Member of staff responsible for English: Mrs J Hartwell
The purpose of our English policy is to promote a consistency of approach and to ensure that continuity and progression are embedded in our practice.
In Key Stages 1 and 2, all classes have a daily English lesson, which develops key phonics, reading comprehension and writing skills in line with The National Curriculum 2014 for English. Planning aims to develop these skills in a fun and meaningful way, writing for a range of purposes and audiences. Children are taught to plan, draft, edit, improve and evaluate their own writing and others; this process is underpinned by fun and purposeful grammar activities which explore children’s understanding of the English language and teach them to up-level, and play with new vocabulary. The link between reading and writing within English lessons is made explicit: planning follows the reading to writing process, giving pupils plenty of opportunities to become emerged in rich, quality texts and to read critically as both a reader and writer.
In addition to their daily English lessons, children have basic skills sessions, focussing on the teaching of spelling rules and handwriting. Upon completing the phonics programme, children then begin the spelling programme. Through their lessons, they learn new spelling patterns, which they then take home as part of their weekly homework to practise. There is also a big emphasis on children learning to read and spell high frequency words accurately.
Writing makes a significant contribution to the development of children as thinkers and learners.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage, children are given numerous opportunities to practise their writing skills.
In Key Stages 1 and 2, English sessions are planned in units of work, based on objectives from the National Curriculum 2014 (see English policy). Lessons should provide opportunities for the children to practise the skills needed to be a writer. Each unit of work covers a specific text type and can last for any number of weeks. A unit outcome will be completed by the end of each unit, allowing the children to put all of the skills they have learned in to practice.
Each lesson will typically consist of four parts, although this will vary depending upon the content and nature of the lesson:
- A taught exposition – where the learning objective will be shared and main concepts, skills and knowledge are explored and modelled with the children.
- A lesson starter – This may or may not link directly to the specific learning objective for the lesson but will consist of a mixture of basic word/sentence/grammar skills.
- An independent or group task which gives the children the opportunity to work towards achieving the learning objective.
- A plenary to assess and place into context what has been learnt
The joys and benefits of reading are enormous and, as a school, we try to encourage and enthuse the children with a love for reading.
Reading is taught throughout the school with a focus on the strategies used to decode as well as the comprehension of texts. The strategies taught build upon each other as children progress through the year groups. The following strategies are taught at All Souls School:
- Independent reading
- One to one reading with an adult
- Shared reading
- Paired reading
Children read a range of fiction and non-fiction books from various published schemes and these books are banded according to the level of difficulty. Once the children have progressed through the banded books and at the class teacher’s discretion, they become ‘free readers.’ This means that they choose their own books from the class or school library or from home.
Reading books mainly follow Oxford Reading Tree and Tree Tops but are supplemented with Ginn and Phonic Bug.
All children are heard read by an adult in school on a regular basis. Those children with a reading age which is at or below their chronological are heard read a minimum of three times per week. All children in Key Stage 1 are heard read a minimum of once per week and children in Key Stage 2 are heard once every other week.
The children are expected to read their reading book daily at home for a minimum of ten minutes and home reading records are checked in school on a weekly basis.
The school participates in events such as ‘World Book Day’ where children are given the opportunity to dress up as book characters and share their favourite stories with other children in the class.
The school follows its own Routeway through Phonics. This states which sets of sounds and skills are introduced in each phase and the order in which these are taught.
Letters and Sounds is the school’s chosen core phonics programme. This is supplemented by resources from other phonics schemes as appropriate, in line with the progression routeway. Once children have mastered all of the sounds, and can confidently read a series of real and pseudo words containing these sounds, they move onto working their way through the Year 2 National Curriculum Spelling programme.
Nursery children are taught phonics through informal activities and games.
Children in Years R, 1 and 2 are taught in mixed groups based on comprehensive assessment and tracking. Phonics teaching sessions for these children operate on a six-week cycle. Five twenty-five minute lessons are taught per week. These sessions do not form part of the Literacy allocated time. Phonics lessons follow the RTPA teaching sequence – Revisit, Teach, Practise, Apply. A Phonics Assessment Week follows each six week cycle. During this time, the children are re-assessed and re-grouped. The children are taught as a whole-class rather than in tailored groups during this week.
In-school assessments are used. These are directly linked to each phonic phase set out in the routeway. Each assessment consists of the phonemes within each phase and a series of real and pseudo words containing these specific phonemes. The children are asked to read these words one-on-one with the subject leader. From these assessments, children are then correctly re-grouped and the progress of each individual is carefully tracked. These rigorous assessments then feed directly into cycle plans as teachers are aware of the children’s starting points and any gaps in their learning which need to be addressed.
Teachers use a range of formative assessment strategies both within and between lessons to ensure that planning is adapted in order to meet the needs of the children.
In addition to our in school assessment routines, children at the end of Year 1 have the statutory Phonics Screening Check administered to them. The purpose of this test is to identify any children who are in need of extra phonics help. The check consists of forty words, twenty of which are real and twenty of which are pseudo words. Children are asked to read these words one-on-one with the class teacher, subject leader or a member of the SLT. Children are scored against a national standard, and the main result is whether they fall below, within or above this standard. Children who fall below the standard will be given extra phonics help and can retake the Phonics Screening Check in Year 2.
Targeted phonics intervention lessons are delivered by a TA during certain afternoons each week for those children in Key Stage 2 who require additional teaching.
The school follows its own Routeway through Spelling and uses the ‘No Nonense Spelling’ programme. This programme targets Years 2 to 6 in line with the 2014 National Curriculum. It builds on high quality phonics teaching and into the wider knowledge that children need in spelling. It has a clear progression through blocks of teaching units across the year. Children who are in the Year 2 Spelling Group have daily thirty minute lessons and children in Years 3 to 6 have five spelling sessions across each two-week period. For children in Key Stage 2, spelling is part of the English allocated time but it sits outside of the usual English lesson. It is expected that spelling rules are drip-fed throughout the week and that opportunities for the children to practise spellings are given. Lessons follow the RTPA teaching sequence – Revisit, Teach, Practise, Apply.
Pupils’ learning is assessed throughout the programme. These include testing by the teacher, explaining and independent application in writing.
Learning needs to happen in school and at home. Children in Key Stages 1 and 2 are given a list of words to learn at home each week which they will be tested on in school the following week. These words will come from statutory word lists. Children will also be tested on the rule they have been learning that week in school to check their application skills in addition to learning by rote.
Children are introduced to a range of strategies to help them to learn spellings. This enables pupils to choose the strategies that they find the most effective for learning words. Some of these strategies include the ‘Look, Cover, Write, Check’ method and the Quick Write Challenge.
The school’s chosen core Handwriting programme is the Collins Primary Focus. This is supplemented by resources from other handwriting schemes as appropriate, in line with the 2014 National Curriculum.
At All Souls, children within the Early Years Foundation Stage are taught to develop their gross motor skills through interactive learning experiences. For example, children will form letter shapes on each other’s backs, in damp sand trays, in the sky and so on. When ready, the children are taught to hold a pencil effectively and use it to form recognisable letters, most of which should be correctly formed.
Handwriting requires frequent and discrete, direct teaching. In Key Stage 1, handwriting is taught for one hour per week. This time is typically divided in to three twenty minute sessions per week. In Key Stage 2, it is taught for forty minutes per week. This time is typically divided in to two twenty minute sessions per week. Handwriting sessions do not form part of the English allocated time.
At All Souls’, we encourage cursive writing right from the start. Although it looks complicated, it is actually much easier because all the lower case letters start with a dot on the line. This will later help the children to join their letters (a Year 2 expectation) with ease and without learning different letter movements. We encourage all writing to be in lower case form to begin with, not capital letters.
Children in Key Stage 2 are taught to write using a joined, cursive script and with increasing fluency and speed. Handwriting should be of the same standard across subjects. At the discretion of a member of the SLT, children are awarded a ‘pen licence’ or a ‘pen licence plus’ (use of a fountain pen). Children are eligible for a ‘pen licence’ if their writing is joined, consistent in sizing, spacing and shape, relatively smooth and on the line. In order to achieve a ‘pen licence plus’, children must already have a ‘pen licence’ and be consistently producing a neat fluid style that is mature and well sized and spaced. Children who have a pen licence or a pen licence plus follow a different programme of work to extend their skills.
Resources to support cursive handwriting
Speaking and Listening
Children across the school are encouraged to speak clearly and confidently using Standard English. Children are taught to develop and apply speaking and listening skills to suit a variety of audiences and for different purposes. Opportunities are given for children to tell stories, to listen to stories and to explore, develop and justify ideas and opinions in both formal and informal contexts. Children can also express themselves creatively in role play, poetry recitations and play productions. In Early Years, a programme called Word Aware is used to support children with the introduction of new vocabulary.