English as a subject is of course at the heart of everything we learn. We need to be able to read in order to be able to access every subject. Our curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. The quality and variety of language that the children hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. A wide and exciting vocabulary is the key to unlocking children's potential in English.
Children's reading journey starts the moment they arrive at school. We now use Essential Letters and Sounds as our phonics scheme and it begins in week 2 of reception. The scheme is colourful, repetitive and builds day in day out to allow all children to grasp the understand of our language. Alongside the scheme, we ensure we share a wide variety of exciting stories, texts and poems in every class to demonstrate and excite children in the power of reading. When children are immersed in stories such as Bog Baby, Traction Man, The Iron Man, Clockwork (to name just a few), they not only gain a love of books but want to become writers too.
Right across the school, in reading, our teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both word recognition and comprehension. Currently, one of the excellent resources we use is Reading Ninja, which helps us develop children's comprehension skills, alongside their own reading for pleasure. In addition, a key priority this year is to develop pupils’ pace, fluency and accuracy in their own reading so that it may improve their reading comprehension skills. We have a range of parent/grandparent and governor volunteers who regularly come into school to hear children read. Children are guided towards appropriate reading books that will help develop their reading skills, but they are also encouraged to pick books for their own enjoyment and pleasure - which they may read with a buddy/parent too. We love to share books and we particularly enjoy it when our older pupils support the younger pupils with reading.
Reading for Pleasure has been a focus for the past couple of years. We developed our library area to match this focus, alongside the ideas of the children. Our library is packed with a huge variety of books - many chosen by the children themselves. Termly boxes are loaned to us from the School Library service and we LOVE it when the Library van comes to visit, as the children get to climb onboard, pick books for the term and hear stories too. We enjoy focusing on celebrating reading on days such as World Book Day. This year, the whole school focused on an excellent book entitled "The Day the Crayons Quit". Also see our Reading section and our Promoting the Love of Reading page at Promoting the love of Reading | Lowther Endowed School (secure-primarysite.net).
In writing, teaching focuses on developing children’s competence in both transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). Children are immersed in high quality genres and are encouraged and supported to extract key features. We use Power of Reading to link our class texts with high quality writing experiences. In the process of becoming independent writers, pupils are given clear purposes and audiences for their work. The Talk4Writing programme is in place throughout school and pupils are encouraged to say, rehearse what they want to write, before committing their ideas to paper. The key writing features are taught and modelled by the teacher and additional scaffolding is given when needed. Pupils are given the opportunity to complete a piece of extended writing regularly which allows them to further embed and develop their writing skills. Each week opportunities are in place for pupils to edit and draft their own writing. This will either be in response to the teacher’s marking or their own re-reading.
Grammar, punctuation and spelling are taught both discretely and within the context of reading and writing, so that learnt skills are applied to good effect. The teaching of phonics continues into KS2 as necessary, children are assessed and work in differentiated small groups.
The school will continue to set high expectations for all pupils through challenging and motivating activities. Children’s progress is assessed rigorously and frequently against ambitious targets.