More than any other subject, English – and especially reading – gives pupils access to the rest of the curriculum and is fundamental to their educational success. This is why the introduction to the national curriculum says: ‘Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects’.
But English is so much more than the gateway to success in other curriculum subjects. Through studying literature, pupils’ eyes are opened to the human experience; they explore meaning and ambiguity as well as the beauty and power of language. English also has a strong creative and expressive dimension.
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.
At Launton CE Primary we will teach pupils to speak, read and write fluently so that they can communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions to others. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching across all subjects; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. We believe that fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects and our teachers develop pupils' spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject.
Through our English curriculum, we aim 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 and reading through widespread reading for enjoyment.
We aim to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information, a range of books including those with archaic language, non-linear time sequences, those that are narratively complex, figurative/symbolic texts and resistant texts five types of texts that children should be explored in order to successfully navigate reading with confidence
- 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 for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences when needed
- 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 debate.
We want children to leave Launton CE Primary School as confident writers. We use core quality texts, from our well-developed reading spine, stand at the core of our English planning where we strive to intrinsically integrate the teaching of reading and writing.
Children engage deeply with carefully selected texts as we foster their ability to: read as readers, read as writers and finally write as readers. The primary aim of the reading spine is that we expose the children to a range of high quality literature over the course of their primary school life. In this way, we are able to assist the children in their development of a rich vocabulary and of texts which are written with careful precision to captivate their audience. Teachers create model texts for specific writing units which aim to demonstrate to the children the language techniques which are to be taught and developed. Typically, in a unit of work, the focus will be developed through internalisation and contextualisation of the model text where children deepen their understanding of a particular text type, exploring other examples through wider whole-class reading and later creating a 'tool-kit' for purposeful writing. Following sessions of deliberate practise, where children use 'short-burst writing' to develop the writerly tools and receive timely feedback in order to improve, children then write independently in order to fulfil their planned purpose. The writing process is always modelled by the teacher during shared writing sessions.
We want children at Launton CE Primary School to develop competence in both word reading and comprehension and different kinds of teaching are needed for each.
Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics should be emphasised in the early teaching of reading to beginners (e.g.unskilled readers) when they start school.
Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils' experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world they live in, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils' vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils' imagination and opens up a treasure house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.
It is essential that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education. We use the recommended reading spine developed by Doug Lemov to ensure that children encounter the five types of text in order to successfully navigate reading with confidence aspart of their class story text throughout the year.
We teach phonics through the DFE validated 'Essential Letters and Sounds' programme. Designed by one of the Department for Education's English Hubs, the knowledge Schools Trust, it aims for all children learn to read well and make speedy progress. ELS provides a simple consistent approach to phonics. The programme keeps routines simple to maximise the chances of success.
Essential Letters and Sounds follows the original Letters and Sounds teaching order. The programme includes "tricky words" from the original Letters and Sounds document with some additional words from the National Curriculum. The teaching is fully aligned with matched decodable books, meaning we can closely match children's phonics practice to their secure phonics knowledge.
Children take home a decodable book matched to their developing phonic understanding. This book is changed once a week. Children can access a library of ebooks through the Oxford Owl website.
Information for Parents
ELS has been built upon the latest research and understanding about how children learn to read, how we ensure that this stays in their long-term memory and how to get the best outcomes for all learners.
Formal handwriting begins as soon as the children enter Reception but pre handwriting activities begin when the children enter school in Nursery with mark making and gross and fine motor skills being developed over time. Skills are built up in regular, short sessions to encourage the correct letter formation to transfer into long-term memory. Each year group progresses their skills in order for the majority of pupils to have handwriting skills appropriate for their age following the 'Penpals' handwriting scheme to ensure that the teaching of handwriting is systematic in approach.
The Penpals scheme is taught in short, regular units on a weekly basis throughout school. Skills build within each year group and progression can be shown through year groups as children build towards an end goal.
In Nursery and Reception children experience the foundation of handwriting through multi-sensory activities
In reception and year 1 correct letter formation is taught, practised, applied and consolidated.
In years 1, 2 and 3 joining is introduced only after correct letter formation is used automatically.
In years 2-6 joins are introduced systematically and cumulatively (Y2-Y6). As children practice joining, they pay attention to the size, proportion and spacing of their letters and words. In year 5, once the joins are secure, a slope is introduced in order to support increased speed and fluency. Children are introduced to different ways of joining in order that they can develop their own preferred personal style in year 6.
