Curriculum – English
English is a core subject in the National Curriculum. Our school uses the objectives from The National Curriculum as a basis for planning English alongside the Chris Quigley Essentials Curriculum, which exceeds new national curriculum expectations. Planning is progressive and skills are revisited from Years 1 to 6, to ensure children have deeper understanding of concepts and techniques. Knowledge, skills and understanding are progressively built upon through each of the areas of experience of Communication, Reading and Writing.
Teaching and Learning
In Key Stage 1, the children are encouraged to acquire a love of books and develop a respect for reading. We aim to use books to stimulate the child’s imagination. Children are introduced to the conventions of reading:- left to right, regarding the illustrations as integral to the story, turning the pages singularly etc. Children build a sight vocabulary through regular reading and frequent change of texts. Books are sent home regularly with their Reading Diary, and children are encouraged to share these with an adult. In school, children share their books with an appropriate adult at least once a week. The adult asks questions relevant to the story/text in order to demonstrate the child’s understanding. Children are encouraged to decode unfamiliar words using a variety of strategies. There are regular guided reading sessions where children are grouped according to ability. Resilient Reader ‘right hand’ and ‘left hand’ skills underpin the reading approach, ensuring that children develop a good understanding of the texts they have read.
Phonics learning takes place following the SFA scheme, focusing on phoneme/grapheme recognition and the strategies of blending to read and segmenting to spell. Regular assessment ensures that children who not working at an appropriate level access intervention groups for regular practise and reinforcement of phonics. All children in EYFS and KS1 have word pouches to consolidate their knowledge of phonemes.
In Key Stage 2 we aim for the children to be able to read for pleasure, for information and with understanding. Regular guided reading sessions continue where children access activities to extend and enhance their reading ability. As the children progress, they are encouraged to widen their use of books for information, developing the specific skills of locating information, skimming, scanning and note taking. Comprehension skills are built upon further to include Resilient Reader ‘left hand’ skills;- find, explain, infer, predict and compare.
Reading Content Domains are used to ensure that children are being questioned in a variety of ways, based on the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. These are used to ensure that children understand the information they have been taught.
The school has a very strong reading ethos. Children take part in a Weekly Reading Challenge which encourages them to read for (a minimum of) 5 minutes, 5 times a week. Children are encouraged to participate through prizes and a school league table. All classes enjoy regular class reader sessions with challenging texts. At Trimley St Mary we are all ‘Resilient Readers’:- we skim and scan texts, we never give up, the answers are in our hands!
In Key Stage 1, writing can be factual, imaginative or based on own experiences. Key skills are explicitly taught in English lessons and expected to be implemented across the curriculum. Writing skills are practised every morning in the following ways: word work, sentence work and extended writing. Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing is used to enhance storytelling vocabulary and writing skills.
In Key Stage 2, children extend their writing skills daily by writing in various ways for different purposes and audiences. Text types includes stories, diaries, play scripts, letters, reports, recounts, explanations, instructions, lists, arguments, persuasive text and letters. Children use these text types across the curriculum. A key skill is planning and editing and taking ownership of our work.
Throughout the school we use ‘better blue’ pens to edit and improve our work, and reflect on our learning. Personalised ‘better blue’ bookmarks are used to ensure children are aware of their individual writing targets.
Teachers have high expectations of the presentation of work in all areas of the curriculum. There are regular handwriting sessions using a consistent cursive font which is started in EYFS. Children are taught how to join the letters, when appropriate, and should be joining by the end of Year 2. Handwriting pens are given by the school when a consistent, cursive style is achieved and most children use pens from Year 5 onwards. Handwriting intervention groups take place for those children who require further support. Once children master a cursive style, they are expected to use it in every piece of work.
Grammar is taught regularly with the support of The Teacher Train Resources (MC Grammar & Legends of Literacy). Our children are taught ambitious vocabulary and are encouraged to use this in all areas of the curriculum. This is supported by resources such as dictionaries, thesauruses, and Word Wheels and Word Wizards. We have a language-rich environment where the teaching of etymology and root words is paramount.
Initially, children are encouraged to write individual letters and attempt spelling phonetically. From Year 1, more formal spelling begins with a focus on the Year 1 Common Exception Words CEWs, with Year 2 moving on to learn Year 2 CEWs. Children’s progress in assessed termly, and highlighted sheets are sent home to parents, so that they can support their child’s learning at home. Children throughout the school use the Andrew Brodie Spelling Scheme to support their learning. This is assessed using a spelling challenge, for which the children are expected to practise at home and at school. In KS2 this is supplemented with Precision Spelling, wherein children learn personalised spellings from the CEWs year group lists. The use of mnemonics is used throughout the school to consolidate spelling patterns and enhance the children’s understanding and recall.
We provide numerous opportunities across both Key Stages for children to engage in a variety of drama activities including theatre visits (both in and out of school) as well as using drama as a teaching tool across the curriculum eg hot-seating, debate, freeze-frame, performance poetry, role on the wall, writing in role, conscience alley, forum theatre, cross-cutting and thought-tracking.
Extra-Curricular English Opportunities
At Trimley St Mary Primary School children are offered opportunities to partake in English competitions outside of school. Children have the opportunity to compete in poetry competitions and have submitted work which has been published in anthologies.
Children in KS2 can earn the responsibility to become Librarians and Reading Ambassadors to support their own, and younger children in their reading.
Each year group takes part in an annual performance to parents which develops their communication skills through singing, acting and narration.