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Willowcroft Community School

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English

English Intent

Our primary aim in English is to provide children with the tools to express themselves and share their thoughts and opinions in a considered, articulate manner at school and in the wider world. Our foremost priority is early reading and to ensure that all children, whatever their situation will learn to read by the end of Key Stage 1. Children will learn to read through a systematic, synthetic phonics approach which is taught consistently in each class. Our aim is to equip children with a rich language ‘bank’ on which they can draw for understanding, speaking and writing. They will develop a love for books and will draw on rich texts to enable them to understand different situations and experiences. Additionally, our curriculum and cross-curricular opportunities help children to expand their horizons, exploring new ideas, situations and characters, developing informed opinions and listening carefully to the ideas of others. As they move through school, children will learn authorial skills of punctuation, spelling and grammar that will increasingly enable them to consider and adapt their writing style and vocabulary to suit their audience.

Writing is taught daily through our Writing Learning Journey which encompasses vocabulary and contextual understanding, writing skills and techniques, editing and evaluation and, importantly, publication. Development of reading skills, both fluency and understanding, is ongoing from the earliest days in nursery. Phonics, Helicopter Stories, Storytelling techniques, Guided Reading, class reads, library sessions, author visits, reading groups and visits from a Reading Dog, all contribute to promote a lively reading culture.

LEAP Curriculum

Language

 

 

 

 

 

Extensive studies link poor language skills to poor life chances, including mental health, relationships, academic achievement and employment opportunities. We are dedicated to ensuring that our children continually develop the vocabulary they need to succeed and make their voices heard in an informed, effective way, as well as opportunities to practise using it.

Reading is key in exposing children to language and life beyond their own experience. We have a twin approach of nurturing reading for pleasure alongside explicit teaching of skills for fluency and deeper understanding. All of our teachers endeavour to promote a love of reading through regular shared texts and ‘book talk’ and we have an active library as well as 30 Top Reads for every year group. Guided Reading lessons 3 times a week ensure children learn the skills of reading analytically. Fluency, beginning with decoding, is a key aim from children’s earliest days in Nursery. A rigorous, daily phonics programme is followed through Foundation and KS1 (and into KS2 as necessary), supported by approved Reading Scheme books for targeted practise and practical application of learning. A further selection of age appropriate Reading Scheme books for KS2 ensure ongoing support for children as they work towards ‘free reading’.

Embedding English within the wider, dilemma-based curriculum where possible, offers children opportunities to learn and practise using a wider range of vocabulary for spoken and written purposes.

Outside of lessons, we celebrate World Book Day each year, engage with authors and enjoy activities such as Bedtime Story Evenings, theatre and cinema trips.

Experiences

 

 

 

 

 

‘Cultural capital’ is the experience of events, characters, situations and ideas that support and develop our understanding of life. We are committed to ensuring that children have as much cultural capital (real and vicarious) as possible to allow them to speak and write confidently.

In addition to essential life experiences through trips and visitors at school, this is achieved through provision of a broad range of quality text experiences, plus activities to deepen understanding of them. Phase One of our Writing Learning Journey is dedicated to this aim. Similarly, setting some writing tasks within topics not only gives children purpose to write, but encourages them to apply their learning in other subjects.

Amethyst

 

 

 

 

 

The Amethyst qualities of resilience, resourcefulness and reflectiveness are integral within the reading and writing journeys that our children embark on through primary school, from the struggles of first learning to decode and blend words to a seemingly endless list of skills to master each year in writing.

As well as book characters, there are many examples of celebrated authors who embody resilience and resourcefulness and we enjoy inviting authors in to share their own journeys, as well as celebrating our children’s successes as they move on to new levels in reading and writing.

A popular support to persevere for some of our reluctant or struggling readers, is a visiting Reading Dog. 

Our Writing Learning Journeys require children to use resilience to learn styles and skills, resourcefulness to practise them, and reflectiveness to evaluate their work and celebrate what they’ve learned.

Resourcefulness is also encouraged by encouraging children to take part in school, local and national writing competitions and speaking contests.

Power to change the world

 

 

 

 

Reading allows people to learn and experience things that they may never meet in real life.

‘Active’ reading skills enable people not only to read, but to evaluate, form and develop opinions – vital in today’s maze of multi-media information.

Language and writing skills provide people with an articulate voice to effectively express their ideas, thoughts and opinions to an audience.

Language, combined with emotional literacy, gives people the tools to form positive relationships with those around them.

Good English skills give people the power to change the world.

 

Impact

Impact will be measured through the quality of writing work and evidence of progression displayed in children’s books through the year, including language, style and technical skill, and also through teacher observations of the transference of knowledge to and from other curriculum areas. An example could be a non-chronological report about Anglo Saxon settlements or a persuasive advertisement about the benefits of a scientific invention.  Big Write folders offer ‘snapshots’ of children’s progress between year groups.

Impact of phonics will be evident through ongoing teacher assessments and by the number of children passing the National Phonics test in Year 1.

Further impact of phonics, and later spelling teaching, will be in teacher observations of children’s ability to recall and use resources to increasingly spell correctly during any writing task. 

Progress in reading comprehension and spelling, punctuation and grammar skills is also measured through testing within school three times a year, as well as nationally at the end of each Key Stage.

Impact of Guided Reading activities will be evidence of ‘active’ reading in other subjects. An example might be researching information on a Topic, reading and evaluating two contrasting opinion texts, or being able to form and develop an opinion about a famous character based on textual evidence.

 

 

 

 

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