At St John’s Highbury Vale we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion.
English is at the heart of our teaching and learning and is essential to every area of the curriculum. We use CLPE Power of Reading Scheme as a resource that has helped us to plan a rigorous, skill based and well organised English curriculum that provides many purposeful opportunities for reading, understanding, writing and discussion. We aim to develop a child’s love of reading through widespread reading for enjoyment. We promote and encourage children to discover the value of strong communication and the importance of reading and writing in all aspects of their lives. A strong understanding of English skills gives children the building blocks for all their future learning. Our curriculum closely follows the aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014 to enable all children to:
As a school, we want to ensure that every child becomes a reader, a writer and confident speaker by the time they leave St John’s Highbury Vale. To promote and instil a love for reading, writing and high-quality literature into pupils at all ages. To derive an English curriculum which is sequenced to develop the acquisition of knowledge and skills.
Developing pupils’ speaking and listening skills is vital for their development and underpins their learning across the whole curriculum. We want the pupils’ at St John’s to be able to communicate with their community. We provide opportunities in the curriculum to be able to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles, responding appropriately to others in role. They have chances to improvise, devise and script drama for one another and a range of audiences, as well as to rehearse, refine, share and respond thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances through the English curriculum. As a school we recognise the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. At St John’s we have identified that the quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing.
Our children are driven to engage with a variety of different texts and genres from Reception through to Year 6. They use their problem-solving skills from early on in their Literacy learning to decode and later deduce themes from the books they are exposed to. Children at St John’s follow the EYFS 2021 Framework and National Curriculum. At St John’s Highbury Vale, we are determined that every child should learn to read and develop a love of reading. Our focus is developing pupils’ fluency so that they have a better understanding of the texts they read. Pupils learn to read and then read to learn. Reading is the key to learning, and as such, is developed and promoted across the wider curriculum.
English lessons across the whole school are planned in interesting and engaging ways through the use of high-quality texts (including picture books) from CLPE Power of Reading. Writing skills are explicitly taught and then practised through writing opportunities, covering a wide range of subjects and genres.
In the EYFS, children are exposed to Literacy right from the start through sharing books with adults, listening to, learning and performing nursery rhymes, songs and stories. We recognise that literacy skills are dependent on communication skills and there is a strong focus on the development of listening and attention, understanding and speaking. Children who have delayed language skills are identified early and additional support is put in place to help them to catch up. The EYFS environment offers a literacy rich environment promoting engagement with reading and writing across the curriculum both inside and outside. Systematic phonics teaching is introduced through Ruth Miskin’s Read Write Inc. Programme and children are supported in developing their reading skills using books that are closely matched to their phonic knowledge. Children are given opportunities to develop their gross and fine motor skills in preparation for writing. There are numerous activities and resources that promote mark making and when ready children are introduced to letter formation through direct teaching of handwriting. A love of writing is promoted through giving children opportunities to write for a variety of purposes throughout the environment. Structured activities support children’s writing development alongside these other opportunities. A Pie Corbett approach (Talk for Writing) is being used to support the teaching and learning of writing.
In English lessons the pupils are explicitly taught skills to ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. As a school we provide the children with a range of experiences to enable them to practise and develop their confidence. Pupils are encouraged to discuss their learning, using new vocabulary and asking questions to improve their understanding. Through the CLPE Power of Reading resources, teachers facilitate opportunities for pupils to develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and prepare chances for drama and presentations. Every year group now takes part in a performance that they execute throughout the academic year. Every classroom builds secure foundations and environment by using discussion to probe and remedy misconceptions.
The school uses a variety of different reading schemes to provide a wide variety of appropriate quality texts for children to read covering all genres. The schemes incorporated into our reading provision include: Big Cat Collins, Read Write Inc. Books are carefully selected by adults from a range of high-quality recommended text lists. For example: Islington Library and CLPE (Centre of literacy in primary education). In Early Years and Key Stage 1, we teach children phonics using the Read, Write, Inc. scheme. This involves pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 having daily phonics lessons. These sessions are supported by ongoing reading opportunities throughout the school day through the Power of Reading books used to support our English Curriculum and relevant themed books. In Years 1 and 2, pupils are taught reading daily in guided reading groups through Read Write Inc. Phonics books. Book band books are then sent home to encourage reading through repetition and sight words and to ensure progression and challenge for all. Children still progressing through RWI Phonics Scheme will also be sent home a phonics book that they will have pre-read with an adult during guided reading.
