English

At Capenhurst CE Primary, we believe that every child can succeed and achieve in English. Our inclusive curriculum ensures that all pupils are given a broad range of opportunities to develop their literacy skills throughout their time at our school.

Our aim is to encourage all children to be curious about words and, from that initial curiosity, to want to find out more about the world through reading and listening to books, both fiction and non-fiction, and then to use the words they have learned to express their thoughts, ideas and opinions in their own speech and their own writing.

Our aspiration for all our children is that, by the time they leave us, they have a love of reading and are able to express themselves clearly both orally and in writing, enabling them to be curious, compassionate and resilient citizens.

At Capenhurst CE Primary, children should:

  • have many and varied opportunities to hear, read and enjoy high-quality books
  • be taught strategies to decode and blend unknown words (phonics)
  • learn about the key spelling rules and the exceptions of English spelling
  • develop the habit of and love for reading widely and often, for both pleasure and knowledge
  • acquire a wide, rich and varied vocabulary
  • gain an understanding of the rich and varied literacy heritage of the British Isles
  • be taught the key reading comprehension skills including those of retrieval and inference
  • learn how to develop a neat, legible and fluent and handwriting style
  • be taught how words can be used to write pieces which make sense and ‘hook’ the reader in
  • gain a clear understanding of the importance of both audience and purpose when writing
  • learn how to express themselves articulately orally as well as in writing
  • be confident to make formal presentations and to participate in debate
  • understand the wide-reaching power of both the written and the spoken word in everyday life
  • have a good knowledge of the rules of English grammar and punctuation

Each year group is taught the key skills in English in accordance with the guidelines set out in the National Curriculum.

Implementation

Reading

Reading is a fundamental part of the curriculum at Capenhurst as it allows children to access a wide range of ideas and information. Reading in both KS1 and KS2 consists of two key aspects:

  • Word reading
  • Comprehension (both listening and reading)

At Capenhurst, the teaching of reading focuses on developing the children’s competence in both aspects; staff use a variety of strategies to deliver the teaching of reading. 

From when they start school in Reception and throughout KS1, all children are taught to read using a range of strategies including the following:

  • phonics through the Letters and Sounds programme
  • 1:1 reading with an adult
  • small group guided reading
  • whole class reciprocal reading

As they progress through school into KS2, the emphasis for most pupils will shift from decoding and small-group guided reading to more independent reading and reading out loud to the whole class including the teacher as part of whole class reciprocal reading. For those children who are not working at the age-related expectation for reading, targeted interventions programmes are in place to help them ‘catch-up’ whilst also enabling them to ‘keep-up’.

The document ‘Reading At Capenhurst’ (available to download from the school website) details this programme by year group.

The teaching of phonics

At Capenhurst, we recognise the importance of using phonics to help deliver the early teaching of reading to beginners when they start school. All children in EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2 participate in a daily phonics session during which teaching staff follow the Letters and Sounds programme.

Assessment points in EYFS/KS1 take place each half term. At these times, pupils who have not secured the phonics that have been taught will be placed into catch-up groups. These groups will take place in addition to the daily phonics sessions that take place with the year groups as a whole. The daily phonics sessions will continue to move forward through the Letters and Sounds sequence as identified above. The catch-up sessions will involve repetition of learning from previous sessions and over-learning of phonics that are not yet secure.

Early reading books are banded according to the Letters and Sounds phases. Each child will be given two phonically-decodable books which match their phonics knowledge as well as a book for pleasure to be shared with their parents/carers. Once a child is phonically secure, they will move onto books that are banded using the book band scheme before moving on to become free readers.

Children and staff also share a love of reading through regular reading for pleasure sessions at various parts of the school day. As a school, we always celebrate World Book Day with a range of activities designed to highlight the pleasure that reading can bring to adults and children alike.

Teachers talk to children about the books they are reading and ask them questions about the text to help them develop their comprehension skills including the key skills of meaning, retrieval and inference. Children are given many and varied opportunities to develop their reading fluency by reading to an adult, to another child or to the whole class.

