English including Reading
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr Seuss
English Lead - Mrs Rachael Nash
Speaking and Listening
Speaking and listening is key to all learning at St Dennis Primary Academy. Oracy is a core driver which underpins learning to support cognitive, social and linguistic development across the whole curriculum. We aim for children to experience high quality and a wide range of language in order to develop the vocabulary and grammar they need to be successful readers and writers. We also aim for children to be confident and competent speakers and attentive listeners in order to develop further specific skills related to discussion and debate and perform with confidence in drama.
St Dennis Primary Academy is passionate about reading and storytelling. It is at the heart of our curriculum because we know that the capacity to learn, and to enjoy learning, goes hand in hand with reading skill. Throughout a child’s journey through our school, we strive to nurture a lifelong reader; teaching word reading and language comprehension as children need both of these elements to become good readers.
It is our intention to ensure that by the end of their primary education all children are able to read fluently, confidently and with understanding, in any subject, as well as have a love for reading. We aim to develop the Big Five; phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, which are the interconnected and underlying components of a good reader. (The National Reading Panel Report, 2000).
We also aim for children at St Dennis Primary Academy to love reading, choose to engage in a wide variety of texts and be motivated to continue reading and become life-long readers. This is because children who read more, and are therefore good at reading, learn more, expand their vocabulary and become academically more able.
At St Dennis Primary Academy, writing is pivotal to our curriculum. Alongside our passion for storytelling, communicating written ideas to others effectively is key. Through our cross curricular storytelling approach, all children from EYFS to Year 6 are provided with many opportunities to develop and apply their writing skills across the curriculum.
We believe that through the storytelling approach we can:
Embed our school values and drivers
Engage and motivate our writers
Provide a meaningful and relevant content for children to draw upon when writing
Help children internalise language patterns
Make SPaG explicit by weaving it directly into our texts
Our intention is for all pupils to be able to plan, edit and evaluate their writing, using a range of real-life writing contexts and to be able to write at length, building writing stamina. These skills are woven into the teaching structure at St. Dennis Primary Academy. Writing opportunities are closely linked to topics to give purpose and context to children’s writing.
Speaking and Listening
Through a high quality oracy education, our children learn through talk and learn to talk. They develop and deepen their subject knowledge and understanding through talk in the classroom, which has been planned, designed, modelled, scaffolded and structured to enable them to learn the skills needed to talk effectively.
The deliberate, explicit and systematic teaching of oracy across the whole school and throughout the curriculum, supports children to make progress in the four strands of oracy outlined in the Oracy Framework. Children are familiar with the four areas within the framework (physical, linguistic, cognitive, and social and emotional) and have a display in their classroom to support this.
At St Dennis Primary Academy, we use the Tower Hamlets Progression in Language Structures document to support planning for talk in a range of subjects and lessons across the curriculum. These sentence stems support children, at an age appropriate level, to articulate and justify their answers, arguments and opinions and give well-structured descriptions and explanations. They also support children to express their feelings, consider and evaluate viewpoints and build upon the contributions of others.
We provide a language rich environment through which adults talk with children throughout the day and provide a variety of ways for children to formulate answers in pairs and groups, before feeding back. We employ a 'no hands up' approach to provide more opportunities for learning and talk.
Each half term, a VIPERS reading certifcate is awarded for children who have been impressive in Book or Novel study lessons. There is also an Accelerated Reader certificate that is awarded by our Reading Champion for showing perseverance, dedication and enthusiasm in their reading. All of these children also choose a book as a prize!
All children who read 25 times during the half term also receive a certificate. These reading achievements are shared in a dedicated reading newsletter.
A more recent addition has been Book Bingo! To encourage children to read more of a range of texts, books that are age approriate are chosen on a topic or theme. Children can then click the links on the Book Bingo sheet to listen to the stories, or borrow them from our library as a book for pleasure. Once they have enjoyed them all, children receive a special book mark as a prize!
