English is the ability to read, write, speak and listen in a way that lets us communicate effectively and make sense of the world.
At Elmhurst Junior School, it is our intention when teaching the English curriculum that our pupils acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding to become lifelong learners. We strive to ensure that all our pupils receive a well-rounded learning experience when reading, writing, speaking and listening which will equip them with the fundamental tools to achieve at Elmhurst and beyond. It is our intention to immerse pupils in the wonders of quality texts to instil a love for reading, a passion for discovery and a confidence to explore their imagination.
The aims of teaching English, as outlined in the national curriculum are 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.
English lessons at Elmhurst Junior School develop pupils’ spoken language, reading, writing and grammar and vocabulary:
Our pupils are encouraged to read for pleasure and to read widely. The children are heard reading individually and in groups. Each child receives focused whole class reading sessions each week that not only teach the skills associated with reading but also build on comprehension skills and allow discussions to take place. Age appropriate texts are carefully chosen and the children answer VIPERS questions four times per week. Once per week, the children use a ‘Reading Explorers’ text and answer a range of carefully chosen questions independently. This supports teachers to identify individual areas for development for each child. We believe that every child has the right to be read to by their teacher every day and use this to develop the children’s knowledge of authors and genres.
Children who are working towards the expected standard in phonics at the end of KS1 are assessed on entry using Read, Write Inc materials. Those who still need daily phonics are grouped according to ability and use the Read, Write Inc programme to ensure the gap with peers is closed. Read, Write Inc is used as an intervention in year 4. Year 5 and 6 use Fresh Start. Children needing phonics teaching are assessed and regrouped every six to eight weeks.
Staff use book banding to help track the reading of children in their classes. Parents are given clear expectations about reading at home. We celebrate those children who read four times or more at home each week and support those who are not currently meeting that expectation in school. All children have access both to the school library and to class book corners during independent reading sessions. These are designed to encourage reading for pleasure and to allow access to a wide range of high-quality children’s literature.
We develop writing skills so that our pupils have the stamina and ability to write at the age expected standard. To support children in moving towards independent writing we provide a wide range of activities including use of high quality texts, model texts, film and imagery, modelled, shared and guided writing, peer editing and discussion. We use these techniques to encourage pupils to express their ideas, exchange ideas and to develop more sophisticated vocabulary.
Children learn, through the use of high-quality model texts, how different genres work both in terms of the overall structure and in terms of the language patterns that make them distinctive. This allows for an integrated approach to grammar teaching as the skills of sentence structure are taught within the context of an overall piece of writing. Grammar may also be taught through discrete top-up lessons where appropriate.
Writing is a focus across all subjects at Elmhurst – we look for as many opportunities for both short and extended writing tasks as possible outside of the literacy curriculum and expect children to apply the skills they have been taught. Spelling is taught discretely using the scheme of work produced by Spelling Shed and is delivered through a weekly spelling lesson and follow up work on a daily basis.
We provide opportunities for writing for purpose and we encourage pupils to see themselves as authors. A range of extra activities are used to promote literacy within the school including World Book Day and regular author visits. In all classes, there are children of differing ability; we provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the needs and ability of the child. This is achieved through a number of strategies including differentiated group work, mixed ability pairs or groups and open ended tasks, investigations and analysis. Teaching assistants are used to provide appropriate support to individuals or groups.
Outcomes in pupils’ English books and reading records provide clear evidence of a broad and balanced curriculum and demonstrates children’s acquisition of key knowledge. The impact of the English curriculum is measured through a variety of assessment opportunities. In class, Reading, Writing and Grammar are formatively assessed on a lesson-by-lesson basis through the use of verbal feedback, written feedback, peer and self-review in line with the school’s Feedback for Learning Policy. This evidence informs teacher assessment and is used to guide the children’s learning journey. Attainment in writing is measured consistently throughout the year.
We have worked with our English advisor to devise a new assessment system which we use for each piece of assessed writing. We complete three pieces of assessed writing per academic term. We use Cornerstones termly to track the academic level of each child. In KS2, children will be taught to self-correct, edit and improve their writing and that of others. Evidence of this can be found in books, in purple pen. To measure the impact of Reading, the school uses NFER papers in Years 3-5 and past SATS papers in Year 6 to measure attainment against a national standardised score .
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific grammar, punctuation and grammar objectives.
We hope that as children move on from Elmhurst Junior School to further their education and learning, that their creativity, passion for English and high aspirations travel with them and continue to grow and develop as they do.
Help with reading at home
Read Write Inc: Parent support page