This policy reflects the school’s aims and objectives in relation to the teaching and learning of English. It sets out a framework within which teaching and non‐teaching staff can operate in order to provide children with a consistent, considered and high-quality learning provision in-line with the school’s vision.
At Gomersal St Mary’s CE Primary, the teaching of English is the foundation of our curriculum because we believe the development of good English skills is central to improving a child’s life chances, by equipping them with the essential tools needed to flourish in the modern world. It is our aim in school to find the inner reader, author and orator in every child, regardless of their ability, background and opportunities outside of school.
Our main aim is to ensure every single child becomes primary literate and progresses to the best of their ability in the areas of reading, writing and oracy by the time they leave our school in Year 6, so that they can achieve their full academic and personal potential, effectively living-out our school vision:
By being the best we can be, we all shine brightly, making our world and school a better place.
‘Let your light shine’ – Matthew 5:16
Our teaching is our vision in practice. Staff plan and teach challenging, personalised and engaging English lessons which seek to focus on the particular needs of learners within each cohort. We are ambitious for our pupils, but we recognise that each child has their own starting point upon entry to every year group, and therefore progress is measured in line with these starting points to ensure every child can celebrate success.
The teaching of English skills is embedded within all our lessons and we will strive for a high level of English for all. Through using high-quality texts, immersing children in vocabulary rich learning environments and ensuring new curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met, the children of Gomersal St Mary’s will be exposed to a language-rich, creative and continuous English curriculum which will not only enable them to become primary literate but will also develop a love of reading, creative writing and purposeful speaking and listening.
At Gomersal St Mary’s we want our children to:
- Read confidently and fluently and seek to acquire knowledge independently- reading for purpose;
- Develop a lifelong enjoyment of reading, taking genuine pleasure from what they read- reading for pleasure;
- Develop the reading skills they need to access all areas of the curriculum;
- Understand the meaning of what they read and what is read to them.
- Read critically to ascertain what the truth is in a statement so that they may gain a balanced understanding of local, national and international issues.
- Make responses to what they read justifying those responses;
- Become immersed in other worlds…both real and imagined.
We hold reading for pleasure and reading for purpose at the heart of everything we do so pupils develop a real love and
thirst for reading a range of genres, and we believe it is a child’s right to be literate and enjoy literature, regardless of the social and economic circumstances of their neighbourhoods, their ethnicity, the language spoken at home and any special educational needs or disabilities. Therefore, the teaching and learning of reading should be a positive and enjoyable experience that should be taught systematically and consistently across the whole school, with a shared technical reading vocabulary, which will allow children and adults to have discussions around reading.
We believe children should be taught the full range of reading strategies including: phonic knowledge (visual information); grammatical knowledge (structural information); word recognition and graphic knowledge (visual information); contextual knowledge (meaning), with a focus on self-monitoring and self-correction leading to independence.
Rigorous assessment of individual pupils’ progress, phonic knowledge and skills is vital to quickly identify the pupils who are not working at age related expectations, or those who are in danger of falling behind, to ensure they catch up with their peers. Effective provision for pupils to close the gap must be put in place early and that there must be high expectations of what all pupils can achieve.
We have a vibrant library for our children that not only invites in reluctant readers but provides children with a wide range of texts to choose from. We resource the library based on children’s interests so that there are texts suitable for all readers. Teachers make every effort to have books available in classrooms which are directly linked to the class topic. This offers opportunities for pupils to apply their reading skills across the curriculum.
We explicitly teach children the skills necessary to become a fluent and expressive reader as well as actively encouraging children to understand the deeper meaning of texts. At Gomersal St. Mary’s, we also take a text-based approach to our English lessons to provide our pupils with more reading practice and reading comprehension opportunities which are directly linked to their topic and written work.
As a school we are committed to nurturing our readers by:
- Ensuring all pupils make progress in their reading skills including decoding, accuracy, fluency, understanding and response to texts.
