English skills underpin all aspects of our curriculum and, from the very beginning, we strive to instil a love of reading and writing in all our pupils. We pride ourselves on our creative approach to the curriculum, which is full of enrichment opportunities for English, not only as a subject in its own right, but through the wider curriculum. We believe in a multi-sensory approach to learning and we maximise opportunities for the use of engaging texts, active learning across all environments and a thorough immersion in a variety of genres.
Our vision at Skyswood Primary School is to promote a love of learning, encourage children’s confidence, and work in partnership with families. All Skyswood children, of all races, cultures, aptitude and ability, will be supported to achieve their potential as tomorrow’s adults, through all subjects, including English.
Our main aim is to ensure our children develop and progress in the fundamental areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing. Our children will leave Skyswood with the essential literacy skills to enable them to successfully access the next phase of their education and equip them into adult life. They will have the reading skills and fluency to be able to enjoy and understand a range of genres and build an intrinsic love of literature in its many forms. Children are encouraged to share and communicate their ideas, views and feelings, whilst listening to each other. Children have opportunities to express themselves creatively and imaginatively through role play and drama, as they grow in their enthusiasm for reading and writing with purpose.
As a team, we are aware of the differing groups of learners and vulnerable children in our classes, and consequently, teachers plan and adapt learning, to suit the specific needs of each child. In order for the children to make progress within their speaking, listening, reading and writing, we recognise that each child has their own starting points to ensure they can celebrate their own individual achievements.
Children and teachers have high expectations for their written and spoken work. These high expectations are continually modelled by all staff so that our children are clear as to what they need to be successful at each stage of their education. Fluency of language skills is developed across the breadth of the curriculum, aspirational vocabulary is taught and clarified and children have the confidence to extend their word choices.
English offers children many opportunities to:
Develop a positive attitude to speaking and listening and use language confidently in a range of contexts adapting how and what is said to suit the purpose and audience.
Participate in conversation, debate and presentations, listening to others and responding appropriately, thinking about what has been said and the language used.
Become aware of the characteristics of standard spoken English and understand that language varies through dialect and purpose.
use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
Develop an enthusiasm and love of reading for life, reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
Read a wide range of texts easily, fluently and with good understanding.
acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
Use speaking and listening, reading and writing as essential tools in developing thinking.
write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
Write in a range of genres in non-fiction, fiction and poetry, structuring text in a style suited to its purpose and audience.
Use grammar and punctuation accurately.
Develop their phonic knowledge, skills and understanding of spelling conventions and use them to read and spell accurately.
Develop a fluent, neat and preferably joined handwriting style.
With this intent in mind, we aim to create a climate, whereby every child is a reader. Through daily phonics sessions, children learn to decode through the ‘Read, Write, Inc.’ Phonics programme. At every opportunity, children are encouraged to apply their phonics skills in the classroom (click here for our ‘Phonics at Skyswood’ statement).
Reading takes place in a variety of forms throughout the school. When children first begin at Skyswood in Reception, their learning of phonics is supported through a home/school reading scheme which reflects the sounds that they have learnt in RWI sessions so far. We offer supplementary books which are book-banded to offer additional exposure to genres and high frequency words, as well as provide opportunities for parents to engage children in conversation regarding comprehension.
In addition, Guided Reading takes place regularly throughout the school, ranging from small group sessions in Years 1-3, to whole class sessions in Years 4-6. These whole class sessions allow lower attaining children to encounter more challenging texts that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to, but they still receive interventions which cater for their individual learning needs for reading, which may focus more on decoding or fluency. Teachers base their planning for all guided reading sessions on the Herts for Learning (HfL) Reading Planning Platforms and pupil attainment is assessed through the HfL Teacher Assessment Frameworks (TAFs).
Each class teacher has a ‘class reading book’ which they read daily. This is sometimes related to topics, and other times simply chosen for enjoyment. These books are usually chosen from the Herts suggested reading lists or at the suggestion of our school librarian. ERIC time is timetabled for each class and many classes pair up for ‘Buddy Reading’.
All staff, including Teaching Assistants, have been trained in the use of different Reading Strategies which can be used in Guided Reading, 1:1 sessions, as well as English lessons. These strategies include echo reading, choral reading, whisper reading, paired reading, silent reading and reading for fluency. We have held a Parent Presentation Evening where these strategies were shared with parents/carers as well.
The school has a well-stocked library which aims to provide books from a wide range of sources, providing alternative perspectives, including voices from people of colour and experiences from different cultures. We also have a volunteer librarian who suggests appropriate texts for each child during their library time. All children choose a library book to take home which is changed frequently; this can be both a fiction and non-fiction book. All classrooms have an inviting, high-profile library area as well as a selection of books which are directly linked to the class topics; this offers opportunities for pupils to apply their reading skills across the curriculum.
