At Our Lady’s we use English for both written and spoken communication. We use language to understand all aspects of our world, and to build and share our own views, opinions and ideas. We believe that developing a love of language in our pupils is vital toachieving success at school and in the future. Children come into school with a wide variety of language experiences – we aim to enable all children to develop their ability to understand and their confidence to use language and to foster a love of language through a rich and varied curriculum. English is taught daily across the school, but language pervades all areas of the curriculum and we encourage children to explore and enjoy the English language to its full.
The English curriculum at Our Lady’s is in line with the National Curriculum 2014. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) underpins all future learning by supporting, fostering, promoting and developing children's language, communication, reading and writing. At Key Stages 1 and 2, English teaching is divided into 3 main groups: Reading (Word Reading and Comprehension); Spoken Language; Writing (Transcription and Composition).
Speaking and Listening
Spoken language is fundamental to learning. At Our Lady’s we aim to ensure that all children are competent in the art of speaking and listening and that they use discussion in order to learn. Pupils are encouraged to speak clearly, confidently and with expression in order to communicate effectively, using language which is appropriate to their needs and the intended audience. Carrying equal importance is the skill of listening carefully to others and responding appropriately. At Our Lady’s pupils are given opportunities in all areas of the curriculum to develop their speaking and listening skills – this includes paired, group and whole class situations, drama, role play, presentations, assemblies etc. Speaking and Listening forms part of our learning behaviour expectations.
At Our Lady’s we aim to ensure that all children read fluently and with good understanding. We encourage pupils to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information. Those who read for pleasure have a wider vocabulary, more knowledge, and critical thinking skills and are more independent learners. They also tend to be better writers. English lessons are used to provide rich reading experiences and allow children to appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage. They are taught to analyse and acknowledge the author’s language choices and writing techniques in order to develop their own writing skills. Guided or Reciprocal reading is an important part of our curriculum. Children study a text as a class or in focused groups to develop their reading skills and understanding of texts.
At Our Lady’s we develop early reading skills using Sounds Write books. The core reading scheme at Our Lady’s is the Oxford Reading Tree. This is supplemented by a range of books appropriate to each reading level. The school library also offers the opportunity for children to read a wide range of genres. Pupils take their books home daily to share with their parents, guardians and families. As children progress through the school, they become more responsible for their own reading choices when they move onto free reading.
If you are struggling to find books to read with your child, this information can be found on all class pages. The local library is also an excellent free resource for a wide range of books for all ages.
At Our Lady’s we aim for all children to be independent writers. We encourage them to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Children are given a wide range of opportunities to develop their writing skills both in English and across the curriculum. It is vital that children understand that writing is not just an English skill for use in those lessons, but that they can write confidently in any given genre or subject. Pupils are taught to proofread their own work and to plan, draft, edit and refine. Talking, reading and drama are extremely valuable as part of the writing process and children are given opportunities to use these when gathering ideas and planning their own work. Vocabulary, punctuation and grammar are taught discretely so that pupils can use them accurately in their writing. At Our Lady’s, we encourage pupils to take pride in their work, placing value on using neatly joined handwriting, and displaying pupil work around the school.
Celebration assemblies are held three times per year in order to celebrate writing across the school. Parents are invited into school, work is displayed on the Writing Wall and prizes are awarded for achievement and progress.
Phonics and Spelling
At Our Lady’s we use the SoundsWrite programme, which is a synthetic phonics approach. This develops the skills of blending and segmenting sounds, first orally and then through writing. In EYFS, children learn the initial single letter sounds and then, in KS1, children learn the extended code phonemes (2-5 letters that join together to make a sound). In KS2 we follow the National Curriculum 2014 to teach spelling patterns and words that are often misspelt. Spellings may be sent home for children to learn.
Assessment in English is an on-going process throughout the year. Teachers produce a baseline assessment at the start of the year, and then subsequently update i-Track with their assessment of children for Reading, Writing, GPS and Speaking and Listening at the end of each term. This is based on the work children have produced in class however also on the termly assessments in Years 1, 3, 4 and 5. Year 2 and 6 have assessments every short term in preparation for the end of key stage statutory assessments. Early Years Foundation Stage have their own assessment system based on the Early Learning Goals with assessments being made through observations.
Self and peer assessment is used throughout the school to help children become more independent and reflective of their own learning. Self-assessment in KS1 is in the form of a smiley face on each piece of work. In Year 3 and 4, self-assessment is in the form of a smiley face on each piece of work with an explanation for this. In upper KS2, self-assessment may be in the form of a ‘cloud’ and ‘triangle’ comment (what they’ve done well and what needs to be improved), use of highlighters to show where the children think they have achieved the learning objective or by completing a task from the Self-Assessment Mat. Therefore, self-assessment happens in some form at the end of each English lesson across the school. Peer assessment begins in Year 2 with children writing a comment on the work of another child after each Big Write. In KS2, the peer assessment is more of a co-operative process in which children are expected to have a conversation about the writing and then come up with a positive comment and a next step. The children only write in their own book – this is to allow children to take ownership of their writing. Once this peer assessment has been completed, children then act on the discussion they have had as they begin editing the writing. Furthermore, they continue to edit their writing as they use editing stations: these stations work as a carousel of reminders and prompts to allow the children to focus, predominately, on their GPS skills. Again, the focus should be on the children independently improving their writing.
Teachers mark one piece of English work a week in depth per child. The children should then respond to this in the allotted time given in the weekly review morning. Teachers’ marking may include a ‘cloud’ and ‘triangle’ comment or use of a marking sticker with a question linked to Bloom’s Taxonomy. However, it is important that at least once a week, the marking includes a subject specific question. All questions and responses from teachers should be challenging and aim to further the learning.