- Ensuring children are aware of their own progress and development as a reader, by placing a degree of responsibility on themselves as individuals, to aspire to be the best reader they can be.
- Ensuring children are able to read and enjoy a variety of different texts e.g. fiction, non-fiction, play scripts, poetry, reports and understand their purpose.
- Creating a positive reading culture where children enjoy reading, want to read regularly and discuss their reading.
- Encouraging reading outside the classroom through forging strong links with home, through parental meetings, coaching sessions for parents and use of Reading Friends.
- Developing the reading experience for our children through a wide variety of high quality texts including the use of class sets of books, well-stocked bookshelves in classrooms, libraries, technology and other available media.
- Teaching children to apply the skills they learn in reading across the curriculum, through our well-developed, enriched curriculum, utilising every possible opportunity to reinforce and practice the skill and pleasure of reading.
To ensure progression and a cohesive approach in the teaching of reading, the following guidance must be followed:
Phonics: Phonics teaching must be consistent, well-structured, fast paced and multi-sensory. All children will be taught skills within RWI in dedicated phonics lessons, up to the end of Year 1. Pupils who do not pass the Year 1 phonics check will continue their RWI lessons until the end of the Autumn term in Year 2. At this point, a judgement will be made as to whether or not to continue with RWI, or try another approach using high frequency words. Children will be grouped after being assessed every six weeks, to ensure that they are in the correct group to meet, yet challenge, their needs.
Individual reading: Pupils will be encouraged to read for pleasure every day through Rise and Read sessions when children arrive at school in a morning. In addition, all children will be heard read regularly according to their needs. Children will read to and with a variety of adults in school, as well as by their teacher. Children of all abilities will read to adults in school until the end of Year 6, though what form this takes will depend on the age and needs of the particular pupil.
Whole Class Guided Reading: This is a whole class activity which is used from Y2-Y6. It typically takes place during discrete lessons although opportunities should be taken to in other curriculum subjects. During whole class guided reading the children can access a text which may be challenging to them individually as they are supported. The teacher should model the reading skills, strategies and recognition of words appropriate to National Curriculum expectations for their year group. Teachers should also ‘think aloud’, modelling their thought process and how they have reached conclusions. Discussion should help the children to reach a deeper understanding of the text. Whole class guided reading should have a specific focus and all abilities should be included in discussions by differentiated questions.
Shared Reading: Reading aloud to children is a vital part of our reading curriculum. It is through this that our reading community is developed. When we read collectively, we have the opportunity to share our thoughts, to listen to each other and to build on each other’s interpretations. Through these teaching opportunities, practitioners are able to foster children’s positive attitudes to reading, with reading for pleasure and purpose placed at the heart of the sessions. Staff can draw children into a story, inviting them to comment and to predict. They can demonstrate early reading behaviours and problem solving strategies whilst modelling fluency, phrasing and expression. They can also expose children to rich vocabulary, language structures, situations, places and worlds that may be outside of the child’s personal experiences.
Shared texts may take on many different forms, from traditional books to online texts, from big books to leaflets. Children might not be able to access these books independently but through the nature of the task will be able to appreciate them, make critical judgements which they are encouraged to share with others whilst progressing their own reading skills.
Reading Record: A Reading Record is used as a liaison between parents and teachers. From Foundation Stage to the end of KS2, parents are expected to listen to, and/or support their child to read, discuss the book and write a comment each time they read. Parents are encouraged, through support sessions in school, to question and discuss the content of the book their child is reading, and encourage them to enjoy the text together.
At Gomersal St Mary’s we want our children to:
- Read and write with confidence, fluency and understanding;
- Understand the sound and spelling system and use this to read and spell accurately;
- Have fluent and legible handwriting;
- Have an interest in words and their meaning and a growing vocabulary;
- Know, understand and be able to write in a range of genres in fiction and poetry, and understand and be familiar with some of the ways in which narratives are structures through basic literary ideas of setting, character and plot;
- Understand, use and be able to write a range of non-fiction texts;
- Plan, draft, revise and edit their own writing;
- Have a suitable technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their reading and writing;
- Through reading and writing, develop their powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.