Our aim is for books and texts to be across the Five Plagues of Reading Spines to broaden the range of texts children enjoy. For more information on these, please click here.
RWI videos for parents and carers
At St Dennis Primary Academy, we use a storytelling approach across the school to ensure a consistent and systematic process to teaching the skills of writing across all cohorts. This approach is familiar to all children as they move through the school.
Early writing is taught through mark making, then when the children begin their phonics learning, they are taught letter formation. They are encouraged to write independently in continuous provision. This process continues into Year 1, where children are expected to use the sounds they have been taught. They have access to RWI sound mats when they are writing, have regular opportunities to learn and practise handwriting and are expected to apply it across the curriculum.
Storytelling is a daily activity with traditional tales and more modern stories retold many times to the children so they learn them by heart. During the spring term in Reception, the children move towards implementing the ‘stages’ of storytelling as outlined below.
In Key Stages 1 & 2, classes follow the whole school long term English plan, which maps out the cross-curricular texts or films to be used each term. The texts or films are carefully linked to our curriculum topics, providing real life writing contexts. (See Year 3 example below.)
Texts are written with the age appropriate requirements for spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG), which is taught through the model text, but also through discrete lessons. The texts and films are split into fiction and non-fiction and cover a wide range of genres over the year.
There are 4 stages to the writing process:
Stage 1 - Imitation, where the children learn a high quality model text off by heart using a range of oracy strategies.
Stage 2 - Exploration, where children use structured language activities to explore the spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) contained within the text, before then identifying the specific features that are needed for the text type.
Stage 3 - Innovation, where children ‘box-up’ the text and plan a new version. This stage is modelled and guided by the teacher.
Stage 4 - Invention, where the children invent their own compositions, using all the skills they have acquired over the other stages as a scaffold to write independently.
In KS1 and KS2 teachers collect a range of cold writing tasks, distance writing and cross curricular linked writing. Teachers use moderation materials to assess writing, across year groups and across phases, during the year.
Spellings that are practised in school and at home, link to RWI or key words pertinent to specific year groups. These will be in children’s home-school planners.
Assessment in English
We use a range of assessment tools to assess children's progress in English. All progress in English is collated on Year group assessment grids and used to inform pupil progress meetings and targeted support for intervention groups.
RWI assessments are taken half termly and used to inform future groupings sothat children are moved swiftly through the programme.
Accelerated Reader Star tests are taken half termly to ensure children are reading at the correct ZPD levels, therefore enabling them to read books with content and ability matched.
Termly PIRA tests in all classes, with diagnostic reports to enable teachers to plan next steps in learning.
The reading of common exception words is tracked across the school, to support fluency.
Distance writing books for every child, from Reception to Year 6. This book moves with the children throughout their time at school and the writing is used as evidence to support internal and external assessment.
Termly GAPS tests in all classes, with diagnostic reports to enable teachers to plan next steps in learning.
The spelling of common exception words is tracked across the school, to support transcription.
To validate assessments in writing, Truro and Penwith Academy Trust moderation events are held throughout the academic year.
Speaking and Listening
Through a planned approach to speaking and listening children are able to:
Listen and respond appropriately and fluently using good English
Ask questions to extend their learning
Build their vocabulary across the whole curriculum to become successful readers and writers
Competently and confidently articulate their opinions, arguments and answers
Express their feelings and show respect for others
Show confidence when taking part in a range of drama type activities
Through our approach to reading our children are able to:
Read a wide range of texts
Understand and enjoy a wide range of genres
Decode words fluently
Possess a broad and deep vocabulary knowledge
Read fluently, accurately and with appropriate expression
Develop reading stamina
Ask appropriate questions
Read for pleasure
Through our approach to writing our children are able to:
- Write fluently
- Be able to spell words, knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics), understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words
- Articulate and communicate ideas coherently
- Write a range of genres with clarity, an awareness of the audience, purpose and context
- Use an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary and grammar
- Write with fluent, legible and, eventually, speedy handwriting
The quality of writing across the school is evaluated by learning walks, pupil conferencing and book looks.
