St Winifred’s Catholic Primary School

English Policy

Rationale

It is our policy to provide equality of access for all our children, to a broad and balanced curriculum. English provides the main instrument for learning throughout the school curriculum and for communicating and integrating in everyday life, therefore the literacy experiences which we provide for our children must:

  • recognise and build on the experiences which children bring from home;
  • enable each child to deepen their understanding of themselves and the world in which they live;
  • aim to develop fluency, confidence, skills and understanding; and
  • enable each child to develop an appreciation of the enjoyment to be derived from literacy.

Purposes

English across the school:

  • develops skills, knowledge and understanding in all areas of literacy;
  • helps children to develop a respect and appreciation of their own language and that of others;
  • helps children read fluently, understand extended prose (fiction and non-fiction) and be encouraged to foster a love of books and writing;
  • develops the stamina and skills to write at length and encourage a love of writing;
  • enables children to write with accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar;
  • expands the range of children’s writing to include a variety of text types;
  • increases the children’s ability to use planning, drafting and editing to improve their work;
  • enables children to express themselves confidently and clearly in all modes of literacy; and
  • enables our children to develop independence and self esteem.

Broad Guidelines

We use the National curriculum in England as the basis for implementing the statutory requirements of the programmes of study for English. We carry out the curriculum planning in English in two phases: a long-term overview across the year and detailed weekly plans.

The national curriculum in England details what we must teach across Key Stages. Each Year’s overview defines what genres are taught to ensure that there is an appropriate balance and distribution of text types across each term and Year group. See Appendix A for English curriculum overview for each year group.

Year groups complete a weekly (short-term) plan for the teaching of English. This lists the specific learning objectives for each lesson and provides details of the content and structure of the lesson. The class teacher keeps these individual plans and adapts as required for their class.

Speaking and Listening

We provide a wide variety of experiences where our children can encounter a range of audiences and activities which are designed to develop competence, precision and confidence in speaking and listening.

We place a high value on talking with and listening to our children. English lessons are planned to include use of talk partners, drama, debate and discussions.

Children are taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using standard English.  We encourage children to justify ideas with reading; ask questions to check understanding; develop vocabulary and build knowledge; negotiate and evaluate and build on the ideas of others.

Reading

To encourage children’s enjoyment of reading, each classroom should have an attractive, comfortable book area, containing a range of rich and stimulating texts; fiction, non-fiction and children’s own made books.

In Key Stage 1 we use a range of reading schemes at the early stages.  We teach a variety of reading cues: phonological, contextual, grammatical, graphic knowledge and prediction skills.

We have a wide range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and reference books in our two libraries. These books are for reference and for borrowing.  Children are taught to use dictionaries, thesauruses, glossaries and indexes.  All children are issued with book bags which they use to take home a ‘reading’ book of their own choice and their reading record.

Children are encouraged to read regularly at home – 10 minutes a day in KS1 and 20-30 minutes in KS2.  Children must keep a record of their reading and, in KS2, write half a page in their reading record about the book they have just finished reading. The reading record is closely monitored by the child’s class teacher.

In both Key Stages, children are encouraged to read one fiction text at a time so that they can immerse themselves into that text and gain a rich understanding of it.

In KS1 children read in class individually twice a week. Once each fortnight this reading will be with the class teacher and on all other occasions this will be with the teaching assistants.

In KS2 children are heard reading during guided/reciprocal reading (see below) which takes place at least three times a week.  This means that every child reads with their class teacher at least once a fortnight.

Children experience a wide range of reading activities in class including shared reading, reading circles, quiet reading, listening to stories,  writing, making and sharing own books etc. and group reading.

Guided reading/reciprocal reading takes place where the teacher discusses a set text with a group of children.  In this session, teachers assess children’s skills in understanding features of texts including summarising, predicting and inference.

Parents are supported and encouraged  to read with their children regularly and to help with reading in classes thus involving them in the process of supporting their child’s developing enjoyment and achievement

Reciprocal Reading (Years 3 – 6)

Reciprocal reading is a well-researched method used to develop learners’ reading skills, promote higher order thinking, develop listening and talking, and ensure access to the curriculum for all learners. During reciprocal reading children become the teacher in small group reading sessions. Teachers model reciprocal reading strategies (summarising, question generating, clarifying, and predicting) and then help students learn how to guide group discussions using these four strategies. Once students have learned the strategies, they take turns assuming the role of teacher in leading a dialogue about what has been read. Studies have also demonstrated that learners transfer their learning into other contexts. Reciprocal reading is organised to run for half an hour three times a week.

Each class is paired with another from a different year group for buddy reading where children take turns reading to each other and peer assessing their skills.  This develops talking and listening skills in both sets of children.

We allocate money for the purpose of buying books each year and all our books are chosen in line with our equal opportunities policy.  We run book two book fairs each year and the proceeds from these also go towards buying books.

Writing 

Teachers promote writing and look for ways to inspire and motivate pupils so that they see themselves as ‘writers’. Teachers establish the purpose and audience for writing and make teaching objectives explicit to pupils so they know why they are studying a particular text type, the kind of writing activities they need to undertake and what the expected outcome will be.

