At Lord Street Primary School, we put English at the centre of every child’s learning. We recognise the significance of language, communication, reading and writing in all aspects of life, from developing independent learning skills to successfully entering the world of work. We place high-quality texts at the heart of our curriculum and encourage children to develop their love of reading through our Reading for Pleasure initiatives. Experiential learning opportunities and a vocabulary-rich learning environment feed directly into children’s writing outcomes.
The overarching aims of our English curriculum are to:
- Develop strong oracy skills that allow children to express themselves, communicating confidently across a range of contexts.
- Enable children to read fluently, widely and often, understanding a wide range of texts appropriate for their age.
- Enable children to draft, edit and present writing that is both technically proficient and creative, tailored to the demands of purpose and audience.
- Enable children to have a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in primary school.
- Encourage confidence and enjoyment in speaking, listening, reading and writing.
Underpinning our English curriculum are some core principles:
- Consciously builds on children’s existing language and literacy experiences.
- Recognises the importance of all those involved in the learning experience – parents and carers, wider family members, teachers and children.
- Values diversity and is culturally inclusive.
- Has high expectations of all children.
- Values and promotes critical enquiry.
- Offers challenge but provides models, demonstrations, examples and scaffolds to help children tackle them successfully.
All aspects of our English curriculum are interrelated, and progress in one area is supported by development in each of the others. At Lord Street Primary, we acknowledge the strong reciprocal relationship between speaking, listening, reading and writing.
We believe that all pupils can achieve in Writing. We do not put ceilings on what pupils can achieve, and we do not hold pre-conceptions about any pupils’ ability to make progress. We believe through writing, pupils will have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. We feel that writing enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know.
In the Early Years, children start their writing journey through their play, mark making for a range of different purposes, for example writing shopping lists and making cards for loved ones, as well as learning to write their name. They begin to develop their small motor skills so that they can use mark making tools appropriately. As they move into Reception, they learn the individual letters and sounds and begin to develop their letter formation. They use these emerging skills to write phonetically plausible words, phrases and simple sentences in a range of contexts. Alongside this we focus strongly on language development and oracy skills – if they can’t say it, they can’t write it! We give the children purpose for writing through the message centre and drawing club. Drawing club starts a child’s experience of school ‘Literacy’, immersing children into a world full of imagination where anything can happen. The message centre is also an important part of our continuous provision as it gives children the confidence and joy they deserve as writers adding extra 'magic' over the continuous provision so that children want to write.
Throughout Key Stage 1, the link between reading and writing continues to be reinforced. The children’s oracy skills are developed further through a wide variety of opportunities to discuss, verbalise and refine their ideas, for example through Helicopter Stories, role play, paired talk and drama. This prepares them for the writing process. Alongside this, the children learn about the structure and organisation of a variety of genres. Shared and modelled writing provides an opportunity for teachers to demonstrate the writing process. Children will then use their developing phonic knowledge within their writing, before editing and redrafting their work. Motivation is enhanced by encouraging children to write for a range of purposes and audiences, including opportunities to publish their writing. Children are taught to develop the foundations of a fast, accurate and efficient handwriting style.
In KS2 Children follow a structured approach to the writing process which begins with the deconstruction of a model text. Key grammatical structures are identified and relevant skills are taught through shared and modelled writing. Children then apply their learning through the process of planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating, revising, editing and publishing. Children working at greater depth are encouraged to exercise conscious control over levels of formality including the manipulation of grammar and vocabulary in order to demonstrate the appropriate register. High-quality literary texts are available to all learners which reinforces the reciprocity of reading and writing. The scope and depth of the literature inspires high standards for all through a mastery approach to learning and love of language in all its forms.
Spelling - The school follows the National Curriculum expectations for spelling. Progression of spelling is available on the Writing progression document. The school does not follow a scheme but rather teaches rules based upon National curriculum guidance. It is expected that teachers explicitly teach spelling and that teachers use diagnostic assessment to focus effort of spellings children find difficult.
Children are also taught to
- Spell accurately and identify reasons for misspellings.
- Proofread their spellings.
- Recognise and use word origins, families and roots to build their skills.
- Use dictionaries and thesauruses.
Handwriting - It is paramount that children are rigorously taught correct letter formation from the very beginning of their time in school. During the foundation stage at Lord Street Primary, the children are taught to sit properly in order to have the correct posture for writing, hold a pencil in the correct position and develop a legible handwriting style. From KS1, the school adopts a cursive handwriting style. Teachers are expected to role model the school’s handwriting style when marking children’s work, writing on the board and on displays around the school.
Grammar, punctuation and vocabulary - Grammar, punctuation and vocabulary skills are taught explicitly during writing lessons and the children identify how authors have used them effectively during their reading lessons. Grammar and punctuation is planned and taught using the 2014 National curriculum year group expectations and children are expected to apply their knowledge in their writing.
Teachers use assessment as an integral part of the teaching and learning process and link it clearly to the children’s next steps. Teachers record and track each child’s progress on our progressive marking grids and use this to set future targets. They use a variety of formative assessment methods and constructive marking strategies. In addition to this, children also complete:
- 4-6 pieces of 'Published Writing' per term
- Spelling Tests
- SPAG Assessments
The impact on our children is that they have the knowledge and skills to be able to write successfully for a purpose and audience. With the implementation of the writing sequence being established and taught in both key stages, children are becoming more confident writers and have the ability to plan, draft and edit their own work. By the end of key stage 2 children have developed a writer’s craft, they enjoy sustained writing and can manipulate language, grammar and punctuation to create effect. As all aspects of English are an integral part of the curriculum, cross curricular writing standards have also improved and skills taught in the English lesson are transferred into other subjects; this shows consolidation of skills and a deeper understanding of how and when to use specific language, grammar and punctuation.