At Orchard Park Community Primary School, we know the importance of using high quality literature to provide all pupils, including those with special educational needs, with the opportunity to develop strong and effective speaking, reading and writing skills. Through our book-led curriculum, we offer an engaging thematic approach to the teaching of primary English that places children’s literature at its core. Reading and writing are key life skills that we seek to develop from pupils' first days at school. As a result, our pupils are equipped with the fundamental skills to support their future education and throughout their lives.
Our curriculum immerses children in a literary world to provide meaningful and authentic contexts for writing. Through creating ‘a hook with a book’ experience, our pupils can communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions to others confidently and effectively, both orally and within their writing. Our curriculum is purposeful, making links between pupils’ own experiences, literature and wider geographical and historical themes. Pupils experience a wide variety of engaging fiction and non-fiction texts including classics, award-winning texts and significant authors. We ensure they are selected for their quality and significance.
At Orchard Park we believe that if children are to become fluent and independent writers, they must be equipped with the knowledge of spelling, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, handwriting, and speaking and listening; therefore children receive explicit teaching in all these areas. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development of fluent reading and writing an easier process. Through phonics, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. The teaching of phonics is a high priority. Once children have mastered these vital skills they can confidently explore the creative process of writing and use their imagination to showcase their individuality and ultimately write for pleasure.
We intend to create writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, and enable pupils to be able to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling.
We teach English as whole-class lessons, so that all children can develop the age-related skills and knowledge set out in the National Curriculum. Within lessons, teachers and teaching assistants target support for those that need it, to enable them to achieve an age-related level. For some lower attaining children, this may involve a greater level of scaffolding and the use of additional support materials. Higher attaining children will receive opportunities to extend their writing in a variety of ways: for example, to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the impact that their writing has on the reader and also through the use of more sophisticated vocabulary and grammar.
Grammar and Punctuation:
We believe pupils should have a solid understanding of grammar, and be able to write clearly, accurately and coherently. Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are taught through English lessons. The relevant grammatical and punctuation skills are developed through the teaching of different writing genres so that they are taught in a context. Children are encouraged to identify grammatical features using the correct terminology within their writing and that of others. Teachers may choose to focus on particular grammatical and punctuation skills in dedicated, stand-alone lessons, if further consolidation is required. Then they can apply these accurately within their writing.
English Lesson Sequence:
Each year group follows a programme of study containing a variety of writing genres, including narratives, non-fiction and poetry. These programmes are planned to ensure the correct coverage of key genres, as well as the progression of skills across year groups. Each programme of study comprises of units of work, which take between two and four weeks to complete, and link to texts specifically chosen from The Literacy Tree. The texts act as a stimulus for the teaching of genre, word and sentence level features, which children are expected to incorporate into their writing; throughout the unit there are many opportunities to write at length. We encourage pupils to make audience and purpose a key priority during their planning process. Children’s skills are assessed against agreed success criteria through a final Extended Write at the end of every unit.
All children are encouraged to take pride in their written presentation and are expected to leave Orchard Park with an individual cursive style that uses joins consistently. Children receive dedicated handwriting lessons, following the Nelson Handwriting Scheme, to ensure that they meet the ‘expected standard’ at the end of key stage writing assessments.
Children’s exercise books are specifically chosen to support their handwriting development. Handwriting practise takes place within their English books. Within lessons, teachers model handwriting using the same paper format as in children’s exercise books.
Spellings and Phonics:
In Nursery, children are taught Phase 1 phonics. As they transition into Reception, children develop their listening skills and are introduced to Phase 2 phonics, which marks the start of a more deliberate, systematic phonics programme. Children receive discrete, daily phonics sessions, which are designed to reinforce prior learning, and to practise and apply new graphemes and phonemes. Through Letters and Sounds, children are taught the 44 phonemes that make up all of the sounds required for reading and spelling. Children progress through the different phases and, as they grow in confidence and experience, are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound.
Children in Key Stage 1 learn to spell words during daily phonics sessions, whilst children in Key Stage 2 are explicitly taught spelling 3 times per week, in accordance with Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum. Teachers use the No Nonsense Spelling Scheme to support their teaching and to provide activities associated with the weekly spellings. Pupils are expected to learn the weekly spellings, ahead of a test during the following week.
Common Exception Words are promoted in school during spelling lessons and children are also encouraged to learn these at home. Pupils are tested on a half termly basis and progress is tracked and regularly shared with parents.
When marking work, teachers identify key words that children have spelt incorrectly. The teacher will then provide the correct spelling(s) or expect the child to check the correct spelling(s) themselves. Children are always encouraged to identify and address incorrect spellings in their own writing.
Children who need additional support with spelling benefit from a variety of individualised interventions.
Speaking and Listening:
Formal spoken language is fundamental to learning. From the first days in school, speaking and listening play a large part in pupils’ progress in all curriculum areas. It is imperative that teachers develop these skills in different ways, in order to foster fluent speakers, who can confidently articulate their ideas in a wide variety of situations.
Pupils engage in a range of planned oracy activities, which include:
- talking partners;
- listening to stories;
- reading lessons;
- preparation for writing, such as Talk for Writing ;
- visiting speakers;
- giving and receiving instructions;
- paired/collaborative work;
- problem solving in Maths;
- the presentation of learning;
- exposure to Tier 2 vocabulary, during dedicated lessons.
There are also opportunities for children to develop their oracy skills outside of the curriculum, including:
- the school council and other ‘pupil voice’ activities;
- topic showcase events;
- extra-curricular and year group productions.
EYFS teachers use the Wellcom toolkit, a speech & language intervention to develop our pupils’ oracy skills from the start of their school journey. Children with additional needs are encouraged to take a full and active part in spoken language activities at an appropriate level for their needs. Targets are usually set by the class teacher, in consultation with our Inclusion Leader, and then addressed individually or in small groups. Some of our children receive support from a speech therapist and we welcome the expertise they bring to the school.
Our experienced teaching assistants work specifically with individuals or groups of children on speaking, listening and collaboration, both to address a special educational need and to develop social skills.
A relatively large number of pupils speak English as an additional language. Their experiences and knowledge provide us with a rich resource, upon which to draw for the benefit of the whole school. Visual prompts and signs written in the child’s first language may be used to develop vocabulary and encourage participation for inexperienced English speakers.
Summative assessments are entered onto SIMs each half term. Teachers use their professional judgement to determine whether a child is working at, above or below age-related expectations. Internal and external moderation occurs regularly to ensure accurate judgements are made, based on each child’s portfolio of independent, extended pieces of writing. Children are aware of their areas for development in writing, as well as their overall progress. They track their own achievements against End of Year Goals.
Pupils will make good progress from their own personal starting points. As a result of our commitment to the equality agenda, all pupils will reach their full potential and will be supported to overcome any barriers they may face. Through the systematic teaching of phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1 and use a variety of phonic strategies within their writing. By the end of Year 6, they will be able to write clearly and accurately, and adapt their language and style to suit a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Pupils will leave Orchard Park being able to effectively apply spelling rules and patterns that they have been taught. Our pupils will express themselves using wide and meaningful vocabulary and have a strong command of the written word. All children will develop a love of writing, and will present their written work to a high standard, and acquire the necessary skills to achieve in line with national expectations. These high expectations will empower our pupils to succeed. Most importantly, all children will develop a love for writing and will be well equipped for the next stage of their education, and beyond, throughout their adult lives.