At Richard Coates Church of England Primary School, we believe that a high quality Literacy/English curriculum should develop children’s lifelong love of reading, writing and discussion.
At Richard Coates, Reading and Literacy are at the core of all that we do in school. We are passionate about reading because we believe that being a fluent reader is the most important, fundamental skill that a child requires in order to succeed in school and in life. We have developed a rigorous, well-organised and reflective English curriculum that provides rich opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. We carefully plan the use of high quality texts across the curriculum in every stage of children’s primary school journey.
Our curriculum closely follows that aims of the National Curriculum for English 2014 to enable all children to:
These aims are embedded across our Literacy lessons and the wider curriculum. Our detailed, ambitious, reflective planning provides the means for our children to develop a secure knowledge-base in Literacy which follows a clear pathway of progression as children advance through their primary education.
Rigorous assessment and review ensures that we are able to provide targeted support so that all children experience success in Literacy; we believe that a secure basis in Literacy is crucial to a high quality education and will give our children the tools they need to become active, successful and fulfilled members of society.
Our key priority is to develop fluent readers as early as possible. This begins at a very early age, before children start school, through talk with parents. Our EYFS setting exploits every opportunity to ensure every child experiences a wealth of rich language, stories, rhymes and spoken language. High quality planned and informal interactions with adults create rich dialogue and a passion for language and stories in our Early Years setting. Daily storytime, which then pervades through the day, ensures that children listen to, discuss, act out, recall and retell stories frequently. Books chosen are often well-known or from our Core Book Spine. Books are revisited and reread; children are encouraged to join in with rhymes, repetition and familiar language.
Daily phonics sessions are taught through Read Write Inc. as a systematic and rigorous approach. Regular training and consistency of approach ensures that every member of staff is effective in delivering phonics sessions. As children progress through the phonics scheme, they are required to write sounds and lists of words. They advance to writing captions and sentences. We ensure our school’s phonics program matches or exceeds the expectations of the national curriculum and Early Learning Goals. The school has clear expectations for pupils’ phonics progress term by term (see Reading and Phonics Document). Pupils are carefully and continually assessed enabling additional support to be identified and implemented early.
We ensure that the books children take home are matched closely to their phonics ability. Books are allocated by the class teacher and the aim is for the child to read the book independently and fluently. Regular practice takes place both at school and at home.
As children become more confident readers, they advance onto book banded books using Bug Club as well as a range of other high quality banded books. Children are encouraged to experience a wide variety of books both at school and at home. Our dedicated class reading libraries/areas are a central area of every classroom. It is here that previously read, present and future core books are displayed. The libraries consist of rich and varied authors and texts which children can select from to read in class and at home. We encourage parents to read these books with children if they are above a child’s reading level.
English planning is often focused on a particular story, novel, poem or play. The texts selected are often part of our year group reading spines (based on Pie Corbett Book Spine) which are proven to be stimulating, appropriate and reflect a wide range of authors and genres, as well as including rich vocabulary. Books studied are diverse and reflect our literary heritage as well as dealing with varied themes which are important today and in the past.
The teaching of deeper reading skills is carefully planned throughout each week, term and year in order to secure progression of the full range of reading skills. The reciprocal reading teaching approach is utilized by teachers when teaching reading comprehension (predict, question, summarise, clarify vocabulary and ideas). There is an ongoing focus on teaching high level vocabulary skills in all year groups.
Guided reading takes place regularly, sometimes in a whole class situation and often in small groups of children of similar ability. This gives opportunities for more targeted reading skills to be taught which will enable children to progress at a faster pace.
Story time is a dedicated and special time in every classroom every day. Teachers read to children from a carefully chosen text, sometimes taken from the Core Book Spine or class library. Children often ‘vote’ for which text to read. All pupils are present for story time and the focus is upon the story being read aloud and shared in an exciting and dramatic way. (See Whole School Key Principles of Storytime)
Writing experiences are carefully planned and are often linked to the class text or topic. Teachers make clear links to other subject areas when teaching writing skills. The whole drafting sequence is taught systematically so that children feel confident when planning and generating ideas. Model texts are thoroughly analysed and working walls illustrate what good examples look like. In EYFS and Key Stage One, ‘Talk 4 Writing’ strategies are often utilised by teachers, developing oracy skills which leads to successful writing. Success criteria is clear and focused and clear links are made as the writing process progresses. Children are encouraged to collect new, ambitious vocabulary and use new words frequently in order to build up a rich vocabulary.
Punctuation, spelling and grammar are taught both explicitly and embedded within the writing teaching sequence. Pupils are expected to apply new grammatical skills straight away so that they practise new skills regularly.
Daily practice of spelling and handwriting is undertaken often in English lessons and at discrete times. A range of ways to learn spelling is taught so that every child has the capacity to learn new spellings. The Letter Join programme for teaching handwriting used in school focuses upon a neat, legible and joined style of handwriting. Clearly formed letters are non-negotiable across all age-ranges in school.
Discussion, debate, drama, peer talk partners and group work are valued and all play an important part of learning in English and across the curriculum. Great emphasis is placed upon children understanding different types of speaking and listening. Children are taught, and encouraged to use, Standard English and use ambitious vocabulary when contributing to discussions in all lessons. Great emphasis is placed on listening to others, respecting different viewpoints and learning from one another in a variety of situations.
Enrichment of the English/Literacy curriculum is often focused on celebrating special days and events, such as World Book Day, National Poetry Day, Famous Authors day etc. Our Book Fair, which takes place twice per year, is always a very successful event and sparks more children to read avidly. There are many competitions throughout the year where children can win book prizes. Whenever possible, visitors are invited into school such as authors, poets, storytellers to ignite extra interest in literature. Regular visitors are Adam Bushnell, Peter J Murray and Pirate Pete. The school has also successfully taken part in the Shakespeare Schools Festival over a number of years.
The school library and storytelling chair is a special place in school where classes and children can visit to read quietly, borrow books, complete homework or tell stories.
Our English curriculum supports children to become enthusiastic, fluent and lifelong readers with a passion for reading a wide range of texts.They enjoy writing and showcasing their outcomes in their books and for display.
Writing outcomes illustrate how hard pupils have worked and pupils demonstrate pride in what they have achieved. Children are ambitious and take risks in reading and writing. They are independent and like to discuss and share their ideas.
Both in English books and books across the curriculum, writing is high quality and all abilities are celebrated. Children write in a range of forms and confidently adapt writing considering audience and purpose.
Children are articulate and are effective speakers, as well as successful listeners across the curriculum. They understand how to adapt their language according to the situation and audience.
Assessment is embedded in English lessons and children are encouraged to be actively involved in reviewing the successes of their work and identifying with their teacher targets and ways forward. Key Performance Indicators, alongside regular assessments, are utilized by teachers when assessing children’s reading and writing. Any gaps in learning are identified and addressed quickly.
Attainment at the end of EYFS, KS1 and KS2 is consistently above the National average. Children also achieve highly in the phonics screening test.