English

The National Curriculum 2014

'English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the written and spoken word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.'

This statement is taken from the introduction to the new National Curriculum, which became statutory in September 2014. These principles epitomise our vision for English at Gospel Oak.

Through our teaching and learning, we aim:

  • to develop confident, independent readers who employ a range of strategies to read for both purpose and pleasure

  • to inspire children to become enthusiastic, reflective and critical readers who enjoy reading a wide range of texts

  • to develop their ever-increasing vocabulary in spoken and written forms

  • to encourage children to enjoy writing for a range of purposes and audiences and to recognise its value

  • to enable children to write with accuracy and meaning in narrative and non-fiction and be able to use grammar and punctuation accurately

  • for children to have the skills necessary to communicate with others. To be able to express themselves, structuring their thoughts so they can communicate clearly and actively listen to and respond to others.

Reading

Reading is fundamental to children’s understanding of the world and their ability to flourish in our society. Our priority is both the teaching of reading skills and enjoyment of literature, enabling children to become confident, lifelong, readers. Our aim is for all children to be mature, independent readers by the end of Year 6. We seek to nurture an enjoyment of and engagement with books and stories. We believe that high-quality texts are key to motivating children to read and instilling in them a love of literature. The process of learning to read is a complex one and we want children to want to read. As part of the process, children throughout the school are read to as often as possible, have opportunities to select and share books and engage in conversations about texts and illustrations

How do we teach children to read?

As children begin to read, we aim to develop children’s knowledge of the alphabetic principle - the idea that words are composed of sequences of sounds which are represented in written words by a sequence of letters.

We do this through the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics through our own programme based on Letters and Sounds. There are also a few ‘tricky words’ introduced at each phase. These words are common and useful for early reading and writing, but children won’t be able to decode them following the phonic rules. The order in which we teach sounds can be found here:

Children are given reading books that are fully decodable and follow the sequence of our phonic programme. We ensure that these books are carefully matched to the letter-sound correspondences they have learnt, enabling them to confidently apply their phonic knowledge. It is essential that children can decode effortlessly so that they can focus on their understanding of what they read. Once children can decode fluently and have passed the phonics check, we use the PM Benchmark scheme that colour codes levels and thus progression.

As children become increasingly mature readers, they have a free choice of books from our well stocked book corners. Their choices are monitored through discussion to ensure that they offer an appropriate level of challenge.

Reading in Key Stage 2 is taught, in the main, through whole class reading lessons that focus on a book or extract. Children are taught reading skills that allow them to read for meaning. Further details can be found on the English curriculum map and in the English policy (Links below).

We recognise the importance of reading to children regularly. We aim for all children to be read to every day. Teachers will usually choose books that are well written and just above the level that the children can read for themselves. Children often are involved in choosing which book is read through a ‘Book World Cup’ or ‘Book Tasting’.

Writing

At Gospel Oak, we look for ways to inspire and motivate pupils so that they see themselves as writers. We establish the purpose and audience for writing and make the learning journey explicit so that children know why they are studying a particular type of text, the skills and knowledge they will develop, and what the expected outcome is.

We provide a range of writing opportunities and different levels of support including; shared, modelled, guided, collaborative, paired and independent writing. Children write in a variety of genres and forms, in different curriculum areas and using a wide range of stimuli. Writing is usually modelled and success criteria are shared or agreed with the children before they start writing to ensure they know what they need to do to be successful. Children in KS2 take responsibility for assessing whether they have achieved the criteria and what they need to do to improve their writing. They are also taught to plan, draft, edit and publish their writing. Children are taught the importance of being able to communicate clearly for a range of purposes and audiences.

Each classroom has a working wall to reinforce the key elements of the text type being studied. This is added to, throughout the unit of work. This includes a section for high-quality vocabulary which the children are encouraged to use. Further information can be found in the English policy and the English Curriculum map (Links below).

Oracy

We believe that oracy (speaking and listening) skills are of the same importance as reading and writing. These skills are taught explicitly, practised often and used across all contexts of the school. We use exploratory talk for the children to discuss new learning and create their own understanding of topics and situations and presentational talk when students share their knowledge with others.

Our focus on oracy ensures that children leave our school with the skills necessary to communicate effectively with others in their community and across different contexts and communities.

We recognise the need for all pupils to speak, read and write Standard English whilst acknowledging the importance of our children’s own dialect or home language. It is our policy to model and promote Standard English in both speaking and writing.