Children’s writing includes a variety of text types for example: narratives; explanations; descriptions and comparisons; diary writing; newspaper reports; instruction texts, report writing; argument and persuasion; play scripts and poetry.  Through these children are taught to:

  • develop the stamina and skills to write at length
  • write with accurate spelling and punctuation
  • use grammar correctly
  • increase their ability to use planning, drafting and editing to improve their work
  • plan draft and edit their writing to suit the purpose and audience
  • use computing as a literacy medium for presenting work and manipulating text
  • to form letters correctly, leading to a fluent joined and legible handwriting style

They experience a wide range of writing activities in their classrooms:- book making, story writing, reporting events, creative writing, recording information, poems, rhyming families etc.  Emphasis is given to developing a sense of audience, ensuring that writing is for a variety of real purposes, where possible.

Subject-specific texts that link to work being undertaken in other areas are also be used in literacy lessons to support the wider curriculum. Teachers use shared writing to model the writing process. Shared reading and writing provide a context for discussion and demonstration of grammatical features at word level, sentence level and text level. Activities are differentiated through the use of writing frames, spelling banks, collaborative work and peer or adult support. Teachers encourage ‘talk for writing’ as an integral part of the process.

Spelling, punctuation and grammar are taught as part of English lessons, as discrete lessons and during daily ‘grammar moments’. See our assessment criteria in Appendix 2, for the detail of grammar and punctuation taught.

Children write in pencil or in black school pens.

Spelling

We use a range of approaches to spelling.  Children experience activities in class in order to enable them to become competent, confident, accurate spellers:

–   shared writing

–   wide range of sound activities

–   word families

–   endings

–   rhymes

–   learning

In KS1, phonics is given  high priority in each class and in the early stages a minimum 15 minute discrete phonics session is delivered everyday. We follow a sequence of phonics teaching, based on the Letters and Sounds programme, which quickly introduces children to the single phonemes which they can manipulate through blending and segmenting to read and make cvc words. They then move on to 2 letters one sound, common patterns for long vowel phonemes, consonant clusters,  different representations of the same sound, word endings,  compound words, syllables, prefixes and suffixes as set out in the National Curriculum and record children’s progress in this area.

Children are taught the high frequency words as set out in the National Curriculum. They are also taught strategies to spell unknown words. E.g. identifying families of rhyming CVC words,to recognise onset and rime, to recognise features such as length, words within words, common spelling patterns, to blend, segment and separate phonemes and take note of tenses.

Children are encouraged to have a go at all spellings for themselves. They are taught to use word books, spelling checkers, dictionaries etc., where appropriate, to check or correct own spellings.

We use the ‘Look, Cover, Remember, Write, Check’ method to help the children to learn spellings where appropriate.  Spellings and word families are displayed around classrooms. This range is developed as more sounds etc.  are introduced in class work.

We send spellings home weekly throughout the school.

Handwriting

We use a standard style of handwriting throughout the school.

Children are encouraged, right from the start, to form a legible style, through patterning, tracing, copy writing and later drafting. They are shown how to form letters correctly, and are made aware from the beginning of upper and lower case letters – of ascenders and descenders, and finger spaces.  Children see models of handwriting in their class – through shared writing and displays.

They are taught to write in a cursive style as soon as appropriate for their individual development.

Handwriting is taught in addition to the daily English lesson.

Homework

Children are set weekly homework in order to strengthen their learning. In KS1 this comprises of an English and a spelling, punctuation and grammar task (SPAG).

In KS2 it comprises a writing task which may be a piece of creative writing or directly linked to current learning plus practice SATS papers in Year 6.

Assessment

Reading, writing and spelling development is monitored on a regular basis by the class teacher for formative assessment to assist the teacher’s planning.

Whole school Reading Assessment is carried out by the SEN teacher for target setting and tracking progress.

Spellings are assessed weekly by teachers.  In addition to this, spellings are assessed twice a year in KS2 by the SEN teacher for target setting and tracking progress.

Reading, writing and spelling assessments are carried out with all children three times a year. In KS2, children are expected to write independently for 45 minutes to one hour every week – fiction and non-fiction.

Each year children in Years  2 and 6 take part in SATs and their attainments are reported to parents and governors.

The staff moderate English samples through staff meetings and in order to update the school portfolio.

Special Educational Needs

Targeted children work in small groups each week to support their literacy development, speech and language and communications skills.  Children with Educational Health Plans are targeted with support outlined in those plans.

Each class has teaching assistants who work along side class teachers to support children with special needs.

Children with special needs are targeted for more individual reading support.

There are children of differing ability in all classes.  We recognise this fact and provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child.  During lessons, a range of strategies are used to ensure appropriate levelled learning takes place. We use teaching assistants to support some children and to enable work to be matched to the needs of individuals.

Resources

We have a wide range of resources for use in all areas of English which are continually being developed.  All classrooms have dictionaries, thesauruses and a range of age-appropriate literacy resources.  All classrooms have a selection of fiction and non-fiction texts. Children have access to the internet through a bank of i-pads and lap-tops.

The library contains a range of books to support children’s individual research as well as fiction and poetry. Year group guided reading texts are available as are further English resources, all of which are centrally stored in the English resource room.

Responding to Children’s Writing

Our marking policy is attached at Appendix C.

In addition to this, children’s independent writing is sometimes marked and discussed 1:1 between the pupil and class teacher.

Conclusion

As a school we are aware that all children are individuals and are entitled to a curriculum that bests suits their needs. We take this into consideration when planning and plan to the children’s needs and use the National Curriculum.

September 2016