English

Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Lawrence Clark Powell
 

Reading lies at the heart of the curriculum at Van Gogh Primary. We are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers and we believe reading is key for academic success. We believe that every child has the right to learn to read and our aim is for them to also develop an enjoyment of reading, as soon as possible.  We promote enjoyment through the creative use of high quality texts and a range of engaging activities.  Teachers aim to be reading role models in the way that they discuss and promote books as well as modelling reading for pleasure.  We make careful selections both in the texts that they choose to use in the teaching of English and in those that they read aloud to pupils.  Children are read aloud for 10 minutes daily.  This not only allows them to encounter more demanding texts in a safe environment but also aids their vocabulary growth. 

IMG 8522We also believe that all pupils should be able to confidently communicate their knowledge, ideas and emotions by expressing themselves through their writing. In order to do so, we want pupils to acquire a wide range of vocabulary, a solid understanding of grammar and be able to spell new words by effectively applying the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in primary school. We want them to write clearly, coherently and accurately by adapting their language and style in and for a range of purposes and audiences. It is also fundamental that we develop a habit of neat, joined up handwriting by the time they move to secondary school. It is also vital that all writers are able to refine and edit their writing over time, so that they can develop their independence in being able to identify their own areas of improvement. 

We are proud to be a 'Literary Curriculum Flagship School'.

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We strive for every pupil to leave us with the necessary skills and vocabulary demands of the secondary curriculum for them to be successful throughout their lives.  We believe that no child should be left behind.

To ensure this is consistent throughout the school, we follow these holistic approaches:

1. Oracy - Spoken Language

English begins with the spoken language. We believe this is fundamental because language forms the foundations for interacting with other people – for communicating our needs, our thoughts and our experiences. 

2. Deliberate practice - Systematic Synthetic Phonics

From Nursery, children are introduced to our programme for phonics: ‘Read Write Inc’. They are taught to read letters, or groups of letters, by saying the sound they represent and then blend these sounds to form words. Phonics lessons are taught in small groups to ensure that learning is targeted to children’s individual needs. Our programme for phonics follows these principles in order to get children’s ‘COGS’ working:

  • Everything CONNECTS: children connect sounds with mnemonic pictures; words with their meanings; and stories with the sounds they know. They connect their own experiences to the stories they read and learn to lift the words off the page.

  • Children learn ONE thing at a time and practise it until it becomes second nature. Interactive practice keeps children focused, and their capacity to learn develops exponentially.

  • They learn at their GOLDILOCKS spot (not too easy, not too hard) with others at a similar challenge level. No time is wasted.

  • Children remember what they learn by SAYING it out loud to a partner. If they can’t explain it, the teacher repeats it until they can.

3. Retrieval and Reading - Whole-class guided reading

Once pupils have completed our phonics programme, they move onto the ‘Literary Leaves’ programme for reading. This is taught as a whole-class guided session in order to expose all pupils to high-quality language and discussion. Teachers use whole books rather than extracts in order to increase engagement and reading stamina when teaching the skills of comprehension. Pupils spend between 2 to 4 weeks studying one text, each session focussing on a particular skill, to ensure that children develop the skills to become critical readers.

The key principles of whole-class guided reading are:

  • Children should be in mixed-attainment pairs so as to allow for frequent, paired discussion and so that less confident readers are exposed to the high-quality reasoning of more confident readers.
  • The text chosen should provide a clear challenge for all members of the class, including the most able readers. 

  • When reading, the teacher should model good use of intonation, movement, volume and expression in order for pupils to emulate this. As well as reading aloud to their class, teachers might use the following strategies for oral reading: whole-class choral reading, ‘jump-in’ and paired reading.

  • Teachers actively monitor the pace of their reading so as to ensure high levels of engagement throughout the lesson. Teachers intersperse longer stints of reading with paired discussions or independent tasks.

  • Teachers use targeted and open-ended questioning.

  • When discussing literature, the teacher models high-quality responses with evidence and explanations and expects these high-quality responses from pupils too. Teachers use question stems in order to encourage high-quality responses from pupils.  For example: “The author has used the word ___________ to suggest  ___________  because it is associated with  ___________ .”

