“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr Seuss
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 the systematic skills of decoding and comprehension but as importantly, the awe and wonder of reading.
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).
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
- Improve oracy
- Improve vocabulary
- 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. 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.
The systematic teaching of phonics in Reception and KS1 is a high priority at St Dennis and it is taught daily through the RWI scheme. RWI continues throughout KS2 to Year 6 with the daily use of the RWI Spelling program running alongside. To support the teaching of reading across the school we use VIPERS within whole class Novel Study time to aid the recall of the 6 reading domains of the UK’s reading curriculum (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Sequence/Summarise). These are the key areas which we feel children need to know and understand in order to improve their comprehension of texts. These 6 domains focus on the comprehension aspect of reading and not the mechanics: decoding, fluency, prosody etc. As such, VIPERS is not a reading scheme but rather a method of ensuring that teachers ask, and students are familiar with, a range of questions. They allow the teacher to track the type of questions asked and the children’s responses to these which allows for targeted questioning.
Our home reading books are matched to RWI levels and Accelerated Reader ZPD’s. Accelerated Reader is used by children when they have completed RWI. Reading books are taken home daily to share with parents and carers.
EYFS and KS1 have a daily story time and regularly make use of our inviting library. Every classroom has a welcoming reading corner with a wide selection of recommended high quality, fiction and non-fiction texts, and topic themed books. Reading is encouraged through classroom displays, including a reading reward chart, RWI sounds, vocabulary, VIPERS, sentence stems and a school display of adults being reading role models.
We value rewarding good reading habits and have half termly assemblies for Accelerated Reader word millionaire and other reading rewards. Books are used as prizes.
Special occasions to foster a love of reading include World Book Day, Book Fairs, visitors and visiting authors and the reading in the clays scheme.
Read, Write, Inc.
Children in Reception to Year 3 who are learning to read are grouped according to their stage of reading, so that we can teach them at the correct level.
Within these groups, children read each Read Write Inc. Storybook three times in class with their partner. Re-reading the same book helps children to become confident readers. We set a focus for each re-read in school. The first read focuses on reading every word accurately. The second on reading the story more fluently and quickly. The third on comprehension - understanding what they read. Children take home this book and an additional book-bag book to read and enjoy again and again with parents and carers. We do not send stories home the children cannot read because we always want them to be set up to succeed in their reading. We want to make sure they enjoy reading so that they want to read. The more they read, the faster progress they will make.
Accelerated Reader is a computer program that helps teachers and librarians manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Children choose a book at a pre-determined level and read it. When finished, they take a short quiz on the computer (passing the quiz is an indication that they have understood what was read). Accelerated Reader gives children, teachers, and librarians feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.
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. 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.
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, drop ins, pupil conferencing and work scrutinies.
How does English promote British Values?
Being Part of Britain
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, people and events such as the topics ‘Do all super heroes wear capes?’ which focuses on Grace Darling in Year 1 and ‘Why is the Monarchy so important?’ in Year 2. In Year 5, Shakespearean texts are studied and the film unit ‘Beyond the Lines’ in Year 6 focuses on World War II.
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.