At Solent, English, quite simply is not a discrete subject.
It does not stand alone with its own individual agenda but underpins everything we do, unlocking the rest of the curriculum through the application of the skills the children are taught in their English lessons. It teaches the children how to be confident communicators and avid readers for both pleasure and purpose. At Solent, children learn how to speak and write fluently, across all subjects. Through reading widely, they develop their social, emotional and cultural understanding of their own world and the world around them. This is further supported by their teachers’ love of texts and careful choices, based on their own research and the children’s interests.
By the end of Year 2, our aim is to ensure that children use their phonic knowledge to read fluently and with expression. Through engaging discussions, our pupils are able to confidently ask and answer questions about what they have read or listened to. They begin their reading journey by developing their understanding of inference and begin to predict what may happen in a story, based on what they have read. We understand how crucial vocabulary is for children’s understanding in all subjects and subsequently, put a key emphasis on the acquisition of new vocabulary. This then enables them to use a varied vocabulary and, consequently, encourages greater understanding and more unique writing. In order to explore vocabulary, we encourage discussion and role play. They are often provided with the opportunity to present to an audience. These opportunities are key in building confident, fluent speakers who can carefully articulate their thoughts and feelings.
At Solent, we follow the Programmes of Study for Primary English National Curriculum (2014)
Writing units are taught over approximately two to three weeks and link to a high-quality text or stimulus (hook) linked to the learning theme for term. The journey starts with a hook to enthuse and engage the children in the learning. Lessons then teach the children the grammar objectives needed to produce a sustained final piece of writing. These skills are taught through shared writing opportunities, scaffolds and models so that the children can see ‘What A Good One Looks Like’. This ensures that they are confident with the skills needed to accomplish the task and write with confidence and independence. In Key Stage 1, children begin their editing journey. As they reach Key Stage 2, editing plays a fundamental role throughout any writing opportunity. It is our expectation that the children always take the time to check, edit and improve any piece of work so that they can be sure that the work they hand in really is their best and something that they should be proud of.
Children are taught phonics through the programme ‘Little Wandle Revised Letters and Sounds’. This ensures consistency, throughout the school. Phonics is reinforced through daily Reading sessions. The texts used support the programme and are fully decodable. In school, reading sessions begin by focusing on decoding, then on developing fluency and understanding. We encourage all children to read and share books regularly to ensure excellent progress and develop a love of reading.
Spelling is taught regularly through discrete sessions which focus on a range of spelling patterns, homophones, prefixes and suffixes as well as the common exception words for KS1. Handwriting is taught through Little Wandle Revised Letters and Sounds lessons in Reception. As per the Department for Education guidance, we do not teach cursive until the children are ready. In Year 1, children are taught cursive through discrete handwriting lessons that focus on letter formation families, ready to prepare them to join in Year 2.
Speaking and Listening then becomes the golden thread throughout all aspects of learning. This starts in the Early Years Foundation Stage where it is embedded in every aspect of their practice. Throughout the school, opportunities are given within the school day for the children to explore and investigate language. They will ‘magpie’ the highest quality words and phrases used by favourite authors and the adults around them, listening out for different tones and registers. Our teachers are our greatest resource, through their effective modelling and ability to engage learners. Our aim is for all of our children to communicate effectively and for a variety of purposes; whether those are to communicate their needs, thoughts and feelings or their learning.