We recognise and place great importance on the quality of the English curriculum and teaching. Our aim is that children are not only competent in all areas of Reading, Speaking and Listening, Writing, and Phonics, but that the learning brings pleasure, inspiration, and fulfilment now and in the future.
Spoken language underpins the development of Reading and Writing and is prioritised as soon as children enter school. Across the Early Years and KS1 we offer children the opportunity to express themselves clearly, developing language, vocabulary, and confidence.
In Nursery and Reception play opportunities are promoted that develop language and collaboration and the practitioners act as ‘interactors’; carefully and thoughtfully observing, waiting, and listening then modelling and moving language on.
We support the children to contribute in whole class and school discussion to express their answers and opinions articulately with a focus on the use of full sentences.
Poetry recitals, drama opportunities, class assemblies, and school plays give children the confidence to speak clearly in front of an audience.
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured, systematic, and progressive way, children make excellent progress in Reading and Writing. Children are taught how to hear sounds in words, recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes, identify sounds that different combinations of letters make such as ‘oo’ or ‘sh’, and blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Children then use this knowledge to ‘de-code new words that they see or hear. Children additionally need to recognise “tricky” (or sight) words which don’t follow phonic rules; these are taught in our phonic and reading lessons too.
We use a scheme called ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds’ to structure our learning across the school.
The pre-teaching of Phonics starts in Nursery, with a focus on hearing sounds and playing with language.
Daily whole class sessions start with specific sounds in Reception and this continues through Key Stage 1. Any children not achieving expectation in Phonics are quickly identified and immediate individual or small group 'keep up' sessions help them to understand and apply their skills.
This discrete teaching is then developed through the curriculum and the environment so that children have plenty of multi-sensory and purposeful reasons to apply and extend their learning.
In Year 1 children complete a short statutory Phonics Test in the Summer.
Reading is the gateway to later learning. We provide children with rich reading experiences to inspire and ignite an enquiring mind while developing a life-long love of reading. We encourage the children to express themselves creatively, imaginatively, and factually as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry, and drama as well as non-fiction. All around our school books are displayed invitingly for children to enjoy. Children are read to daily within their class from a wide range of quality texts so that we can extend children’s repertoire beyond their reading age and develop their appreciation of prosody (intonation and rhythm). Parents, children, and staff love to come together to participate in our termly Poetry recitals.
Group reading practice sessions are based around appropriately levelled phonic books, enabling children to decode, develop their fluency and expression (prosody) and comprehension.
From the start, children are taught to use text to find out information. In the Early Years children are given many opportunities to read with layered text around the environment. Such texts are phonetically appropriate and include anything from instructions for tasks to bespoke phonetic non-fiction texts connected to the main narrative book that are being studied.
Throughout Key Stage 1 children are provided with appropriate non-fiction texts that link to topics covering different areas of the curriculum including English lessons to ensure they read for information.
Reading at home is supplemented by Little Wandle digital e-books, an online resource in addition to their school reading books. From the start of Key Stage 1 children are given some choice within their levelled band as to the book they take home and they also enjoy a weekly loan from the school library.
The school reading diary is used as a home-school assessment record to support parents and teachers working together; the expectation is that children read at least four times a week at home.
Where a child is not meeting milestones in reading, quick intervention takes place in order to 'catch pupils up'. Pupils may be assigned a Reading Buddy or Mentor to support them.
Our year group Reading Passports contain 100 books, thoughtfully chosen by our staff to engage, enthuse and challenge children. Children and families are encouraged to read as many of these together as they can over the course of a year, with rewards given as children read 25, 50 or 100 texts as the year progresses.
Other initiatives to promote Reading over the course of the year include regular 'Book Swaps', donations of 'Birthday' Books and 'Book Character Day'.
At Strand we use a variety of multi–sensory teaching and learning styles which are based on first hand personal and purposeful experiences so children see themselves as writers from the moment they enter school.
At the beginning and throughout Nursery, children experiment with marks, lines and shapes, assigning meaning to their marks, writing for a purpose and progressing to real letter shapes. The climbing wall and other gross motor development opportunities, together with fine motor building activities, including Dough Disco, helps children to leave Nursery with the correct tripod grip and a positive attitude to writing.
By the end of Reception children can write simple sentences that have phonetically plausible technical vocabulary and simple high frequency words, always writing for a purpose.
Throughout Key Stage 1 children will develop how they structure and organise their writing to suit a genre. They increase their use of interesting, exciting vocabulary to use throughout their writing, supported by a range of strategies including bespoke subject thesauruses and working walls. The children will draft and edit their work to produce a fluent final piece taking the reader into consideration.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) is taught specifically and woven through every phonics and literacy lesson, ensuring that the basics are correct from the start. Without correct use of these skills children will struggle to express themselves fluently and in more complex ways.
Handwriting has an important part in enabling the children to communicate their ideas and we have high expectations for presentation. The Penpals scheme (and our own school handwriting patter) is used to explicitly teach the correct formation of letters. By the end of Year 2 children start to join some letters within words together. Children are expected to develop a clear legible script for every day work but are also given opportunities to use their best handwriting for their final drafts.
View our curriculum overview for English here;