In order to become writers, we believe it is essential to give our children a wealth of opportunities to develop their speaking and listening skills, alongside their motor skills from the earliest opportunity. Therefore, from nursery we ensure that children engage in the following:
- Regular speaking and listening opportunities that stimulate their early interest in literacy by exploiting play, story, songs and rhymes and practitioners provide lots of opportunities, and time, to talk with children about their experiences and feelings;
- Opportunities to develop gross and fine motor skills through play and handwriting activities;
- Sharing and enjoying a range of rhymes, songs, film clips, stories and books;
- Immersion in a print rich environment with opportunities for oral language and written communication, e.g. differentiated phonic activities.
- Focused group activities that teach children early communication language and literacy skills, using daily phonics and guided reading/writing sessions;
- Big book activities with a shared reading and writing focus each week.
We believe that once children have these solid foundations, they can continue to build their writing skills confidently and securely throughout key stage 1 and key stage 2.
We believe the writing process starts with reading. Immersion in a genre by studying good quality core texts not only inspire a child to respond in writing but beautifully illustrate examples of descriptive vocabulary, word choice, clever use of grammar and accurate punctuation. Children are encouraged to ’Magpie’ or collect these shining examples of language and grammar and re-use them in their own writing. Teachers need to model the process of ‘reading like a writer’ to make the author’s intent in choosing to use certain vocabulary, grammar and punctuation types explicit to children.
Our overall aim is for our students to enjoy writing and we find that our students are stimulated with exciting ‘hooks’ into writing: drama, story maps, oral storytelling and writing games. All of these creative activities fuel the imaginations of our pupils and writing becomes a more enjoyable experience when pupils feel absorbed in the task.
In order to help us to develop confident, enthusiastic writers who can express themselves in a variety of different styles and across a variety of contexts, our teaching of writing is often cross-curricular and almost always linked to a class text. This serves to not only make writing stimulating and engaging for pupils, but also provides our children with regular opportunities to write for a range of purposes and audiences. Writing tasks are specific and meaningful, and often serve to illustrate how their writing skills can be applied to real life contexts.
As a school, we develop writing through four purposes. These are:
- writing to entertain;
- writing to inform;
- writing to persuade;
- writing to discuss.
Pupils are given a range of writing opportunities including the use of paired, group and independent writing tasks. This is developed across Key Stages, so that the pupils learn to respond appropriately and supportively to each other.
Editing work is an essential skill when writing, so pupils are taught how to edit and improve their work as an integral part of the writing process.
To ensure progression and a cohesive approach in the teaching of writing, the following guidance must be followed:
The following principles underpin our practice and planning as teachers:
- Speaking and listening with confidence are significant factors in developing effective writing;
- Reading and writing are closely connected and mutually supportive; we read as writers and write as readers;
- Writing is a craft and most children learn best through their own writing, rather than through exercises out of context;
- Writing is best framed within recognisable text-types or genres;
- Writing should be designed to meet the needs of real or imagined audiences;
- Writing tasks should be prepared through preliminary talk and adults should model writing for their pupils;
- Children should be given the opportunity to collaborate with other children both to compose and to revise their writing;
- Writing skills can be improved through reflection and self-editing is encouraged;
- Children should be closely involved in assessing their own development as writers;
- More effective writing is dependent upon increasingly informed grammatical and linguistic choices;
- The adult’s response to the child’s composition (e.g. praising aspects of the content) is crucial in developing confidence and motivation;
- The skills of transcription (i.e. handwriting, punctuation and spelling) must be thoroughly planned for and taught.
