A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, and others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society.
Many children at SHH begin school in EYFS or as new arrivals with a limited range of vocabulary and confidence to express themselves. It is for this reason that speech, language and communication skills are a priority for all children and oracy is our key curriculum driver.
Children are taught topic vocabulary and language structures to think it, say it and write it. We aim to enrich and accelerate language acquisition and development through our English Curriculum which covers reading and writing, speaking and listening.
Our aim is for pupils to have a secure command of spoken and written language skills in order to effectively express their thoughts, opinions, ideas and feelings developing confidence in their use of standard English.
Reading enriches knowledge and understanding of the English language as well as developing comprehension skills.
Our curriculum promotes:
- Reading for pleasure and information so that children broaden their horizons and understanding of the world through books
- Planned development of tier 1,2 and 3 vocabulary with structured progression in language development for story telling, explanations, comparative and persuasive language using THEP Language Structures
- Well structured writing opportunities in using a range of genres which progressively develop across the curriculum from 3-11yrs
- The ability to write coherently using increasing depth of subject knowledge across the curriculum
- Teaching the skill set for children to reflect on and improve their work using editing and proofreading skills
- Excellent transcription skills that ensure their writing is well presented and punctuated, spelled correctly and neat
Stories and reading are central to the curriculum at Hague. The half termly topics from Nursery to Year 6 are based around a book or story. It helps children to explore the topic themes, concepts and genres whilst developing language and reading skills. It means that the children developmentally explore at least 48 age related class texts across a range of subjects, themes and genres. They progressively develop reading and comprehension skills to ensure children enjoy being read to, reading for information and pleasure.
The youngest children in nursery and reception use the helicopter stories strategy to learn and rehearse story-telling skills. Older children are encouraged to recall and rehearse sentences for storytelling and writing through their planning for writing strategies. Being able to retell a simple story and build on it is an important skill.
We know from research and school data that children who read for pleasure make faster rates of progress and potentially have improved life chances, not just in education but personally, socially and emotionally. This supports mental health and well-being. We actively aim for all children to be reading by six.
We have invested in the THEP Phonics Programme. It is the Tower Hamlets systematic synthetic phonics approach based on Letters and Sounds using Pearson Bug Club and Big Cat books with training for staff to ensure that our youngest readers in EYFS and KS1 get off to the best possible start learning to be readers.
Children are encouraged to independently read decodable books related to their phonics knowledge in school and at home. The investment in families and children accessing interactive Bug Club online and home reading books is developing early reading skills to assist in the development of blending and segmenting. Children also choose story and information books to enjoy reading with adults and talk about. Daily reading and story-times for all year groups are a priority.
We have also invested in Accelerated Reader for Y2 - Y6 and promoted the Reading Challenge based on a range of Must Reads for KS2. These are age appropriate authors and challenging reads for the class. The Reading Challenge and nominating class reader of the week in assembly emphasises the importance of reading, the development of reading skills and celebrates the efforts and achievements in becoming a keen reader. Children are motivated by visits to a book shop in Year 2 to buy a book and earning reading rewards.
Catch-up for reading
We are introducing the National Tuition Programme EEF Lightening Squad to improve reading fluency and decoding skills for children in years 2 – 5 across the lowest 40% of readers. We know from analysis of our reading data that better readers tend to read more in their own time. Having previously trialed reading for fluency research strategies in upper KS2 we are trialing EEF Lightning Squad which is based on reading recovery strategies to target our disadvantaged, least confident and lowest achieving readers to support their reading for fluency and secure their phonics and decoding strategies. The intervention strategy across Years 2 – 5 is designed to accelerate progress and most importantly boost reading confidence and self-esteem.
Any phonics interventions are provided outside the whole class phonics session led by teachers and trained teaching assistants. We know that teacher led phonics interventions have the biggest impact. We work closely with the Tower Hamlets consultant to ensure that the teaching of phonics is of a consistently high standard.
English lessons include identifying features of a text, the grammar and punctuation by exploring class texts. The teacher models writing texts and constructs shared texts with pupils using think-out-louds, vocabulary and working walls are used to support independent writing. Where possible the grammar and spelling is taught in context based on the national curriculum age related programmes of study.
Children are taught mark making and early writing in the EYFS through role play, writing opportunities and focus writing tasks. Writing in KS1 and KS2 develops through exploration of genres and the explicit teaching of planning, drafting, editing and proofreading skills as part of the writing process.
As children develop correct letter formation with exit joins they are encouraged to start joined writing for a neat fluent style.
Spelling is taught using the No Nonsense Spelling approach. Pupils learn to spell through whole class sessions and activities in shared and guided reading sessions. Children are encouraged to think about word types, root words, synonyms and how words can be changed with prefix and suffixes.