The teaching of English is essential in primary school. It is the vehicle through which children access all other subjects across the curriculum. Enabling them to speak confidently and clearly, to listen attentively and to read and write for a range of purposes provides a foundation upon which success is built.
At English Martyrs, all teachers are dedicated to the subject of English, and enjoy igniting the passion in children for the spoken and written word. We are determined that all children will become fluent and competent readers by the end of their school journey with us, as it is our intention to immerse them in the wonders that literary texts can bring. To enable a child to discover this passion is a delight to behold, and we strive to do this first and foremost.
From their very first day with us, children will be given the opportunity to develop and apply their mark-making and then their writing skills across the curriculum. By the time children leave us at the end of Year 6, our intention is that they will be able to plan, edit and evaluate their own masterpiece! They will create effective compositions, showing an awareness of audience, using a range of extended vocabulary and accurate punctuation. Their writing will flow, and their presentation will be fluent, legible and consistent.
Our reading materials will enable children to develop culturally, reflecting our multi-cultural school. The books and extracts we provide will also foster emotional development, intellectual refinement, spirituality and social grace. Essentially, the literary experience that we provide will equip our children with an ability to form opinions, to debate, to empathise and to persuade. Most importantly, our literary experience will enable children to go out into the world of tomorrow with confidence, knowledge and resilience.
Speaking and Listening
- Read Write Inc. - this is a comprehensive programme which teaches our younger children all of the early reading skills that they will need, in order to progress into fluent readers. Following a progressive framework, children participate in discrete, daily phonics sessions which are taught in small groups. We believe that phonics is so essential that we have made a promise to deliver sessions on a daily basis, no matter what else happens in school! The programme allows us to assess the progress that your child is making every half term, and then moves them onto the next stage when they are ready. To complement what we do in school, Read Write Inc. reading books are sent home to enable you as parents to help and support your child's development. If you would like to learn more about this programme, please speak to your child's teacher, or take a moment to have a look at the informative videos on https://rushmiskin.com/en/
- There are 5 key principles which underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions:
Purpose: know the purpose of every activity and share it with the children, so they know the one thing they should be thinking about
Participation: ensure every child participates throughout the lesson. Partnership work is fundamental to learning
Praise: ensure children are praised for effort and learning, not ability
Pace: teach at an effective pace and devote every moment to teaching and learning
Passion: be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.
- Shared Reading: As children progress with their reading, they will start Shared Reading sessions. This is where the whole class is presented with a high quality text extract. The extended vocabulary that they will meet in the text is first of all explored and discussed, and then the teacher models how to read the text with expression and intonation. Children are presented with a variety of challenges to demonstrate their understanding of the text, to comment and give opinions, to offer constructive criticism and to infer and deduce.
- Individual Readers: We aim to listen to children read on their own as often as possible. We invested in the Oxford Reading Tree reading scheme in March 2020 which ensures progression and challenge for all of our children. In September 2020, we purchased attractive and high quality reading journals to encourage parents, carers or older siblings to support children with their reading at home, and we reward those children in school who can show that they have made a conscious effort to practise on a regular basis.
- Reading for Pleasure: Our school provides an environment which celebrates reading. If you wander into any classroom, you will find an enticing reading corner which is creative, cosy and comfy. If you walk along the corridors you come across our reading area outside Year 1, housing well-cared for books and a green marshmallow settee! If you venture into our modern library, you will find our 'POET TREE' zone, and a range of fiction and non-fiction books which you browse through or borrow. We absolutely LOVE reading! During lockdown 3, we launched a competition for families to create their own reading space at home. We had an amazing response and it was wonderful to see that while school is closed to the majority of pupils, everyone is still having access to cosy and comfy reading areas at home.
- Wider Experiences: Reading is not only celebrated during lessons. We hope by now you will be getting a sense of just how much we love literature, and this year, for the very first time, we are planning on holding a poetry festival at the end of the year. Watch this space to see how it develops!
- Lending Library: We established a 'Lending Library' during Lockdown Three (January 2021) where families could collect a range of books to read at home. This was in response to our reading survey that highlighted that a small amount of families did not have an adequate supply of books at home.
At English Martyrs, English lessons are timetabled and taught discretely, using the Mastery English scheme of work. This scheme allows teachers to make comprehensive use of very high quality novels, to engage every single child in the novel, and to foster a genuine love of reading which then impacts on their writing. Since the launch of this scheme in September 2020, our monitoring shows that children across the school have a renewed passion for reading and writing, and absolutely love the fact that they get to read a real book from beginning to end!
Mastery English ensures a consistent and systematic approach to the teaching of writing skills across the years. This means that children know what to expect when they move up to the next class. Each unit of work is taught over a two week period, and at the end of that time, children are asked to write an independent and very high quality piece of writing on a white piece of paper which is displayed on the classroom wall (this is called WHITE GOLD).
We love the fact that we can teach writing skills to children, and then see them being used in other subjects across the curriculum. To ensure that this happens, we have agreed a set of 'Minimum Expectations' for writing, which is encouraged and expected in every piece of writing that children do, whether it is a written explanation in mathematics, or an investigative outcome in science. As we have developed our use of Mastery English, we continue to adapt it to suit the needs of all of our children and inspire them to love writing and flourish as they learn and master new skills.
Open the PowerPoint to find out more: Mastery English PowerPoint
Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
In writing lessons, grammar is taught through the use of a model text and the teacher modelling their own composition. GPS is also taught through discrete lessons. Spelling rules are taught each Monday. The spelling rule is then practised through fun and interactive games on Spelling Shed. A spelling test is then administered through Spelling Shed on the Hive on a Friday to test their knowledge of the new rule. The assignments set to enable children to practise are open through the weekend, in order for children to have the opportunity to continue to practise and embed the spelling rule at home.
Cursive writing is to be used across the school. We launched our new scheme called 'Letter-join' in November 2020, and this is taught on a regular basis. From Nursery through to Y2 children are taught to write with the pre-cursive lettering. From summer term Y2 onwards, children write in fully cursive style. The formation of letters is taught through the families of handwriting letters. We expect that this handwriting style is used in each subject across the curriculum, and our teachers model the letter formation to children on a daily basis through teaching and marking opportunities.
We strive to ensure that our children's attainment is in line with or exceeds their potential when we consider the varied starting points of all our children. We measure this using statutory moderation tools and all teachers attend and take part in termly moderation exercises throughout the year to support them with their judgements. The analysis of this moderation is used to identify areas of development and any children who are not making expected progress.
Whilst always considering the age-related expectations for each year group, our intentions are that our English curriculum will ensure our pupils are academically prepared for life beyond primary school and throughout their educational journey.
Speaking and Listening