In Key Stage 2, pupils have a daily whole class reading sessions with explicit teaching of reading skills. Teachers model how to teach reading skills at all levels, which are then practised and applied independently. Within English lessons, these skills are further developed through use of the Power of Reading books. Other opportunities for reading, including 1:1 reading, guided groups, reading challenges and planned interventions, where needed.
Reading for pleasure is promoted throughout the school. Teachers regularly share books with the pupils for their enjoyment and pupils are encouraged to choose books from the class book corners. All classrooms have class reading areas with subject specific books and other age-appropriate reading for pleasure books. All classrooms have access to themed mental well-being books outside the classroom. We take part in the Islington Road Map reading initiative in KS2 to further drive a love of reading and reading a range of genres for pleasure. We also use Islington Library Service resources to resource the wider curriculum in school. We enjoy celebrating reading in many different ways, including participating in activities for World Book Day and the Book Fair. Home Reading – all children are expected to read at home and take home ‘home’ reading books. Expectation is five times minimum per week.
The teaching of grammar and punctuation is embedded within English lessons. Spelling is taught explicitly though the use of Read, Write, Inc. phonics and the Islington Scheme of Work which builds strongly on the pupil’s phonic knowledge from Key Stage 1 and spelling patterns, developing their understanding of word structure. Spelling patterns are learnt over a period of two weeks. The skills that pupils learn in English lessons are developed and applied across the curriculum. Pupils are expected to use their knowledge of genres, text features, grammar, punctuation and spelling when writing in any lesson. Writing in different subjects provides a real-life purpose for their write in order to engage and enthuse. Working walls are used in class to support.
As a school, we use CLPE Power of Reading books to inspire writing. Teachers use the book to plan for writing outcomes. Teachers model the process of writing within every unit so that children understand the thought process behind writing. During this process, teachers think out loud, modelling, editing and demonstrating how and why they have structured their writing in the way that they have. Children are then given the opportunity to participate in a shared write, where everybody contributes to the writing outcome. This is scaffolded further into paired, supported and finally independent writing. The teaching of a genre takes approximately 2 to 3 weeks and follows the teaching sequence below:
Immersion in the text type:
Children study an example(s) of a text type so that they can see what a good example looks like. They will pull this apart to understand the genre features and text level objectives (appropriate to their year group). This phase will involve opportunities to teach comprehension skills, vocabulary clarification and drama opportunities to explore the genre. A learning wall will be created for key learning from this stage.
Building towards a writing outcome:
Children are taught grammar and sentence level objectives in preparation for their final written outcome. Short writing opportunities (note taking, diary entries, character profiles etc.) allow children to ‘have a go’ with their’ new learning’. Activities will be closely aligned with the studied text plot or content, depending on the genre.
Children write their first piece of extended writing. This is scaffolded by modelling and shared writing.
The final written outcome:
The children now plan and write their own, independent piece of extended writing. Children will have the opportunity to proof-read and edit their writing to create a final piece.
Outcomes for reading remain consistently high. Children achieve well at the end of both Key stages and leave St John’s with a secure understanding of writing and are well prepared to meet the needs of a challenging secondary curriculum and the expectations of writing across all subjects. Teachers use the skills progression documents to plan. Attainment in writing is measured consistently throughout the year. At the three assessment checkpoints, progress is tracked, using the whole school assessment system with writing statements’, which have been taken from the National Curriculum. This information is shared with parents three times per academic year. For those children who have yet to access the Year 1 statements, pre-key stage statements are used. Book looks and moderations take place, to quality assure judgements made. These are either in house, or as part of a cluster of local schools. The Senior Leadership Team monitor the teaching and learning of writing frequently to ensure that standards remain consistently high and to identify areas for ongoing CPD.