Our Curriculum Intent
Our English curriculum provides pupils with the necessary knowledge, skills, vocabulary, and understanding needed to be confident, articulate, and creative in their written and oral communication.
Our Curriculum Goals
Our curriculum ensures that all pupils:
- Can read easily, fluently, and with a good understanding
- Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar, and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing, and spoken language
- Appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- Write clearly, accurately, and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes, and audiences
- Use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- Are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
Teaching of Reading
Reading is a skill we use every day. Whether a road sign or a novel, at the supermarket or the library, reading is an integral part of our lives. It is not merely a functional tool but a mechanism by which we can acquire knowledge and new ideas, gaining a greater understanding of the world around us. At Greenholm reading is given a high priority and pupils are taught a wider range of reading and comprehension skills alongside a systematic approach to teaching decoding from reception to year 6.
For effective reading comprehension we believe children need the following:
- Automatic decoding, fluency, and reading miles
- Good vocabulary and oral language
- Active strategies in the moment of reading
- Effective after-text strategies to answer questions
A problem in any one of these areas will result in a problem with reading comprehension.
Therefore we have embedded a set of reading strategies to support children’s understanding and comprehension of a text ‘in the moment’ of reading. Teachers teach and model these strategies. The strategies are linked to all the outcomes in the National Curriculum and EYFS for reading.
Reading is taught in a variety of different ways:
- Shared Read – Class shared text used to support writing and where appropriate linked to the wider curriculum.
- Guided Reading – Small group. Teacher-led. Reading a text appropriately matched to the pupil’s reading age and ability.
- Cross-Curricular – Pupils use and apply the reading skills they have already learned to develop their knowledge and understanding across the curriculum.
If children are working below their chronological reading age, targeted intervention and support is put in place. Children in all classes still have access to story time and have a shared text that gives them the context for their work and learning in writing. Teachers instil in children a love of literature through the use of high quality, age-appropriate text which have been carefully chosen to provide links to other curriculum areas and broaden pupil’s knowledge of literary heritage. (Link Reading Text Overview)
Early Reading and Phonics
We use the DFE recommended ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics scheme as our systematic way of teaching early reading and phonics skills.
The direct, focused teaching of phonics is taught every day in Reception and key stage 1. Children are taught new sounds in a structured teaching sequence and then apply their knowledge, reading from books with the sounds they know, while they are learning to read.
Ongoing assessments ensure that pupil's progress is carefully monitored and teachers and teaching assistants provide extra practice throughout the day for the children who find reading more challenging.
All children in Year 3 and above are expected to be able to read age-appropriate books by teachers. Again, where pupils find the process of reading more challenging, appropriate interventions and support are put in place to ensure they catch up with their peers.
Wider Reading Experiences
Reading is not just given a high profile in classrooms at Greenholm. Around the school, you will find displays which celebrate authors, inspiring reading corners and spaces, children’s favourite book, authors, genres and recommended reads. At Greenholm, we celebrate reading throughout every phase in school. In addition, throughout the school year, the importance of reading is enhanced through World Book Day, Book Fairs, and other reading events to further enrich our English curriculum.
Children spend time enjoying reading for pleasure in our classrooms during a dedicated reading for pleasure time. When we read for pleasure, pupils are able to choose the books they wish to read and enjoy. Additionally, every day, pupils share a story in their classrooms; adults read a class book aloud to the children to further promote a love for reading.
The school is also fortunate to have 2 libraries which the pupils are given the opportunity to visit weekly to broaden their range of reading experiences.
Across the year, pupils also take part in a variety of different events to develop pupils reading for pleasure such as ‘World Book Day’ and other curriculum weeks such as ‘Anti-bullying week’, where books are used as the basis for learning that week.
We acknowledge that it is the job of school staff to teach a child how to read and to develop as a reader. However, we know that the best readers will also be reading within the home environment. Parents are encouraged to listen to their children read at home and able readers are expected to read independently at home to build reading mileage.
In KS1, children take at least one ‘reading book’ home every week. In reception and year 1, reading books are matched to the pupil’s phonics teaching and needs. Once the children have reached age related expectations and are fluent at this level at the end of year 1, in year 2 they move on book banded books. Once the pupils are fluent and confident readers in year 3 they are then encouraged to select their own home readers at the appropriate level for their reading development.
We use a range of different reading schemes in school to give our pupils a broad and wide range of reading experiences.
Parents are asked to comment/sign their children’s reading record book every time their child reads at home. Teachers and TAs write comments when they hear children read individually in KS1 and in KS2 teachers monitor how often the pupils are read and how often they are changing their books. They also include guidance for parents about how to best support their children in reading, for instance, examples of questions that they can ask, strategies that are being practised, and how to praise specific elements such as intonation and fluency. In upper Key Stage 2, pupils take more responsibility for logging when they have read and write a comment about what they have read.
We also use ‘Bug Club’ to encourage children to read a wider range of reading material at home.
Vocabulary Enrichment and Development
At Greenholm we recognise the importance of helping children develop both the ability to understand spoken and written language and acquiring a control of language that enables them to express their ideas and feelings clearly.
One key aspect of a child’s language development is the growth of their vocabulary – the words they can understand and the words they use to communicate. Research has shown a strong relationship between vocabulary and comprehension, where a broad vocabulary (knowing lots of words) and a deep vocabulary (knowing those words well) correlates with better understanding. When children write, a wider vocabulary gives them a rich palette with which to express their ideas, choosing a word to communicate with elegance and precision. Therefore, we have a clear focus on the direct teaching of vocabulary and value its importance to academic success across the whole curriculum. The school environment is also language rich, to support this development. Weekly whole school assemblies also teach and enrich pupils' vocabulary each week.
‘We want to inspire each generation of writers to enjoy expressing their original ideas masterfully through the English language’
‘All pupils should write clearly, accurately and coherently adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences’ DfE 2016
At Greenholm Primary School, we use the DfE’s National Curriculum for English (2014) to guide the teaching of writing throughout the school. This encompasses both transcription (handwriting and spelling) and composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing). Any writing task undertaken by pupils is underpinned by a focus on audience and purpose, in order for children to be aware of who they are writing for and why they are writing.
Pupils begin to use the school handwriting script in EYFS, where pupils are provided with opportunities to write their own thoughts in a variety of independent and supported settings in both indoor and outdoor environments. They begin to form letters correctly and this continues throughout the school. Pupils have the chance to articulate their own ideas linked to class texts or their own interests and this forms the basis for the composition of their writing. Across the school, there is a focus on analysing good quality writing for audience and purpose to form a basis for children’s own writing. Writing is then modelled by the teacher before children are given opportunities to rehearse the skills they have learnt and apply them in a range of independent contexts. As pupils move into KS2, they are expected to plan their writing and write for a wider range of audiences, purposes and in a variety of genres.
Grammar is taught daily across the school linked to the grammar appendix. Grammatical terminology is introduced gradually as the pupils move through the school and knowledge and understanding is developed contextually and applied in pupils’ writing. Pupils sit the punctuation and grammar statutory assessment test at the end of KS2.
Spelling is taught weekly in school according to the spelling appendix. Pupils are introduced to a rule through a taught lesson and spellings are sent home for homework. Following this, pupils are given a weekly spelling test.
Handwriting is timetabled weekly across the school and pupils are taught the importance of clear and neat presentation. They are introduced to the school script in EYFS and are given the opportunity to develop their own style, with the aim of having developed handwriting which is fluent, joined and legible by the end of Year 4.