Writing

Writing is taught and assessed according to two key areas as set out in the National Curriculum:

  • Transcription (including spelling, handwriting and presentation)
  • Composition (including vocabulary, grammar and punctuation)

Writing is taught through a range of exciting stimuli including high quality texts linked to the theme, film clips, visits and visitors. Teachers used a range of planning tools including those of The Literacy Company, The Literacy Shed etc.

Teachers model writing so that the children are clear what is expected of them and how they can achieve the specific objective. The key skills such as handwriting, phonics, grammar, punctuation and spelling are taught discretely.

Phonics is taught in EYFS and KS1 through the ‘Letters and Sounds’ scheme; spelling is taught from Year Two upwards using the Babcock Spelling Programme.

To enable children to open their minds to the wealth of vocabulary available to them, a great emphasis is placed on talking as a writer. This is developed from Reception upwards with many opportunities for speaking and listening embedded across the curriculum across the school. All children are encouraged to think about the meaning of words and how they can use them; they are challenged to think about the etymology of the words they meet to help them expand their vocabulary and see connections between words. Children from Year 3 onwards are taught how to look up unknown words in a dictionary and to use a thesaurus to help them find synonyms and extend their vocabulary further.

Impact

Impact on learning within the English lesson is assessed using focused questioning and observations with feedback provided at the point of teaching. At the end of each lesson, topic books are collected, reviewed and teachers compete a mark book with comments and notes for the following lesson which will start with whole-class feedback on a common misconception.

All children (including Reception children from the Summer Term onwards) complete an independent piece of writing on a weekly basis. The independent pieces cover a range of genres in both fiction and non-fiction and a breadth of study across the whole curriculum and often link to the high-quality texts which children are studying in class.

In addition, all teaching staff participate in a half-termly cross-moderation process: at the end of each half-term, all children (including Reception children in the Summer Term) write an independent piece of the same genre (e.g. diary) which is not marked by the class teacher in the usual way but is instead shared amongst all the teachers. This allows all the teachers to develop a clear understanding of the expectations of each year group in writing and to gain an understanding of the progress taking place in school etc. Teachers have the opportunity to discuss any particular children’s writing at a subsequent staff meeting.

Formal reading assessments are undertaken across the school every term using PIRA tests. These give individual reading ages, standardised scores and a PIRA scale which can then be used by teachers to track in-year progress and attainment. These tests cover phonic ability, fluency and/or comprehension depending on the year group the child is in.

Teachers set weekly spellings and follow this up with a test. Children are expected to learn both the spelling and the meaning of the words to encourage them to build their vocabulary.

Spelling progress and attainment is tracked through the use of the Single Word Spelling Test (SWST) programme; children are assessed on a termly basis against a set of 50 words. The test is age-specific and gives each child a spelling age. Teachers are able to identify children with particular spelling issues and to put in intervention programmes to enable these children to close the gap.

External formal assessments such as phonics screening and end of key stage one and key stage two SATs are completed at the end of Year One, Year Two and Year Six respectively.  Children who do not secure the required score in the phonics screening check will have to re-take it at the end of Year Two. Those children who do not pass the screening check at the end of Year Two receive regular phonics interventions until they are secure in their phonic knowledge.

Once the end of key stage two SATs reading papers have been externally marked, children are given a scaled score. Children need to secure a scaled score of at least 100 in order to demonstrate that they have achieved the expected standard in reading. Teacher assessments are used at the end of key stage one to determine if a child has and has not met the expected standard. Formal tests at the end of key stage one are optional and can be used to inform teacher assessment if required.

Monitoring

The literacy subject leader will monitor the teaching and learning of English through termly subject scrutinies (including pupil voice), staff meetings to address common areas and introduce new routines and practices as well as lesson visits. Once trained, the subject leader will undertake a ‘deep dive’ once per academic year.

The monitoring of reading and phonics throughout school is carried out by the literacy subject leader and/or the phonics subject leader. This takes the form of learning walks, book scrutinies and pupil voice.

The outcomes of all monitoring activities will be shared with the staff and school leaders.

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