At Belsay Primary School, English is at the heart of everything we do and we want our children to feel inspired whilst developing their English skills . We have a broad and balanced English curriculum that provides many opportunities for our children to develop their reading, writing and oracy skills. We are committed to our children being good communicators so they can express their thoughts and ideas fluently and enable them to access and, most importantly, enjoy the wider school curriculum too.
Our English curriculum closely follows the aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014 to enable all children to:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
Reading is our highest academic priority at Belsay Primary School and our aspiration is that children will become lifelong readers who are enthusiastic, engaged and who love to read. Children are immersed in a range of good quality fiction and non-fiction texts as well as poetry books in guided reading sessions, library time and in their book spines in each classroom.
In the early stages of reading, we teach children to decode words using phonic skills as their main approach, alongside which we teach sight vocabulary. Phonics is delivered daily by the teacher to the whole class. In addition, children work in small groups of six to read with a fully trained adult three times a week. These reading sessions each have a key focus:
Reading session 1: Decoding (sounding out and blending)
Reading session 2: Prosody (reading with expression and fluency)
Reading session 3: Comprehension (reading for understanding)
In Summer term, once the children become more fluent, the prosody and comprehension sessions are combined.
The combination of discrete daily phonics teaching and three tightly focused and deliberately taught reading sessions ensures children rapidly become fluent readers. Once fluent, the focus for developing reading is on understanding and comprehension.
We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme for teaching phonics which systematically sets out a programme of progression. By the end of Reception, all children will have been taught Phases 2 to 4 and by the end of Year 1, children will have completed Phase 5.
Children who require extra support will access an additional, same-day keep-up session tailored to meet their individual needs around recognition of phonemes or blending.
Our English lessons are based on high-quality texts and we strive to follow the four stages to the writing process which are:
We believe that each of these stages are crucial for the development of good quality writing and the children receive thorough feedback at various stages of this process through a balance of live marking, peer assessment, shared and modelled writing. We encourage independence so children can self-edit and become more confident and risk-taking in their writing.
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling are embedded in lessons as well as being taught separately when required. Children are given lots of opportunities to see how grammar is used in a variety of contexts and are able to apply the features in their independent writing. Spellings are taught through phonics and learning particular spelling rules and strategies.
Speaking and Listening
Oracy is a key focus of our English curriculum (and everything that we do) as we believe that by improving spoken language skills, we are enabling children to communicate effectively and have a voice to be able to express their thoughts and ideas effectively. Children are encouraged to be active listeners and develop points made by their peers in a thoughtful and considerate way. We encourage using a rich vocabulary in discussions. Debates, paired work, presentations, drama and group work are part of our usual practice.