Curriculum Intent for English
In English, we prioritise reading and writing to ensure that all pupils have the opportunities to maximise the development of their literacy, language and communication skills. We believe that fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects and our teachers develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as an integral aspect of the teaching of every subject. Through our English curriculum we aim to promote high standards in literacy and language to acquire a wide vocabulary, build their confidence and understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words effectively by applying their phonetic and spelling patterns and rules skills throughout their time at Holy Cross. Pupils will write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
Children at our school are encouraged to develop their enjoyment and love of literature and recognise the importance of being a good reader and developing the habit of reading widely and often. We nurture a love for reading to support pupils in recognising the pleasure and importance of being a good reader and developing a habit of reading widely and often.
Pupils will be able to apply their skills to a range of complex texts and stories enabling pupils to discover new knowledge and vocabulary and understand more about what they learn. Pupils will be supported and challenged to know more and remember more enabling them to have developed a love of reading and writing to reach the end points of Key Stage 2. This will equip them to succeed in education and in adult life, and to make a positive contribution to society for the common good.
At Holy Cross, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. Once children are secure in their phonics and move through the school, we further build on their range of decoding strategies so that they build up good pace and fluency when reading. Children are taught how to confidently tackle any unfamiliar words and what it is that makes them tricky. Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same format, routines, and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read:
Any child who needs additional practice has daily keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning. We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 who are not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the keep-up resources – at pace. If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week and include three reading sessions to apply their new learning.
At Holy Cross, we follow a programme called No Nonsense Spelling, which is delivered from Year 2 to Year 6. No Nonsense Spelling focuses on the teaching of spelling, embracing knowledge of spelling conventions – patterns and rules; but integral to the teaching is the opportunity to promote the learning of spellings, including National Curriculum statutory words, common exception words (where phonics does not work because it is spelt in an unusual or uncommon way) and words that children personally find difficult. It is often that children can spell words correctly in their weekly spelling test, but are unable to apply the correct spelling in writing. No Nonsense Spelling focuses on the application of spellings into writing.
How is the programme organised? The programme has been broken down into half termly plans. The plans follow a model of six spelling sessions across two weeks, except in Year 2 where sessions are daily. Each lesson is approximately 10 to 15 minutes long, but lesson plans are flexible so that the teaching can reflect the extra time needed on a teaching point if required.
Teaching sequence The programme has been written broadly following a teaching sequence for spelling, whereby each new concept is taught, practised and then applied and assessed. Frequently there is also a ‘Revise’ session before the teaching session. Teachers may also integrate activities for handwriting so that children acquire the physical memory of the spelling pattern as well as the visual.
At Holy Cross, we know Reading is a vital life skill that supports good spelling, writing, and gives our children the best outcomes in secondary education and as adults. By the time children leave us, they can read confidently for purpose as well as reading for pleasure. Due to our belief that teaching every child to read is so important, we ensured each member of staff is skilled at teaching reading and has the subject knowledge to teach reading with confidence and enthusiasm, organising author and Book Bus visits to the school throughout the year and celebrate National Poetry and World Book Day.
Our Reading Books
Children in EYFS and KS1 have three guided read sessions each week. In the three sessions they will focus on decoding, prosody, and comprehension. They will then have an E-Collins reading book to share at home with parents through the E-Collins website or app. All books assigned to pupils are based on their current phonetic ability. Children should be able to decode and read these words with 90% fluency. They are reviewing and revisiting their learning and showing off their skills at home. The children’s reading abilities are regularly assessed individually and in guided groups so they can move through the book levels at their own pace. Children are also encouraged to read books of their own choice including library books and to listen to stories so they can develop a passion for reading.
Children in KS2 choose a book from the library which matches their reading ability, using their accelerated reader level. Some children may have an additional phonics reading book.
At Holy Cross, children from Year 3 to Year 6 participate in Accelerated Reader in order to help develop their reading skills and raise standards in English. The principle behind this programme is to promote a lifelong love of reading in every student, regardless of aptitude or ability. It is designed to do the following:
- Make essential reading practice more effective for every child
- Personalise reading practice to each child’s current level
- Assess children’s reading skills through fun quizzes so that intervention strategies can be brought in when necessary
- Accelerate reading growth (progress) by a whole year
AR is a powerful tool for monitoring and managing independent reading practice. With AR, teachers create a reading programme to meet the needs of every student.
Using information generated by the software, teachers help students select books that are difficult enough to keep them challenged, but not too difficult to cause frustration. In addition, it helps teachers to monitor students’ vocabulary growth, literacy skills development and reading skills taught through other reading schemes.
Accelerated Reader helps develops lifelong readers.
Take a sample Accelerated Quiz – http://www.renlearn.co.uk/accelerated-reader/sample-quizzes/
Our school has adopted Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing as a model to improve children’s writing abilities and skills.
Why Talk for Writing?
At Holy Cross, we help all our children develop into thoughtful readers and creative writers and it is through the Talk for Writing approach that we achieve this. Through it’s multi-sensory and interactive teaching it enables children of all ages and abilities to learn to write a wide range of story/text types using various methods including:
- listening to and learning texts and stories;
- taking part in drama and role-play;
- drawing and story mapping;
- collecting words and language strategies;
- building their working knowledge of grammar.
At Holy Cross, we are all very enthusiastic about this approach as it brings out the best in the children and the teachers (who have to write model texts for the children to use as the basis of their own writing) – we are all writers together! Writing becomes a joint adventure and the results are exciting!
What exactly is it?
Talk for Writing is an innovative approach to teaching writing developed by the literacy specialist and writer Pie Corbett. It uses high quality model texts to introduce the children to different story/text types which they then learn off by heart and scrutinise with a writer’s critical eye.
They learn the underlying structures and the process of planning using story and text maps. They also learn about the key strategies for creating interesting characters and settings and how to use a range of sentence types to create different effects including suspense or adventure.
Talk for Writing has three key phases which work together to develop knowledge, confidence and independence in writing:
1. Imitation and immersion
We usually like to start our Talk for Writing units with a ‘wow’ starter which fires up the creativity and imagination of the children before they immerse themselves in the model text.
During this phase the children learn a model text using actions and story maps. The key to success for the children is that they internalise the text type through repetition and rehearsal. They explore the structure of the narrative and investigate the different characters, settings and events. They also begin to look closely at the language used and the effect this has on the reader. We call this process ‘read as a writer’. The classroom becomes a dynamic, interactive resource filled with word ideas, sentence types and language tools collected by the children to use in their stories later.
During this phase the teacher and the children begin to change aspects of the model text using their own ideas. They explore the text using different characters, settings or events and new ideas for descriptive language whilst sticking closely to the underlying structure.
It is during this phase that the children work using their toolkits. The toolkits, based on the features and ingredients of the model text, remind children of the different strategies they could use in their stories and helps them to see the progress they are making.
During the invent week the children plan and write their own story based on the text type they have been learning. They experiment with the ideas and begin to explore their own style of writing using sentence types from the model text. They also have opportunities to edit and improve their work.
You can find out more by clicking here.
At Holy Cross, we use the Nelson Handwriting Scheme throughout the school to support the children to develop a cursive style of handwriting.
You will find free resources and example of the handwriting font here.