Our English Curriculum
Our core belief 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.
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 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. We engage in staff training and development to ensure phonics teaching is high-quality. In EYFS and KS1 all children receive a daily discrete phonics and spelling lessons. 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.
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.
Reading is a key tool for life. Teaching children to become confident and fluent readers, by developing a love and passion for reading is a large and exciting part of what we do at Woodstock CE Primary School. We have lots of opportunities for reading exciting books and materials – supported by a rich and very well-resourced library. Each week, parents and volunteers listen to children read in school and we ensure reading books are carefully matched to ability. We use Read Write Inc phonics daily across EYFS and KS1 and all pupils will normally have an hour and a half of English related teaching in the morning. This is a mixture of learning about reading, writing, grammar and speaking and listening, which includes a variety of text types and genres.
A wide range of stories and genres are read frequently in class to inspire a life‐long enthusiasm for books and all that they offer children and adults alike. From Reception 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. 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, regular visits to the school library and enjoying bedtime stories.
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, for example Oxford Reading Tree, Tree Tops and Project X, to provide an extensive library of books at every stage, and ensure children have a broad and rich reading experience.
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 gist, connecting to prior knowledge, inference and prediction. These skills are 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.
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. From Reception, children are introduced to a joined cursive style of handwriting as soon as the child is able to 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 pencil to pen.
Writing skills are developed through a high-quality text-based approach that link to termly curriculum themes. Pupils develop an understanding of purpose and form and the ability to evaluate the notion of appropriateness. From ‘hooking’ the children in at the start of a unit and exploring the text in order to build an understanding of the writer’s craft, pupils develop a deep understanding of the components of writing – planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating, revising, editing and then publishing. The writing curriculum plans for diverse stimuli for writing which encourages high levels of engagement. Allowing pupils the time to explore the text, introduce new writing skills before applying the 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 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.
An example of one writing unit in Year 6 where pupils write speeches around the theme of Winston Churchill as part of the annual Blenheim Palace Public Speaking Competition. The children learn the ‘skills’ needed for the different genres and teachers engage the children through topic links, film, drama, writer’s craft strategies and exciting ‘Curriculum Theme’ days.
Speaking and 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 communicate their thoughts and ideas. Children are given the opportunity to reflect on both their learning and feelings.