The value of English in the curriculum? What can I say? Without English, nothing. And without good English, nothing very well.'
Anne Fine (Author)
Aims and Philosophy
The purpose of this document is to set out the structure of English teaching at Hankham Primary School English teaching at our school takes account of individual needs and abilities, (including those of gender), and the requirements of the National Curriculum for English. It also aims to ensure continuity and progression from one class to the next, and equal opportunities across the split year groups.
As with any policy, its effectiveness will depend entirely upon the consistency of its application in classroom practice and the extent to which it is used in the planning of each teacher's work.
The importance of English
English is a vital way of communicating in school, in public life and internationally. Literature in English is rich and influential, reflecting the experience of people from many countries and times.
In studying English pupils develop skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. It enables them to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate with others effectively. Pupils become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama as well as non-fiction and media texts.
The study of English helps pupils understand how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Using this knowledge, pupils can choose and adapt what they say and write in different situations." National Curriculum for English
'The National Curriculum General Teaching Requirements states "Teachers should aim to give every pupil the opportunity to experience success in learning and to achieve as high a standard as possible."
This philosophy underpins all teaching of English at Hankham School, and with this in view we aim to adhere to the following principles:
· Teachers set high expectations, and set suitable learning challenges for all pupils
· Teachers take into account the needs of all their pupils, including those of boys and girls, pupils with special educational needs, pupils with disabilities, and pupils from different ethnic groups and diverse backgrounds, having an awareness of their experiences, strengths and interests
· Teachers create an effective learning environment (in which environmental print is an essential part) and secure motivation and challenge by providing appropriate and stimulating texts. Book areas are used to stimulate children's interest in literature. We believe they should be attractive and inviting and should provide a comfortable, quiet area for reading books from a variety of genres.
· Teachers are involved in continuous assessment and evaluation of pupils' achievements and give regular feedback (see assessment policy). This information is used as a teaching tool to set appropriate learning targets in consultation with pupils. We have age appropriate systems for target setting in each key stage.
The teaching of English takes place both explicitly, and as part of learning across the whole curriculum. It can both feed from, and contribute to learning in other areas. We seek to find ways in which English can provide opportunities to promote spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and cross‑curricular learning and the new SEAL (Social Emotional Aspects of Learning) curriculum, which is used throughout the school, promotes aspects of emotional literacy. Other subjects e.g. PE. and History can also be useful vehicles for teaching explicit English skills. It also provides opportunities for pupils to develop the key skills of communication, working with others, problem solving, improving own learning and performance, and using I.C.T.
The following sections of this document look at the different elements in the teaching of English and how they link together.
Much of what needs to be taught, can be found in the Renewed Primary Framework. This is based on sound principles and is a useful and important tool for learning. At Hankham we use it with flexibility and creativity, and in conjunction with other teaching strategies as appropriate.
Deployment of Staff
The Literacy Leader has overall responsibility for the management of English teaching throughout the school under the direction of the Head Teacher. The Literacy Leader's role involves a number of responsibilities:
· Monitoring of medium and short term planning throughout the school, to ensure progression and equality of opportunity
· Scrutiny of children's work to monitor achievement
· Monitoring the quality of teaching in Literacy (in collaboration with SMT)
· Evaluation of support programmes
· Liaising with colleagues about developments and initiatives
· Maintaining resources
The class teacher is responsible for the planning and teaching of English within the classroom and is supported and extended by the special needs teacher where appropriate. Teaching Assistants (TAs) work under the direction of the class teacher and are deployed in the support of individuals and groups within Literacy. We recognise that TAs are extremely valuable members of the school support staff and aim to provide them with regular training to support their work. TAs may be involved in a variety of different activities:
· support of children
· directing the work of a group of' pupils
· liaising with the teacher
· stimulating discussion among pupils
· delivering literacy support programmes
The acquisition of literacy skills is an integrated process between home and school and therefore the role of parents is a vital one. We believe that their support is essential if consistent progress is to be maintained. Good communication is the key to a successful working partnership. We strive to provide guidance for parents to assist them in their role as partners in developing their child's literacy skills. We arrange meetings and provide pamphlets. Each term parents receive a comprehensive Class Topic Letter, outlining the work to be covered in Literacy, as well as other curriculum areas.
Home/School Reading Diaries are an extremely valuable form of communication and are consistently maintained. Teachers, children and TAs make regular contributions to these diaries. Children are expected to undertake daily home reading (refer to Homework: Curriculum Policy 5). If parents are reticent about writing comments, they are encouraged to sign to say that they have read the school and pupil comments. The most recently completed reading diary is retained and placed in the pupil's reading record folder. As pupils move into Year 5, responsibility for the maintenance of reading diaries is passed on to the pupil. Pupils can continue to make entries about books they have read in their reading journals. Teachers will continue to maintain their own assessment notes on children's reading progress. Teaching assistants also contribute to these notes whenever they lead a group reading session.
Spelling Books / Lists regularly pass between home and school. Teachers share information with parents about the purpose of spelling books and how they can be used for maximum effect.
Every encouragement is given to those parents who are willing and able to give their support with literacy activities in school, either on a regular or occasional basis. Teachers recognise that it is important to give adult helpers advice on how we carry out literacy activities at Hankham School and that most adults welcome this support.
Planning and Differentiation
"When planning, teachers should set high expectations and provide opportunities for all pupils to achieve, ... Teachers should plan their approaches to teaching and learning so that all pupils can take part in lessons fully and effectively."
National Curriculum Handbook for primary teachers
We believe that planning should take account of the needs of the particular children for whom it is intended, whether it is groups, classes or individuals, and must offer challenge to all pupils. It must also take account of the National Curriculum for English and pupils' individual learning programmes. It therefore follows that groupings within the class are flexible, in order that those needs are met. Assessment is an integral part of this process and provision is made on the weekly planner for assessment comments. Children's individual targets are also used to assess whether children are meeting challenges set and indeed if the activities are meeting their needs. Children should know and understand their targets and are involved in both the setting and the monitoring of their progress through regular teacher/pupil conferencing.
Planning will be recorded within the termly and weekly planning sheets and learning intentions for whole class and group or independent activities are shown, and the name of any texts used. Guided reading and guided writing groups are also indicated on the planner and these take place with children of all ability levels. Wherever appropriate, I.C.T. is used to enhance learning and the application of Literacy skills. It is used to extend or support individuals or groups within the classroom setting. N.B. The use of I.C.T. encompasses Smartboards, PCs, Laptops; as well as listening centres, digital cameras, digital recorders, mini-disc devices and digital recorders. (Refer to ICT: Curriculum Policy 6)
Where adaptations are made to the Literacy planning such as for a block of History work, the weekly planner may be changed and a separate planning sheet included. However, learning intentions must still be shown, any groups worked with indicated, and assessment comments provided.
Other literacy work, such as quiet reading or handwriting, or activities carried out as part of other subject areas are indicated on the medium term plans and the planning sheet for identifying cross‑curricular links between writing and other subjects.
There are a number of support programmes that can be delivered by teachers and trained support staff if pupil attainment levels indicate that they would be beneficial:
- Blitz and Bullseye literacy support programmes
- E.L.S. (Early Literacy Support in Yr 1)
- Letters and Sounds Phonics in KS2 (For children who have not reached phased 5 or above in KS1
- Quest (Literacy Support) in Y3 and Y4 (delivered in or out of the Literacy Hour as appropriate for each cohort).
- F.L.S (Further Literacy Support) in Y5 (delivered inside the Literacy Hour).
We recognise the importance of involving TAs in the planning process and opportunities must be given to TAs to familiarise themselves with any text in advance of the lesson.
Teachers in the Foundation stage use the "Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage" and "Letters and Sounds" from the Primary Strategy as the basis for literacy planning. Systematic literacy teaching begins in Reception as soon as children are settled and confident in school.
Our main aim for children at Hankham School is that they become confident, independent readers who understand that books of all kinds are a source of pleasure, information and new insights; feel at home in the world of books and literature as attentive and reflective readers; read and respond to a wide range of stories, novels, poems, plays non‑fiction and media texts.
