English at Felbridge Primary School
What are we aiming for?
At Felbridge Primary School, our overarching aim for English is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. English at Felbridge is crafted through our thematic, creative and inspiring topics as we feel that when children are immersed in a topic, they achieve their best.
How we achieve our aims
Phonics is taught through the use of the 'Song of Sounds' programme as a consistent and rigorous, but also engaging and fun thread to teach our children the foundations of early reading and writing. Phonics is taught in infant classes every day, with further 'catch-up' sessions to help all children succeed together. Our children consistently achieve well in the national Year 1 phonics screening check (87% pass rate for the latest available data against a national average of 82%) and by Year 2, the majority are fluent readers with the best chance of success in the Key Stage 1 assessments. In Year 2, children also engage in group guided reading sessions to develop their understanding of and fluency in reading whole texts. Phonics continues to be taught beyond Year 2 where necessary to support transition into Key Stage 2 for those children who need additional phonics support in order to access age-appropriate reading materials. We want all our children to be confident readers so that they have the best chances of succeeding and achieving their individual aims.
In addition to daily phonics, children in Key Stage 1 are taught reading in a variety of ways. Daily reading sessions focus on text comprehension, as well as improving fluency, through guided small group reading and independent activities to support the children’s progress. Children are consistently encouraged to use their phonic knowledge through independent, shared, guided and partner reading alongside regular opportunities to read 1:1 with an adult. Children’s reading progress is monitored and tracked through use of assessment tools linked to our 'Collins Big Cat' reading scheme which itself is matched to our Song of Sounds phonics programme. Children are moved up through the banded books as staff judgement, backed by our assessment tools, indicate they have a solid grasp of that level, both in word decoding, fluency and comprehension.
At Felbridge, pupils in Key Stage 2 are taught through regular whole class reading lessons using a variety of text types and a range of genres. Our reading teaching aims to address the common barriers to success by increasing their exposure to questions around: vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and summarising. Children are also expected to have a reading book with them in school every day and to read daily at home as well. A home-school reading diary is used so that parents can make a brief comment in the child's reading record to let us know how they are getting on with their reading at home.
Reading for pleasure is promoted through our well-resourced, inviting library, which is a key hub for the school community. Every classroom has a well-stocked reading corner which contains a range of fiction and non-fiction which the children are encouraged to use. We also have reading for pleasure sessions in all year groups, as well as whole class reads across the school. A love of books and reading is further championed through our whole school Reading Raffle where children who are making excellent progress with their reading and / or showing a love of reading, can be entered into a raffle to win a book of choice. The books available in the prize draw are proudly displayed for all the children to see and build a sense of anticipation and excitement about books and reading within the school.
Quality literature is used as an engaging stimulus for discussion and writing throughout the English curriculum.
At Felbridge we recognise that reading builds the foundations for successful writing. As such, our English lessons are developed from quality texts, which, wherever possible, make meaningful, topical links. Felbridge pupils are taught writing through two key areas:
- Transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- Composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
Fluent writing depends on effective transcription. Children are expected to present their writing neatly, with joined handwriting starting, for some, from Year 2. Children are also given a list of ‘non-negotiable’ spelling words in each year group and it is their responsibility to ensure these words are always spelt correctly.
As a school we teach writing in a variety of ways including shared, guided, modelled and independent writing. Discrete grammar, punctuation and spelling lessons support the writing process and children are given opportunities in their writing to use age related grammar, punctuation and spelling. Children are encouraged to be creative with their ideas, whether fiction, non-fiction or poetry, and are taught how to plan, develop, revise and evaluate their writing, drawing on quality examples. The children also regularly 'publish' a piece of writing which might involve typing, tea stained paper, envelopes or anything else to make their writing come to life in a realistic way that gives added value and purpose to their learning.
This is achieved through creativity, fun and engagement with links across the curriculum. Staff plan and teach for the range of needs in each class and are aware of the differing groups of learners and vulnerable children in their class. Once this information is acquired, teachers can plan and teach creative lessons which are clearly differentiated to meet the needs of each learner. We recognise that each child has their own starting point upon entry to every year group and progress is measured in line with these starting points to ensure every child can celebrate success. Support for children where needed can involve precision teaching, close adult support or interventions to target teach any gaps in their learning, for example the 'Nessy' targeted spelling programme.
Visits and Visitors
At Felbridge, we feel it is important for children to experience a wide variety of learning experiences. We regularly have visitors from different backgrounds who come and talk to, and work with the children. Educational visits off site, to enhance and inspire the children, take place at least once per year, with the locations chosen carefully to best support the children’s learning at that time. The children often then are asked to write recounts of these visits as part of their following English lessons. We have parent volunteers who come into school to read with children on a 1:1 basis.
In infant year groups, children are encouraged to use their outdoor areas on a daily basis, as part of their learning journeys. As well as this, we are lucky to have the ‘Squirrel Woods’ at the back of the school field, where children are able to take their learning outside. This allows for lots of cross-curricular learning such as mark-making in nature for our younger learners.
SMSC- Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural Learning
In English the children develop a familiarity with stories, poems or plays that are prompted by pictures, storybooks, songs, literature, films and videos that consider difference across the world. Embracing and celebrating group difference is much better for children than ignoring it. We try different kinds of food together through our topics, or mark festivals as a class or school. All teachers celebrate cultural diversity through wall displays, using books and moving images. Teachers also consider counter-stereotypical examples in their lessons in order to challenge group-based stereotypes.
When focussing on a text, teachers support students in empathising with the key characters and how they might be feeling at certain points in the plot. For example, children role play the characters through techniques such as ‘role on the wall’ to allow the children to empathise and the teacher in role to help them to write about how it might have felt to be that person. Children are also able to analyse character and events to explore the consequences of negative actions.
English lessons promote cooperation and teamwork through being able to work in groups, listening to presentations and asking questions. Real issues encourage students to think about the world outside of school and give opinions on topics that may affect them in the future for example, protecting the rainforests. Peer assessment is an integral part of our teaching and we encourage focused feedback between children, whereby they support and encourage each other, reflecting and giving advice using their own method for success.
We ensure that every child is given the tailored support they need through differentiation, resources targeted for differing needs, extra adult support, use of ICT and awareness of the needs of the child. Progress is then monitored through book looks, moderation, learning walks and Pupil Progress meetings. Support and challenge will then be changed if not having an impact of progress.
A number of very impactful interventions are used at Felbridge for children who need certain targeted support. These include Nessy which is an online programme designed to help children with their reading, writing and spelling and is taught in daily discrete small groups. Toe by Toe, another intervention used at Felbridge, is a daily reading programme taught in discrete 1:1 sessions and Wave 3 is an intervention to support progress in reading and writing. These interventions allow us to support all children at Felbridge so that every child can make progress and be celebrated.
What will our approach result in?
The impact of our curriculum is evidenced in the written work children produce; their attainment in yearly school, and key-stage national assessments; through their spoken and creative work; their engagement in the school and wider community and through discussing their learning with others. With the implementation of the writing being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, many genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, writing stamina and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and spelling objectives. We hope that as children move on from us to further their education and learning that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.