Curriculum Overview – English
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. It is a central part of every pupil’s life at our school. Every child in our school is a reader and so are their teachers. We want to instil a love of reading for our children from the very beginning of school life and we do this by ensuring that we deliver a high-quality Reading curriculum using carefully selected texts and by sharing a wealth of literature. Children build the knowledge and skills to become confident readers throughout their time with us and this is evident by their continuous engagement, desire to read for pleasure and their understanding of a range of texts, authors and illustrators.
For our children, learning to read and becoming a reader is a priority for us. We have developed our Reading curriculum to ensure all children have opportunities to and develop understanding in:
- Using their Phonics to lift the words off the page
- Developing communication and language skills particularly by learning new vocabulary and key/familiar phrases
- Applying their Phonics to read words, captions, phrases, sentences and longer texts
- Daily Phonics, Reading and English lessons in EYFS and KS1
- Daily Reading and English lessons in KS2
- Reading as part of the wider curriculum
- Sharing books, authors and illustrators during daily read aloud sessions
- Opportunities to independently read and be immersed in a book
- Engaging in book talk: likes, dislikes, puzzles and connections
Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.
Children begin learning Phonics from the very start of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Throughout the day, children will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff, with a partner during paired reading and as a class.
Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.
We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.
Children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support children’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.
We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs (four letters spelling one sound).
We teach children to:
- Decode by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently
- Encode by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.
The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.
ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used where needed. These interventions are short, specific and effective.
Supporting reading at home
- Children will only read books that are entirely decodable, this means that they should be able to read these books as they already know the code contained within the book.
- We only use pure sounds when decoding words (no ‘uh’ after the sound)
- We want children to practise reading their book 4 times across the week working on these skills:
Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.
Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.
Expression – using intonation and expression to bring the text to life!
We must use pure sounds when we are pronouncing the sounds and supporting children in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our children. Please watch the videos below for how to accurately pronounce these sounds.
Phase 2: https://vimeo.com/641445921/9382cf6db0
Phase 3: https://vimeo.com/642342878/59d233684c
Information about how to support reading at home can be found within the ELS parent information slides. This includes how many books your child will bring home and ways in which you can further support at home. At the beginning of each academic year, we will hold an information session for parents and carers to find out more about what we do for Phonics, Reading and English at our schools. Please do join us.
More information about Essential Letters and Sounds can be found here: https://essentiallettersandsounds.org/
PoetryAll children have weekly poetry sessions.
In EYFS and Year 1, nursery rhymes, songs and rhyme are a focus, but they also have the opportunity to hear a range of poems being read aloud.
Children in Year 2 to Year 6 have a list of key poems that they are expected to hear and know. The sessions encompass a poet study, an exploration of language, poetry performance skills and a range of poems to develop thinking and enjoyment. We encourage the children to learn these poems off by heart, so to be performed.
Our writing curriculum has been developed to inspire children to want to write for a range of purposes. We teach the children specific skills to be able to effectively express their ideas and thoughts when writing for a wide selection of outcomes. Our English writing units vary in stimuli and where possible we make links with our Primary Knowledge Curriculum. Our units are based around: picture books, chapter books, visual literacy (animations), folk tales, traditional tales, poetry and real-life events. We encourage the children to focus on each writing outcome’s purpose, audience, language and layout and to think like a reader when writing. The children have time to self-edit their own work, but also time to work with their partner to peer-edit their work.
Spelling and grammar
EYFS and Year 1: Spelling is taught as part of the Essential Letters and Sounds Phonics programme. However, spelling is also taught in English lessons with a particular focus on harder to read and spell words. These words are sent home at the beginning of the year for your child to learn. Children in Year 1 are also sent home weekly spellings to learn.
Year 2 to Year 6: we currently use the Read Write Inc Spelling programme, however, we have started to use words taught as part of Essential Letters and Sounds and incorporated the routines from these lessons to support children in using their phonics into their spelling practise. We have three Read Write Inc spelling sessions each week, however, spelling is always referred to and taught is English lessons. Weekly spellings that link with in class learning are sent home every Wednesday.
Read Write Inc Spelling: Although the teaching of phoneme-grapheme correspondence underpins this programme, it also develops children’s knowledge of word families, how suffixes impact upon root words, and provides mnemonics to remember the trickiest spellings.
The teaching revolves around instruction (with the help of online alien characters), partner and group practice, and competitive group challenges that help children commit new words to memory.
EYFS and Year 1: basic grammar (capital letters, full stops, question marks, word order, word classes- nouns and adjectives) are taught as part o /f our Phonics programme Read Write Inc. However, this is also covered in English writing sessions.
Year 2- Year 6: the children follow the National Curriculum’s expected outcomes for Grammar and Punctuation. Every element of Grammar is built up and developed, so that the children have many opportunities to practise these skills. Year 2 children have two explicit Grammar sessions each week. Children in KS2 have one explicit Grammar session. However, all year groups ensure to teach Grammar as part of their English sessions to develop the children’s understanding.
EYFS: children in EYFS are taught basic letter formation using the Essential Letters and Sounds letter rhymes during Phonics lessons as well as during additional handwriting sessions.
Year 1 to Year 6: we use the Collins handwriting scheme. Children review basic letter formation to begin with, but then begin to learn how to lead in and lead out. The children then learn common letter patterns and apply this to writing whole words. Children are encouraged to use cursive handwriting from Lent Term in Year 1.
Mrs wordsmith (KS2)
Mrs Wordsmith is a vocabulary programme used in KS2 to develop children’s bank of rich vocabulary. Mrs Wordsmith is a 20-30 minute timetabled session and the children learn 6 new words a week. These words are based upon describing: characters, settings, weather, actions, emotions and taste & smell.