The role of English
English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English teaches children to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.
The overarching aim for English at St Adrian’s is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping children with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. Our curriculum for English aims to ensure that all children:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
Speaking and Listening
In English lessons, teachers ensure the continual development of children’s confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. Children develop the capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They are taught to make their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others. Children are also taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate, as well as to participate in and gain the knowledge, skills and understanding associated with drama.
How do we teach reading at school?
Our teaching of reading has two dimensions:
- word reading
- comprehension (both listening and reading).
Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics is emphasised in the early teaching of reading when children start school.
Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through children’s experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All children are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction.
Reading widely and often increases children’s vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds the imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy.
By the end of their primary education, we work to ensure that all pupils read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject.
Our teaching of reading in the foundation and key stage one is supported by our core reading scheme, Bug Club, a highly engaging phonic reading programme, published by Pearson. Big Cat, published by Collins, is the core scheme for children in key stage two and supports children as they develop as readers to explore and extend their own reading preferences from a wide selection of age-appropriate texts.
We believe that it is essential that our teaching develops children’s competence in both transcription, and composition. In addition, children are taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding both the word structure and spelling structure of words. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.
Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting. At St Adrian’s, we use the script developed by Debbie Hepplewhite. The style is an all-joined style with two main joins – a diagonal join which starts with the pencil point, or pen, on the writing line and a washing line join (or smile join). The style is taught as separate letters at first – not letter strings – and all the letters with their diagonal lead-in joins are taught to proficiency and automaticity before starting to join the letters into words. Further details of our handwriting style can be found here.
Children are taught to control their speaking and writing consciously and to use Standard English. They are taught to use the elements of spelling, grammar, punctuation and the ‘language about language’ that is detailed in the national curriculum for English. We believe that it is important that pupils learn the correct grammatical terms in English and that these terms are integrated within teaching.
How we teach spelling
There is a daily phonics session in the EYFS and key stage 1, rooted in Letters and Sounds – a publication from the Department for Education. Further information and free resources for parents can be found at the Letters-and-sounds.com website.
Once children are secure at phase 6, our teaching of spelling is supported by ‘No Nonsense Spelling’, published by Babcock Education, which provides pathways for the teaching of spelling from year 2 to year 6.
Further details of the English curriculum for each year group can be found in the following downloads: