Vision for English at Harbottle C of E First School
We are a very small Church of England school set in rural Northumberland. We have one of the largest catchment areas in England. Children also come to us from out of catchment, meaning that our intake includes children from towns, villages and the outlying farming areas, with a wide variety of family situations and prior experience in all aspects of English, which we teach in very small, mixed age classes. A significant portion of our children not only struggle with internet access, they do not have mains electricity and are socially isolated. As the KS2 curriculum is taught by 3 part time teachers, our timetable has been designed to utilise the strengths of each of the teachers to ensure we meet the needs of the children.
Our English within lessons encompasses reading and comprehension, speaking and listening skills, phonics (decoding, reading and spelling), handwriting and writing and composition. Through this we expose the children to a wide variety of texts, varied in genre and setting, from local traditional folklore to stories from around the world, from local dialect poems to performing plays from different cultures, enjoying the rich literary heritage of this area and this country while also giving an understanding of the diverse world we live in. We have an inclusive curriculum that supports all children, including those with special educational needs.
We want the children to develop a love of the English language and be able to use it confidently within all situations, including reading, writing and the spoken word, and take this with them as they move on and continue to develop this at the Middle school and beyond.
English is at the core of all learning and interaction, so we devote a large proportion of curriculum time, particularly in the early years of school, to ensuring children learn to read effectively. We ensure that we provide good quality, relevant home reading materials for our children that reflect the cultural diversity of this country. We also use homework and other home-school activities to develop reading skills and promote a love of reading.
We want our children to foster a love of reading for enjoyment and pleasure. We believe developing this is very much a team effort between ourselves and parents and we want our parents to feel confident in how to read with their children at home. At the start of each academic year we invite parents in to discuss Reading and to answer any questions that they might have.
We understand the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum, underpinning the development of reading and writing. We recognise that our children come to us with a variety of communication skills, some from more remote home situations without extensive experience of speaking and listening so we provide as many different situations as possible throughout the day and across the curriculum.
Writing is an integral part of our whole curriculum, teaching the children to communicate their ideas on paper in a variety of contexts and purposes. We want to encourage a love of writing and the range of possibilities that rich vocabulary and grammar can produce.
Due to mixed age classes we work from a 2 year programme of topics (KS Long Term Overviews), ensuring that the whole curriculum is covered for each year group within each year (Weekly Overviews). We use that structure to plan the daily teaching of each topic, which is adapted according to the needs of the children in the class at that time.
Our small, mixed aged classes allow us to focus on individual children’s needs within a supportive classroom environment. We use the childrens range of abilities to enrich everybody’s learning through group and paired work alongside focused ability based teaching.
The children’s progress is assessed both formally (through published and statutory tests) and throughout the day, through the work that the children produce. This informs future teaching and learning.
We strive to use the rich resources we have within the community as inspiration and to enhance our learning, using local experts – for example, authors, dialect poets, etc.
Throughout this teaching, we expose the children to texts from a variety of sources, from centuries old books to youtube videos.
Use of ICT and computing
Through home school learning during the COVID-19 pandemic the children have become more confident in typing as a form of communication and we intend to keep this a part of their learning at Harbottle.
|WRI and English in KS2|
WRI ability groups
EA – 1 R, 2 Y1’s
CP – 2R, 1 Y1
RH – 3 Y2’s, 2 Y3’s, 1 Y4
NB – 1 Y2, 2 Y4’s
WRI – 30 minutes
RH Writing – 50 mins
Story reading – 10 mins
WRI – 30 minutes
RH Writing – 50 mins
Story reading – 10 mins
WRI – 30 minutes
RH Writing – 50 mins
Book reviews – 10 mins
NB Dictionary and thesaurus skills, editing, apostrophes, word games – 30 minutes
Handwriting – 20 minutes
Comprehension / class reading – 30 minutes
WRI – 30 minutes
(NB -5 Y4’s, 2 Y3’s, 2 Y2’s
EA – 2 Y2’s, 2 Y1’s, 1 R
HC – 1 Y1, 2 R)
NB Writing – 60 minutes
Communication and language
Communication and Language in Early Years Foundation Stage
As James Britton noted, ‘Reading and writing float on a sea of talk.’ We greatly value the role that language and developing vocabulary plays in creating enthusiasm and confidence when progressing to reading and writing.