If this aim is to be achieved it is vital that children have the motivation to want to learn to read and are taught the appropriate strategies to enable them to do so.
The following principles govern the teaching of reading at Hankham School:
Teachers have an understanding of the crucial role of parents in a child's reading development and the need for good lines of communication at all stages (see section on parents and reading diaries).
There is a high focus on good quality literacy throughout the school, which is reflected in literacy displays, environmental print and inviting book corners in classrooms where space allows..
The Literacy area of the Primary Framework for teaching, provides a sound basis for a large part (but not all) of the teaching of reading skills and strategies. Reading sessions and literature circles develop children's understanding of the ideas in books, and enable them to enjoy sharing books with others. Reading journals are a key feature of both group and individual reading at K.S.2. Reading journals are used to encourage children to think about their thoughts and preferences in response to books they have read.
We believe that all children should regularly read individually with an adult. In the early years this will be at least three times per week, more regularly for less able readers. As the children become competent readers individual sessions will become less frequent but are still valuable for assessment purposes, as well as allowing for more extended discussion about books and preferences.
• Silent or quiet reading takes place daily in order to promote the habit of a personal reading time. In order to encourage reluctant readers, particularly boys, children in K.S.2 should be encouraged to bring in reading materials of their own choice, such as football or computer magazines, for some of these sessions if they wish. Teachers should, however, try to ensure that children have a good balance of reading materials overall, and that it is a time of quiet concentrated reading.
• All classes have a regular story time, where the teacher reads (or tells stories) to the class. This provides a model of reading aloud to children and introduces them to a range of challenging and interesting texts. It is also a pleasurable reading experience.
The shared-reading between different year groups is encouraged as a means of motivating children to read. This is a valuable and enjoyable learning experience for both older and younger participants.
High profile events such as book week, poetry week, book fairs, or author visits take place as often as budget and time constraints allow.
The reading diary forms the basis of communication with parents about a pupil's progress in reading and continues up to and including Y6. Individual reading targets are set and reviewed 4 times a year and a copy of these is sent out to parents. These targets are recorded in the front of the blue home/school reading record books. In addition teachers maintain reading records for their class indicating how frequently they have read and the types of books they are reading. This includes group‑reading sessions and individual reads. An assessment sheet, or book, detailing the pupils' reading strategies is updated regularly throughout the term and at the end of each year is passed on to the child's new teacher.
Speaking and Listening
Our aim is to provide an environment in which:
"... pupils learn to speak confidently and listen to what others have to say. They use language to explore their own experiences and imaginary worlds."
The National Curriculum
Talking is the way in which children make sense of the world and develop their understanding. The ability to communicate with others is a vital life skill.
Speaking and Listening skills form a large part of the new Primary Framework for Literacy and many valuable opportunities to develop pupils' speaking and listening skills exist, both in English lessons, and across the whole curriculum. It is important, however, that the development of speaking and listening is not seen as incidental or peripheral so all teachers include speaking and listening objectives in their short and medium term plans. Children are given the opportunity to develop their skills and imagination, and to become confident speakers and attentive listeners.
Planned speaking and listening opportunities offer children a range of experiences. These might include:
Role play areas School performances
Assemblies Class discussions and debates
Paired work Presentations
Group work Oral reports
Drama Readings and recitations
Opportunities for drama activities are made both in and out of Literacy sessions. The range includes: Role play (role play areas are not seen as solely an early years preserve), presenting stories through drama, and responding to performances. The Year 5s and 6s perform an annual drama production to parents and other visitors and throughout the school other year groups are also given the opportunity to take part in performances. During our Arts Festival visitors are invited to the school to work with groups of children on drama performances. Increasingly, ICT is used to record performances and as a medium for presentation in literacy lessons.
If we understand that writing is a process, it is clear that children can only learn to write if they are able to express what they want to say so 'Talk for Writing' forms an integral part of the planning process. Children then need to experience the process of writing so that they can understand the function of grammar, the need to acquire good spelling habits, and the importance of working out ideas so that they are accessible to the reader.