A positive writing climate is established at Skyswood, whereby everyone is seen as a writer (pupils, teachers, teaching assistants and learning support assistants). Writing is taught through the use of a quality text, which exposes the children to inference, high-level vocabulary and a range of grammar and punctuation. All texts, both for reading and writing purposes are carefully selected in order to promote a love of reading, engagement and high-quality writing from each child. ‘Talk for Writing’ strategies give children the opportunities to write in the style of a focused author’s work: ‘having a go’ at writing for the first time; imitating and internalising writing through hooks, drama and visual stimuli and comprehension tasks; progressing onto innovating their writing, through building a ‘toolkit’ for writing and shared writing opportunities; and finally writing their own piece in which newly learnt skills have been applied. Children, inspired by the reading and analysing of a quality text, are encouraged to write for a purpose; this increases their independence in writing, along with applying their year group expectations for grammar, punctuation, spelling and handwriting skills.
We aspire for all learners to reach their full potential and recognise the importance of not placing a ‘ceiling’ on what children are able to achieve. As such, we employ a ‘limitless learning’ approach to our teaching, where children self-assess in order to select an appropriate level of challenge for themselves. The use of guided groups are also there if children need to seek support to aid their understanding. We encourage children to have a Positive Growth-Mindset and relish the opportunities to challenge themselves, learn from their mistakes and develop the resilience required to embark on the next steps of their learning journey.
Our curriculum is enriched by numerous opportunities held across the year. These include World Book Day which is celebrated annually, author visits, Author of the Term competitions, Curriculum/House Days, the 50 Night Read etc. We have also developed strong community links such as the Summer Reading Challenge (Marshalswick Library), local library visits, local author visits (Jeanne Willis), Penpal Writing Opportunity with elderly people at local care home and liaison with Sandringham Secondary School (Tenacity Writing Competition).
We believe that progress and high attainment in English occurs through the teaching of knowledge and applying the skills developed from experiencing and sharing literature of the highest quality. Learning is encouraged by:
Collaborative working: in pairs, small and large groups and as a class with independent and adult-led activities.
Independent understanding and application through differentiated tasks, choice in direction of tasks and independent reading and writing.
Increasing self-reliance through initial teacher modelling and demonstration, then shared and guided activities, in order that pupils first experience success in their learning, giving them the confidence and skills to progress independently.
Self-reliance, through accessibility of resources, e.g. high-frequency word banks, dictionaries, speaking and listening with response partners, high quality and interactive English displays.
The teaching of English will facilitate the personal growth of each child through a developing experience of language and literature.
Pupil Voice – Children tell us that they enjoy reading and are intrinsically motivated to read independently. Storytelling and book talk is part of the daily life at school and children can freely discuss the authors and texts they have enjoyed reading and be proud to share and celebrate their own writing.
Knowledge – Children read and write to their full potential and are able to apply their skills across the curriculum. Children are clear on the writing process, tell you where they have improved and what their next steps are. Children have awareness of different genres and are able to self-evaluate and ‘polish’/edit their writing.
Evidence in skills – Children are taught in line with the expectations of the National Curriculum. Teachers’ subject knowledge ensures lessons are taught at a pace that allows coverage and a wide range of opportunities to read and write across a breadth of genres.
Outcomes – At Skyswood we strive for all pupils to achieve their maximum potential, by having high expectations and excellent standards. We aspire for all children to have achieved at least Age-Related Expectations (ARE) for their year group, and through daily opportunities for extension and challenge, aim for a high proportion to exceed. Termly Pupil Progress Meetings identify where children do not reach this expectation or do not make the expected progress; appropriate support and interventions are then put into place to address barriers in learning and accelerate progress.
Through the implementation of ‘Whole Class Guided Reading’ in Y4 & Upper KS2, smaller ability groups in KS1 & Y3, along with ‘Talk for Writing’ routines, the impact on the children here at Skyswood is clear. The vast majority of children make good to outstanding progress from their respective starting points.
Children develop their confidence as readers and writers, becoming familiar with a variety of genres, whilst applying and consolidating their grammar, punctuation and spelling skills. Through ‘Talk for Writing’ sessions, children have become more creative, crafting their writing and their manipulation of grammar and punctuation skills. All aspects of English are transferable to other subjects across the curriculum, providing a deeper level of consolidation and understanding.
Inclusion in Writing
All children at Skyswood have the opportunity to make progress in their writing whether they are working towards, achieving, working above the expected standard or have a Special Educational Need (SEN).
To ensure all children can achieve their full potential, children requiring additional support are identified during pupil progress meetings. We ensure children requiring support are scaffolded up in order to access the task and all children are challenged appropriately in order to extend their learning. We use a range of strategies and provide opportunities including those outlined below:
Whole class handwriting sessions
Handwriting interventions in addition to classroom practise
1:1 or small group sessions with Teacher or Teaching Assistant
Use of scaffolds (word mats, sentence starters) and Toolkits
Below are some suggested websites that you could use at home with your child;
Other useful documents: