Principles for English learning at TAB
We believe that each child should be given every opportunity to improve and progress their knowledge, understanding and skills in all aspects of English. Every child should know what they are able to do well and how they can improve their skills further. Through direction from adults working with the child, and discussions with their peers, we believe that every child will have the potential to do their best and show the progress expected of them.
At the heart of our English teaching and learning is the cohesion between reading, writing and punctuation/grammar - with pupils understanding how they interrelate and being able to articulate this to others/adults. Our shared love of reading is visible across the school. Pupils read a wide range of texts and enjoy ‘losing themselves’ in books. English learning is planned around key texts which are relevant and engaging for the children.
We have a strong emphasis on all pupil writing (across all subject areas) having a real audience and purpose. Pupils actively seek to understand and engage with their audience, taking responsibility for proof reading their own draft work and then enthusiastically seeking feedback in order to improve it.
Pupils’ books clearly evidence this active process with all stages of the writing process visible, including choices and improvements made. Pupils’ books clearly show progress that pupils have made in their writing over time. (Pupils can also articulate this to others/adults).
There is consistency across the school in learning environments, books and approaches to teaching in order to build on the previous year’s learning. As pupils move through the school, they become increasingly skilled as independent writers, readers and performers.
Our four school values underpin the learning philosophy in our English lessons:
- Respect for all
- Our writing, reading and drama experiences rely on pupils working collaboratively together and supporting each other.
- We celebrate pupil achievements and recognise pupil effort in reading, writing and performances.
- Embrace challenge
- Pupils persevere in improving their stamina for reading longer and more challenging texts.
- Drama activities require pupils to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles, as well as responding appropriately to others in role.
- Pupils develop stamina for drafting and editing extended pieces for writing.
- Being responsible
- Pupils value honest and constructive feedback from both teachers and their peers, knowing that this will help them to improve.
- Pupils take responsibility for proof reading their written work before presenting it to others.
- Pupils use their initiative to read a range of genres and attempt different types / styles of writing.
- Community spirit
- The whole school takes pride in the achievements of others’ reading, writing and drama achievements.
- Pupils work together within their year group and across the whole school.
- Environmental issues are explored, discussed and responded to.
Organisation of English learning
English teaching and learning embraces and is informed by the 2014 National Curriculum framework and our approach to providing outstanding English provision through years 3 to 6. Building on what pupils have learnt and can do at Key Stage 1, our aim is to prepare the children for the next stages of their education and life beyond.
Our English curriculum is based around key texts, with integrated writing, reading, drama and spoken language opportunities.
- We have strong links between writing and reading. Pupils understand how to ‘read as a writer’.
- Pupils actively seek empathy with the audience for and purpose of their writing (in all subject areas).
- Teachers model the writing process – especially how to draft writing that engages the audience which then supports pupils with their own independent drafting.
- Writing walls in support collaborative class writing and visually tell the journey of how a piece of class writing evolves.
- Pupils’ books will evidence the stages of writing that the pupils have followed. (Drafting takes place on one page, with improvements and responses to teacher feedback on the opposite page).
- All proof-reading by pupils (especially for spelling and punctuation) takes place prior to teacher marking using a pencil. Self and peer feedback focuses on content, structure and impact of writing.
- Pupils have stamina to complete extended drafting and improving extended work.
- Our Talk Phrases support pupils to be increasingly independent during the stages of writing.
- English lessons allow increased choice for pupils in the form of writing they choose and how they celebrate their work.
- Pupils are reflective and make changes to enhance the effectiveness of their writing.
- Drama activities help to immerse children in literature and bring texts, poems and stories to life - engaging them through enjoyment and a fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them.
- It encourages self-expression and focuses pupils on the art of communication. It enables pupils to discover how we speak to one another, the impact of the language used and the power of our spoken language.
- Role-play and other drama techniques help pupils to explore their understanding of characters and try out language they have listened to. It also helps pupils to develop and order their own writing ideas through playing roles and improvising in various settings.
- Pupils develop skills in performing so that meaning is clear to their audience. They improve their understanding of intonation, tone, volume and actions.
- Pupils can take on a variety of different roles during drama activities - such as script writer, director, actor, technical support and critical eye.
- Improvisation helps to develop storylines and explore alternative endings to texts.
- Drama has a direct impact on the quality of writing outcomes. Oral performance of children’s own writing helps to develop drama skills and make writing purposeful.
- Drama is a dynamic process that is actively used in English lessons.
- Adults model reading behaviours to pupils and share text titles they are reading. A shared love of reading is visible across the school and we encourage pupils to read a wide range of texts and enjoy ‘losing themselves’ in books.
- Library resource – Pupils exchange their books every 2 weeks. Teachers and support staff ensure that the books are correctly pitched depending on each child’s stage of reading.
- Library skills and teaching – Teachers provide pupils with purposeful activities in library time, e.g. by exploring genres or comparing texts etc. These activities are in line with our high expectations for developing readers as writers and instilling a love of reading different texts.
- Book corners – All pupils have access to a dedicated classroom reading space that fosters a love of reading and promotes the children as authors through the inclusion of their own writing.
- DEAR Time – Drop Everything And Read takes place in every classroom at least three times a week. This is where all children and adults in the classroom read for pleasure.
- Book Exchange – Pupils recommend texts to peers from book collections acquired at home/the local library and are encouraged to lend personal texts to each other within school (with permission). The organisation and running of this is increasingly pupil-led through the school.
- Reading Diaries – Standard reading logs will remain for pupils – integrated with the homework diary, moving onto reading homeworks for upper Key Stage 2 pupils that require the children to complete reading activities and reflect on their reading. They clearly record which genres of books they read.
- We encourage pupils to make sense of what they are reading - actively looking for clues in the vocabulary and punctuation used to develop their comprehension skills (this is regularly modelled by teachers).
- ‘Reading as a writer’ – Teachers model how to ‘unpick’ texts to uncover the author’s intentions, thoughts and viewpoints within all English sessions, promoting the holistic model of English and avoiding reading and writing being seen as separate entities.
- Pupils progress towards being confident members of reading circles – independently working in groups to discuss books they collectively read. This takes place mainly in Year 6.
- Pupils provide honest and constructive feedback on peer writing (focused on the content, not just proof reading). This is either informal peer feedback or using more focused Reader-Author feedback.
- English discussion is underpinned by our Talk Phrases:
- Building on (ideas / brainstorming) – ‘I like that idea because...’ ‘ I agree because’
- Positive challenge ’What do you mean by that?’ ‘I’m not sure about that because...’
- Resolving conflict and reaching agreement ‘So what are we all saying?’ ‘Do we all agree?’
- Our Talk Phrases help pupils to effectively explore and evaluate both their ideas and emerging written work, as well as texts and performances that they come across.
- Pupils develop their confidence asking and responding to reasoned questions through participating in a variety paired, small and large group discussions. Pupils experience how to constructively reach a consensus or agree to differ.
- Discussions allow pupils to develop empathy with others’ points of view and different perspectives. This also encourages respect and tolerance of those with different points of view, faiths and beliefs. During peer feedback (for writing) and discussions about texts, teachers encourage mutual respect for others and celebrate differences.
- Teachers actively promote pupil voice and democracy through discussions (supported by these Talk Phrases). Teachers encourage discussions that are both balanced and unbiased, as well as ensuring that individual pupils can make choices in a safe and supportive environment.
Punctuation and grammar:
- Pupils understand the role and impact that punctuation and grammar has within their own writing and texts they read.
- Pupils embed their understanding of punctuation and grammar through whole class teaching with planned opportunities to ‘bump into’ punctuation and grammar in texts used. Pupils confidently identify and understand where authors have successfully used punctuation and grammar to contribute to meaning and make an impact on the reader.
- Separate workshops introduce new punctuation and grammar learning.
- Teachers model the drafting of writing - showing secure subject knowledge, confidently applying different punctuation and grammar as they explore different sentence structures (e.g. length, variety etc.) with their class.
- Pupils reflect on their own language choices and the impact that this has on the audience for their writing
- Exciting sentences support pupils to develop their confidence in forming a wider variety of sentences to make an impact on the audience.
- Writing mats, VCOP pyramids and displays and other resources support all abilities using progressively challenging and complex vocabulary, conjunctions, sentence openings and punctuation.
- Pupils proof read punctuation and grammar prior to sharing with others. This is a highly important part of the writing process and proof-reading focus lessons are provided in each year group.
- Pupils demonstrate an excitement for learning spellings and can use and apply their learning in all their writing tasks.
- Spelling is timetabled regularly, and spelling patterns are taught over a two week block. There will be a formal input (typically 45 minutes) followed by one or two informal sessions (typically 30-45 minutes) each week.
- Teachers model new learning to pupils and invite them to suggest words which fit the pattern. Teachers, with their pupils, define categories and generalise the rules for their formation. Subsequent sessions are planned for pupils to creatively practise, explore, investigate, apply, assess and reflect on their learning.
- By identifying which strategies their pupils employ when learning to spell (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, word origins and patterns), teachers set learning and differentiated tasks to cater for aptitude, motivation and enrichment of vocabulary. Pupils have opportunities to work independently, in pairs or in small groups, using a variety of media and ICT.
- During the second week of the spelling schedule, pupils will write a dictation which incorporates a number of spelling words and words that use the same pattern. This is also an opportunity for pupils to apply and grammar or punctuation learning that has taken place in other lessons.
- Pupils confidently talk about spellings using the terminology root word, prefix and suffix.
- Pupils learn about words, not simply learning lists of words. However, words are displayed and referred to frequently during lessons (e.g. decodable words, red words, topic words etc). Teachers send words home for pupils to practise / share with their parents.
- Vocabulary/complex speed sounds charts are used in classrooms – highlighting the current teaching focus.
- Some pupils have their own sp books (aligned to our marking policy) to jot down any words spelled incorrectly so these can be practised during early morning activities/registration.
- Pupils are encouraged to read extensively and note any new or unfamiliar vocabulary; this may be linked to dictionary and thesaurus work.
Skills Development in English
As pupils develop skills in understanding the cohesion between writing, reading and punctuation/grammar, they improve their confidence with English.
Writing skills development - Pupils develop their skills in our stages of writing:
When engaging, exploring and planning writing pupils learn to:
- Explore context, audience & purpose.
- Articulate ideas.
- Make links
- Draw on reading examples
- Develop detailed characters, settings & plot to impact the audience
- Draw on ideas & research
- Decide on appropriate form of writing to use
- Decide on language to enhance meaning for audience
When drafting writing pupils learn to:
- Develop characters / settings / plots
- Link ideas & paragraphs
- Choose appropriate grammar, punctuation & vocabulary
- Proof read
When editing and improving their writing pupils learn to:
- Re-read & improve own & others’ work
- Reflect on language choices & impact on audience.
- Improve grammar & punctuation.
Finally, we celebrate pupil writing and develop pupils’ skills to:
- confidently perform work to a group and make sure it sounds interesting, controlling the tone & volume so that its meaning is clear
- publish their work for the intended audience
Reading skills development:
Through our love of reading pupils develop learn to:
- Enjoy reading a wide range of texts: stories, poetry, plays, non-fiction texts etc.
- Recommend & discuss different texts with others
- Listen to a range of different readers (adults and children) to develop our reader ‘voice’
For pupils to make sense of what they are reading they develop comprehension skills by learning the VIPERS skills in reading lessons.
V – Vocabulary
Pupils discuss new vocabulary, subject-specific vocabulary and interesting language choices made by the author.
I – Interpretation (predicting and inferring)
Inference skills are developed for pupils to use evidence from the text to justify responses. Pupils make predictions from details given in a text.
P – Presentation
Pupils participate in discussions about texts, take part in role-play/debates concerning texts and are given opportunities to prepare poems to read aloud to an audience.
E – Explain (writer’s choices)
Lessons support pupils to explain how meaning is enhanced through language choice, identify themes and patterns that may arise and how the content is related and contributes to the overall meaning of a text.
R – Retrieval
Pupils retrieve and record information and identify key details from texts.
S – Summarise
Pupils use their understanding of a text to identify the main ideas from more than one paragraph.
Assessing English learning
We use assessment in English regularly and effectively to inform our planning and teaching. We actively encourage self and peer assessment of work and understanding by pupils.
Ongoing marking and feedback from adults plays an important role in assessment:
- Pupils actively seek marking and feedback on their writing. Pupils enjoy receiving both positive feedback and specific areas to improve its content, structure and impact.
- Marking often challenges pupils with personalised questions to move their learning on.
- Pupils are reflective on how their writing has been successful and the choices they need to make to make their writing even more successful.
- Discussions with others (peers/teachers) about the success of writing often leads to new writing targets for pupils. (Teachers oversee that peer feedback is useful and accurate).
- Teachers mid-mark writing (marking that has taken place when a pupil has written the beginning of a draft piece of writing). Pupils can then receive next steps or targets to work on as they continue the piece of writing.
- Some teacher marking provides pupils with examples of higher level writing.
- Pupils acknowledge all feedback to enable an effective (and visible) dialogue with their teacher about learning and next steps.
- Pupils are able to explain how their writing has improved over time.
During the academic year pupils periodically take formal assessments in reading comprehension, spelling, punctuation and grammar. These assessments provide the school with information that informs teacher judgements. In addition, teachers give assessments of each child in their class based on the ongoing assessments made on a day-today basis of the pupil’s work.
Enrichment of English learning
Our library offers a fantastic opportunity for children to develop their love of reading and explore a wide range of texts.
Throughout the year pupils are given a number of different opportunities to enjoy English, including:
- Theatre and drama groups
- Author visits
- Poetry and oral story telling
- External trips linked to reading and writing e.g. Waterstones visits and visits to other schools
Resources to support English learning
Websites and other links to extend and further learning at home:
The Literacy Shed - https://www.literacyshed.com/ - A website filled with ideas for literacy learning using visual resources such as film, animation, photographs and picture books.
Interactive English games and activities:
BBC Schools website for ages 4-11 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/subjects/zv48q6f
Short Kid Stories - http://www.shortkidstories.com/ - Hundreds of short stories for children on this site, from timeless classics to modern, original stories.
1001 Stories - http://www.storymuseum.org.uk/1001stories/ - Audio and video recordings of imaginative, inspirational tales from around the world. You can search by theme, origin or age group.
Storyline - http://www.storylineonline.net/ - Popular children's stories read by famous actors, with related activities.
Read Write Think - http://www.readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/ - Activities and suggestions to get kids and teens reading and writing.
Games to Learn English - http://www.gamestolearnenglish.com - Lots of games to practise grammar and vocabulary.