English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. 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, 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; pupils who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised. (National Curriculum, 2014)
The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
The National Curriculum 2014 for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- 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
Our Vision for English
At Sedlescombe it is our vision that English will be an inspiring, enjoyable and rigorous subject that supports children to develop our key learning behaviours and skills for life.
Our English curriculum encourages all children to be aspirational learners by learning key skills for speaking, listening, reading and writing. Each year, children will know and remember more, requiring the acquisition and application of a wide range of knowledge and skills. Children will show their aspiration through their ability to apply their knowledge in challenging, relevant and engaging ways. Children will be encouraged to be aspirational by applying techniques they have learnt across a range of genres.
At Sedlescombe, children are encouraged to take part in our 101 books to read by the end of KS1, by the end of LKS2 and by the end of UKS2. As well as this, children are supported to access and enjoy writing competitions such as the BBC 500 words short story narrative and the Poetry by Heart competition where they learn to apply prior learning at school in a wider, purposeful context. Children further show their aspiration by applying their English knowledge across the curriculum; for example, children may write to inform in History, write to persuade in RE or write to explain in Science. In addition to this, teachers support children to show aspiration with their reading and writing by using rich texts across the curriculum and by modelling their writing to a greater depth year group standard, imitating different author styles and tones. From here, children are able to imitate such styles, which they may not have been able to access beforehand, incorporating high-level vocabulary choices and using a wide range of grammatical features and sentence structures.
English will encourage and provide opportunities for children to be creative and imaginative learners, asking and answering questions about high-quality texts, discussing their deductions and inferences, exploring author styles, roleplaying and re-enacting a range of scenarios and planning and writing a range of texts and genres. Each unit of English looks to incorporate creative opportunities to aid as a stimulus to writing.
At Sedlescombe, children use art work, pieces of music, dance in PE, visits and visitors to either further develop their understanding of a studied text or to plan for and write across a range of genres. As teachers plan for their unit of learning, creative opportunities are always at the forefront of the planning process once rich texts have been selected. For example, during the Early Years Foundation Stage, children take part in a range of play and exploratory activities to encourage and motivate young writers. In Year 1, children use a woodland visit to inspire recount writing. In Year 2, children write instructions based on a moth feeder or moth trap they have created. In Lower Key Stage 2, children use a falconry visit to help them write an information text on a chosen bird of prey and they also use David Attenborough documentaries and art work to write persuasively to encourage others to look after the Seas and Oceans. In Upper Key Stage 2, children take part in deciding how to raise money for the British Heart Foundation after exploring a Science and English unit of learning on the Heart. Across the school, children have applied their literacy skills to write to members of a school in Sierra Leone and to write Christmas cards to the local community.
By using a rich text approach in English, Guided Reading and other subjects, children are encouraged to think about important issues and how they can have an impact on their school, local and global communities. Children will be encouraged with a ‘what if’ attitude to explore, analyse and discuss familiar and unfamiliar themes within fiction, non-fiction, film literature and poetry. Children have the opportunity to reflect upon what they would do in a certain situation, discussing the pros and cons of their decision and the impact it can have upon others. Children’s curiosity is further explored through our end of the day reading for pleasure sessions. A wide range of texts are chosen to read for enjoyment which allows a range of ‘bigger’ questions to be explored such as: ‘Is it better to be well-liked or well-known?’.
Research-based lessons in English and across the curriculum provide children with the chance to develop their curiosity further, finding out more about a certain topic, organising their research and presenting it to others. Children are encouraged at home to create scrap books of an area of learning that interests them, applying a wide range of literacy skills.
We provide a range of opportunities for children to show their courage within English whilst exploring the notion that it is OK to make mistakes. Children have varied opportunities to develop their speaking and listening, debating, acting and presenting skills. Staff work hard to model these skills and courage shown in these areas are actively celebrated.
At Sedlescombe, children further show courage in English when choosing new genres to read. We work hard to promote a wide range of rich texts to support children to move away from the familiar, celebrity-written books. We support family members to identify rich texts to enjoy and read at home with our termly rich text newsletter where staff members recommend a text for their key stage. As well as this, we have an award-winning recommended text and a chosen website that gives further guidance on high-quality literature.
Each text that is used within our English curriculum is aspirational to the Year group and children learn to look at different styles and tones of writing and how authors ‘break rules’ to ensure a desired effect on their reader. Children can explore these styles through imitation and ultimately, aiming to apply learnt styles to their own writing.
Children are taught the importance of proof-reading, editing and publishing their work, reaffirming that it is OK to make mistakes and it is what we do with these errors, as a reader and a writer, which is important. We aim to show courage through perseverance towards our published work, ensuring it is the best that it can be.
In English and Guided Reading lessons, the children mostly work in pairs or small groups. During each lesson, children are encouraged and supported to discuss the text they are reading, exploring and discussing key themes, author styles, different genres of writing and ways to improve their own written work further.
Children work together in a variety of ways such as: debating or presenting teams, research groups, roleplay and acting groups, shared reading and writing tasks, paired assessments and peer improvements. Cooperation and listening skills are vital for children to share their opinions, listen to and respect the opinions of others, gain new knowledge and skills from one another and teach their peers new skills in a safe environment.
At Sedlescombe, children are supported to become independent thinkers, readers and writers through our rich text curriculum. Through the use of high-quality texts, children can devise their own questions about a key theme or idea and children are often inspired to write for pleasure, independently choosing what genre and style they wish to write in. Children have a writer’s choice throughout their written pieces of work and decide what impact they would like to have on their reader. For example, children may wish to describe a dragon with the aim to frighten their reader. However, another child may decide they wish to describe the dragon, encouraging the reader to feel empathetic.
Through the teaching of phonics and early reading skills, we enable children to become fluent and competent readers, developing a love of literature, independently selecting their own texts which they want to enjoy and explore further. As well as this, children are supported to develop their own writing style, transferring key skills and features across a range of texts. After imitating an author style, taking part in shared writing opportunities and exploring greater depth modelled writing with the teacher, children can begin the innovation phase of the writing process. Here, children have the independence to decide their own writing outcome; this may be a different theme in their narrative to that which has been previously explored. Children will decide which vocabulary choices, grammatical features and sentence structure works best for their genre of writing from what has been previously taught in the unit of learning or within earlier English units. The children independently choose these to ensure maximum impact upon their reader. Teachers ensure that children’s independence is not stifled at any point and we aim to always appeal to their interests in the teaching and learning of English that we provide.