Children do not learn about the function of grammar or acquire the motivation to master the skills of its correct usage solely by filling out worksheets or only carrying out single sentence exercises and at Hankham we believe that teachers need to be proactive in teaching children specific skills that will enable them to uplevel their writing. In order to do this classes throughout the school are also taught writing skills using the areas suggested in Ros Wilson's 'Strategies for Immediate Impact on Writing Standards' or 'Big Writing' as referred to in her books. Four generic targets have been identified, known as the VCOP (Vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) and these are taught systematically in lively and fun ways.
The first sentence of the K.S.1 programme of study for writing says, "...pupils start to enjoy writing and see the value of it" and for K.S.2 says "...pupils develop understanding that writing is both essential to thinking and learning and enjoyable in its own right."
The very first stage in the writing process is motivation to write. If we cannot motivate children to want become writers, we will have little success in teaching them the skills needed to become effective writers of the English language. They must therefore experience writing as a meaningful, interesting and stimulating activity. Pupils need to understand that writing is both a thinking and a communication process and it is important, therefore, that they are presented with a range of real and purposeful writing experiences that enable them to both develop and embed their understanding and mastery of the writing process.
Teachers understand the need to provide stimulating and purposeful writing experiences e.g. using a real audience for writing, drama based on interesting children's literature or unusual artefacts.
• Teachers must have a good understanding of the stages of writing development in young children and take account of these in their teaching.
• The teaching of reading and writing are inextricably linked.
Children are taught to "Read like writers and write like readers".
Good models of writing are presented to pupils. The role of the teacher is crucial at all stages of the writing process and so regular shared and guided writing is a key part of Literacy teaching at Hankham School. We believe that pupils need to experience success and receive praise and encouragement for their efforts. Teachers must be aware of prior attainment in writing in order to monitor progress and set challenging targets. Individual writing targets are ste and reviewed 4 times a year; teachers must have high expectations of pupil achievement, and these must be made clear to pupils.
The teacher can assess current spelling ability and diagnose errors. However, at the same time, children need to be given the necessary phonic knowledge and skills to be able to make plausible spelling attempts in the early stages, and to understand the phonological patterns that govern English spelling, in order to become competent spellers later on.
In the early stages children are taught:
• Sound ‑ symbol correspondence
• Segmenting and blending skills
• How to spell whole common words
In order to maintain consistency in teaching, all K.S.1 teachers use the Primary Framework's 'Letters and Sounds' to guide the teaching of phonics. Where applicable its use is indicated in planning. The scheme is continued in KS2 where children have not reached phases 5 and 6.
In the Foundation Stage teachers also supplement the teaching of phonics with activities from the "Jolly Phonics" scheme. The inclusion of multi‑sensory approaches to teaching helps to ensure that all pupils reach their potential in this important stage in phonic development.
We encourage children to become independent spellers and adhere to the following principles in order to ensure consistency in teaching throughout the school:
1) In Years 1-4 pupils are encouraged to have‑a‑go either through the use of have go‑books or on paper. The aim is to foster independence and discourage children from checking with the teacher too often. The children are also encouraged to use word mats and dictionaries to check their spelling. The children in upper KS2 are encouraged to use dictionaries when they are editing their first drafts.
2) In Autumn term 1 the children are tested using the SWST (Single Word Spelling Test) and they are then put into a spelling group to work on words at their level. The children are given a list of target words to learn each week and these are shared with parents. Daily spelling sessions take place where each group is given an activity to help them to learn the list of words they have been given that week. These activities may include writing the words in sentences/word processing on the computers, magnetic letters, spelling games, hangman, mnemonics, wordsearches and dictionary definitions. Partner testing and weekly tests are carried out to ensure that children are learning their target spelling list words as part of their weekly homework. (Also see under 'parents')
3) All children are taught the LOOK‑SAY‑COVER‑WRITE‑CHECK strategy for learning to spell new words. Pupils are taught this from the earliest stages in order to learn to spell the non‑phonetic common words from the Literacy Strategy. Wherever possible other strategies such as the use of mnemonics and multi‑sensory strategies such as sand trays (Early Years) and magnetic letters are used to assist spelling.
