Our English Curriculum
Our core aim when teaching English is to engage and inspire children in both reading and writing. Our Curriculum is text-led with a sharp focus on exposing children to rich language, broad and ambitious vocabulary and a wide-ranging diet of writing that is both classic and modern. We review our text choices in-line with a constantly developing and changing world and encourage children to explore a broad variety of genres. Alongside our text-driven English curriculum we provide a robust and systematic phonics and spelling programme which begins with Read Write Inc phonics leading on to Read Write Inc spelling in KS2. Our English Curriculum follows the National Curriculum and supports the development of grammar and rich vocabulary. Wherever possible we make strong and relevant links between the skills of reading and writing for children and the importance of both across the Primary School Curriculum.
It is our intention when teaching the English curriculum that our pupils acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to become lifelong learners and linguists. We strive to ensure that all our pupils receive a well-rounded learning experience when reading, writing, speaking, and listening which will equip them with the fundamental tools to achieve in school and beyond. It is our intention to engage and motivate children as readers and writers and immerse them in the wonders of quality texts to instil a love for reading, a passion for discovery and a confidence to explore their imagination through our text-led English curriculum. English is a core subject of the National Curriculum and a prerequisite for educational and social progress as it underpins the work undertaken in all areas of the curriculum. The acquisition of language and early reading skills are of the upmost importance to us here at Woodstock CE Primary School and therefore the teaching of all aspects of English is given a high priority within school. Confidence in basic language skills enables children to communicate creatively and imaginatively, preparing them for their future journey through education and beyond.
Phonics and Spelling
The school follows a rigorous and systematic approach to the teaching of synthetic phonics supported by Ruth Miskin’s ‘Read Write Inc’ phonics scheme of work. Our school’s approach to phonics establishes consistent practice, continuity and progression in the teaching and learning of phonics from the Early Years up to Year 6. We engage in staff training and development to ensure teaching is interactive, purposeful, and progressive. In EYFS and KS1 all children receive a daily discrete phonics and spelling lesson. We use Read, Write Inc (RWI) materials to support the teaching of phonics, ensuring that we adapt our sessions to meet the needs of all children in class. Pupils are organised in groups according to their need and these groups are revised by staff every 6 weeks.
In KS2, children follow the Read Write Inc Spelling Scheme which is in-line with National Curriculum expectations for spelling. These include dictation exercises, investigations of spelling patterns, focused spelling activities within small group settings and weekly spelling lists sent home for important consolidation. Skills acquired in Key Stage 1 are revised and built on in this programme, ensuring good progress and meaning that Year 6 pupils feel well-prepared for SATs. For those pupils who find phonics challenging, further catch-up programmes are available and pupil progress in this area is monitored closely throughout this Key Stage. Other spelling strategies including etymology and morphology are also encouraged and explored through spelling teaching. Making links between spellings and other subjects across the curriculum allows children to deepen understanding and experience spelling in real life contexts. Children are encouraged to make accurate use of core spellings in their learning in all subjects. Spelling with confidence ensures that children develop automaticity in their writing and can write fluently without barriers.
Assessment in Phonics & Spelling:
Assessment of phonics is a dynamic and ongoing process to ensure children are being taught in appropriate groups and to meet the needs of learners. Children at the end of Year 1 will take the Standards & Testing Agency Phonics Screening Check which is a statutory assessment. The phonics screening check contains 40 words divided into two sections of 20 words. Both sections contain a mixture of real words and pseudo-words. Any pupils who do not meet the expected standard in the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1, are expected to re-sit this, following bespoke support, at the end of Year 2. Regular spelling checks take place across the whole school, in-line with the age-appropriate spelling rules and patterns outlined in the National Curriculum. In Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 SATs, spelling is tested using the Standards & Testing Agency Assessments.
At Woodstock CE Primary School, we love reading! Reading is a key tool for life and is the single most important indicator of future success across all subjects. We place a huge emphasis on this with daily rigorous phonics sessions and our wonderful story times and book talk. No child is left behind and we aim to bring stories and the wonderful experience of being immersed in a text to life! During a school day, pupils are taught the skills of phonics, reading, writing, spelling and speaking and listening. Our aim is to ensure EVERY child leaves our school being able to read. Reading is the single most important indicator of future success in all subjects. Teaching children to become confident and fluent readers, by developing a lifelong love and passion for reading is a large and exciting part of what we do. Children can access a wealth of reading books and materials – supported by our rich and very well-resourced libraries. Each week, parents and volunteers listen to children read in school and we ensure reading books are carefully matched to ability.
The development of children’s reading skills begins in the Early Years and Key Stage 1 with the use of popular and well-established reading scheme books, as well as phonic books, which provide the children with reading material that is pitched at exactly the right level. ‘Read Write Inc’ is used as part of the ‘core spine’, which is supplemented with books from other schemes including Tree Tops and Project X, to provide an extensive library of books at every stage and ensure that children have a broad and rich reading experience.
We use Read Write Inc phonics daily across EYFS and KS1 and all pupils will generally have an hour and a half of English related teaching each morning. This is a combination of learning about reading, writing, contextualised and discrete grammar and speaking and listening. Children are encouraged to be ambitious in their own reading choices and to challenge themselves. We strongly believe that reading unlocks many adventures for a child; develops knowledge of the world and allows a child to live many lives through escapism within a text.
