English at Swanton Abbott Primary School
“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow”
Lawrence Clark Powell
Reading lies at the heart of the curriculum at Swanton Abbott Primary. We are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers and we believe reading is key for academic success. We believe that every child has the right to learn to read and our aim is for them to also develop an enjoyment of reading, as soon as possible. We promote enjoyment through the creative use of high quality texts and a range of engaging activities. Teachers aim to be reading role models in the way that they discuss and promote books as well as modelling reading for pleasure. We make careful selections both in the texts that they choose to use in the teaching of English and in those that they read aloud to pupils. Children are read aloud for 10 minutes daily. This not only allows them to encounter more demanding texts in a safe environment but also aids their vocabulary growth.
We also believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions by expressing themselves through their writing. In order to do so, we want pupils to acquire a wide range of vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in primary school. We want them to write clearly, coherently and accurately by adapting their language and style in and for a range of purposes and audiences. It is also fundamental that we develop a habit of neat, joined up handwriting by the time they move to secondary school. It is also vital that all writers are able to refine and edit their writing over time, so that they can develop their independence in being able to identify their own areas of improvement.
We strive for every pupil to leave us with the necessary skills and vocabulary demands of the secondary curriculum for them to be successful throughout their lives. We believe that no child should be left behind.
To ensure this is consistent throughout the school, we follow these holistic approaches:
1. Spoken Language
English begins with the spoken language. We believe this is fundamental because language forms the foundations for interacting with other people – for communicating our needs, our thoughts and our experiences.
2. Deliberate practice - Systematic Synthetic Phonics
From Reception, children are introduced to our programme for phonics: Little Wandle Letters and Sounds. They are taught to read letters, or groups of letters, by saying the sound they represent and then blend these sounds to form words. Phonics lessons are taught in small groups to ensure that learning is targeted to children’s individual needs.
3. Reading comprehension and prosody
From Reception children are taught the skills of reading through selected texts that support their de-coding skills. Children are taught in small guided reading groups according to their phonic stage.
Once pupils have completed our phonics programme, they move onto the ‘Literary Leaves’ programme for reading. This is taught as a whole-class session in order to expose all pupils to high-quality language and discussion. Teachers use whole books as well as extracts to increase engagement and reading stamina when teaching the skills of comprehension. Pupils spend between 2 to 4 weeks studying one text, each session focusing on a particular skill, to ensure that children develop the skills to become critical readers.
The key principles of whole-class reading are:
4. Stories - Teaching is underpinned by a high-quality text
Each new unit for English starts with a beautiful, high-quality text. These texts offer opportunities for empathy and philosophical enquiry, developing the spoken language though through debate, drama and discussion, which will spark their imagination.
Our texts have been specifically chosen so that pupils are exposed to:
5. Knowledge Rich - Spelling and Grammar is embedded
Spelling and grammar is taught through the context of a book so that these can be applied purposefully within writing.
6. Enrichment - Children write for a purpose
Children have real reasons to write whether that is to explain, persuade, inform or instruct, usually on a daily basis. Within each sequence of teaching, pupils will write for different purposes and will practice their skills creating ‘shorter’, ‘longer’ and ‘extended’ writing outcomes.
7. Feedback & assessment - Keep up, not catch up
At Swanton Abbott Primary School, teachers plan lessons to ensure all children are challenged appropriately. However, we recognise that for varying reasons, some children need more support in their learning. Throughout lessons, adults will work with guided groups to support their vocabulary acquisition, sentence construction and demonstrate the writing process.
Pupils who need additional support with their reading or phonics are provided with targeted intervention using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme. For pupils in KS1, this is a one-to-one session which takes place for 10 minutes during the afternoon. Those in KS2, follow the phonics programme which takes place during the whole-class guided reading session.
How Reading is taught in Reception and Key Stage 1
In the early stages of reading, children’s phonic knowledge is systematically developed through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds scheme (LWLS). LWLS helps pupils understand how letters are linked to sounds (phonemes) to form letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns to help learn how to apply this knowledge in their reading. Pupils are assessed regularly against the termly assessments, which informs future planning and also allows teachers to identify any gaps within their learning.
How Reading is taught in Key Stage 2
Once pupils have completed our phonics programme, reading is taught in a whole-class session in order to expose all pupils to high-quality language and discussion. Teachers use whole books as well as extracts to increase engagement and reading stamina when teaching the skills of comprehension. Pupils may spend between 1 to 4 weeks studying a text, each session focussing on a particular skill, to ensure that children develop the skills to become critical readers.
How Writing is taught across the school
At Swanton Abbott Primary School, we believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions through their writing. Pupils will acquire a wider vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn. They will learn to write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. We believe that all pupils should be encouraged to take pride in the presentation of their writing, in part by developing a good, joined, handwriting style by the time they move to secondary school.
We believe that all good writers refine and edit their writing over time, so children will be encouraged to develop independence in being able to identify their own areas for improvement in all pieces of writing, editing their work effectively during and after the writing process.
Books lie at the core of our writing curriculum and we use the teach through a text approach from the Literary Curriculum. Each new unit for writing starts with a beautiful, high-quality text. These texts offer opportunities for empathy and philosophical enquiry, developing the spoken language though through debate, drama and discussion. Children have real reasons to write whether that is to explain, persuade, inform or instruct, usually on a daily basis. Within each sequence of teaching, pupils will write for different purposes and will practice their skills creating ‘shorter’, ‘longer’ and ‘extended’ writing outcomes.
Spelling and grammar is taught through the context of a book so that these can be applied purposefully within writing. Immediately after a new skill is taught, pupils apply their learning in a meaningful context within the lesson. Teachers come back to these spelling and grammar skills again and again in order to embed learning. Our classrooms are rich in talk, questions are planned, peer conversations are modelled and scaffolded and the teacher uses talk skillfully to develop thinking.
Before the text is introduced, teachers create ‘hooks’ as an engaging starting point to generate curiosity and as a stimulus for class-discussion. Each unit lasts between 2 to 4 weeks and texts may be linked to the wider curriculum.
At Swanton Abbott Primary School, we have evolved the following opportunities to develop pupils’ spoken language:
As in all areas of the curriculum, teachers should deliver ‘quality-first’ teaching and differentiate to support children with barriers to learning. On an individual basis, teachers consider any limitations that a child has in accessing the planned lesson and provide:
Feedback and Assessment of learning
Staff professional learning
Cross curricular links
In terms of the bigger picture, it is essential to promote cross curricular links between English and other areas of the curriculum. For example:
After reading a poem, ask students to draw their interpretation of the feelings and emotions of the meaning behind the poem. This will especially be beneficial for EAL students, who may