4. Stories - Teaching is underpinned by a high-quality text

Each new unit for English starts with a beautiful, high-quality text. These texts offer opportunities for empathy and philosophical enquiry, developing the spoken language though through debate, drama and discussion, which will spark their imagination.

How it works

Our texts have been specifically chosen so that pupils are exposed to: 

  • Classic novels 

  • The works of Shakespeare 

  • Current and controversial world affairs, e.g. ‘global warming’ and ‘gender equality’

  • Variety of different cultures, ethnicities and faiths through stories

  • Books which are relevant to our locality and community

5. Knowledge Rich - Spelling and Grammar is embedded 

Spelling and grammar is taught through the context of a book so that these can be applied purposefully within writing. 

6. Enrichment - Children write for a purpose

Children have real reasons to write whether that is to explain, persuade, inform or instruct, usually on a daily basis. Within each sequence of teaching, pupils will write for different purposes and will practice their skills creating ‘shorter’, ‘longer’ and ‘extended’ writing outcomes.

7. Feedback & assessment - Keep up, not catch up

At Van Gogh Primary, teachers plan lessons to ensure all children are challenged appropriately. However, we recognise that for varying reasons, some children need more support in their learning. Throughout lessons, adults will work with guided groups to support their vocabulary acquisition, sentence construction and demonstrate the writing process.

Pupils who need additional support with their reading or phonics are provided with targeted intervention using the ‘Read Write Inc’ programme. For pupils in KS1, this is a one-to-one session which takes place for 10 minutes during the afternoon. Those in KS2, follow the ‘Fresh Start’ programme which takes place during the whole-class guided reading session. 

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How is Reading taught in KS1?

In the early stages of reading, children’s phonic knowledge is systematically developed through the ‘Read Write Inc.’ (RWI) programme. RWI helps pupils understand how letters are linked to sounds (phonemes) to form letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns to help learn how to apply this knowledge in their reading. Pupils are assessed regularly against the termly assessments, which informs future planning and also allows teachers to identify any gaps within their learning.

How is Reading taught in KS2?

Once pupils have completed our phonics programme, they move onto the ‘Literary Leaves’ programme for reading. This is taught as a whole-class guided session in order to expose all pupils to high-quality language and discussion. Teachers use whole books rather than extracts in order to increase engagement and reading stamina when teaching the skills of comprehension. Pupils spend between 2 to 4 weeks studying one text, each session focussing on a particular skill, to ensure that children develop the skills to become critical readers.

How is Writing taught across the school? 

Before the text is introduced, teachers create ‘hooks’ as an engaging starting point to generate curiosity and as a stimulus for class-discussion.  Each unit lasts between 2 to 4 weeks and texts are often, but not always, linked to the wider curriculum. 

Each new unit for English starts with a beautiful, high-quality text. These texts offer opportunities for empathy and philosophical enquiry, developing the spoken language though through debate, drama and discussion. Children have real reasons to write whether that is to explain, persuade, inform or instruct, usually on a daily basis. Within each sequence of teaching, pupils will write for different purposes and will practice their skills creating ‘shorter’, ‘longer’ and ‘extended’ writing outcomes.

Spelling and grammar is taught through the context of a book so that these can be applied purposefully within writing. Immediately after a new skill is taught, pupils apply their learning in a meaningful context within the lesson. Teachers come back to these spelling and grammar skills again and again in order to embed learning. Our classrooms are rich in talk, questions are planned, peer conversations are modelled and scaffolded and the teacher uses talk skilfully to develop thinking.