Children come to us with a wide variety of speech and language abilities. We aim to quickly identify if a child may have difficulties with speech and then discuss with parents and refer to The Speech and Language Therapy Team if necessary. We aim to provide many opportunities for speech and language such as making sure that our role play areas are attractive and set out for the children to play together. At snack time, the children have the chance to choose from two high quality age appropriate texts. Well known nursery rhymes and songs are taught so that children become familiar with them. Stories that the children listen to include lots of repetitional phrases. The children are invited to take part in show and tell sessions if they wish to. Phonics sessions and speaking and listening sessions are planned for and delivered to our nursery children. As teachers, we constantly aim to model excellent speaking and listening skills to the children.
Communication and Language in Key Stage One and Two
Children develop their competence in spoken language and listening to communicate across a range of contexts and to a range of audiences. As the children come to our school with a variety of communication abilities, and many of the children come from isolated home situations we build in opportunities for the children to express themselves through speech throughout the day, presenting and discussing their work with the class, discussing issues and concepts, etc. Across the curriculum they have opportunities to work in groups of different sizes, learning to take turns and express their ideas, responding appropriately to questions, using an ever expanding, appropriate vocabulary. Throughout the school year we provide opportunities for the children to perform in front of an audience, developing their speaking and listening skills. This includes presenting their work to the class, taking their turn in leading a ‘show and tell’ whole school worship, celebration assemblies for the parents, and a Christmas nativity drama performance in the church to members of the community and the children’s families.
All the children start the morning every day with a 30 minute small group session which is additional to the main English lesson and the children are ability grouped, based on the Read, Write Inc scheme.
Reading in Early Years Foundation Stage
We fully recognise the importance of developing a love of reading as soon as children reach our setting in Nursery at the age of three. We aim to nurture and develop this love of reading as their school learning experience continues. Nursery children are invited to choose a library book each week to share with their parents. As we follow Ruth Miskin’s Read Write Inc phonics scheme within school, we therefore take the approach of read-a-lot, talk-a-lot, and sing-a-lot. With this in mind, short 5/10 minute literacy sessions are planned for Nursery children based on age appropriate books, and familiar nursery rhymes. In the late summer term, if the children are considered to be ready, then we begin to teach the sounds of letters.
Books are featured throughout the Early Years unit in baskets to convey to the children that reading can take place anywhere. Topic related books feature alongside the investigation area as well as construction in our outdoor area. The Maths area also features counting books alongside the resources. In our role play area we try to provide books that would feature in the chosen area, such as recipe books in kitchen or menus in a cafe.
Our designated reading area is cosy and inviting and is situated in our ‘Calm Cabin’ area of the unit, as named by our children. The reading area features a selection of stories that we aim for the children to become familiar with throughout their time in Early Years and Key Stage 1, as well as some non fiction texts so that the children are exposed to a variety of genres. To encourage our youngest children to read we have a selection of books with moveable parts and we sit with them and read together so as to make the reading experience a shared and enjoyable one.
In the Spring and Summer months the Yurt is used as a calm, peaceful space for storytelling.
At snack time, the children are invited to vote for a book that they would like to hear each day. These books are from our reading area and are selected by the teacher so that a variety of books will be heard but also so that there are books that the children are familiar with to encourage prediction and repetition.
In Reception, we begin each morning with thirty minute Read Write Inc phonics sessions. The children are sent home with each new sound that they learn so that this can be practised at home and shared with parents. The children read with an adult twice a week and books are changed accordingly. Communication with parents regarding their child’s reading is done so through their reading record.
