English at Friars
Through our English curriculum we want our children to:
Use their speaking and listening skills to solve problems, share ideas, make decisions and reflect upon their learning
Read with fluency, understanding and enjoyment
Use their comprehension skills to find and use information, infer, summarise, predict and enhance their vocabulary choices
Use their writing as a means of communicating experience, knowledge and understanding
Write imaginatively and accurately for a variety of purposes
Spell words independently, using appropriate strategies and patterns to attempt unknown words
Have a legible and fluent handwriting style
Know what they need to do to further improve their reading and writing
Curriculum and Planning
At Friars Primary School and Nursery, English is an integral part of our curriculum.
We use the 2014 National Curriculum, alongside year group objectives from Jonathon Bond and Pie Corbett progression sheets, to plan engaging units of work based upon a theme and the different genres of writing.
We aim to make those units as engaging as possible. English grammar, handwriting and spelling skills are embedded every day through our English work, early morning work and our connected curriculum.
Speaking and Listening
Opportunities for speaking and listening are planned into all curriculum subjects in order for our children to develop their skills and grow in confidence.
From the early years, the children use language to imagine and recreate roles, take part in active listening sessions and interact with others in free play activities.
In Key Stage 1, we build on pupil’s prior learning in speaking and listening. They are encouraged to speak according to the context, with consideration for their audience, use oral language imaginatively and express their ideas and feelings within drama and classroom discussions. The children are taught to work effectively and collaboratively in groups and join in discussions making relevant contributions.
In Key Stage 2, the children develop the ability to speak in a range of contexts with an increased sense of audience and purpose. We develop the pupil’s ability to respond appropriately to others by having opportunities for children to critically self and peer assess. We also use drama as an exciting way to use expressive speech and to deepen their understanding of the content and purpose of what they are studying.
Part of our ‘Friars Formula’ for good teaching includes the use of 3-tick answers which are used across the school to allow children to actively ‘think’ more deeply and expand on original ideas and other children’s responses.
All children take an active role in an annual class assembly where they present their work to parents and carers.
Early Reading – Phonics
In EYFS and Key Stage 1, our children begin to learn to read and spell with daily phonics lessons, using a systematic synthetic phonics programme called Little Wandle Letters and Sounds.
Children in Nursery, who are due to start school the next academic year, will participate in ‘Foundations for Phonics’ activities with a trained adult. These sessions will provide them with firm foundations ready for when they join school and they will be ready to learn grapheme-phoneme correspondence.
In Year 1, the children will take the Phonics Screening Check, which is used to confirm that children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. Children who have not reached this level will receive extra support to ensure that they can improve their phoneme recognition and decoding skills, and they will then have the opportunity to retake the phonics screening check in Year 2.
Phonics continues into early Year 2, where children continue to grow the code and learn a wide range of alternative graphemes for the phonemes they have previously learnt. Children will only exit the programme once they have successfully completed a fluency assessment as set out by Little Wandle.
Tricky words from the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme are sent home in children’s reading record books and they are expected to know these on sight by the time they complete the programme.
Whole class reading
In the Early Years and Year 1, children develop their reading within class lessons by participating in shared reading activities following ‘The Power of Reading’ texts linked to their curriculum learning. Using these carefully chosen texts, they read the texts together, share ideas and complete work based around the focus book.
Towards the end of Year 2 and across KS2, Friars Primary School and Nursery has adopted ‘Layered Reading’ (whole class reading) as its primary source of teaching reading and comprehension skills. These sessions happen twice a week.
Each year group has a set of carefully chosen, challenging but age appropriate texts, which are then used for mixed ability, paired reading and modelled reading by the class teacher. The children analyse the text in detail to answer greater depth questions and develop their skills of comprehension. All of our comprehension work is in line with our comprehension strategy, which focuses on 8 core skills; answering literal questions, inferences, word level, predicting, summarising, grammar and punctuation, comparing and contrasting and text organisation.
In addition to Layered reading, children also have a further comprehension lesson each week which forms their English lesson for that day. This lesson focuses on an area identified from the comprehension strategy mentioned above.
Class teachers will also look to embed reading and comprehension skills across the connected curriculum where appropriate.
Children in Nursery take home a ‘sharing book’ which is changed fortnightly during their ‘Stay and Play’ sessions.
Children in Reception also have a fortnightly sharing book which they choose themselves from our school library.
In addition to this book, and before the children have their first assessment, the children are given word lists which contain GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence) that they have been learning in class to practise at home, to develop their blending skills. Once children have been assessed and been matched to a decodable book, they will then take a reading book home.
