The National Curriculum for English aims to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. Its key aims are:
- to develop children’s reading skills to enable them to read with fluency and with secure comprehension of age appropriate texts.
- to encourage children’s wider reading habits for both pleasure and for information across a range of different genres, authors and forms
- to ensure children develop a wide range of vocabulary in both written and in spoken form including an understanding of grammar that underpins our use of language
- to appreciate our rich and varied heritage
- to ensure that children write clearly and accurately, adapting their language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- to ensure children understand and accurately apply spelling conventions
- to ensure children can use spoken language to elaborate and explain their understanding and ideas in a clear way
- to ensure that children are competent in the art of speaking and listening, making formal presentations and participating in debate
At Hook Junior School, we believe that a high-quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and speaking and listening. Through the teaching of English, we are equipping children with key life skills, enabling them to communicate effectively in a range of both spoken and written forms across all subjects and in a range of contexts. Language is fundamental to understanding word meaning and to develop our views and opinions of the world around us, so it is crucial for children to learn to communicate fluently in both spoken and written form. Through using high-quality texts, immersing children in vocabulary rich learning environments and ensuring curriculum expectations and the progression of skills are met. The children at Hook Junior School are exposed to a high-quality language, creative and continuous English curriculum which not only enables them to become primary literate, but also develops a love of reading, creativity and purposeful writing opportunities as well as enhanced speaking and listening skills. Our English curriculum provides children with all the necessary tools they will need in further education and to participate fully as a member of society.
English Curriculum Implementation
Our aims are embedded across our English curriculum as well as the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well-organised English curriculum that provides purposeful opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. English is planned and taught across the school, building upon the needs and interests of the children and supported by high-quality texts. Where it is purposeful to do so, we make cross-curricular links, enabling children to draw upon their prior knowledge.
Children are taught together in mixed ability classes to support all children to achieve. Teachers use effective modelling and assessment for learning to enable children to progress quickly. If more time needs to be spent on mastering particular key learning, teaching is adapted accordingly. Learning is sequenced progressively and teaching scaffolds the learning. Scaffolding and additional support is provided for children who may be struggling to grasp a concept, which may include differentiated work, additional resources, pre-teach/pre-read, closing the gap interventions or guided group teaching to ensure all children make progress so that all children can access the curriculum. More able children are encouraged to think about author intent which results in them being able to consider authorial voice when writing in character. A focus on word and sentence level work is effectively woven into all lessons to support strong outcomes.
Speaking and Listening
- We value the importance of Speaking and Listening skills and we aware that in order to become confident writers, the children first need to be confident speakers. Speaking and listening opportunities are threaded through our learning to ensure there is time to orally rehearse before writing. Our commitment to the ‘Let’s Think in English’ programme further embeds the importance of speaking and listening skills – we are acutely aware of the importance of these skills in the future of our children’s lives in the workplace and beyond. The principles of ‘Let’s Think in English’ allows children to develop higher order reading skills such as inference, deduction and analysis through discussion, problem solving and structured reflection. Our teaching allows for discussion which builds collaboration, resilience, understanding and confidence for children to express and justify their ideas.
Each year group has a particular Speaking and Listening focus each term – Presentation, Debate and Performance - and children are given an opportunity to showcase these skills in a range of contexts within English lessons and across the curriculum.
Reading encompasses two core strands:
- word reading (decoding)
Our reading curriculum is designed to develop children’s knowledge, skills and understanding in these strands.
When children are admitted, their reading is assessed by their class teacher to provide stage appropriate reading scheme books; children progress through the school’s reading scheme (Oxford Reading Tree Stages 1-16). For children whose reading is behind, additional interventions, including phonics, and extra reading is put in place to enable them to catch up quickly.
Our school is well-stocked with a variety of genres from our reading scheme. Children are also encouraged to borrow a book of their choice from the library to broaden their experience and motivation in reading. Adults in school listen to children read frequently and class teachers are responsible for moving children up the stages informed by their comprehension and decoding ability.
Guided reading occurs daily in all year groups across the school, with all classes following a consistent structure (detailed in the table). Year Teams are responsible for choosing age appropriate, yet suitably challenging, texts for guided reading. The books selected across the key stage cover a range of themes and conventions, genres and forms. Every year group has a fiction and non-fiction focus per term usually linked to their topic.
