English Curriculum Statement
At St Richard’s we believe that every child is entitled to an inclusive curriculum which engages and inspires all. We provide a quality English curriculum which fosters a love of words and an understanding of how they can be used to communicate. Our children enter school with limited life experiences which impacts on their vocabulary and use of language to communicate effectively. We strive from the earliest years to develop children’s confidence, fluency and accuracy which enables them to develop and share their own opinions and ideas.
We aim to instil an appreciation for quality texts and provide opportunities for all children to fully immerse themselves through imagery, discussion and drama allowing their imaginations to flourish. We believe these are the essential skills to enable children to become confident communicators both orally and through their written work.
Embedded in our English Curriculum is the intention to teach our children how important their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills will be in the real world. By giving this context to their learning, the children understand the value of English to them now, and in their futures. St Richard’s children can indeed aspire to be more.
At St Richard’s we want all of our pupils to be competent readers, writers, spellers and speakers, who can transfer their English skills to other curriculum subjects and who are prepared for the next steps in their education. Our children come from an area of high socio-economic deprivation and as such most of our children enter school with lower than expected levels in reading and writing. Our English lessons develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary. English is often taught in a cross-curricular way, linking up with other areas of the curriculum to further embed these skills. We teach our pupils to speak clearly, to convey their ideas fluently and confidently and to ask questions; the use of The Power of Reading teaching sequences across the school supports this. We know the value of excellent vocabulary and this is developed and practised across our entire curriculum with other subject leads emphasising its importance. We use The Power of Reading to encourage pupils to express and discuss their ideas to develop a more sophisticated vocabulary. Within our carefully planned and sequenced lessons, teachers provide a systematic approach which enables children to acquire new skills and become proficient and confident communicators.
The teaching of early reading skills begins in our Reception class through synthetic phonics, high quality text work, daily story time, guided reading and individual reading of books children have chosen to take home from our reading schemes. Children in EYFS and KS1 have short, focused phonics sessions delivered through our personalised school programme which has been designed using Letters & Sounds. The sessions build gradually from distinguishing between sounds to learning single phonemes and their corresponding graphemes to digraphs, trigraphs and split digraphs. This knowledge is applied in children’s reading and writing across the curriculum.
As children’s fluency builds, comprehension skills become our main area of focus and questioning looks at skills such as retelling, inference and prediction. We believe that high-quality literature is key to motivating children to read and instilling in children a love of literature. Our guided reading sessions cover a wide variety of both fiction and non-fiction books and help to advance the children’s comprehension skills and embed cross-curricular learning. Children throughout the school are encouraged to read widely and regularly access class reading corners and our school library.
We develop writing skills so that our children have the stamina and ability to write at the age expected standard. To support children in moving towards independent writing we provide a wide range of activities including the use of video, imagery, music, ICT, modelled, shared and guided writing, peer discussion and assessment. We provide varied and exciting opportunities for writing for purpose and we encourage pupils to see themselves as authors and poets. At St Richard’s we promote the importance of written work by providing a writing purpose and opportunities for children’s writing to be read aloud and listened to by an audience.
At St Richard’s, we identify children who need support and provide intervention in the most effective and efficient way that we can. We run interventions for reading, phonics and writing throughout school. In addition to this we run parent information sessions on Phonics in Reception & Year 1 and SATs for Year 2 parents and a SATs meeting for Year 6 parents so that they understand age-related expectations and how they can further support children at home. This is especially important as many of our children have parents who have not accessed higher education and supporting reading and writing development is an area in which they are not confident. These sessions are normally well attended by parents who often comment about how helpful the sessions have been for them.
Marking is rigorous in English and across the curriculum, with regular ‘Read and Respond’ times and spelling corrections to help children correct and consolidate their learning. We love to celebrate success of all learners and strive to help all children achieve their goals. English is celebrated each week in our whole school assembly where children from each class are awarded ‘Regular Reader’ and ‘Super Star Writer’ awards. We have developed a range of extra activities which are used to promote English further within the school including our Reading Challenges, National Poetry Day Celebrations, World Book Day and National Storytelling Week.
The impact on our children is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. With the implementation of the writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and by the time they are in upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and the teaching can focus on creativity, writer’s craft, sustained writing and manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills. Termly assessment shows that most children at St Richard’s are achieving age-related expectations. Each year we have children achieving at a greater depth in reading and writing at the end of KS1 and KS2. We believe that the continuation and excellent delivery of the strategies outlined above will help to boost children’s learning and progress. As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives. We hope that as children move on from St Richard’s to further their education and learning, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations go with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.