4) At K.S.2 spelling investigations are more likely to stimulate pupils' interest in the language and increase their knowledge. K.S.2 teachers should use the N.L.S. 'Spelling Bank' and its use should be indicated in the planning.
6) Children are taught to use a range of dictionaries and encouraged to use them to check their own spellings. It is preferable that they do this after completion of the first draft otherwise it may interfere with the thinking process, particularly when pupils are not yet skilled in using a dictionary. It will also help to develop their proof-reading skills. Pupils are also taught the other uses of a dictionary.
7) The main assessment of spelling is done through pupil's uncorrected first drafts. Children may well be able to spell words correctly when tested, but may not actually use the correct spelling in their own work. (Spelling books are a record of words learned and teachers should be pro‑active in their follow‑up of the use of these words in children's own work).
Marking of written work
(Refer to Marking & Feedback: Administrative Policy 11)
Resources for spelling
The Primary National Strategy 'Letters and Sounds' publication, Spelling Bank (N.L.S.), S.W.S.T. resources.
There is a strong link between good handwriting and good spelling. Certain letter strings recur frequently in English. If letters are correctly formed, and a flowing style develops, the child is more likely to become a good speller. Poor letter formation hampers flow and consequently spelling. Wherever possible, the letter strings used in handwriting are used to support spelling.
We closely supervise early letter formation and pencil control. Joined script is introduced from Y2 onwards. During Y3 in particular, teachers should be pro‑active in ensuring that pupils are in the habit of joining their handwriting, as a matter of course, for all writing activities. Initially they are encouraged to start joining keywords.
Children who have achieved fluent joined writing can begin to use a handwriting pen. Ballpoint pens are not allowed for handwriting or any other written work. Pencils are kept in good condition, as blunt or short pencils are a hindrance to good handwriting.
We strive to help all children achieve a fluent and legible handwriting style. If there are acute co‑ordination difficulties some children may need a programme of activities or a pencil grip to assist the development of handwriting. Handwriting is a motor skill and unrelated to intelligence.
Children are taught to have good posture for writing from the very beginning. They are encouraged to use an efficient pencil grip, with the correct amount of tilt, and that a pencil may be held differently when drawing as opposed to writing. Pupils are encouraged to tilt their books appropriately according to their left or right handed preference.
Handwriting activities follow a systematic approach based on the objectives in the Primary Framework for Literacy. School information is available, giving guidance for parents and teachers about individual letter formation and joining letters.
Broad lines in writing books are introduced in Y1 and are differentiated across year groups with spaces between lines gradually decreasing in size. Teachers may provide individual pupils with appropriate books depending on their need. Handwriting is practised in books appropriate for each year group.
We strive to set good examples for pupils and so believe that teachers' own handwriting (on the board and in children's books) should be well presented and follow the 'house' style.
Frequent, short but regular hand writing practice sessions supervised by the teacher, are most likely to have an impact upon children's handwriting development.
At Hankham we aim to identify any difficulties a child may have in acquiring literacy skills as early as possible and children are put into early intervention support groups for reading and writing in order to boost their skills. Literacy support groups which use published schemes include Blitz, Bullseye and E.L.S. at KS1 and Letters and Sounds, Quest and F.L.S. in KS2. Teachers use the Communicate in Print software to produce differentiated sheets with symbols for literacy and topic work when it is felt a child needs additional support to enable them to work independently. Other Dyslexia friendly resources are also available for use in classes throughout the school.
(Refer to Special Educational Needs: Curriculum Policy 7)
The library is used by individual children for borrowing books and also for teaching library skills to whole classes and groups of children. Teachers are encouraged to regularly exchange the books in their book corner with those in the library to ensure best possible use of the large number of books available. Each class has an allotted library time.
The library is run on a computerised system and is sometimes managed by an adult librarian. The use of the library is organised on a timetable basis. It is important to note that Y3 children may need more support in the library and may need to change books more frequently than other year groups. Fiction books are arranged alphabetically by author and are colour coded by genre. Non‑fiction titles are classified using the Dewey classification system.
Resources such as big books, guided group reading books and photocopiable materials are stored in the Literacy Resources room. All teachers and support staff have access to these resources to allow appropriate differentiation when planning.