English is a core subject of the National Curriculum and a prerequisite for educational and social progress as it underpins the work undertaken in all other areas of the curriculum. The ability to communicate effectively – as a speaker, a reader and a writer – is a fundamental requirement for active participation in society and all the rewards that brings.
The teaching and learning of language skills is consequently of the utmost priority at Fressingfield Primary School. It is our intention, when teaching English, to equip children with the key skills, knowledge and understanding they need to become effective communicators both in school and throughout their lives.
More than this, we want to foster a love of reading and writing. To achieve this, we immerse children in the wonders of quality texts to instil a love of stories, poems, tales, plays, biographies and literature of all kinds from across the world so that they develop a passion for discovery, the confidence to explore their imagination, a sense of awe at the possibilities of the world around them, and a wide-eyed enthusiasm for learning.
We believe spoken language to be fundamental to the achievement of our pupils. We aim to build a culture of oracy within our school to support and develop our pupils’ confidence, spoken language and written outcomes across and beyond the curriculum.
Our aim is to enable the children to improve their levels of oracy so that all pupils are able to communicate effectively and confidently in front of any type of audience. Speaking and listening skills are encouraged in every area of our curriculum and specific oracy opportunities are planned into our long-term programme. Good communication skills can enhance all learning opportunities. The children are encouraged to explore ideas through talk; challenge each other’s opinions and develop their own reasoned arguments; and talk in full sentences with a clear and confident voice.
Many of our pupils start early school life without the oracy skills relevant for their age. We strive to develop spoken language skills through the taught curriculum, the hidden curriculum, playtimes and lunchtimes, extra-curricular activities and the whole ethos of the school.
Respectful and productive relationships between all who form part of the school community are crucial aspects of this ethos. As a staff, we therefore foster good communication amongst ourselves and with our pupils, their parents and carers, and with the wider community. We place a high priority on supporting the development of good speaking and listening skills amongst our pupils.
Our oracy curriculum will enable children to:
- speak with confidence, clarity and fluency;
- recognise the value of listening;
- be confident in the value of their own opinions and to be able to express them to others;
- adapt their use of language for a range of different purposes and audiences, including using Standard English;
- sustain a logical argument and respond to others appropriately;
- concentrate, interpret and respond appropriately to a wide range of listening experiences;
- be open-minded, to value the contribution of others and to take account of their views;
- appreciate the diversity of languages, dialects and accents in the school and value the experience and contributions of children with a wide variety of linguistic backgrounds;
- share their learning in an engaging, informative way through formal presentations.
At Fressingfield Primary School, we believe that reading is the key that unlocks the door to all future learning. The more children read, the better they tend to achieve; and this has a huge, knock-on, positive impact on their confidence, self-esteem and life-chances.
We encourage all pupils to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction genres so that they: develop a love of reading; benefit from the cultural capital stories provide; become familiar with the rich language of storytelling; learn more about the world around them and their place within it; fire their imaginations and spark their creativity; and build solid foundations for a life-time of learning.
We know that an appreciation and love of reading supports children to gain knowledge across the curriculum. We aim to teach reading skills explicitly, sequentially and systematically in order to help them develop both the mechanical, decoding skills and the comprehension skills they need to access ever more complex texts. It is our intention to ensure that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently and with confidence, so that they can fully access the learning at high school.
Writing is an integral part of our curriculum. We aim to provide children with both the core ‘secretarial’ skills required to express themselves clearly and accurately in English (handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar), and also to inspire their passion for writing by providing exciting opportunities for them to apply their skills.
In order to make writing purposeful and fun, our English curriculum is closely linked to our topic cycle: we believe the topic focus provides an effective ‘hook’ for writing that engages and inspires our children. We know this approach boosts children’s writing outcomes.
All children from Foundation Stage to Year 6 are provided with daily opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across the curriculum. In writing lessons, children learn how to adapt their writing to suit the purpose and audience. They explore a variety of genres, unpicking the key structural, sentence-level and word-level skills of each before planning, drafting, and re-drafting their own pieces. As with reading, the skills for writing are taught sequentially, building on previous knowledge. When we teach writing, it is always our intention to broaden our pupils’ vocabulary and their ability to manipulate grammatical structures and punctuation so that they can express their thoughts and ideas with clarity, precision and flair in order to inform, engage and entertain their readers.
English assessment is ongoing to inform teachers with their planning, lesson activities and differentiation. Summative assessment is completed at the end of each unit to inform leaders of the improvements or skills that still need to be embedded. English is monitored throughout all year groups using a variety of strategies such as summative assessment, lesson observations and pupil interviews.
We teach phonics using an adapted version of ‘Letters and Sounds’ and the reading scheme used is the Oxford Reading Tree, with the addition of other reading age-appropriate texts. During 2021/22 the school will be moving to ‘Bug Club Phonics’.