The importance of the effective teaching of spelling is vital in our English Curriculum as most people read words more accurately than they spell them. The younger pupils are, the truer this is. Learning of spelling begins in reception with phonics teaching. All children from Year 1 – Year 6 partake in a discrete whole class spelling session everyday. Children are taught rules from English Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum. Every child is then given a set of spellings, taken from the statutory word lists for their relevant year group but these are not formally tested in a spelling test and the focus is ensuring these are embedded in their memory rather than memorised short term for a test.
Improving young children's vocabulary is a high priority. To improve children's vocabulary at Launton CE Primary school we will:
provide children with a rich language environment (implicit approaches) as well as directly extending children's vocabulary (explicit approaches);
carefully select high-frequency words for explicit teaching (see Figure 1);
develop the number of words children know (breadth) and their understanding
of relationships between words and the contexts in which words can be used
provide multiple opportunities to hear and use new vocabulary.
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 who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
By the time children leave Launton CE Primary, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author's use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. They can also read books to enhance their knowledge and understanding of all subjects on the curriculum, and communicate their research to a wider audience.
We intend for our children to leave in Year 6 with the ability to write using their own style of fast, fluent, legible and sustainable handwriting, as well as other styles of writing for specific purposes. We share the aspirations of the National Curriuculum that children's handwriting should be 'sufficiently fluent and effortless for them to manage the general demands of the curriculum' and that 'problems with forming letters do not get in the way of their writing down what they want to say'. Children should be clear about what standard of handwriting is appropriate for a particular task, for example, quick notes or a final handwritten version.
Assessment of the children's sound, grapheme knowledge and word reading is key to ensuring that all children make rapid progress though the programme and that children keep up rather than 'catch up'. Using the assessment cycle alongside daily in-class assessments will ensure that we know where every child is within their early reading journey.
The key assessment points within ELS are as follows:
- Reception baseline assessment
- Half-termly assessments (in week five of each half term)
- Diagnostic assessment
- Year 1 Phonics Screening Check practise (half-termly from Year 1 Autumn 1)
Your child is using ELS at school. This means that they are learning how to read using Essential Letters and Sounds. This is a phonics programme and supports your children to develop the skills and knowledge needed for reading. ELS s published by Oxford University Press. You can access their Oxford Owl for Home site here.
Your children will begin ELS programme in Reception and complete the ELS Phonics programme at the end of Year One. In Year Two, your children will continue to practise these skills to ensure that they can become clear, confident and fluent readers.
At Launton CE Primary we recognise spelling as one of the basic components of literacy. Good spelling avoids confusion and ambiguity. Poor spelling distracts the reader and compromises the author's intent. Spelling also improves reading ability and will benefit learners in all aspects of their learning, as well as their everyday life.
Speaking and Listening
Statutory Framework for Early Years Foundation Stage (Updated 2021)
It is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading. Reading consists of two dimensions: language comprehension and word reading. Language comprehension (necessary for both reading and writing) starts from birth. It only develops when adults talk with children about the world around them and the books (stories and non-fiction) they read with them, and enjoy rhymes, poems and songs together. Skilled word reading, taught later, involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Writing involves transcription (spelling and handwriting) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech, before writing).
Children at the expected level of development will:
Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary;
Anticipate - where appropriate - key events in stories;
Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role-play.
Children at the expected level of development will:
Say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs;
Read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending;
Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words.
Children at the expected level of development will:
Write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed;
Spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters;
Write simple phrases and sentences that can be read by others.
Key Stage 1 Outcomes
Key Stage 2 Outcomes
We teach vocabulary through context clues encouraging critical thinking skills and helping to make connections to the word, ultimately helping them remember its meaning.
There is an emphasis on High Frequency Words in EYFS and year one, although phonics
continues to be a priority, children take home HFW cards and parents are encouraged to
participate with their children in this homework task.
Children need subject specific, technical vocabulary and we have refined the way we
introduce these to the children:
a cap is placed on the amount of new vocabulary for subjects and these are the
tier 3 subject specific words e.g. If teaching events in living memory in Year 1
vocabulary taught explicitly would not be ‘past’ or ‘old’ as these are tier 1 words,
however ‘chronological’ would be an appropriate tier 3 word in year 1.
medium term plans reflect this and year groups consider the vocabulary in previous
year groups so as to show progression.