This is the Guided Reading weekly structure:
A section of text for the week is shared with the class. It is then explored with the whole class and provides an opportunity for teachers to model reading aloud. Through this session children gain a deep understanding of the text by exploring word meaning and basic comprehension through rich dialogic talk.
Year 6: The lesson begins with an ‘image starter’ with children responding as a class to a retrieval, inference and choice question for it.
All Year groups:
The children take on a reading role with the aim of developing rich dialogic talk between the children about the text. Each week the children take on a different role.
- Questioner: To write their own questions about the text.
- Summariser: To summarise the main points of the text which has been read.
- Predictor: To predict the next part of the text using evidence from the text to support their views.
- Clarifier: To identify words/phrases/longer sections in the text which are harder to understand. They use their skills to interpret the meaning for their group to gain a more complete understanding of the text.
Children take on their role independently, share with their ‘home’ group their ideas and then the groups respond.
The lesson begins with an ‘image starter’ with children responding as a class to a retrieval, inference and choice question for it.
The teacher models how to construct written responses to questions about the text. Metacognition is used to model how answers are found in the text and how to construct a written answer. Children are made aware of different strands of reading and a range of question types are covered.
Year 6 – The teacher models questions with the class (as in other year groups) and then children work independently to answer questions similar in style to the modelled responses. The teacher may choose to work with a particular group during this session.
Children work independently to answer questions similar in style to the modelled responses of the teacher from the previous session. The teacher may choose to work with a particular group of children during this session.
Year 6:Children respond to a ‘cold read’ / unfamiliar text and answer questions guided or independently through it.
Children respond to next step marking. Teachers will have groups prepared for specific children and close gaps in learning from the week. This could be, but not limited to the following:
-revisiting particular questions from the previous day based on misconceptions or class weaknesses. Teachers may then provide another question, particularly prioritising inference objectives for the children to have another go at after discussion.
- exploring characters motives through a role on the wall
- shared reading of more of the text
- typing up and sharing different children’s responses from the Thursday independent questions.
When children join Hook Junior children in Year 3, they complete a baseline assessment (using a previous KS1 SATs paper) to generate a standardised reading score. At the end of years 3, 4 and 5 children complete a NFER end of year reading comprehension to monitor progress with standardised reading scores. The test supplements teacher assessment of all aspects of reading.
The National Curriculum for Writing consists of:
- Transcription – spelling and handwriting
- Composition – articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing (this includes planning, drafting, writing, evaluating, proof-reading, editing and reading aloud their work)
- Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation
At Hook Junior School, we ensure that writing is purposeful. Children write with their chosen audience in mind, constantly assessing their own word choices and style of language to ensure that they are engaging the reader in the appropriate manner for each genre of writing. Children are provided with a range of experiences to enable them to write for different purposes and audiences as specified in our long-term plan. We constantly provide opportunities for pupils to develop their grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure and discussion skills through embedding them as part of the writing journey. For children to master these skills, teachers plan so that writing progressively builds upon children’s prior learning and individual starting points. Lessons are also planned to provide regular opportunities to revisit and apply writing skills to different contexts, including revision and consolidation tasks as starters to lessons.
We teach five writing lessons per week in all year groups. We focus upon developing children’s understanding and knowledge of grammar and vocabulary development to enable children to select and manipulate their choice of language as is appropriate for their purpose, audience and form. We specifically plan to expose children to a broad variety of rich vocabulary, through using high quality text choices, adult language modelling and language exploration from texts.
A typical learning journey in English may last between 2-4 weeks. Throughout the journey, children are aware of the purpose, audience and outcome of their writing and develop their vocabulary around this subject. Speaking and listening skills are threaded throughout. Once initial discussions, research and ideas have been formed alongside using skills, knowledge, understanding of grammar and punctuation to suit a variety of writing forms, children create a first draft. Editing time is a crucial part of the writing process, children edit their writing following effective feedback against the learning target and success criteria; children edit their writing for sense, style, impact and accuracy. Once the children have reached their best writing outcome, they publish their final draft in their Creative Writing books. Children are very proud of their Creative Writing books which remains with the children throughout their time at Hook Junior School as a portfolio of their high-quality writing.