Children in Year 1 and Year 2 take home two books per week; a reading book and a sharing book. The reading book is matched to the child’s secure phonic knowledge and is chosen against their most recent assessments. The child should be able to read this book with 90% fluency.
Individual reading books are changed weekly and are always read in school before they go home. The sharing book, is like a library book and is sent home for the adult to read to the child. Children are not expected to read this text.
Once matched to a decodable book, children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will read three times a week (two times a week in reception with decoding and prosody (reading with expression) joined in one session) with a trained adult.
These sessions include;
a decoding practise session where children’s vocabulary will be developed
a prosody reading session where they will develop their ability to read with expression and fluency
a comprehension session where they will begin to build skills in understanding stories they have read and using a text to help them find an answer.
At the end of the three sessions, children will take their reading book home to read. They will also have one reading target stuck into their reading record book for them to work on at home. Please remember to initial or tick when you have heard your child read at home as they can earn reward stickers through our ‘Rainbow Readers’ award scheme.
Once children become fluent readers, towards the end of KS1 and into KS2, they can select an age- appropriate ‘free’ reading book to read in class. These books have been specifically selected for us by a reading consultant at ‘Roving Books’ with many of the titles being selected around the theme of ‘diversity’ to allow our pupils to experience different types of reading from different cultures and backgrounds. The children can select their books from their class library. They are encouraged to choose books appropriate for their ability.
Children still have the opportunity to read at home using their chosen library books or via Bug Club, which can differentiated by the class teacher. There are no home/school reading records for you to complete in KS2.
Most of our reading assessment in KS2 is completed via whole class layered reading sessions or comprehension assessment tests, the children will also still be heard reading 1:1 by a teacher using their class reading book most weeks.
Across the school, each class teacher has identified those children needing additional reading support. This can take several different forms depending on the need of the child including; extra daily or bi-weekly reading support, Nessy, Dockside, Rapid Readers or phonics intervention.
Should you have any concerns about your child’s reading, please speak to their class teacher.
At Friars Primary School and Nursery, a range of teaching techniques are used in order to develop writing skills.
Helicopter stories – story scribing
Helicopter stories are used in EYFS and KS1 to allow children to ‘tell’ their stories which are then scribed by an adult. Each story can then be acted out for the child to ‘see’ their completed work.
Story mapping – Children produce a story map detailing key events of their story to use as a visual writing prompt for their independent writing.
Modelled Writing - The teacher acts as the writer and shares his/her thoughts as the writing is produced.
Shared Writing - This is a teacher-led writing activity with child involvement. The children offer ideas to a whole class piece of writing which can then be edited and improved to model the correct way of structuring their ideas.
Guided writing - Guided writing takes place in whole class or small groups. The children writing with teachers intervening as appropriate to support the development of their writing skills.
Scaffolded Writing – Children work independently using a prompt such as sentence starters
Independent Writing - From EYFS onwards, the children are given opportunities to write independently for a range of purposes. All children are expected to be writing extended pieces regularly.
Marking and Feedback - Verbal feedback may be give during the lesson or written feedback may be provided to give children the opportunity to expand, extend or improve their piece of work.
Editing - In KS2, following next step marking, children respond by correcting and modifying their work in green pen.
Connected curriculum - Where relevant, opportunities to write across the curriculum are given to enable children to apply the skills from their English lesson cross a range of different contexts.
This could include a post card from a different country in geography, a historical report or an explanation text in science.
Spelling is always a key focus of our writing at Friars Primary School.
We use the Rising Stars spelling scheme meaning that from Years 1-6 the children are taught the spelling rules identified for their year group against the 2014 National Curriculum.
A different ‘spelling rule’ is taught each week and these are sent home to practise further. Weekly spelling tests are then taken in each class.
Grammar and Punctuation
Specific grammar and punctuation elements may be taught discreetly as separate lessons or as part of the main English lesson.
Children are then given the opportunity to apply these skills in writing sessions and across the connected curriculum.
Core grammar and punctuation elements are also regularly reinforced through our early morning work activities.
At Friars we follow the Pen Pals Handwriting Scheme.
In EYFS and Key Stage 1 children are taught how to form letters correctly. When they have achieved correct formation, they are introduced to letter joins.
In Key Stage 2, the children practise joining letters correctly and develop their own handwriting style. Once the children can join their handwriting correctly and consistently, they are awarded a ‘Pen Licence’ allowing them to write using a handwriting pen.
If you would like to support your child with their handwriting at home, please speak to the class teacher who will be happy to help.
Whole School Events
The school encourages our pupils to take part in several whole school events across the year. These have included BBC’s 500 words competition, The Friars and Portico Spelling Bee and World Book Day celebrations as part of our book week.