‘I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.’ (Novelist Robert Louis Stevenson). Our English North Star aims to give all our pupils a life-long passion for reading and writing. We believe reading gives our children the opportunity to experience new worlds and explore different perspectives. The essential skill of reading is the key to unlocking all learning, so through Guided Reading sessions and carefully chosen topic reads, we entwine reading into every single subject we teach. We want all our children to read a wide range of literature fluently with good understanding.
While reading gives our children the power to unlock the wider curriculum, the skill of writing both creatively and with purpose puts our pupils firmly on the path to success. Our English curriculum is built around a series of thought-provoking and inspiring books. Our aim is for all our pupils to find their inner voice and to use writing as a way to express themselves. Our teaching ensures that the children develop a solid grasp of grammar, so they have the skill to communicate clearly with the words that they write.
At Ashfield Junior School, we ensure that our English planning follows a clear progression of skills and ensures that there is full coverage of, ‘The National Curriculum programmes of study for English 2014’. The curriculum is adapted and extended to match all pupils’ needs and builds upon their prior knowledge and skills. We endeavour to practise English skills in all subjects across the curriculum, appreciating that they are the fundamental building blocks for learning as a whole. Teachers work together to plan, deliver and moderate the teaching of English in order to ensure that expectations are high and that children are able to achieve to the best of their ability.
English Planning will ensure that there are frequent and regular opportunities for:
- daily activities for guided/independent/topic reading
- regular independent writing which will be based on and will develop further skills covered in English lessons, and which will include both fiction and non-fiction writing in order to facilitate children’s ability to develop as independent writers
- exploring, generating and developing children’s vocabulary to help enhance children’s oracy and provide word banks for writing tasks where appropriate
- developing the skills of planning, drafting, editing and proof reading their writing.
- weekly spelling and handwriting practice
- short, lively, frequent re-visiting of spelling and grammar strategies taught previously
For writing, we use a combination of unit plans created by Ashfield teachers and detailed English plans created by Herts for Learning Education which are based on high quality texts and are adapted to suit the needs of our pupils. These are supplemented by the teaching of spelling, using the Herts for Learning Spelling Essentials scheme, and by the teaching and practice of handwriting, using the Nelson Handwriting scheme.
We are a reading school and ensure reading is woven into the fabric of all we do. Our daily guided reading lessons are aimed at engaging children in a wide range of authors, genres and text types. Two of our weekly lessons are focussed on the class novel and are designed to immerse children in wonderful stories. Three of our weekly lessons are using a wide range of linked texts that cover poetry, songs, extracts from novels and non-fiction texts. In guided reading lessons we use busy-brain reading and text marking in order to actively engage children in the text. Reading is always followed with a quick quiz and vocabulary check before we work on inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and summarising skills through partner talk, independent thinking and solo work.
In addition to our guided reading lessons, our children enjoy their 10 minute reading time (where they read their own books for pleasure), they engage with topic reading texts in all foundation subjects and they have a challenge-level class novel read to them daily.
Reading homework is set every week. All children choose a book from their class libraries which they are expected to read during their 10 minute daily read at school and which they take home to do their daily reading homework. We use BoomReader as a tool for logging what children read at home and parents, staff and pupils are able to interact with the application. Expectations for what and when to record is set by individual year groups and are written on their ‘Homework Expectations’ sheet. Children who are using the banded reading scheme have their books regularly changed and the expectations for their reading homework are communicated with parents individually.
We use Smart Kids ‘The Code’ to deliver phonics lessons whole-class in the autumn term of Year 3 and as interventions across the school to support children working towards the Expected Standard, children with SEND or children who speak English as an additional language. ‘The Code’ phonics scheme is one of the DfE verified phonics schemes and it links to our Spelling scheme (for Year 3) where there is a focus on phonics. All staff have received training from Herts for Learning Education consultants on how to deliver the scheme and the training has then been adapted to meet the specific needs of children at Ashfield.
Teachers plan and teach the spelling strategy of the week and consolidation of these are followed up in all writing tasks. Spelling homework consists of a spelling task to be completed for the following week.
- Children enjoy both reading and writing in school.
- Children demonstrate and apply knowledge and skills in all aspects of English (writing, reading, spelling, speaking and listening) in English lessons and across the curriculum.
- Children discuss what they are currently reading and explain what books have brought them pleasure.
- Children interact with a range of texts which they can compare and discuss.
- Children infer understanding from the texts that they have read.
- Children develop into enthusiastic and motivated readers who are confident and enjoy reading a wide variety of genres and text types
- Children express themselves in a range of writing genres.
- Children write for an audience and within the context.
- Children experiment with new and increasingly complex vocabulary and grammatical structures.
- Children reflect on their own writing, discussing with others, edit, redraft and refine their work.
- Children explain what makes their writing effective and what they could to do to further improve it.
- Children discuss key issues confidently and support their opinions with evidence.
Our children will be successful and engaged in lessons because:
- Teachers use assessment for learning to inform planning to address misconceptions and gaps in learning.
- Teachers build on a progression of skills and knowledge from the previous year.
- Teachers make links and connections with prior learning in English and in other curriculum subjects.
- Teachers model spoken and written English.
- Teachers scaffold activities, model technical vocabulary, follow a unit of work and differentiate learning so that all children can make progress.