At Westrop Primary School, we are passionate that the learning of English skills should be both exciting, engaging and relevant. We aim to provide our pupils with inspiring opportunities to explore and use rich vocabulary, different texts and apply their ideas. We seek to develop our children’s skills in order to be able to speak, listen, read, write and create, edit and reflect upon their work. We aim to ensure that our pupils have access to a wide ranging and progressive curriculum which inspires and motivates. We do this through cross curricular themes, high quality texts and ‘real life’ experiences so the children gain a real sense of purpose to their reading and writing.
Statutory requirements for the teaching and learning of English are laid out in the National Curriculum English Document and in the Communication, Language and Literacy section of the Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage.
Speaking, Listening and the development of vocabulary
The children at Westrop are given a wide range of experiences that nurture and develop confident and effective speaking and listening skills. They are provided with opportunities to speak with greater confidence in both small and larger group situations. We encourage the participation of our pupils in performing arts groups and annual performances, staged for families and members of the local community. Through a wide range of cross curricular topics they learn to justify ideas with reasons; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate; evaluate and build on the ideas of others. This enables them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing. Additionally, we encourage courtesy and respect through close, attentive listening to the thoughts and opinions of others.
We believe children’s vocabulary is key to their learning and progress across the whole curriculum. Teachers from EYFS to Year 6 will develop vocabulary actively, building systematically on children’s current knowledge. They increase pupils’ store of words in general; simultaneously, they also make links between known and new vocabulary and discuss the shades of meaning in similar words. In this way, children expand the vocabulary choices that are available to them when they write. We believe it is particularly important to introduce children to the language which defines each subject in its own right, such as accurate grammatical, mathematical and scientific language.
We aim to develop a genuine love and enjoyment of reading across the school, with pupils acquiring the initial, fundamental skills of reading using our school’s core reading scheme, high quality guided reading texts and clearly structured phonics sessions. Comprehension skills and the establishment of personal preferences in reading material are also developed throughout EYFS and Key Stages 1 and 2. We encourage independent and whole class reading from a broad and varied range of texts including both modern and classic fiction, poetry, stories originating from the British Isles and from other countries of the world, and non-fiction books. Each class is regularly read to by their class teacher and enthusiastic, confident and expressive reading is both encouraged and modelled frequently. There are many opportunities for children to read in school including whole class guided reading, individual reading to a teacher, TA or class helper as well as wider reading opportunities that occur through everyday classroom teaching, topic books and visits to our school library. Our comprehensive home reading scheme from Reception onwards consists of fiction and non-fiction core books linked to the child’s phonic and reading level. Parents can also access our reading scheme books through the ACTIVE LEARN website below.
Phonics and Spelling
At Westrop we follow The Department for Education’s Phonics Scheme called Letters and Sounds in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 and through KS2 where needed. This includes the teaching of phonemes, graphemes and tricky words over 6 phases. Song of Sounds is one resource that we use to support the teaching of the sounds outlined in Letters and Sounds through catchy songs and rhythmic actions. Phonics sessions take place daily and spellings are sent home weekly linked to the learning that has taken place that week.
Once the fundamental knowledge and skills of phonics have been acquired, then pupils progress to the learning of specific spelling patterns and are encouraged to use their existing prior understanding of particular spelling rules to apply to the spelling of new and unfamiliar vocabulary. Pupils across the key stages acknowledge the importance of learning their Common Exception Words and are given frequent opportunities to learn these thoroughly.
We provide our pupils with many different opportunities to write for specific purposes and audiences across our school curriculum. We regularly encourage our pupils to reflect upon the reasons that they write, and classify these as writing to entertain, discuss, inform or persuade. Where possible, these are linked to topic work, giving a clear purpose for writing and are displayed in classrooms in the form of school ‘road signs’, so the children are always aware of the style of writing that they are undertaking. Close study of examples of each genre enables pupils to identify their features and ensures that our children have the necessary understanding of how to adapt the style, tone and content of their written work to suit its purpose.
Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
Pupils at Westrop are provided with regular vocabulary, grammar and punctuation sessions which enable them to acquire the skills to correctly form and demarcate both simple and more complex sentence structures, develop the accurate use of punctuation across writing of all types and enable the identification of word classes within both texts and what they have written independently. These grammar skills are then applied through cross-curricular work or through real life situations to enhance understanding and make learning relevant.
At its earliest stages, our pupils practise the fine motor skills needed for the correct formation of letters, this then leads on to the refinement of a pre-cursive / cursive handwriting style and then, finally, to a well presented, legible joined cursive handwriting style. Our pupils are enabled to understand that their handwriting can change according to the purpose for which they are writing, for example – the difference between note making and ‘polished’ pieces of written work for display. Our youngest to oldest pupils are also offered frequent opportunities to choose their own writing implements to suit a task. To support handwriting we follow the letter join handwriting scheme which can be viewed below.