English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
The aim for English is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
The English Curriculum at Wales Primary School aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with 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.
Good spoken language and attentive listening are the foundation skills for learning. Children are given every opportunity to discuss and question aspects of their work, as well as being encouraged to express and explore their thoughts and feelings. For our younger children imaginative play makes a valuable contribution as do all drama activities throughout school. Stories, TV, radio, poems and music are used widely to promote speaking and listening skills. Opportunities for discussion occur in all curriculum areas and our classroom organisation is such that children regularly work collaboratively. Assemblies, concerts and performances provide further opportunities for developing clarity of speech and confidence, when addressing larger audiences.
At Wales Primary School our children are taught to develop two aspects of reading:
- word reading
It is essential to develop pupils’ competence in both aspects and in order to do so we use different kinds of teaching. Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words.
All pupils are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum.
Pupils will be heard reading in a variety of situations: on a one to one basis, in a guided reading group or in a whole class context. They will read a variety or material from a range of different sources during the school day. In order to practice the skills and strategies taught at school an appropriate reading book and reading record will be allocated to each pupil for them to use at home.
Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. Pupils’ specific comprehension skills and strategies will be developed within Literacy lessons so that they can demonstrate their understanding of texts.
Underpinning word reading and comprehension is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why we emphasise phonics in the early teaching of reading when children start at our school. Phonics continues into Key Stage 1 where the focus shifts from individual letter sounds to graphemes and split diagraphs. Our school follows Letters and Sounds, however we use other appropriate phonics schemes and resources where necessary. Following on from this our pupils will draw on their phonic knowledge so that they can decode quickly and read with increasing fluency.
At Wales Primary School our children are taught to develop two aspects of writing:
- transcription (spelling and handwriting)
- composition (articulating ideas and structuring them in speech and writing).
It is essential to develop our pupils’ competence in these two dimensions, in addition to being taught how to plan, revise and evaluate their writing.
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words.
Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas, and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context, and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.
Throughout the primary age range, our children are offered a wide range of writing opportunities such as stories, letters, lists, instructions, reports, recipes etc. so that they can practice and refine their skills.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
Our children are taught to use the elements of Standard English: spelling, grammar and punctuation accurately and apply them independently. A grasp on the basics are essential for our children to achieve in Reading and Writing.
In EYFS the grammar of our language is learnt through interactions with other speakers and from reading. Explicit knowledge of grammar is, however, very important, as it gives us more conscious control and choice in our language. Building this knowledge is best achieved through a focus on grammar within the teaching of reading, writing and speaking.
Once our pupils are familiar with a grammatical concept they are encouraged to apply and explore this concept in the grammar of their own speech and writing and to note where it is used by others. Young pupils, in particular, use more complex language in speech than in writing, and teachers should build on this, aiming for a smooth transition to sophisticated writing.
In Key Stage 2 a more formal approach is taken to develop pupils’ knowledge and understanding of grammatical rules, accurate use of punctuation and spelling rules. Opportunities are then provided for pupils to apply their skills into different writing contexts across the curriculum.
Handwriting and Presentation
Writing also depends on fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting.
Handwriting and presentation is an important element of the English curriculum at Wales Primary School . There is an expected standard of presentation and handwriting style, which is appropriate to each child’s level of development. In EYFS pupils learn correct pencil grip, develop fine and gross motor skills and form each letter correctly. Handwriting is taught through the cursive style of letter formation in Key Stage 1. This is then developed and refined in a joined script during Key Stage 2.