How is English taught at Teagues Bridge?
At Teagues Bridge Primary School we plan a thematic curriculum so that children have opportunities to gain skills, knowledge and understanding in meaningful contexts. This encourages pupils’ understanding of the “big picture” and provides opportunities for pupils to follow their own interests and learning styles. Before the start of a theme children have the opportunity to plan their learning with their teacher.
English unites the important skills of Reading, Writing & Spoken Language. Children have opportunities to develop their skills in these areas as well as apply them creatively in other subjects. Through this approach, we aim to offer children intellectual excitement and challenge, while equipping them with the skills they need to be independent learners.
In Reception, children are taught the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Throughout years 1 to 6, teachers follow the National Curriculum. The new National Curriculum came into place in September 2014 and has greater emphasis on grammar, spelling and handwriting. You might hear your child talking about SPaG which stands for Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar!
The English Curriculum
SPaG is now a more prominent part of the curriculum in key stages 1 and 2. Children are expected to know, understand and use a range of grammatical vocabulary. At Teagues Bridge, we support children to do this by:
We take an “active” approach to the teaching of spelling. Each week, children learn a new spelling pattern or rule. Children explore these rules throughout the week by taking part in lots of practical activities, including: using ICT resources, playing spelling games and carrying out dictionary investigations. The teaching of spelling is differentiated so that activities are pitched according to individual children’s needs and abilities. Teachers and teaching assistants work with groups to ensure that there is always an appropriate level of challenge for every child. You can help your child to continue their learning of spellings at home too. Teachers set weekly spelling activities for homework which extend or consolidate learning that is happening in school.
Writing continues to be an important part of our school curriculum. At Teagues Bridge we understand the value of providing children with meaningful writing opportunities. Teachers plan engaging activities that immerse pupils in a topic or text. Children are given opportunities to write for real audiences. Classes work collaboratively to create books, perform to each other and peer assess writing.
Planning ideas for writing together
Writing skills are taught in literacy lessons. Teachers use other subjects as an opportunity to develop and apply these skills. In lessons teachers use a range of modelled, shared and guided writing in order to demonstrate and involve pupils in quality writing.
At the beginning of a literacy unit, teachers immerse children in the genre through ‘Talk for writing’. This is a chance for children to see quality writing models and to learn the features of the text type. Children can then apply these features to their own writing. At the planning phase, children orally rehearse their writing so that they become fluent in the vocabulary and style of the text before they write.
Talk for writing in action!
At the end of a unit of work, children take part in an independent writing session called, The Big Write. Children have the opportunity to apply sentence and word-level skills that they have been learning to produce an extended piece of writing. Teachers ensure that the writing opportunities meet a range of genres and are linked to our whole school theme. Classrooms are made to feel different during these writing sessions, with music playing and different lighting. Every child uses their own special pen or pencil during the Big Write.
All children are given individual targets for writing. These are informed by teacher assessment and marking and pupil-teacher conversations. The targets are child-friendly and personalised so that children can achieve and move onto a new target at their own pace.
Throughout school we use the Penpals handwriting scheme. This scheme is progressive so that children develop their gross and fine motor skills before practising their handwriting on paper. Handwriting occurs daily for approximately ten minutes and every child uses a special handwriting book.
Children are encouraged to improve their handwriting in order to become a Handwriting Hero! Children who show improved handwriting in all their work are chosen by their teacher for this award. They receive a certificate to take home, a handwriting pen to use in class and a handwriting hero character which is displayed with their name on.
Spoken Language opportunities are weaved into all parts of the curriculum. We believe it is important for children to hear and speak in a variety of contexts so that they have the opportunity to develop their vocabulary and grammar which underpins the development of reading and writing. Each half-term children have the chance to present in assemblies and to take part in key stage debates. Drama activities provide opportunities for children to act in role and explore characters and themes before they begin writing.
