English at St. Peter's C.E. Primary School
The study of English develops children’s skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing for a wide range of purposes, so using language to learn and communicate ideas, views and feelings. It enables children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively.
At St. Peter's Church of England Primary School, we aim to develop a love for the English language in its written and spoken forms. We are committed to delivering a broad and engaging curriculum in order to enable our pupils to become confident, independent and effective speakers, listeners, readers and writers. Our Literature Spine promotes a love of reading which underpins- and contributes to- all areas of English within our school.
As a school, throughout the year, we aim to make the teaching of English, exciting, innovative and thought provoking. We encourage storytellers, publishers and authors to visit school as part of our annual Book Week celebration. Some of our more able writers will attend workshops led by prominent authors or poets etc. We hold book fayres at school, introducing the children to new genres and new authors. The children are encouraged to develop a genuine love of literacy, love of books and storytelling.
We value parental involvement in developing the literacy skills of our pupils. We are particularly keen for parents/ carers to support their children with reading and spelling activities that are sent home as part of the learning beyond the classroom.
The aims of English are:
· to develop a positive attitude towards English as an interesting, enjoyable and challenging subject and become competent and effective communicators within a range of purposeful contexts;
· to enable children to speak clearly and audibly in ways which take account of their listeners;
· to encourage children to listen and respond appropriately in order to be able to identify the main points of what they have heard;
· to enable children to adapt their speech to a wide range of circumstances and demands demonstrating command and control of language structures and vocabulary;
· to develop the ability to read with confidence, fluency, enjoyment and with understanding, and to develop a love of reading, using reading methods that are appropriate to the text and the reading purpose;
· to develop the ability to write with confidence and control in a variety of styles and forms, organising the content and style to suit the purpose and audience;
· to encourage a love of writing and enable children to confidently plan, draft, edit, proof-read and publish their writing in different forms and through different media;
· to develop the ability to use spelling, punctuation and syntax appropriately and with confidence;
· to enable children to write with legible, cursive handwriting style and take pride in the presentation of their writing;
· to enable children to use and transfer the skills they are learning, in order to communicate effectively throughout the range of subjects taught in school.
The Literate Environment
At St Peter’s, we aim to provide an environment for language development that is stimulating and characterised by high expectations of success. Children's writing is celebrated in every school display and expectations of children's presentation are high. English is shared and celebrated inside and outside of the classroom through:
provision of a book rich environment;
thoughtful, creative display of reading and writing materials and published children’s work;
classroom environments which represent the current teaching and learning;
use of a wide range of high-quality materials to support effective teaching and learning;
public celebration of pupils' success and participation in events, for example, through Twitter, our school website, communal displays, public performances.
'Book Doors' inspire our pupils as they enter their classroom.
Approaches to Spoken Language
The teaching of speaking and listening in Key Stage 1 and 2 is informed by the aims of the National Curriculum for English (DfE, 2013:3, 7). The importance of spoken language, contextualised within reading and writing, underpins the development of reading and writing. It is planned as part of the teaching sequence, and teachers use Talk4Writing strategies to promote learning. Teachers plan for and develop productive teacher-pupil/ pupil-pupil talk. Questioning develops real dialogue and depth of thought. Children engage in drama strategies and group activities to support learning. Pupils are taught to make presentations, perform and take part in class discussions. teaching of vocabulary is integrated into all aspects of English teaching and learning, and this is planned for specifically.
In Foundation Stage, children work to the objectives set out in the Early Learning Goals which underpin the curriculum planning for children aged three to five. We give all children the opportunity to talk and communicate in a widening range of situations, to respond to adults and to each other, to listen carefully, and to practise and extend their range of vocabulary and communication skills. Opportunities to develop speaking and listening are explicitly planned for and undertaken in a range of contexts. These include: the use of the learning environment: small world play and role-play areas, the outdoor area; use of drama; circle time; sharing stories and personal recounts. Adults play alongside young children, leading structured conversations. Modelling of correct language structures is at the heart of language development in the Foundation Stage.
Approaches to Writing: Transcription, Grammar and Punctuation and Composition
From Foundation Stage, children are encouraged to write using an appropriate posture and pencil grip. The learning environment and planned teaching includes opportunities for children to write and there is continuous provision for writing in the indoor and outdoor areas. Children take part in a range of activities based upon watching a teacher model writing. These include: encouraging mark making; playing with a range of materials and drawing; the Letters and Sounds four part teaching sequence; Dough Gym; Write Dance; making links between reading and writing and focus writing activities. Explicit teaching of writing is undertaken daily and continuous provision allows children to explore writing through play.