The children are encouraged to anticipate key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately. During our English lessons we take time to discuss all aspects of the story promoting positive communication skills and deep understanding. Listening to other people speaking enables the children to develop increasing vocabulary, comprehension and language skills. These important communication skills are the building blocks of literacy and learning.
In Early Years and Key Stage One, each child has an online Teach Your Monster to Read account that they can continue to use throughout the school with their school chromebooks and are able to access at home.
Reading in Key Stage One and Two
We believe that reading is key to the children’s English learning, and every child has a level-appropriate book to take home to practice reading, with a reading record in which parents and teachers can communicate about the reading the children are doing at school and at home. At the beginning of 2022 we re-evaluated our books and made the decision to discontinue using Oxford Reading Tree as we did not feel it was providing children with enough decodable success or confidence. As such, now, in Key Stage One the children take home a decodable book from the RWI phonics scheme so that they can read to their parents. They also take a book home from our Harbottle Reading Spine that is for their parents to read to them. One is for decoding, the other to support the development of language and vocabulary. The children read weekly to a member of staff and books are changed accordingly. Appropriate questioning is used whilst the child is reading by the adult based on the reading ability of the child.
The Key Stage Two, the children read with an adult once a week and questioning is used that is appropriate to the child’s reading level. Children also have a half hour reading comprehension lesson every week. To encourage the enjoyment of books and reading, the children are asked to write reviews of the books they have read at home, and are given an opportunity to ‘present’ their book to the class, persuading them to read it too. For 10 minutes on a Monday and Tuesday the teacher reads a story to the children. This is a book that most of the children would not be able to read to themselves and fully enjoy, but which is age appropriate in terms of content. While the language used is commented on and is referred to during writing lessons, it is not usually linked specifically to other learning throughout the week/term. This book may take up to a term to read, and includes no pictures. In a time when most stories the children know will have been learnt through the screen, it is now that they can immerse themselves in a world entirely created by words. Books chosen vary from term to term and year to year according to the ability and experience of the children in the class. This is an opportunity to introduce the children to our fabulous literary heritage. Books chosen include, for example, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (CS Lewis), The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), The Borrowers (Mary Norton). The books read during the course of a year have a variety of settings from historical to imaginary, urban to rural, and local.
Writing in Early Years Foundation Stage
Our children are given many opportunities to express themselves creatively by exploring different mediums of mark making. This helps to enhance critical thinking, brain development and language development, which gives them the ability to build towards complex learning tasks. Mark making encourages the children to recognise the power of the written word as a means of communication. Within our continuous provision environment we include pens, pencils, post its, clipboards, notebooks, chalkboards in the outdoor area and paints. Pots with pens and pencils feature around the continuous provision to give children easy access and increased opportunities to mark make.
From Reception, correct letter formation is discussed and practised daily during Read Write Inc sessions and is recapped regularly throughout each day. All children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words that are taught during Read Write Inc. Once these skills have been mastered we support the children to write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
Writing is displayed in the classroom so that the children are able to see their own progression. They are encouraged to reflect back on their work to see the progress that they have made.
Writing in Key Stage One and Two
The main English lesson (45-60 minutes every day) is used to look at different types of text and use them as stimuli for written work, including opportunities to do some extended writing. In Key Stage One, children are introduced to fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts every half term. During some half terms, depending on time and depth of study, this may vary. We look at the features of the text type and use it to focus on one or two language features. In Key Stage Two the children progress to looking at a single text type, in depth, for half a term, learning about the structure of the text and how language features are used within those text types.
However, writing is integral across the curriculum, during which the children have opportunities to use and create a variety of texts. Links are made both implicitly (for example, making reference to recent learning while writing in other subjects) and explicitly (for example, creating information texts in science).
Handwriting is taught in a 20 minute, dedicated handwriting lesson every week to children who are developing their skills.
Links are made with all curriculum areas, encouraging the children to use their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills throughout the day.