At Marlow Church of England Infant School our English curriculum encompasses the essential skills of reading, writing and communication.
We ignite a love of literacy for our learners by putting story telling at the heart of our English curriculum. This gives children the opportunity to develop their ability to listen intently and develop great oral communication skills while mastering the language in order to imitate and innovate the stories that they hear. They are exposed to texts from around the world with a variety of genres and narratives of diverse compositions. Allowing the children to begin to understand how the audience and purpose affects the language choice of the author.
The stories are also chosen as the centre of the topic for each year group across a half term. Each subject is then linked to the chosen topic. This provides further opportunities for the children to have hands-on, meaningful experiences exposing them to a vast amount of rich vocabulary while still having fun. Our constantly developing literacy skills are applied across all areas of our curriculum.
Through systematic, daily phonics teaching we create children who are confident to utilise letters and sounds which form the fundamental building blocks for reading and writing.
We understand that reading opens many doors for children to develop emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Therefore, we offer our children a wide range of reading opportunities through whole class reading, group reading and individual reading to read for both purpose and pleasure.
We aim to develop thoughtful, sensitive listeners who are also keen to communicate their thoughts, ideas and emotions respectfully and with confidence.
We work together to ensure our children leave our school as independent learners, with a love of reading, writing and language ready for their journey to Key Stage 2 and beyond.
English is taught throughout the school in line with the relevant curriculum (Early Years Foundation Stage Framework and the National Curriculum). Cross curricular links with English are developed wherever possible. Pupils are therefore given opportunities to communicate and discuss ideas and apply their skills in a variety of contexts and subjects.
Our language rich environment allows children to practise and consolidate taught skills independently and carefully planned adult focussed activities help all learners to progress rapidly.
In Reception, the daily routine will include planned and spontaneous activities that include:
- A wealth of opportunities to develop and experience speaking and listening
- Experiences that develop gross and fine motor skills both indoors and outdoors
- Sharing and enjoying a range of rhymes, songs, stories and books
- Immersion in a print rich environment with opportunities to see a variety of written communication
- Focus activities that teach children early communication language and literacy skills
- Daily guided reading or individual reading sessions
- Daily phonics lesson in line with Essential Letters and Sounds
- Key word practise sessions
- Home reading books linked to current reading ability to take home to share
Key Stage 1
In Key Stage 1, the English lessons cover the four strands of the National Curriculum but the aim is to ensure that the skills are taught not in a standalone nature but as part of a topic or genre related lesson.
Both planned and unplanned opportunities for a range of spoken English and listening tasks are provided. This ensures the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. Pupils then develop as fluent, confident and competent speakers who are also able to listen with interest and understanding for sustained periods. It also encourages pupils to work co-operatively and to listen to the views of others.
Pupils are encouraged to become confident, enthusiastic, critical and independent readers. They are given opportunities to experience print produced in a variety of forms and for a variety of purposes and to read for information, interest and enjoyment. Daily phonics and guided reading lessons are planned and delivered which focus on the key skills and knowledge needed to allow children to progress through the curriculum. This is in addition to any reading skills and knowledge covered during the English lessons.
To allow pupils to develop as independent, enthusiastic and expressive writers, who are able to write in a meaningful way we give them a range of writing opportunities – through the daily English lesson, cross curricular writing and weekly writing workshops. In the workshops, children work in smaller groups led by either a teacher or teaching assistant.
It is important for pupils to be able to write clearly and develop a fluent and legible handwriting style. As a school we believe that the skills of handwriting and spelling are inter-dependent and consequently these are often taught together. This is done in order to reinforce the visual and motor elements of both skills. Therefore, handwriting lessons and activities are discreet lessons.
Handwriting is taught through phonics lessons as well as handwriting lessons. In Year 1, Handwriting lessons take place 3 times a week and in Year 2, 5 times a week.
Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
The teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar spelling is embedded within English and phonics lessons. There are occasions, when a standalone grammar lesson, for example, will be required but most of the time we endeavour to teach this type of skill in a way that the children will be able to see the application of the skill. Links will also be made with other areas of the curriculum, as the understanding of spelling, punctuation and grammar is intrinsic to our understanding of language whenever we are reading or writing.
The impact on our pupils is clear: progress, sustained learning and transferrable skills. We aim that by the end of Year 2, all of our pupils have made considerable progress from their starting points in Reception. They are confident to listen carefully and respond to what they have heard appropriately. They recognise that their contributions are valued so willingly offer their ideas with confidence in both small and larger groups.
With the implementation of the writing journey being well established and taught thoroughly, our pupils become more confident writers. By the time they leave Year 2, they are able to write many different genres and are developing creativity in their writing. Their developing knowledge of grammar and punctuation is evident in their work.
Our pupils also become more confident, fluent readers, and they realise the importance of reading for pleasure along with reading for information and knowledge.
As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum and skills taught in English lessons are transferred into other subjects. Pupils achieve well and the reading and writing outcomes for the expected standard at the end of Key Stage 1 are significantly above the National Average. As pupils move on from us to further their education and learning, they are well-equipped for the next stage in their English learning journey.