A wide range of stories and genres are read frequently in class to inspire and enthuse readers and open doors to a range of texts and genres. From EYFS onwards, children enjoy regular whole class or guided reading sessions using high quality texts that engage the listener, develop a breadth of vocabulary and support ideas for writing. Staff model fluent reading to children to help them to ‘hear’ what good readers sound like this is through daily Story Time and Book Talk. We ensure that children are continually being encouraged to read for pleasure through activities and events such as reader’s theatre, author visits, celebrating World Book Day and enjoying bedtime stories.
We aim to create successful, fluent, readers who will monitor their understanding of what they are reading and review the text when something does not make sense. In reading lessons, pupils are explicitly taught strategies including inference, questioning, clarifying, summarising, prediction and activating prior knowledge. The pupils use these strategies to check how well they comprehend what they have read and overcome barriers to comprehension. Pupils develop skills in skimming and scanning, forming opinions, thinking aloud, asking questions, getting the main idea of a text, connecting to prior knowledge, inference, precising and prediction. These skills are practised and applied by the pupils with increased independence when interacting with texts across all curriculum areas. Pupils are exposed to a rich and varied reading curriculum which helps them develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually.
Assessment in Reading: The impact of our Reading curriculum is measured through a range of assessment tools. When Children are on the Read Write Inc program, they are assessed regularly to ensure they are reading an appropriate text suited to their ability and that their phonics lesson is tailored to their individual areas of development. Throughout the academic year there are also formal assessment points for reading (Using PiRA) to enable the teacher to see any areas for development amongst their class. Subject leaders monitor these assessments to identify trends and patterns that inform planning and continual professional development amongst the staff.
Writing is an essential part of our curriculum offer and of high importance at Woodstock CE Primary School. In EYFS children learn how to hold a pencil correctly and begin to form letters, words, and sentences alongside their phonics learning. From Reception, children are introduced to a joined cursive style of handwriting as soon as the child can correctly form letters, with the expectation that during Key Stage 1 most will be able to write neatly and fluently. As children journey into Key Stage 2, we encourage children to transition from using a pencil to a pen, using a continuous cursive style. We value the importance of modelling handwriting and ensure to capitalise on opportunities to see adults using a fluent and consistent handwriting style.
English lessons act as small steps leading up to final pieces of writing in which pupils demonstrate the wide range of skills they have learnt. Our lessons take pupils through a learning journey, which equips them with the knowledge they require to become skilled readers and writers, by covering a range of skills: speaking and listening through drama and role-play, analysis of exemplar texts, developing grammar and punctuation in context and vocabulary activities. The work in pupils’ books illustrates a build-up of skills through word and sentence-level work, paragraph-level application, final writing pieces and editing. We aim for our pupils to have the necessary stamina and understanding to write at or above the expected standard.
The writing skills journey is developed through a high-quality text-based approach that links to termly curriculum themes. Pupils develop an understanding of audience and purpose, and they develop the ability to change tone or register from one piece of writing to another. Through peer and self-evaluation, children develop the notion of appropriateness. From ‘hooking’ the children in at the start of a unit and exploring the text to build an understanding of the writer’s craft, pupils develop a deep understanding of the components of writing – exploration of the text type, mapping, and planning, drafting ideas, sharing and ‘magpieing’, evaluating, revising, editing, and then publishing.
The writing curriculum plans for diverse stimuli for writing which encourages high levels of engagement and enjoyment. Allowing pupils, the time to explore the text, introduce new writing skills before applying these skills with greater levels of independence ensures a deeper understanding of writerly choices. Texts are carefully chosen to deepen children’s knowledge of the wider curriculum, while ensuring that they are immersed in our rich and varied literary heritage. The teaching of spelling, grammar and punctuation is interwoven into daily English sessions so that children can develop an understanding of these key skills in context – and feel confident in applying them to their own writing.
The children learn the ‘skills’ needed for the different genres (within fiction, non-fiction and poetry) and teachers engage the children through topic links, film, drama, writer’s craft strategies and exciting ‘Curriculum Theme’ days.
Assessment in Writing: Each half-term, children build up to writing a ‘final’ piece of writing which enables them to showcase their knowledge, understanding and skills learnt along the journey they have taken over the term. This is an independent piece of writing which is then reviewed against key writing assessment criteria to understand whether it demonstrates evidence of being at least an ‘expected’ or better standard of writing. Outcomes of these writing pieces are used to inform future practice in the classroom.
Speaking & Listening
We support our children in developing the skills necessary to read, write and speak fluently to communicate their ideas and emotions. Through our exciting and engaging curriculum, we actively encourage our children to share their thoughts and ideas. Children take time to speak with their peers, craft written pieces together, perform and present and peer assess. Children are given the opportunity to reflect on both their learning and feelings about English through book talk sessions, where opinions and preferences are valued and respected. When listening to any example of high-quality writing children are encouraged to magpie words or phrases that they may find useful in their own writing later. Children are encouraged by listening to the work of their peers and this is a rich opportunity to take inspiration from others and enhance writing further. Throughout all speaking & listening tasks, teachers carry out observations and assess children’s speaking & listening skills in-line with National Curriculum expectations.
The documents below outline Woodstock CE Primary School's approach to the English Curriculum for each year group and the approach taken by the school to ensure the statutory requirements are met.
The English Curriculum is mapped about by each age phase and identifies which genres will be taught linked to each of the curriculum themes. This ensures that cross-curricular links are made in English giving children a purpose and context for their learning.