Establishing lifelong learning: rooted in knowledge, enriched by experience
Why is English important?
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 in all subjects across the curriculum at Alexandra.
At Alexandra Primary School we strive for excellence in English throughout the whole school, with the expectation that all children will achieve their very best. Each year-group experiences a curriculum that is aimed to excite and inspire the children, giving them opportunities to develop their understanding of spoken and written language and a love of reading in a range of contexts.
Children at Alexandra Primary School are:
- Encouraged to develop a love of reading and of reading for pleasure across the curriculum.
- Given opportunities to write for pleasure, be creative and explore their own ideas.
- Taught how to read and write with fluency, understanding and confidence and develop a range of independent strategies that enable them to take responsibility for their own learning.
- Immersed in a language rich environment, where they are encouraged to develop their expanding vocabulary and the confidence, desire and ability to express their views and opinions.
- Able to experience a wide variety of texts, genres and types of media across the curriculum.
- Taught how to write in a variety of styles and apply grammatical terminology in their writing in order to promote fluent composition.
ROOTED IN KNOWLEDGE
We aim to instil a love of reading in all of our children. With the support of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), high quality texts have been carefully chosen for each year group and these are not only used to support the teaching of English but also within the wider curriculum. Additionally, each year group also has a class book rich in language that will be shared each half term.
To broaden children’s exposure to a range of high quality texts and language, classes in KS2 take part in whole class reading sessions three times per week. These sessions help to expose children to a wide range of language whilst improving their key comprehension skills and vocabulary development.
Phonics is taught daily in EYFS and KS1 following the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised SSP. If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps through short, 10 minutes sessions that take place regularly through the week. For full details of this approach please follow this link to our approach to phonics and early reading.
READING FOR PLEASURE:
In order to develop a lifelong love of reading, children across the school are encouraged and given time within the school week to read for pleasure. Class libraries and library spaces within the school aim to reflect the diverse backgrounds, experiences and interests of the children at Alexandra through a range of fiction, non-fiction and picture books. Classes in KS1 visit their library space to choose books which can be read in addition to their decodable reading books. Classes in KS2 are encouraged and assisted to choose appropriate books from within their AR Reader ZPD and are given time within the school week to read either their school reading book, non-fiction texts, newspapers, comics or magazines. We recognise that staff within the school are key models of reading for pleasure for the children at our school and we aim to regularly discuss current children’s authors, illustrators and poets to ensure all children are able to make informed choices about the books they read and enjoy.
For further information about the AR reader scheme used within our school, please click here.
Children across the school are exposed to high quality literature through their daily English lessons which have their origins in The Power of Reading. Knowledge and skills are shared and disseminated through a range of creative and immersive activities and teaching approaches that serve to develop all learners as writers. The high-quality texts chosen for each year group give children the opportunity to write creatively around a range of topics and stimuli while also serving to improve their knowledge of the world around them and challenge issues they may face in day-to-day life.
HOW IS LEARNING SEQUENCED?
Learning is sequenced using the teaching sequences developed by the Center for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), the national curriculum programmes of study and The Education Endowment Fund. The progressive skills required to be taught within each year group are carefully integrated into planning to ensure lessons build on prior knowledge and learning. Progression documents are used and regularly reviewed to ensure the content covered is appropriate, progressive and reflective of the children’s needs.
At least once every half term, all children in KS1 & 2 are given the opportunity to produce extended pieces of writing following our Alexandra Primary School Writing Journey based on research conducted by the EEF:
- Immersion & features of the text type
- Grammar & sentence level work
- Exploring a successful piece of writing within the genre, success criteria & planning
- Drafting - independent writing
- Sharing - peer to peer or with an adult
- Evaluating - response to marking & conferencing
- Revising & editing - independent and peer
English in the Early Years
During the EYFS the essential building blocks of communication, language and literacy are established. There are regular opportunities for children to listen to stories, explore and use language in a variety of contexts and take part in mark-making and writing activities across all areas of learning. By the end of the EYFS children should be able to meet the Early Learning Goals for comprehension, word-reading and writing.
Children will explore mark making through continuous provision activities including messy play and tummy time. Fine motor skill activities prepare children for writing a sentence by the end of Reception. Children also participate in gross motor building activities to successfully prepare for writing in Reception.
To understand our approach to phonics and early-reading, please refer to our page on phonics and early reading (link to phonics and early reading page)
GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION & SPELLING:
At Alexandra Primary School, children are explicitly taught key spelling rules weekly and children are given time within the school day to practise their spelling using a variety of fun and engaging activities. To meet the rigorous requirements of the National Curriculum, all children from Reception to year 6 are exposed to key grammar and punctuation terminology through a combination of dedicated grammar lessons and sessions to practise writing composition. Promoting and regularly revising the basic skills of writing allows these skills to become increasingly automatic so that pupils can concentrate on writing composition.
In English, teachers assess children’s progress by making observations during lessons, pupil conferences, using evidence in books and evaluating pieces of work.
Ongoing and regular assessment is used to inform future lesson content and the sequence of learning, ensuring children are supported and challenged appropriately. Evidence of tasks undertaken by children can be in the form of independent written work, verbal interactions and pictures documented in books or folders.
Final end of year assessments are made using a combined picture of summative assessments developed in line with the National curriculum and PIXL summative assessments and appropriate level descriptors, to identify the level at which the child is working. Children in Early Years are assessed within the Early Years Framework. Age related expectation levels are reported to parents at the end of each year. In year 2 and year 6, children are assessed using national curriculum Standard Age Tests and moderated pieces of independent work.
English is regularly and rigorously monitored through a variety of strategies, including: planning and book scrutiny, lesson observations and pupil voice activities.