluster them into syllables in order to read and write words efficiently.
- Morphology: Describing how words are structured into subcomponents to give meaning. Children will study words; word parts; their meanings and how this affects spelling.
- Etymology: Describing the origins of words, which can lead to certain patterns of spelling. Children observe how the English language has, over time, borrowed and integrated words and spellings from a range of source languages.
Children in Years 1-6 are given weekly spelling lists to learn. Children will then be tested on these words weekly.
Teaching and Learning
The structure of English teaching is based upon the English National Curriculum guidelines and covers all of the recommended objectives to ensure that a broad and balanced English curriculum is taught to all pupils at Thingwall Primary School.
To ensure that there is adequate time for developing their reading, writing and grammar, punctuation and spelling skills, each class in KS1 and KS2 has a dedicated English lesson each day, with a duration of approximately 60 minutes. Opportunities for extra reading and extended writing are planned when appropriate. Phonics is taught daily throughout KS1.
The English skills that the children develop are utilised and supported in every area of the curriculum and can be directly linked with other subjects. For example, formal letter writing within English may be developed within a history topic and instructional writing could be linked to work completed in Science.
The needs of children with SEND or English as an additional language will be met through adaptation of planning, appropriate authority support where appropriate and additional adult support. This is supported by our equal opportunities policy.
Impact of our English curriculum
With the introduction and implementation of this policy from September 2022, the intended impact of our children will be clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. By the end of KS2 the majority of our children will make expected or exceeding levels of progress from their starting points in EYFS. With the implementation of this policy and the establishment of Pathways Literacy, the intended impact will see children becoming more confident writers familiar with a range of genre, who are able to sustain writing and manipulate grammar and punctuation skills creatively. The intended impact on reading will see children become increasingly confident and fluent readers who realise the importance of reading for pleasure as well as reading for information.
As all parts of English are integral to the whole curriculum, the intended impact of this policy will see reading and writing skills transferred into other subjects demonstrating consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar and punctuation.