At Gentleshaw we have established an English curriculum that promotes high standards of language and literacy enabling our children to be confident, competent and creative in developing their English skills. Our curriculum equips our pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, with children's love of literature at the heart of our teaching. We continually aim to promote a pleasure of reading and writing through our creative curriculum.
Reading and phonics
Learning to read is a fundamental part of a child’s education as they need to read fluently and confidently to access all areas of learning and prepare them for the next stage in their life. We aim to teach our pupils to read fluently and with good understanding whilst instilling a love of reading and books. In the Early Years Foundation Stage we focus on developing the children's speaking and listening skills through stories, song, rhyme, role play and games. We then introduce phonics through the structured framework of Letters and Sounds. In Early Years and KS1 phonics is taught through a daily session with planning and teaching specific to the phonic phase the pupils are working in. During this early stage of learning to read, pupils develop their ability to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes (sounds) in words, understanding the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them. We teach Guided Reading throughout the school where children are taught the skills of reading including vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and sequence.
To support pupils’ progression in reading our books are colour banded and pupils’ progress through the bands. Teachers are responsible in ensuring the pupils’ book matches their reading ability and level.
To foster a love of reading in our pupils we have held reading events throughout the year including World Book Day, poetry recitals, Extreme Readers and we also held a sponsored read that resulted in us raising lots of money to purchase new books! We also reward our pupils for reading at home on a weekly basis, this encourages children to practice and perfect their reading.
Children learn to become writers in a rich, creative and stimulating environment. We want our pupils writing to be purposeful and for them to write for different reasons including instructions, story, poetry, reports, diaries and more, engaging in both narrative and non-narrative. Through effective spelling, punctuation and grammar teaching our pupils learn how to communicate what they want to say in their writing using the correct standard of English, understanding the key features of grammar for their year group.
We aim to broaden and extend the range of the children’s writing by encouraging them to write daily, through writing opportunities both in English lessons and in other curriculum areas.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage children's writing is referred to as mark making. Children have ample opportunities to develop their fine and gross motor skills so that they are able to hold and use pencils and tools correctly for writing and drawing. At the end of reception pupils are expected to be able to write phonetically plausible simple sentences and words, relying on their phonic knowledge and skills.
In KS1 and KS2 a VCOPS approach to teaching is used to support children in their writing, ensuring the content is appropriate and effective. VCOPS ensure children think about and plan carefully the vocabulary, conjunctions, openers, punctuation and spelling of their writing ensuring a range. Teachers marking in writing provides children with next steps to help develop their writing further, this also includes opportunities to practice spellings. Each half term a piece of writing is completed across the school by each pupil as part of our writing journey. This enables teachers to monitor pupils’ progress in writing and portrays the writing journey pupils go through from year to year. Children participate in themed writing days, for example we held a Winter Wonderland in December where pupils observed our school hall transform into a frozen fortress and each class teacher planned a creative writing piece for their class. We hold writing clubs and sessions at lunchtime to continually support our pupils and their writing. We have high expectations for presentation and handwriting and on a weekly basis reward our pupils with a Presentation Star for consistently demonstrating pride and high standards in their work.
Our English curriculum is designed to develop learners that are:
· Enthused, engaged and excited about reading and writing.
· Have a love of literature, reading for pleasure having reading with role models in adults at school and home to inspire them.
· Creative writers with a high regard for the correct standard of English.
· Enthused to excite others with their writing.
· Self--motivated, resilient and equipped with the tools to read and write fluently.
· Inspired and rewarded to take great pride in their work and consistently do their very best.
Parents are encouraged to support their children with their reading and writing at home. We have reading diaries for parents to communicate how their child has read whilst at home. We encourage families to make use of local liabilities and provide information of useful resources they can make use of. In school we hold parent workshops for phonics and English informing parents of our approaches to teaching and information of how to support children at home. We set specific English targets and share these at parents’ consultation evenings in order to encourage parents to know and understand their child's level and where they need to go next.