Shared writing: This is modelled by the teacher as the expert writer with contributions from the children. This is teacher-led writing with children watching and contributing ideas. Shared writing is not exclusive to English sessions and can be taught within Foundation subjects. The emphasis may be on the generation of ideas, grammatical awareness, spelling and phonics, compositional, transcriptional, and presentational and text level skills or other key strategies needed in writing. Not all of these can be modelled in one session, but the teacher as the expert writer leads the cumulative writing process.
Guided writing that targets children at their point of writing: Guided writing takes place in small groups with a teaching focus using targets and writing already modelled. The main part of the session is spent by the child writing with the adult intervening as appropriate During this guided session, the teacher supporting the group will share targets achieved and live-mark the child’s work, offering instant feedback.
Scaffolded writing: The children write using a writing frame which allows the children to become familiar with the structure of the writing being studied and frees them to think of the other elements of writing such as ambitious vocabulary.
Independent writing: Children need opportunities to develop their confidence and practice their writing skills. All writing activities should have a purpose and quality should be promoted through book making, publication or presentation to another audience. Writing is modelled and supported from immersion to quality writing. Independent writing can be supported through the use of dictionaries, word banks, writing frames or plans and alphabet cards.
At Gomersal St Mary’s, we take every opportunity possible to enhance the cultural capital of our learners and equip them with the knowledge and experiences needed for society. One way in which we promote cultural capital via reading is by providing and exposing our children to a range of texts, from different genres, featuring different types of protagonists, that have been written by authors from a wide range of backgrounds, ensuring that our children are exposed to a broad spectrum of real and imaginary worlds that prepares them for life in the modern world, and teaches them about life beyond their personal experience.
We also take pride in our vocab rich environment that runs through school from Nursery to Year 6. Our pupils are constantly surrounded by and encouraged to use adventurous vocabulary and age-appropriate grammatical structures to enhance their understanding of authorial impact and to be able to apply this to their written work and work across the breadth of the primary curriculum.
Handwriting and fine-motor development
From nursery children are taught to develop fine motor control and begin to experiment with mark marking, developing their pencil control and grip. This is built upon in Reception and pupils are taught how to form letter and numbers using correct orientation and formation techniques. In year 2, children further develop these skills and begin to use entry and exit strokes as a precursor to joining their letters (using the Debbie Hepplewhite scheme). In Year 3, pupils are taught to join their handwriting. By the end of year 3, most children will have a neat, consistent and accurately formed cursive handwriting style. Once children are able to write neatly and legibly in all work, they will be awarded a pen-licence.
We believe that children should be taught:
- How to form letters and numbers accurately and consistently;
- To write in a clear, legible and efficient manner;
- How to present their work neatly;
- To take pride in their written work.
(For more detailed guidance, see our Handwriting Policy).
The ability to speak and listen is fundamental to children’s language and social development, and is a particular area of need for our pupils with a large percentage of pupils achieving well-below age-related expectations on entry in EYFS. Vocabulary acquisition and language skills, are an essential tool for unlocking all areas of the curriculum, as talk underpins learning and thinking.
It is vital that the significance of language development is recognised by pupils, parents and school staff. Pupils need to be provided with many and varied contexts for talk, but they also need direct teaching in the skills of speaking and listening.
The foundation stage children follow a curriculum based on Development Matters, working towards the achievement of Early Learning Goals in Communication and Language.
Children in our school are given opportunities to develop speaking and listening skills in lessons, in informal and social situations, and in worships and performances. Opportunities are planned to develop children of all abilities and stages of development, with extended opportunities such as preparing pieces for public speaking, as well as providing support for those who need it.
Spelling & Grammar
Spelling and grammar (SPaG) are taught discreetly (as appropriate) in additional sessions within the week, however the bulk of children’s SPaG learning occurs within the context of teaching in English lessons. SPaG objectives are carefully matched to units of work enabling them to be taught and learnt within a meaningful context. English starters are often linked to spelling and grammar to reinforce learning. Examples of SpaG will be drawn out throughout the modelling process so that children can see how features of grammar can be applied to good effect in writing.
