English Curriculum Intent Statement
At St Aidan’s Church of England Primary Academy our English curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning. We aim to provide first hand experiences, allow the children to develop interpersonal skills, build resilience and become more creative, critical thinkers.
Every child at our school is a unique individual. We celebrate and welcome differences within our school community. The ability to learn is underpinned by the teaching of basic skills, knowledge and values. We provide a range of enhancement opportunities to engage learning and believe that childhood should be a happy, investigate and enquiring time where there are no limits to curiosity and there is a thirst for new knowledge.
English provides an essential means of communication, both in and out of school and it enables our children to creatively and imaginatively share their ideas and opinions. A high quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them.
The National Curriculum (2014) states that teaching the English language is essential. We know that we have a duty to ensure that English teaching is a priority and recognise that these needs should be met through the full curriculum.
‘Teachers should develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and vocabulary as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject. English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching cross-curricular; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.’(P10 National Curriculum)
We believe that children need to develop their use of language in order to learn, and to play a full and active role as individuals in society; it is the key to independent learning. We see the need to acquire and develop language skills as a major part of the curriculum. To encourage this we adopt a critical thinking and oracy approach across the curriculum.
From Reception to Year 6 all children are encouraged to:
– To justify ideas with reasons
- Ask questions to check understanding
- Develop vocabulary and build knowledge
- Evaluate and build on the ideas of others
- Select the appropriate register for effective communication
- Give well structured descriptions and explanations
Writing is a key area of our Academy Development Plan, and we are continually developing ways of helping children to improve their writing. We use a wide range of teaching methods during English lessons, but the most important element of all is ‘oral rehearsal’ – this means giving the children opportunity to practise what they want to write by saying it out loud before they commit it to paper in their book. Elements of ‘Talk for Writing’ are used throughout school and lessons are structured to ensure that children are given opportunities to verbalise what they want to write before being expected to write it down. This year we have adopted a similar approach to ‘Michael Tid’s’ model to teaching writing, built around the idea of longer blocks focusing on less objectives. Our reason for adopting this model is to ensure that our children retain as much of the knowledge we teach as possible by being given the opportunity to repeatedly practise skills in the same context.
We have found that ‘Alan Peat sentence types’ are a successful way of encouraging children to use a wide range of sentence structures in their writing. We use many of these in school, when they are taught, explicit links to the specific grammar within each sentence type are made to ensure that children’s grammatical knowledge is sound. This way, their writing improves due to the inclusion of a range of sentence structures, and their understanding of grammar and punctuation is deepened at the same time.
Teachers monitor children’s writing and partake in rigorous whole school and academy wide moderation to ensure consistency in teacher assessments. Our curriculum balances taught skills and content, using a wide range of genres and interesting stimuli, for writing outcomes that have a purpose and audience.
We aim to provide high quality, systematic phonic work taught in Reception and KS1 for a minimum of twenty minutes per day. We believe that phonics sessions should be engaging and interactive. Sessions should include aspects of physical development and engagement as well as oral and auditory phonics practice.
Phonics groups are taught by teachers and teaching assistants in Reception and KS1. Children work in ability groups, learning the relevant GPCs, blending and segmenting skills and spelling rules for their phase to ensure that teaching and learning is effective.
Children’s phonetic development is assessed by the Phonics Lead at the end of each term to ensure that errors, misconceptions and gaps in learning are quickly identified.
We have 2 teaching assistants trained in the Fisher Family Trust early reading intervention to provide a 10 or 20 week programme of daily reading for pupils in year 1 and 2 who are having difficulties in attaining the skills needed to become successful readers.
For children who still require phonics input in KS2, booster sessions are delivered by staff to ensure that children learn the skills necessary to be effective readers and writers.
Our school has chosen Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised as our systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme to teach early reading and spelling. It is based on the original Letters and Sounds which like many other schools across the country, we have been championing for many years. Little Wandle has extensively revised ‘Letters and Sounds’ to provide a complete teaching programme, which is fully resourced and sets expectations of progression that are aspirational yet achievable for all.
We will work through the entire Little Wandle Programme until your child can successfully utilise their phonic knowledge and blending skills to read fluently. Children need to learn to read as quickly as reasonably possible, so they can move from learning to read, to reading to learn, giving them access to the treasure house of reading.
Please see our ‘Phonics Statement’ for further details on how Phonics progresses in our school.
Three discrete spelling lessons are taught each week from Y2-Y6. During these lessons children will be introduced to a specific spelling rule/pattern or letter string. They will be given opportunities to investigate and apply this rule through a range of activities that will deepen understanding. It is vital that children are given opportunities to explore and investigate spelling rules; this is a far more effective way of improving children’s spelling than just providing list of words to be learned ‘by rote’.
We use Spelling Shed scheme of work for Y1 – Y6. This ensures we provide full coverage of all statutory spelling objectives set out in the National Curriculum.
Each week children are given a list of ‘non negotiable’ spellings from our ‘STEPS Spelling Challenge’ each week children are expected to make an improvement until they score a minimum of 18/20 so they can move onto the next challenge step.
Please see our ‘Reading’ area of the curriculum for more information on reading at St. Aidan’s.