English at Thursfield
Our English curriculum aims to provide all pupils with the knowledge and skills that they require to succeed in life. At Thursfield, reading is at the heart of all we do and is seen as a fundamental skill allowing our pupils full access to our curriculum and enable them access to many fulfilling opportunities throughout their lifetime. There is an emphasis on the idea that reading is the gateway to experiences and will open many doors, therefore it is imperative that in school, pupils have access to high-quality books, text and poetry. Staff highly value the magic of books, reading is shared at any opportunity with all pupils and staff reading with excitement and enjoyment. To provide effective reading role models for our pupils, staff have a breadth of knowledge of excellent authors and books and often discuss and review books with pupils to encourage communication, discussion and debate. Many of our pupils enter school with a below expected rate of development in speech and language, therefore developing communication and language through English is vital.
From the moment of entry, our main aim is to provide pupils with experiences that excite, engage and instil passion in reading, writing and communicating. To encourage pupils to develop and maintain a passion for reading and a craving for language, our English curriculum is centered around language-rich, high-quality texts. Texts on offer and taught through are expertly selected with knowledge and learning experiences in mind, the texts chosen are meaningful and relevant to our pupil’s lives and aim to provide ‘lightbulb!’ and ‘awe-inspiring’ moments and discussions.
Pupils are exposed to quality vocabulary, which is explicitly taught, thus developing a love for language becoming eager to communicate creatively and effortlessly in their writing. Our creative writing approach allows for careful collection of vocabulary and discrete teaching of the mechanics of writing; including purposeful teaching of spelling, punctuation and grammar, to ensure pupils have the knowledge and skills to write fluently and creatively. Taking on board ’Rosenshine’s Principles for Instruction’ the writing journey is carefully and expertly planned following the relevant steps to ensure there are optimum opportunities for new learning to be embedded by using small steps to build upon throughout such as reviewing prior learning, guided practice and scaffolding to teach key writing skills developing independent writing. We remove barriers to allow all pupils to achieve by producing ‘Learning Passports’ with our SEND children. These outline personal learning preferences and the reasonable adjustments, which need to be made by school in order for each pupil to access the full English curriculum and to achieve the high expectations, which are set for them.
Our curriculum is sequenced and organised ensuring all pupils have access to all content and learning experiences to make progress. Staff have access to all year groups planning and curriculum content; including writing genres and knowledge and skills acquired at each year group. Our concept-led curriculum and teaching and learning style allows for knowledge to be revisited in subsequent years allowing pupils to make connections to new knowledge from existing knowledge, and ultimately being able to remember facts and knowledge for longer. Our creative approach to English using themes, media stimulus, visits, drama and immersive role-play allows pupils to fully connect to the texts and content that we study.
Carefully selected, half-termly class texts provide excellent opportunities for oral language discussion as well as reading beyond a text. Pre-teach sessions allow teachers to explore what pupils already know and allow pupils to acquire necessary knowledge about the context in order to fully access the text. Reading and writing is immersive across the curriculum and pupils have opportunities to use both along with, speaking and listening skills, in all areas of their school life. Writing opportunities are carefully planned with purposeful and meaningful experiences meaning that pupils write fluently and knowledgeably with confidence. Our creative writing approach to the sequences of teaching and learning of writing allows a build-up of knowledge and skills required for a specific writing outcome. High quality text, stimulus; such as immersion drama, use of art and music, integrated spelling, punctuation and grammar, planning and oral rehearsal such as Talk4Writing ensure a clear understanding of the end point in writing for pupils. Using ‘Rosenshines Principles of Instruction’ the teaching and learning sequence is delivered in small steps allowing daily reviews to embed the new skills being taught and through independent practice the chance for children to become experts and ‘bank’ these into their long-term memory. We deliver Writing is expertly modelled by teachers to scaffold the writing process and build pupils’ stamina when writing independently. Exposure to high-quality language and vocabulary across the curriculum sets expectations for pupils own oracy and communication skills. Writing is planned with real-life, meaningful outcomes so that pupils see the purpose of the writing. Pupils are expected to read, write communicate and listen effectively in all areas of the curriculum and these skills are developed essentially through our English curriculum.
Collaboration is key within our English curriculum to ensure continual impact and achievement. Our English curriculum aims to equip pupils with the skills and knowledge needed to access the whole curriculum and to succeed in life and ultimately to perceive themselves as ‘excellent readers and writers’. Pupils are able to communicate effectively and confidently with coherence. By adopting a whole-school approach to communicating with pupils and emphasising the importance of language; we can, as a staff, comment on and discuss the progress of pupils. Regular staff meetings, training, CPD and professional dialogue keep staff up to date with any initiatives and allow for discussions regarding pupil achievement. Ongoing assessment is used effectively to review and develop the English curriculum intentions and implementation. Due to shared planning and knowledge of themes and concepts, staff are aware of the progression between year groups and the expectation required. They are able to draw on pupils existing knowledge and experiences and build upon these within their year group. Shared values ensure that all staff; including support staff, lunchtime staff and after-school care staff all understand the importance of promoting and encouraging reading, language and oracy. It is essential that through these shared values all pupils receive the same message that Literacy is paramount to their development in life.