Spelling in Key Stages 1 and 2 is taught following the National Curriculum requirements from the programmes of study and Appendix 1. Spelling is taught in discrete, regular, short sessions within the daily English lesson. As part of the teaching of spelling, children in all year groups undertake a regular spelling test to assess progress made towards achieving objectives and undertake dictation exercises. Whilst there is a place for spelling assessments due to their vital link between home and school, we place greater emphasis in the application of taught strategies into independent writing.
Excellent presentation of work is highly valued at St Peter's; all pupils and adults should take great pride in their writing. Pupils’ books, published work and teachers’ scripts demonstrate this high standard. From Reception, regular handwriting sessions teach children correct letter formation and when appropriate, how to join accurately. Teachers teach using the Nelson Handwriting Scheme through regular discrete sessions and/or within their daily English lesson. Children are taught to join letters in Key Stage 1 when they are ready and pens may be used for display work. In Key Stage 2, pupils graduate to a 'pen license' when work is sufficiently fluent and legible; allowing them autonomy over their writing implements and choosing the best tool for task in hand.
Teachers follow the expectations of the National Curriculum programmes of study to plan sequences of lessons, and children are taught to plan, revise and edit their writing in daily English lessons. Excellent children's texts provide models and meaningful contexts to support the teaching of reading, grammar and punctuation and writing. Following the school's long term overview, ensures that children are taught to write in an appropriate range of genres and styles. Modelled and shared teaching approaches support explicit, focused teaching of writing and are planned for as part of short term planning. Shared writing is a whole class activity where the teacher models the writing of text. Across the key stages, teachers use modelled and shared approaches to teach and demonstrate aspects of writing, for example, the purpose, audience, level of formality, use of vocabulary, choice of sentence structure, text structure and organisation, use of punctuation. Particular aspects of transcription: spelling, grammar and punctuation provide an additional focus as appropriate.
In order to become fluent writers and build stamina to write at length, at St Peter's we ensure that children write independently and at length on a very regular basis. This is not limited to English but rather incorporated into many areas of our curriculum. Planning for writing, drafting and revisiting writing in order to make improvements is planned for as part of the daily English lesson and teaching sequence.
As soon as children enter our school, they are encouraged to develop a love of reading as stories and books are shared with them. The literate environment is rich, and supports children's reading development. Pupils at St Peter's are taught how to use a book and provided with regular models for reading by the adults around them. Children have a range of fiction and non-fiction texts to choose from. Adults read regularly to the children from a range of texts, including those from the school's literature spine. Reading is discussed daily in different contexts. Children read in small groups with adults on a regular basis and complete activities based around their current Literature Spine text.
Every classroom has a reading area. These are designed to be appealing to the children, well-organised and interactive. Pupils are encouraged to read books from home as well as different text types: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics and magazines, newspapers, on-screen texts. Teachers and additional adults read, talk with enthusiasm and recommend books. Informal book talk takes place frequently and supports children in developing the habit of reading widely and often. Every class has a class book, taken from the literature spine, which is read regularly to the children by their teacher.
Explicit teaching of reading is undertaken in weekly Guided Reading sessions and also on a 1:1 basis with adults throughout the school, including our Reading Volunteers. Through our teaching of reading, children are encouraged to develop higher order reading skills such as inference and deduction. High quality discussion between the teacher and group (and effective questioning) are fundamental elements to small group reading at St Peter's. Reciprocal Reading, which is a method for teaching comprehension strategies, is used within small group reading sessions, and encourages our pupils to lead their own learning.
Parental support is vital to a child's development in reading, and we encourage a home-school dialogue through our Reading Records. These include phonics information in Key Stage One.
Developing a love of reading is also promoted through special events including: visits from authors and poets; visits to the local library and Birmingham's Central library; book groups; book events including The Big Read, celebrating World Book Day and National Poetry Day. Special celebration weeks, where a theme or author are celebrated across each year group are held across the year in order to further engage children with authors and texts they might not be familiar with.
Our English governor is Matt Lorimer, who plays an active role in the development of this subject within St. Peter's.