At Milking Bank Primary School, we recognise the crucial importance of studying the English language. Improved performance at reading, writing and spoken language will enable our pupils to express their thoughts and ideas more fluently, accurately and to their greater satisfaction. This will also help them to access other curriculum subjects, while enriching their lives beyond school. The teaching and learning of language skills are, therefore, given a high priority in our school and where possible, the creative curriculum and IT will be used as tools.
The overarching aim of English is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for pleasure.
We aim for our pupils to:
At Milking Bank Primary School, we encourage all children to become independent learners and be confident in all strands of learning. The children will be given opportunities to speak in a variety of contexts and learn to listen to and value the views of others.
Throughout the school, children are taught English within their classes. Through differentiation and the support of teaching assistants, all children receive high quality teaching and appropriate support in order to reach their full potential. Children may receive additional support if necessary outside of English lessons in smaller intervention groups or through 1:1 targeted teaching.
Teachers’ weekly planning is taken from progressive, medium term year group specific plans found in English curriculum folders. Quality fiction and non-fiction books are often the stimulus used for a unit of work. Working walls are used to support children’s writing. The marking scheme makes use of coloured highlighters to enable children to quickly identify strengths and points to improve.
On-going assessment informs planning, and end of term PIRA and GAPS tests support termly teacher assessment judgements.
The four stands of spoken language: speaking, listening, group discussion and drama permeate the whole curriculum. Interactive and “Talk for Writing” style teaching strategies are used to engage all pupils in order to raise reading and writing standards. Children are encouraged to develop effective communication skills in readiness for later life. We aim for children to be able to speak clearly, fluently and coherently, to be able to listen attentively with understanding, pleasure and empathy and contribute to group discussions effectively. We achieve this by:
Approaches to Phonics
The teaching of phonic skills is embedded within English teaching in each class. Additional provision is made each day in discrete phonics sessions for years Reception to Y2, following ‘Letters and Sounds’. These comprise of learning different graphemes, focussing on oral and aural phonological skills and sight vocabulary. During these sessions children are also explicitly shown how to apply their developing skills to their writing. All children are grouped in accordance to their individual needs and are in phase appropriate groups.
Approaches to Reading
Pupils have opportunities to undertake guided, shared and independent reading throughout the school. A diverse range of group reading books and guided reading materials are available. We do not use any one published scheme to teach reading, instead we believe that it is important to provide pupils with a selection of reading books and experiences from different genres and subject matter, therefore we operate using ‘book bands’ in line with Oxford reading tree complemented by thematic books. Electronic texts are also available for shared and individual reading using ‘Bug Club’. When it is felt appropriate for individual children, they may become ‘free readers’ and choose from the class library.
Reading tests are undertaken throughout the year to identify children who require extra support with their reading. Staff are deployed throughout the school to work with children in order to improve their fluency, intonation, decoding skills and comprehension. Home reading is encouraged and is an integral part of the child’s development. In order to have strong communication between teachers and parents/carers, each child has a pupil planner, where both the staff and parents can write comments about how the child is progressing with his/her reading.
Daily reading for pleasure in the classroom is encouraged and a weekly ‘Book Talk’ time is timetabled. Reading challenges are regularly offered within school and pupils are encouraged to undertake the annual county library reading challenge. An annual book week is held along with a book fair to further promote reading.
Approaches to Writing
To develop our children as writers we:
Approaches to Handwriting
Handwriting begins in the E.Y.F.S with mark-making and patterns. All pupils are given access to a wide range of writing tools and mediums to practise the early fine motor skills. The needs of left handed children, or those with physical difficulties are also taken into consideration and where necessary accommodated with resources or specific intervention.
The whole school follows the Kinetic Letters approach, which develops four strands of handwriting: Making Bodies Stronger; Learning the Letters; Holding the Pencil; and Flow and Fluency.
We measure the effectiveness and impact of our English Reading, Writing, Grammar and Spelling 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 2 and 6 pupils) and through termly summative assessments in KS2, which enables pupils' progress and attainment in the subject matter to be evaluated. Additionally, teachers assess reading and writing on a termly basis and enter teacher judgements onto our internal assessment system. The impact of the curriculum can be seen through pupils' national assessment results.
Through lesson and pupils' 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 and learning walks demonstrate that learning is being broken down into smaller steps and modelling supports pupils in the writing 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 reading, 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.