At Van Gogh Primary, we have evolved the following opportunities to develop pupils’ spoken language:

  • A rich language environment in the Early Years

  • Oracy skills are explicitly taught through our Phonics and Mathematics programmes

  • High-quality texts are used as a stimulus for high-quality discussions

  • ‘Fantastic Finish’ events allow pupils to showcase their learning to a small group of adults or in front of an audience

  • Child-led assemblies once per term

  • Debating competitions

SEND and Inclusion

As in all areas of the curriculum, teachers should deliver ‘quality-first’ teaching and differentiate to support children with barriers to learning. On an individual basis, teachers should consider any limitations that a child has in accessing the planned lesson and provide:

  • Adapted tasks and correct adult support 

  • ‘InPrint’ helps generate key vocabulary, and colourful semantics to aid children in forming their sentences accurately for careful differentiation. 

  • Oral communication, as mentioned above is the basis of promoting speaking and listening. This is incorporated into the lessons daily, to give all children the ability to express their thoughts. 

  • Visual cues are incorporated into each lesson, to create a link between the book and the task set. 

  • Regular opportunities to reuse/recap key concepts and vocabulary throughout the day. 

Feedback and Assessment of learning

  • No more marking 
  • Live feedback, group intervention 
  • Editing work, peer assessing
     

Staff professional learning

  • Regular staff inset, which are informed by their feedback and needs. There are always followed up by opportunity to seek further guidance
  • As a school, we utilise specialists to support staff, such as Literacy Tree consultant and Read, Write, Inc. consultants

Cross curricular links 

In terms of the bigger picture, it is essential to promote cross curricular links between English and other areas of the curriculum. For example: 

  • After reading a poem, ask students to draw their interpretation of the feelings and emotions of the meaning behind the poem. This will especially be beneficial for EAL students, who may establish a perfectly valid different meaning based on their language they speak and cultural contexts. 

  • Creating and solving word problems in maths

  • Instruction writing in Computing, programming, learning to code  

  • Writing fact files, biographies in role as a character from the past, recounting events after going on a trip

  • Looking into feelings and emotions of how a word may make them feel in PE and RE

Curriculum Overview

 

Autumn 1

Autumn 2

Spring 1

Spring 2

Summer 1

Summer 2

EYFS

where the wild things are 

Bringing the rain to Kapiti Rain

I am Henry Finch

Halibut Jackson

The Magic Paintbrush

Little Red

The Tiny Seed

I will boot ever never eat a tomato 

Willy theWimp

Hairy Maclary from Mcdonaldson’s Dairy 

So Much

Ok! Frog 

Year 1

Cave Baby

Naughty Bus

Sidney, Stella and the Moon

Send for superhero

I want my hat back 

Beegu

The Odd Egg

Stanley’s Stick

Dinosaurs and all that rubbish

Lost and Found

Yeti and the bird

Pig the Pug

Iggy Peck, Architect

The MagicBed

Year 2

The Goldilocks Project

Jim and the beanstalk 

The bear under the stairs 

The dragon machine

The journey home

Tadpole’s Promise 

Wolves

The Minpins

The Great Fire of London 

Rosie Revere, Engineer

A Walk in London

The Owl and the Pussy-cat 

House Held up by Trees

Year 3

The First Drawing

The heart in the bottle

Leon and the place between

The tin forest

The BFG

The tear thief 

Escape from Pompeii 

The pied piper of Hamelin 

The mysteries of Harris B 

The day I swapped my dad for a goldfish

Cloud Tea Monkeys 

Black Dog

Sparky 

Flotsam 

How to live forever

Jim,a cautionary tale 

Year 4

FaRther

Varmints

Weslandia

Guliver 

Until I met Dudley

Tar Beach

Shackleton’s Journey

The Lion and the Unicorn

The Iron Man

the Selfish Giant

The story of Tutankhamen 

The matchbox diaries 

The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe

Jabberwocky

Year 5

Percy Jackson

Robot Girl

Orogami Yaga

King Kong

The Lost Thing

Firebird

The Tempest 

The man who walked between towers

Unspoken 

Kaspar, Prince of Cats

The Lost Happy Endings

London Eye Mystery

The Sleeper and the Spindle 

Year 6

The Arrival

Boy in the Tower 

Suffragette 

The Promise 

The Hidden Forest

Grimm Tales

Romeo and Juliet 

The Unforgotten Coat 

Some Places More Than Others 

 

 

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