When writing, children are expected to follow the school handwriting policy and present work to a high standard. Handwriting is taught discretely following the Nelson scheme linked to spelling, to ensure correct letter formation, spacing, legibility and fluency of style.
The teaching of spelling at Hook Junior School is supported by the spelling lists for KS2 from the National Curriculum and the ‘No Nonsense’ spelling programme; spelling is taught discretely three times per week. Opportunities to revisit phonics, spelling rules, to consolidate spelling patterns and learn spelling anomalies are integrated into spelling lessons and all English lessons. Children are tested on their weekly spelling rule once a week following two lessons of learning the rule and home learning is provided to further consolidate their understanding. A final dictation is given to see if children can apply the spelling words/rules in context.
On entry to Year 3, the children who did not pass the phonics screening are reassessed in order to support teaching and learning and provide additional spelling intervention where required. Read Write Inc. is used as an additional catch up intervention for children across the school whose spelling and/or reading is behind their age-related expectations.
Throughout KS2, the children are exposed to and taught a range of spelling strategies which can be used to support their spelling learning – a mixture of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. We aim to encourage meta-cognitive thinking so the children are able to use strategies which work best for them. We build on the phonics learning in KS1 and use the KS1 phonics screening data to address gaps in children’s learning. We continue to use and build upon the technical vocabulary from KS1 phonics with the children (phonemes, graphemes, digraphs etc.) so that they are confident to identify different parts of spelling and we use an investigatory approach for different patterns/ rules (for example, regular and irregular). Some of the strategies we may use include: Look, say, cover, write, check; syllabic segmenting; pyramid words; drawing around the word to show the shape; word maps; mnemonics.
Reading and Writing across the curriculum
Children are exposed to high-quality reading and writing learning opportunities across the whole curriculum. Children are aware that high standards in reading and writing are maintained regardless of which ‘lesson’ they are in and that they should always be writing to the best of their ability. This includes both handwriting and composition and effect.
In the wider curriculum, we aim to make cross-curricular links with other subjects and use high-quality, challenging texts to deepen skills, knowledge and understanding with reading and writing across different forms and genres. We make natural connections between subjects to support understanding. For example, a geography unit on coastal erosion may fit well with an English unit on descriptive writing.
Feedback and Assessment
Teachers continually assess all aspects of English through daily assessment of children’s work and from their responses. Feedback is given either in a verbal or written form. Misconceptions are addressed either through marking in books or through teacher questions and pupil responses during lessons, allowing pupils the chance to adapt and improve in order to master. Teacher assessment is used to inform future planning which is adapted to ensure lessons meet individual needs and pace of their class.
At the end of each term, a summative teacher assessment for reading and writing is made based on pupils’ independent work and sometimes tests. Whole school reading and writing data is analysed by the Reading and Writing Leader to support improvement in learning, future subject planning, intervention and professional development with subject specific teaching and learning.
Year 6 children create a portfolio of writing evidence throughout the year demonstrating their writing skills against the Key Stage 2 assessment framework. This supports teacher assessment for KS2 writing SATS results. Y6 teachers use this evidence to make a teacher assessment judgement for their pupils’ end of year results.
Teaching, learning and pupil achievement in English is monitored regularly by the Reading and Writing Leader, team leaders and then supported and held to account by the senior leadership team. Learning is monitored through pupil data, pupil books and planning monitoring, learning walks, lesson observations and pupil conferencing. This information is used to identify strengths and areas for development against the subject strategic action plan in order to continually drive improvement.
English Curriculum Impact
The organisation of the English curriculum (through our LTP and MTP), supports our aim to develop enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy and can showcase their literacy knowledge and skills across a range of contexts, subjects and genres.
Over the course of KS2, the children are able to revisit, consolidate and build on prior learning in all aspects of English with different writing genres and exposure to different text types. This helps our children build conceptual links in their learning and close any gaps in learning from year three to year six. Children are confident to take risks in their reading and writing, love to discuss and share their ideas and are able to reflect on their work.
Our performance data reflects the impact of our English curriculum with Hook Junior School children achieving consistently higher than the national average in both Reading and Writing (both at the expected level and at the greater depth level). Children become successful at reading and writing. As a result, our children transition to secondary school well-equipped for the challenges ahead.