English has an essential place in education and in society. It is a subject in its own right and instrumental when teaching; if you understand language, you have access to the whole curriculum.
It gives children the knowledge, skills and understanding of how to speak, read and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others effectively. Through reading and listening, it also allows for others to communicate with them. Through English, children have the chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.
Without it they would not be able to participate fully as a member of society as all the skills of language are essential in doing so.
It feeds into our school’s curriculum intent by providing children ample opportunities to develop oracy skills through both exploratory and presentational talk. It is a vocabulary rich curriculum, where new learning and unfamiliar words are often revisited, enabling children to recall effectively. It is taught in a way which allows children to be critical and innovative, fostering inquisitive minds and is inclusive for all children, where expectations are always aspirational.
English is taught across the whole school from our youngest children in Year 3 to those in Year 6. Our curriculum ensures that children learn new knowledge and skills and progress in these so that they have a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for pleasure.
Our curriculum ensures that our children:
read easily, fluently and with good understanding;
develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information;
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;
use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas;
are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
In addition, we believe that having excellent reading skills is the key to a bright and happy future. Learning to read is an adventure that takes children to new and exciting places, helping them to understand the world. We have introduced a reading spine to ensure progression. Books have been chosen to ensure children have a variety of books to listen to and become familiar with. Every class has a class book which is read by the teacher to help foster a love for reading and to also model the skills of intonation and tone through effective reading aloud.
At St James Junior School we believe that for children who are not yet fluent in phonics, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.
We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing.
We also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
How we teach phonics
In Y3 - 6, phonic lessons are taught 4 x weekly to children where appropriate – following the model of Little Wandle but plugging specific gaps identified through assessment.
Our Children who are New to English follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught 4 x weekly.
Where a child has had 2 years of high quality phonics teaching and they are still not fluent in phonics, then an alternative reading programme is used. We use Read It, Write it to support these children which is based on Direct Instruction (informed by the EEF research).
Children apply their phonics knowledge by using a fully matched decodable reader and are heard read weekly.
How do we assess phonic knowledge?
For children accessing phonics sessions there is a review session, which recaps the learning, at the end of each week. Children receiving phonics teaching are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.
Children who are in Y3-Y6 and need ‘catch up’ sessions are assessed through teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.
Please see below for the Little Wandle Progression in Phonics.
If you are a parent and would like more information and support with phonics please follow the link below to take you to a page with resources to help you support your child at home.
Writing is taught following Talk for Writing. Teachers follow a structured approach to planning where the children and teachers begin by familiarising themselves with a text type, capturing ideas for their own writing followed by scaffolded writing experiences, resulting in independent written outcomes. Throughout this whole process, children are given opportunities to talk to further their understanding, linking in with first-hand experiences wherever possible.
Please click here for our curriculum progression grids for English, detailing the essential knowledge and skills our children will be taught and assessed from Year 3 to Year 6.