How does English promote British Values?
As a school, we value and celebrate living in, and being part of, Britain. Our English storytelling texts are often centred around key historical British themes, events and people such as the monarchy in Year 2, Shakespearean texts in Year 5 and World War II in Year 6.
Children have many opportunities to have their voices heard and share their opinions during English lessons at St Dennis Primary Academy. They take turns and listen to others’ answers and views when discussing books or texts. They respect the right of every individual to have their own thoughts and voices heard. Children write their own speeches for presentations to discuss current issues.
Rules and Laws
Through English, the importance of rules and laws are reinforced in different ways. There are clear rules for Novel Study, which are shared before each session. There are non-negotiable expectations for written work. Children at St Dennis Primary Academy are rewarded not only for achievement in English, but for behaviour and general adherence to the school or class rules. Rewards are given in the form of certificates and prizes for Reading. Children’s achievements are recognised during our weekly Star assembly and often feature English specific accomplishments.
We promote freedom of choice in English lessons and the right to respectfully express views and beliefs. Through the provision of a safe, supportive environment, we provide boundaries for our pupils to make choices safely. For example, choices about what learning challenge or activity they will complete in English, choices about how they record their ideas when planning to write and choices about which writing aids they will select to help scaffold and support their compositions. In Accelerated Reader, our children are encouraged to independently choose their own reading book to take home. They also understand that with rights come responsibilities and they must take a pride in their English work and look after their book bags and reading books.
Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
At St Dennis Primary Academy, we are proud to promote and celebrate different backgrounds and beliefs. We provide pupils with the opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view in English. We choose stories from different faiths and cultures to read, such as the storytelling text ‘Monkey see, Monkey do,’ in Year 2 which is a story from Mali, West Africa and in the Novel Study text ‘Rain Player’ by David Wisniewski, which is based on ancient Mayan beliefs, studied by Year 5.
Spiritual - English supports spiritual development by engaging children with poetry, fiction and drama. Children explore the feelings and values found in a wide range of genres, through discussion and debate. For example, when studying the novel ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar in Year 6, it encourages the discussion of the difference between good and bad, considering the impact of conscience. The study of texts like this gives children the opportunity to think about the consequences of right and wrong behaviour, applying this to their own lives. Creative writing and the study of poetry provides an opportunity to reflect on their own beliefs and establish their own relationship with language. Writing is expressive and allows for the freedom to be creative and experiment.
Moral - English supports moral development by encouraging children to look, discuss and evaluate a range of social and moral issues found in genres. During the study of fiction, children are able to analyse characters and events to explore the consequences of negative actions and are given the opportunity to consider different perspectives and empathise with other characters. For instance, when Year 5 study Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, it poses a range of topics and themes for debate such as the dangers of power and ambition. Novel Studies in upper KS2 deal with moral questions, such as disability, race and homelessness. Writing non-fiction texts such as newspaper articles, leaflets, reports and reviews help children to apply fiction to real life scenarios.
Cultural - English supports social development by helping children to understand how written and spoken language has changed over time and also social attitudes to language. Debate is an important aspect of the subject, giving logical arguments with respect, rationality and thoughtfulness. English lessons promote cooperation and teamwork through being able to work in groups, listening to presentations and asking questions. Real issues encourage students to think about the world outside of school and give opinions on topics that may affect them in the future for example, in Year 4 when learning about the Amazon Rainforest, children are required to take on various roles and argue a point of view.
Social - English supports the cultural development of children by exposing them to a wide range of written and spoken language from a range of cultures. Shakespeare, poetry and non-fiction texts enable students to explore their own and other cultures. The poetry built into the English long-term plan across every year, requires pupils to build an understanding of what culture and tradition is and means to people. English Literature requires pupils to appreciate and understand the works of writers from different cultures.