Subject Lead – Sinead Allpress and Josephine Young
English sits at the heart of the primary curriculum and at John Ball Primary School we value our children’s right to be literate and to enjoy literature. We recognise that each child needs good literacy skills in order to access the curriculum and to enable children to communicate effectively and to think critically.
Our aims in teaching English at John Ball School are that all children will:
- develop a positive and confident attitude towards learning in English
- enjoy reading for pleasure, leading to reading for life
- develop the understanding, knowledge and literacy skills required to participate in a constantly changing society
- understand how English is useful to them
- learn to work collaboratively and independently
- foster and develop language and literary talent
- review their own learning using skills and information to manage their own language and literacy development
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
We aim to develop a strong community of readers amongst both the children and staff at John Ball School. We value the importance of books and literature in enabling children to become confident, happy and enthusiastic readers and writers. We strive to ensure that children experience high quality literature and hear a wide range of ambitious and challenging language. We use ‘The Power of Reading approach’ as recommended by the CLPE and we actively promote and celebrate a love of reading through on-going assemblies and various Book Week activities. At John Ball School, the children learn to read through a mixture of individual and whole class reading. One English lesson per week is designated as a Big Reading session so that the key skills of reading can be explicitly taught and modelled for that particular year group. Regular follow up sessions are then used throughout the week to further consolidate these skills. Every class also has at least one story or an on-going chapter book read aloud to them daily. In this way we aim to ensure that children experience high quality literature and hear a wide range of ambitious and challenging language. Children should also be given opportunities to learn and recite classic and modern poetry. It is essential that children must have a ‘book in the bag’ at all times, bringing it to school and taking it home again every day. The expectation is that children will read to an adult at home 4 times per week, with comments being written into the reading record book.
High quality phonics plays a vital role in supporting the children’s ability to spell. Daily Phonics sessions are taught to all children in EYFS and Key Stage 1. Blending and segmenting words are the primary skills for reading and spelling and children need to be secure with Phase 6 by the end of Year 2. Phonics sessions last 20 minutes and are planned for weekly and taught in a whole class setting, using the Letters and Sounds programme. These sessions are interactive and multi-sensory and provide children with opportunities to practice spelling patterns and tricky words. Where necessary, children who need extra support or challenge are given small group consolidation or pre-learning before and/or after these sessions, usually with a TA/LSA. Discrete phonics teaching continues into Key Stage 2, and for as long as necessary, for pupils who require extra support and learning time to focus on securing their phonics knowledge.
In KS2 spelling is taught using the Support for Spelling guidance, Espresso, Spelling and Grammar Bug and the statutory word lists for (Yr3/4 and Yr5/6). It is also taught during English sessions through contextualised learning linked to a core-text and in handwriting sessions that are taught according to the sequence in the John Ball Handwriting policy. In EYFS, handwriting is linked to phonics teaching through the use of the Ruth Miskin patter for letter formation and in small focus groups. By the end of KS1 children are expected to join their handwriting correctly. Children who show excellent presentation skills in their English books in KS2, are to be awarded a John Ball pen license and this achievement is celebrated at praise assembly.
At John Ball we believe in providing the children with exciting and purposeful stimulus for writing. We aim to link our writing outcomes with our quality texts and curriculum themes (where meaningful), with skills relating to grammar, punctuation, handwriting and spelling. These should be taught discretely then applied and practised through shared and modelled writing. Children need to be able to write for both audience and purpose, and are therefore given regular opportunities for their writing to be published and presented to parents and the wider school. Presentation is valued highly and children are encouraged to feel proud of their written outcomes. Wherever possible children should be encouraged to write through a Talk for Writing approach, orally rehearsing before they write. The earliest stages of such writing begin with Drawing into Writing in EYFS, with children showing an increasing acquisition of phonic skills being independently applied in their written work.