Feedback at Gomersal St. Mary’s takes a variety of forms i.e. written, verbal and non-verbal.
Teachers may mark or feedback within lessons, offering immediate feedback as well as challenge and support. Children may also self or peer assess during a lesson with reference to their learning objectives and success criteria.
Children will sometimes be given ‘next steps’ and will be given the opportunity to respond to written feedback in their books. Teaches may also pose questions to extend children in their thinking if they have a secure understanding of the objective or provide support to address misconceptions and correct errors.
Children are frequently encouraged to proofread and edit their work as part of the writing process.
In English, we also use an orange and purple highlighter marking system. Orange indicates ‘what you’ve done well’, and purple indicates ‘area for development’.
When choosing how to mark a piece of work, teachers will always base their decision on what strategy will have the greatest, and most immediate, impact on the learner.
Meeting the needs of all children
Children across school are assessed regularly through formal and informal methods to ensure that they are working at an appropriate level and teachers are skilled at meeting the needs of more-able children through discussion and questioning and by devising activities to stretch and extend them.
Teachers and TAs may work with a focus group, individual or pair with similar needs to enable all children to access tasks and make progress. This is based on prior assessment and ongoing assessment. They are fluid and are not fixed groups throughout the year. Therefore, intervention is reactive to children’s needs and is organised by the class teacher when required.
Differentiation will take many forms, for example:
- Well-crafted tasks designed to meet individual learning needs;
- Time spent on a particular area of difficulty;
- Over learning or pre-teaching;
- Open ended enquiries;
- Mixed ability groupings (changed regularly) to provide an opportunity for peer to peer support and scaffolding of learning;
- Skilled questioning from teachers during lessons, along with timely intervention, built on clear and accurate understanding within the development of reading and writing skills.
We are committed to providing effective learning opportunities for all pupils and apply the three principles for inclusion into planning and teaching. Suitable learning challenges will be set for all pupils with the aim of maximising achievement for all pupils at an appropriate level for each individual. Teachers will respond appropriately to pupils’ diverse learning needs and be aware of the needs of differing genders, special educational needs and disability, as well as different culture, social and ethnic backgrounds. We are committed to the principle of equality of opportunity and this will be reflected in the curriculum offered to pupils and in the conduct of staff and pupils. Our reading collections should include books which reflect our diverse, multi-cultural society.
Special Educational Needs
There is a commitment to high achievement in English by children regardless of gender, race, class or disability. Reasonable adjustments are made by the class teacher to ensure individual learning needs are planned for to allow all children to succeed. Teachers use children’s learning plans to design tasks, adapt teaching approaches and produce resources to support children with special educational needs. Teachers must both provide support for children with SEND who struggle to access the curriculum and challenge for children who have strengths in reading. Planning for SEND should address their barriers to learning in order to allow them to fully participate in school life.
The impact on our children is clear: good progress, sustained learning and acquisition of transferrable skills. By the end of KS2, the majority of our children have made considerable progress from their starting points in EYFS. As children progress through school, they become more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, the writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills. As they progress through our school, the majority of children become confident and skilled readers who realise the importance of reading for pleasure along with reading for purpose.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives. We hope that as children move on from us to further their education and learning that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.
Monitoring the Impact
- Learning walks and lesson visits;
- Pupil enjoyment and confidence;
- End of EYFS, Phonics Screening, KS1 and KS2 statutory assessments;
- LA monitoring and Ofsted evaluation;
- Termly assessment tracking information being shared with leaders (including key areas of concern);
- Termly whole staff moderation sessions focussed on progression across the school;
- Local authority moderation sessions;
- Pupil progress meetings with the head/ Deputy/ SENDCO
- Head Teacher and SLT monitoring.
- Pupil and parental feedback