At Woodlands Federation we believe that a high-quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. By the end of their primary school, all children will have an appreciation and love for a wide range of texts. They will have all had the opportunity to hear stories, plays, poems and non-fiction pieces. All children, regardless of their learning needs, will be able to talk about stories and books they have enjoyed and be able to record and communicate (either orally or in written form) their own narratives as well as relay factual information in an informative way.
We recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children take pride in their writing; can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We strive to develop language rich classrooms with vocabulary at their heart. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to communicate and further their learning, not just in English but across the curriculum.
We recognise the importance that a successful English curriculum has on all aspects of the curriculum. We believe that a secure foundation in literacy skills will enable a natural progression as children advance through the primary curriculum and beyond.
The Write stuff Approach
As a school, we have adopted the Write Stuff Approach. This not only give us a clear and structured overview of skills and coverage across the English curriculum but also provides a highly motivating, pacey and well taught combination of writing, grammar and vocabulary. The improvements in children’s word choices and sentence structures since beginning this programme have been excellent and as we continue to gain experience and knowledge amongst both the staff and children, we are seeing increasing improvements in our writing.
Phonics and Spelling
As a school we use Phonics Shed to plan and teach a systematic phonics scheme for EYFS and KS1, and Spelling Shed for Year 2 (after phonic chapters have been completed) to Year 6, providing organised progression through the phonic chapters and Spelling objectives, outlined in the National Curriculum.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. We have an excellent library facility in school, which you enter as soon as you arrive at the school. All English work is linked to high quality texts and children are encouraged to read daily. All reading is respected and encouraged and we offer children a range of text types, including magazines, newspapers, non – fiction, classical and modern children’s literature. We raise the profile of reading to ensure we share the importance of reading with our parents, carers and wider community.
Throughout the week the children are taught reading skills to help them not only decode the texts that they encounter but also to understand and appreciate them. These sessions also involve lots of opportunity to develop discussion and opinion around books and help to improve children’s speaking and listening skills as well.
Language Acquisition & Vocabulary Development
Within our classrooms, we explore ambitious vocabulary through our daily English lessons, where vocabulary is discussed and analysed at a high level. To ensure we acquire an understanding of tricky language across the wider curriculum we display and use subject specific ‘tier 2 and 3’ vocabulary within all our core and foundation subjects. Tier 1 – high frequency in spoken language (table, slowly, write, horrible) Tier 2 – high frequency in written texts (gregarious, beneficial, required, maintain) Tier 3 – subject specific, academic language (osmosis, trigonometry, onomatopoeia), which we hope that through displaying, pupils begin to use this vocabulary in their everyday discussions and therefore broaden the range of academic vocabulary in their repertoire. Teachers use thesaurus thinking to further promote vocabulary development.
We measure the effectiveness and impact of our English, Writing and Reading curriculum in a variety of different ways. We use National and summative testing to assess pupils’ outcomes for Reading and Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling as part of the Statutory Assessment Tests (SATs for Year 6 pupils). Throughout all year groups, our teaching staff use a range of ongoing formative assessments and summative assessments to assess reading and writing against our milestones termly. This data shows good progress throughout the school as well as highlighting children who require intervention, We are strong believers in ‘keep up not catch up’ and endeavour to support children with same day intervention where possible.
Phonics assessment is used within each chapter; in Year 1 pupils access the phonics screening check, plus any Year 2 pupils who did not reach the required standard in Year 1. We use the common exception words to assess Year 1 and Year 2 and the word lists for Year 3/4 and 5/6 from the National curriculum to assess spelling progression and identify any children who may need additional support.
Additionally, pupils complete independent writing assessments each half term, where written work is assessed to inform teachers of pupils’ next steps and successes. We have a robust system of internal moderation and external moderation where appropriate to assess progress in writing. The impact of the curriculum can be seen through pupils’ national assessment results.
Through lesson and pupil book monitoring, it is evident that pupils are being well supported to acquire the necessary skills and subject knowledge in order to become established and confident readers and writers and work monitored in books demonstrates that the curriculum is taught at an age-appropriate standard across each year group, with additional opportunities planned for pupils to demonstrate their ability to work at a higher standard. Lesson observations demonstrate that learning is being broken down into smaller steps and modelling supports pupils in the writing process/reading skills process – ensuring that the subject as a whole is regularly being reviewed to ensure learning is being embedded into pupils’ long-term memory.
The impact of our writing, grammar, spelling and punctuation curriculum can also be measured through the acquisition of pupil voice and talking to the children about their own learning. Pupil voice indicates that the children are enjoying their learning and can talk about the subject and curriculum opportunities. Furthermore, the children leave as creative and curious thinkers who have experienced a rich and wide range of texts and are ready to learn and explore more about the world.