At Teagues Bridge we want all our children to become independent readers who read for enjoyment. We value reading in all areas of the curriculum. Teachers plan for these opportunities and encourage children to develop and apply their skills in other subjects. This approach aims to broaden children’s experience of different types of texts, allowing them to develop and apply their skills. Children have access to a range of texts, from hand held books to digital texts. We have a brand new library which children can access during the day and take out books on loan to read at home.
Throughout the year we plan opportunities to celebrate reading. This includes taking part in World Book Day, competitions and visits from the mobile library and book fairs. We also have a storytelling club called Chatterbooks!
From Years 2 – 6 children will be encouraged to spend time reading independently and develop their own reading “tastes” and to enjoy reading for pleasure.
Enjoying reading in the outdoors!
Phonics is taught daily using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ document in Reception and key stage 1. Children are grouped according to ability so that learning in phonics is appropriately pitched to meet the needs of each child.
In key stage 2, children who continue to need additional support with phonics attend phonics intervention sessions with a teaching assistant. These sessions are designed to be frequent, short and snappy in order to engage children and quickly address gaps in learning.
Guided reading and reciprocal reading
Guided reading is an opportunity for pupils to develop their skills in reading as well as engage in discussions about a text. Children participate in a guided reading session with their class teacher and a small group of peers each week. They then complete follow-up tasks which develop comprehension skills.
From year 2 to year 6, children take part in reciprocal reading. This is where children lead the session by each taking on a role. They may be in charge of using the thesaurus, asking questions about the text or summarising what the group has read. Reciprocal reading provides a more challenging context for guided reading, develops independence and thinking skills and allows children to work at their own pace.
Reciprocal reading in action in Year 3
We follow a guided reading carousel system in each class so that throughout the week children also have opportunities to: read for pleasure, complete puzzles which support their reading skills, complete reading comprehension activities and spelling challenges.
All children have a reading book to bring home. A reading record also accompanies their book for pupils and parents to record what they have read. These should come into school and go home every day. Some pupils may bring home a similar “book band” book for independent reading at home. Other pupils may choose an independent reading book from their class or school library. All pupils should aim to read for at least ten minutes every day at home. In Key Stage 1 this will be a book share with an adult at home. In Key Stage 2 we continue to encourage book sharing and pupils will also read more independently and for longer. To encourage children to develop their love of reading, we subscribe to ‘Bug Club’. This online reading resource is designed to engage and enthuse all children across school. Children have the opportunity to access a range of genres that are pitched appropriately and which can be accessed from home.
Using digital texts in guided reading
We encourage parents to take an interest in their child’s reading and to encourage children to read widely and for enjoyment. Parents are invited into classes each term to read with their children.
Reading in context
Teachers plan for additional opportunities for reading across the curriculum. This enables pupils to develop their reading skills further as well as to apply them in other contexts.
Presentation & Marking
Throughout school we always have high expectations of presentation. Teachers model quality handwriting for children and work displayed around school also models high standards of presentation. Children are encouraged to take pride in all their work and to produce writing that is the best of their ability.
Teachers mark children’s English work daily, writing at least one detailed ‘closing the gap’ marking comment every week. A ‘closing the gap’ marking comment will either: address a misconception by re-modelling it, identify and explain where there could be further improvement, or provide an extension opportunity. A closing the gap comment includes a short task for children to respond to so that they are actively involved in improving their work.
Teacher’s marking will also identify and address spelling errors. Children will be shown the correct spelling, or may be asked to use a dictionary to find it. Every child has their own dictionary into which they can add any spellings they find ‘tricky’.
Children are also encouraged to mark their own and other’s work. This process of self- assessment encourages children to evaluate the quality of their work and helps them to reflect on how to improve it. Peer-assessment enables children to give each other valuable feedback so that they learn from and support each other. It offers a valuable dimension to learning; the opportunity to talk, discuss, explain and challenge each other enables children to achieve beyond what they can learn unaided.