Ms Wilcox and Mrs Dolby coordinate English at Katherine Semar Schools.
We are passionate about providing an English curriculum that aims to equip every children with a strong command of the spoken and written word entwined with a love of literature.
The spoken language underpins reading and writing and is at the heart of our curriculum. Talk develops children’s thinking and our Inspire curriculum provides opportunities for children to discuss, elaborate and explain their ideas and understanding, make presentations, demonstrate to others and participate in debate.
‘English is the most important tool you’ll ever need’ (Benjamin Zephaniah- poet/writer). Our English curriculum aims to equip children with a strong command of the spoken and written word entwined with a love of literature.
Spoken language underpins reading and writing and is at the heart of our curriculum.
Talk develops children’s thinking and our Inspire curriculum provides opportunities for children to discuss, elaborate and explain their ideas and understanding, make presentations, demonstrate to others and participate in debate. Alongside, children develop to become active listeners.
Children also learn to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, communicating with others effectively and confidently.
Every child learns how to read with fluency and understanding and hears high quality text read aloud, including classic literature.
Reading extends children’s knowledge, widens their vocabulary and develops their ideas.
Our curriculum encourages and supports children to read widely and often, both for information and pleasure. Research shows that ‘reading for pleasure can promote better health and well-being’ and ‘is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.’ (The Reading Agency) Indeed, through reading, children develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.
Children write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
‘Writing’ as James Britton said, ‘floats on a sea of talk,’ and our children produce high quality written work based on this belief. Alongside purposeful talk prior to writing, pupils grasp punctuation, grammar and ambitious vocabulary, allowing them to communicate their ideas coherently and effectively.
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription. Children learn to spell quickly and accurately using a range of strategies and develop fluent, legible and eventually joined handwriting at speed. Children plan, revise and evaluate their writing thoughtfully and effectively.
- Phonics is our prime approach to the teaching of decoding and encoding to enable reading and writing.
- Our school uses the Letters and Sounds Phonics scheme produced by the DfE.
- Phonics is taught discretely each day from the beginning of Early Years to the point children are ready to transition to learn more traditional spelling patterns.
- Phonics sessions are multi-sensory, interactive and appropriately paced to engage all learners.
- Children are tracked half-termly using our school phonic assessment and tracking system.
- Appropriate interventions are put in place to support children who are not making the progress they are capable of.
- Spelling is taught regularly and consistently from Early Years to Year Six.
- Early Years and Year 1 begin by learning to spell common exception words correctly (words which cannot be phonetically encoded).
- From Year One, children begin to learn how to apply spelling rules and patterns, including exceptions to those rules. These patterns and exceptions follow the expectations of the National Curriculum 2014.
- We believe spelling is taught most effectively as part of interactive, engaging sessions, which take an investigative approach wherever possible.
- Success and progress in spelling is celebrated through weekly spelling tests in KS2 and half termly spelling assessments across the school, which allow children to earn certificates for their achievements.
- Appropriate interventions are put in place to support children who are identified in pupil progress meetings as not making the progress they are capable of.
- Literature and Poetry Spine – We have separate literature (fiction/ non fiction) and poetry spine. We believe that to become competent, engaged, excited readers, children need to be exposed to a broad range of high quality texts. To guarantee this, we have developed a literature spine which runs throughout the school and includes all of the texts children access through whole class teaching. These include a wide range of genres, narrative types and authors.
- Individual Reading – Children in the infant school read with an adult in school at least two times a week. We believe this offers them the essential opportunity to practise their developing skill with a skilled adult.
- We have a wealth of high quality school reading volunteers who hear children that need more frequent practice read on an individual or group basis.
- Reading at home – We understand the importance of regular reading practise at home and work with parents to encourage them to read at home every night. Approaches to secure this vary depending on the needs of the cohort but may include reward schemes, written and oral reminders, parent workshops etc.
- Reading scheme – We believe that to become proficient readers, children need access to a vast range of appropriately challenging texts. To achieve this we have invested in a range of high quality reading schemes, including eBooks which offer an excellent range of decodable texts of different genres and styles to appeal to all readers and develop the broad range of reading skills. In EYFS and Y1, until the point where the children are secure with phonics, the children read books which are closely matched to their learning.
- Shared reading and guided reading – We understand that reading is about much more than simply decoding words on a page and believe that children need to engage in active discussion where they co-construct meaning from a text in order to develop the comprehension skills they need to effectively engage with and understand a text. We teach these skills through high quality, regular and carefully planned shared and guided reading experiences.
- Reading for pleasure – We believe that reading for pleasure is an essential part of developing young readers and all children across the school are read to regularly. Classes share and enjoy whole texts for pleasure. Enrichment texts have been identified for each half terms learning and are read to the children at story time.
- The well-stocked libraries offer children daily access to a vast range of books that they can choose to take home, for their pleasure, in addition to their individual reading book. Challenges and reward systems are used to encourage children to develop an independent love of reading including RAGE awards in Key Stage 2. As a school we exploit opportunities, such as World Book Day, to further children’s appreciation and enjoyment of books. In the infant school, we hold a weekly reading morning where parents come into class to share a book with their child. In addition, the infant children have a weekly mystery reader, who may be a parent or a Y6 child.
- Handwriting - We believe good handwriting is the result of regular, focused and high quality teaching sessions combined with consistent high expectations across all writing.
- We use the Penpals handwriting scheme across the school.
- In KS2, children work towards earning their handwriting pen and then pen licenses’.
- Talk 4 Writing - The school has developed a ‘Talk 4 Writing’ approach to many aspects of teaching writing. This supports children to internalise a ‘living library’ of high quality texts (fiction, non-fiction and poetry) which they can draw upon in their own writing. The teaching sequence follows a pattern of; imitation where children learn a text, are immersed in it through role play, music, and concrete experiences, and engage with the written text on the page; innovation where children are supported to develop their own version of the text using carefully scaffolded innovations; and invention where children utilise all of their experience of our broad and rich language curriculum to invent their own texts. Each year group has their own Writing Checklist which highlights the prior and current writing expectations.
- Grammar and punctuation – Grammar and punctuation are taught regularly and consistently from Early Years to Y6. Current expectations (linked to the year group writing checklist) are modelled in the year group’s high quality model texts. Children are supported in their learning of grammar and punctuation using differentiation as appropriate.
- Children are encouraged and supported to take ownership of their own learning by offering them focused next steps for their writing. With support, they identify areas for improvement and work to demonstrate these in all of their writing.
Speaking and Listening
- We understand that speaking and listening are at the heart of communication and thus children’s ability to engage with others. Children do not become effective speakers and listeners by accident and thus the direct teaching of effective speaking and listening skills are embedded in our school right across the curriculum.
Challenge and Support for all Learners
- We understand that every learner develops differently and adapt our provision continuously to ensure every child receives the correct balance of support and challenge in order to achieve their very best. We recognise this fact and provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. Each child is valued, respected and challenged regardless of ability, race, gender, religion, social background, culture or disability as we build strong relationships ensuring each child will thrive.