|English Subject Lead: Miss L Davison|
English is the heart of all learning
It is vital that pupils are taught to communicate their ideas and emotions through the four strands of our curriculum: reading, writing, grammar and speaking and listening
Early Reading & Phonics
At Merstham Primary School we use the Read Write Inc.' (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their English. RWI is a method of learning focused on letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.
Using RWI, the children learn to read effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into composing what they write.
When using RWI to read the children will:
- Learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts.
- Learn to read words using Fred Talk.
- Read lively stories featuring the words they have learned to sound out.
- Show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions.
- Learn to write the letters / letter groups which represent 44 sounds.
- Write simple sentences.
Children in EYFS and Key Stage 1 take part in daily phonics sessions to enable them to become fluent, confident readers.
In EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2, they take home the specially designed ‘book bag books’ that are linked with their RWI Phonics sessions to promote and consolidate the learning of specific sounds.
Reading opens the door to learning. A child who reads a lot will become a good reader. A good reader will be able to read more challenging material. A child who reads challenging material is a child who will learn. The more a child learns, the more he or she will want to find out.
At Merstham Primary School, reading combines reading for pleasure and reading for information. Children have access to inviting reading areas in each classroom, and a library. Reading is promoted through all areas of the curriculum, the Merstham 100+ Reading Challenge, as well as through specific reading opportunities during Phonics and whole-class reading lessons.
We recognise the importance of giving children the tools and strategies to be able to become fluent readers. We follow ‘DERIC’ (decode, explain the meaning of words, retrieve, inference and compare), which enables the children to learn the explicit reading skills to develop their comprehension skills and understanding of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction texts.
Each year group receives whole-class reading lessons where a range of literature is discussed, dissected and explored. High-level, engaging texts are presented to the children and lively sessions promote the importance of reading for pleasure.
We use the National Curriculum as a basis for our planning within the subject and expect all teachers to follow this principle. English is taught on a daily basis from EYFS to KS1 and KS2, and is based on a central high-quality text and supported and enhanced through our topic curriculum areas.
Within English lessons, we teach all children to have a deep and secure understanding of the concepts that they are being taught. Initially, children are immersed in a rich text, which teaches the key grammatical patterns of a specific genre. Each time they learn about a different text, they are extending their knowledge of what it is to be a good writer. Once they have internalised the patterns in the text, they are able to use the key features to innovate and invent their own version.
In order to do this, our curriculum is designed to reduce cognitive load by ensuring we structure and design lessons in small coherent steps, which organically allows opportunity for the promotion of retention. This allows for an inclusive learning environment where all children are supported to transfer learning from short-term to long-term memory.
Vocabulary, Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling
Often seen as the building blocks for writing, grammar is an essential part of the English Curriculum. VGPS starters are used in all English lessons from Year 1 to Year 6, which help to develop a critical understanding of key vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and spelling.
As well as this, weekly discrete grammar lessons support the children in their grammatical understanding whilst teaching ensures that these objectives are interwoven into the writing learning journey, so that children are given the chance to embed new concepts without dampening creativity.
Since the changes to the National Curriculum (2014), the profile of spelling has been raised, with children expected to spell most common exception words, and words with a spelling rule correctly. In the younger years, spelling is taught in conjunction with our phonics lessons, giving children a chance to apply their knowledge of phoneme-grapheme correspondence to write words correctly. From Y1 onwards, children are introduced to Spelling Shed - the low-stakes games, quizzes and reward systems ensure that children find spelling fun. Teachers use Spelling Shed to help teach the children the age appropriate spelling rules and during writing lessons throughout the curriculum, children are then encouraged to use their spelling rules to help them spell independently.
Speaking & Listening
The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing and our Curriculum reflects this. Teachers at Merstham Primary School have high expectations of vocabulary and pupils are required to explain their answers fully in all lessons. Drama opportunities not only support the children with their spoken language and ability to communicate to an audience but is also used to inspire and shape their writing.
At Merstham Primary School we have considered the development and progression of oracy skills. We have a designated oracy focused project in each year group, which takes place every autumn term. In EYFS to year 6 the children are given the opportunity to talk to their class about a particular topic which interests them. We use this time to assess oracy skills, note down areas for development and we celebrate the children’s achievements.
Handwriting is a fundamental skill, which starts to develop from the very moment children start at Merstham Primary School. We understand the importance of early mark making and the pre writing shapes, which need to be embedded before moving on to learning the RWI letter formations. Once these letter formations are secure, the children begin to learn the Merstham Primary School cursive letter formations.
We understand the importance of celebrating achievements across the English curriculum.
Children in Year 1 and Year 2 can earn a ‘golden pencil’ to recognise their progress and celebrate their handwriting. Children in year 3 and 4 can earn a provisional pen licence and in year 5 and 6, children can earn themselves an official pen licence where they get a pen and licence card.
The 100+ Merstham Reading Challenge rewards children with bronze, silver and gold reading owls once they have reached certain milestones.
Children across the school take part in 'Book Week' every year! This week is usually themed and the children come to school dressed as their favourite book characters on World Book Day too!