At Trinity Academy St Chad’s, we value the power of reading high-quality texts to engage and inspire learners. English lies at the heart of all learning, as across the curriculum, we provide engaging and enjoyable opportunities for learners to develop and practise their literacy skills, to enable them to become skilled communicators.
We aim for our children to experience an engaging learning environment where they are fully engaged in their learning, collaborate with each other and make links between different elements of the English curriculum.
Our aims, in line with the National Curriculum
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy, by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English ensures that all pupils:
- Read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debates
At Trinity Academy St Chad’s, we work hard to develop children’s reading skills and to promote a love of books and texts. We want children to be confident readers, who enjoy reading a wide range of texts and can talk about books and authors. We promote enjoyment through the creative use of high-quality texts and a range of engaging activities – this not only allows them to encounter more demanding texts in a safe environment, but also aids their vocabulary growth. Teachers aim to be reading role models in the way that they discuss and promote books as well as modelling reading for pleasure. They make careful selections both in the texts that they choose to use in the teaching of English and in those that they read aloud to pupils. The school follows a reading scheme. As well as teaching the skills necessary to do this within guided reading sessions, we have invested in our children by building a library full of exciting books. Pupils are taught strategies to independently deduce the meaning of new words they encounter, such as through considering context cues and exploring the morphology of words which allows for direct links to be made with spelling and grammar. Children also learn about the etymology of words and their relationships with other languages: this helps to promote curious learners, a respect for other cultures and consolidates long term learning.
In the early stages of reading at Trinity Academy St Chad’s, phonics knowledge is taught systematically through daily phonics teaching sessions using the ‘Read Write Inc.’ programme. In our Reception class, the children’s phonic learning stage is matched to ‘Songbird Phonics’ books which are taken home daily. In KS1, children use the ‘Read, Write, Inc’ books which match to the children’s phonics learning stage and are taken home daily. Children are taught to decode the written word whilst building an understanding of comprehension alongside this. They have access to a wide range of books as we believe children become excellent, motivated readers through being exposed to a rich range of authors and illustrators. Books are banded by their level of difficulty and children choose from an appropriate selection so they are always matched to a phonetically decodable book at their current level of reading development.
We employ the Accelerated Reader programme for our Key Stage 2 pupils which ensures that each child is adequately supported and challenged at their appropriate level and allows them access to a wide range of genres and themes of books exposing them to various authors and writing styles reflecting our drive to broaden their horizons, experiences and aspirations. Children are encouraged and – where necessary – supported, to become independent in their book choices and use of the school library. The AR system enables staff to easily track and celebrate the children’s progress and success.
We aim for all of our children to be able to write independently in a variety of genres and for a range of purposes with fluency, accuracy and enjoyment. We believe children should understand from an early age that their writing needs to be accurate, legible and set out in an appropriate way. It is our hope for them that they will learn to enjoy writing, see the value of it and for them to leave us as confident, accomplished writers. We acknowledge the role that discussion and oral rehearsal plays in our understanding of the written word as well as the importance of teacher modelling of the writing process. Both of these aspects form an integral part of our teaching of writing through the ‘Talk for Writing’ model which is implemented across the whole school. In this approach, children listen to and retell a variety of genres, using actions to learn some off by heart. This helps them to internalise language patterns and learn new vocabulary giving them the confidence and tools to write themselves. Children first imitate, then innovate and finally invent their own version of a text.
From early on in their learning journey, children explore a range of genres, see adults writing and experiment themselves through mark marking, symbols and conventional script. Through oral rehearsal, children learn to communicate meaning in narrative and non-fiction texts and spell and punctuate correctly.
As they move through the school, children develop an understanding that writing is essential to thinking and learning but also enjoyable in its own right. They learn the main rules and conventions of written English and start to explore how the English language can be used to express meaning in different ways. Powerful teaching techniques, such as shared and guided writing, mean children are exposed to high quality demonstration, exploration and discussion of the choices writers make. Children use the planning, drafting and editing process to improve their work and alongside effective feedback marking, are encouraged to become reflective, resilient learners.
We also feel that, wherever possible, children should write for a purpose and take pride in their learning; therefore, we provide many opportunities for children to share their writing with the intended audience and to exhibit their work with the rest of our school community via school displays. We believe children require a secure understanding of spelling, punctuation and grammar to develop a true understanding of English and to be successful, so these concepts are taught discretely within English lessons in engaging ways and in additional SPaG sessions. Through careful planning, teachers introduce new concepts in relation to the genre that the children are currently studying.
We also feel that children should be able to write with ease, speed and legibility, so follow a consistent approach across the school to the teaching of handwriting.
Speaking and listening
Opportunities to develop and hone children’s oracy skills are embedded not only in the English curriculum but also across the wider curriculum at Trinity Academy St Chad’s. Teachers look to include learning end points involving speaking and listening wherever possible such as through discussions, debates, performances and presentations. Children practise speaking for a variety of purposes and audiences, adapting their language appropriately as well as their intonation, tone, volume and actions, and are able to work individually or in small or larger groups with peers or older or younger children.
Our current focus is:
- To develop the subject knowledge and pedagogy of our teachers and teaching assistants
- To improve children’s understanding and use of a wide range of vocabulary in school.
What might you see in an English lesson:
- Children discussing high-quality texts with each other and their teachers, being challenged to explain their thinking.
- Enthusiasm and confidence to engage with a wide range of texts and discuss them, making links to other similar texts
- All children, regardless of ability, being challenged to write for a range of different purposes
How do we support and challenge all learners?
- Supporting and deepening learning as needed for all learners using AFL within a lesson.
- Misconceptions are addressed as they arise and used as learning opportunities.
- Children with additional needs have their learning broken down further and some are further supported by a bespoke assessment system (BSquared).
- Children are challenged to deepen their understanding through discussion and exploration of high-quality texts.