English is a core subject in our curriculum as it provides the medium through which we communicate and learn. English is all about communication and our desire is to enable our pupils, through the development of their language, to think deeply, express themselves clearly in spoken and written forms and gain enjoyment from high quality literature. They have the comprehension skills to be drawn into texts, the imaginations to see, hear and feel what is happening and the empathy skills to put themselves into the character's shoes.
Our English curriculum is divided into the teaching and learning of writing, reading and GPS. However, this includes the teaching and learning of many skills such as oracy, phonic decoding and blending, comprehension and all of our learning attributes. Whilst the development of these strands of English require a focus on specific skills and knowledge, they are also interwoven.
Phonics (Early Reading)
In Reception and Key Stage 1, children follow the 'Little Wandle Letters and Sounds' phonics scheme. Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised is a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) developed for schools by schools. Based on the original Letters and Sounds, but extensively revised to provide a complete teaching programme meeting all the expectations of the National Curriculum.
We use the Collins Little Wandle reading scheme. The books are perfectly matched to be accessible for our young readers at each stage of their development. The children will bring their weekly decodable book home on a Wednesday to share their reading with parents. The children will have practised reading the book in school, so this is a chance for children to enjoy the book together with family members. Each Monday our KS1 and reception children visit our school library, where they select a book to bring home for the week. This is their sharing book and will not be fully decodable for them independently, but is a chance to share a book together and for the children to develop good habits and a love of literature.
Following the autumn term in year 2, all children who have achieved a secure understanding of phonic strategies will move onto accelerated reader. They will take part in an assessment to determine their ideal development zone and then get the opportunity to select a reading book from within their development area. Once the book is completed, they then take a quiz to demonstrate their understanding of the text.
Children who have not reached a level where they have a secure understanding in phonics by the end of year 2, despite phonic intervention strategies outlined in the Little Wandle programme, will begin the Toe by Toe structured support programme. This will be communicated with parents and is a daily intervention programme which is administered at home and in school. This will avoid any children missing out on English and maths learning, but enable catch up.
The genres, text types and literary books studied are outlined in the English content coverage and literary framework below.
Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling
In order for every child to reach the required level of knowledge, we teach GPS through our English lessons at Abberley Parochial VC Primary School. Between Years 2 and 6, children are taught GPS skills throughout their writing lessons when these skills are relevant to their writing journey. We timetable discrete GPS lessons two mornings a week to ensure children have the opportunity to learn, apply and consolidate all GPS skills outlined in the national curriculum.
With regards to weekly spelling lessons, once children are secure in phonics (ideally from the start of year 2) they follow the spelling shed scheme to ensure that they continue to be taught the rules and structures of words. For further details, please follow this link Spelling Shed.
Grammar refers to the way we put words together in sentences and paragraphs to form meaning. It’s the fundamental structure of language, describing what words should go where, and why.
Punctuation refers to all the little symbols we have used to enhance sentences and add clarity. These symbols can indicate pauses between ideas, the relationships between words, and even the emotion sentences convey, among other things.
Grammar applies to language when it's written or spoken, but spelling only applies to language when it's written. From year 3, children have a 30-minute grammar lesson two mornings each week.
Below is a progression document which outlines the age-related expectations for pupils from years 1-6 during their time with us in line with the National Curriculum. This document is used to ensure that children consolidate their knowledge of previous learning which enables them to acquire and make connections with all new learning that takes place.
At Abberley Parochial VC Primary, we are passionate about reading. Reading lessons are taught across the school every morning in Reception and Year 1 and discretely for three mornings per week for Years 2 to 6. Children in Reception and Year 1 follow the Little Wandle letters and sounds progress and are taught in individual year groups.
Once children are secure in their phonic understanding, the focus turns to the skills of comprehension. Children are exposed to a wide variety of short texts including fiction, poetry and non-fiction drawn from a range of genres. Children are taught the thinking processes involved in each of the reading domains to allow them to develop the deeper comprehension skills. In these sessions, we focus on developing a broad and rich vocabulary by dedicating a weekly session to this focus. We ensure that children are enabled to practise all reading skills through the acronym of VIPERS. This stands for vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and sequence/summarise. A weekly session is dedicated to one of these skills, however we ensure that opportunities for discussion are plentiful to enable children to have a genuine enjoyment of reading and becoming engrossed in a story.
Books in our library are organised based on their ATOS level. This is a measure of how difficult a book is, based on the challenge of the vocabulary, the length of sentences and the difficulty of the content. Each half-term, children who have completed our phonics program take a digital assessment which gives them a zone of proximal development from where they should select books in the library which are most suitable for their reading ability. We find this helps them to develop a love of reading as we know they can access the content and enjoy the story.
Our School Library
We are very fortunate to have such a fantastic library space. This area of the school offers a huge range of age-appropriate fiction and non-fiction stories. Children feel comfortable and peaceful in our school library and have opportunities to choose from a varied collection of books.
To ensure children's love of reading is not solely limited to their ATOS level, we timetable a weekly library session for each class to spend some time reading a broad range of books of all varying levels and genres solely for their enjoyment.
We use Accelerated Reader Star Reading to assess pupils' reading ability once their phonics learning is secure. This provides pupils with a reading range from which they can select library books, which are both accessible and challenging for them. This assessment also provides a diagnostic approach whereby teachers can adapt the English curriculum in order to work on the specific areas of development for pupils in their class.
For further information, please follow these links:
Our core writing curriculum is taught through a 'literature study' format. Each half-term, a carefully selected and challenging book is used for the basis for learning. Books can provide the best opportunities for children to write for a range of meaningful and ‘real’ reasons; from writing letters to the mayor of Hamlin to convince him to rid the town of rats to creating a guide to looking after your lost thing, from creating a newspaper report about Bluchers in Boy in the Tower to creating a conservation campaign for an endangered animal in The Journey Home. When the context feels strong and necessary, then audience and purpose is easy.
The children at Abberley Parochial VC Primary have opportunities to read and write a diverse number of text types from varying genres. Our approach to teaching writing is aligned to the 14 principles of effective writing teaching developed by The Writing For Pleasure Centre. More details relating to this can be found in the link below.
Much of our writing curriculum will be linked to texts pupils study as part of the literature framework. Pupils develop the knowledge and skills to write for a range of purposes and in different styles and formats.
Across a two-week cycle, children from year 2 onwards will develop the skills to include the layout and language features of specific text types. They will develop their sentence level and paragraph level work before completing an extended draft of writing demonstrating the skills they have been taught. This may require editing and reviewing.
At Abberley, the children complete a best piece of writing each half-term. This might be a re-draft and improved piece from something they have already written. These pieces of writing are assessed against the children's age-related targets and national curriculum expectations and are used to inform future planning for each class to enable pupils to develop their skills and knowledge.
It is our goal that children recognise the purpose of writing and, where appropriate, find joy in authentic purposeful writing opportunities. We teach children to write for the following purposes:
In order to ensure that children write a wide range of text types, we use our school 'Text Type Progression' which supports us in creating a progressive writing curriculum where children's existing skills are appropriately challenged and built upon to ensure children have opportunities to entertain, inform, persuade and discuss. A growing theme of our writing is the idea of painting with words. The children are encouraged to write in rich detail, observe, feel and use their own experiences in their writing.
See below our English content coverage and literature framework which outlines our weekly reading lesson unit focus, and the half-termly book focus that forms the basis for the writing and genres across KS1 and KS2.