The English Curriculum
Our English curriculum is fully inclusive and meets the needs of all learners, starting from building strong foundations in our EYFS, supporting and challenging them on their journey to being secondary ready, and ultimately ensuring that they are equipped with the cultural capital, skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the future.
Meet our English Coordinator
Ms S Burns
Our vision for English is to empower our pupils as effective language users, for language is the principal means by which we think, define what we experience and communicate with other people. English is at the heart of our primary school curriculum, as it is both a subject in its own right and also the medium of instruction for all other subjects.
We aim for all of our pupils to become confident speakers, readers and writers, who can transfer their English skills to other subjects and who are prepared for the next steps in their learning. We empower our pupils so that they can develop into eloquent and articulate speakers and writers, who use a wide and purposeful vocabulary. We encourage our pupils as readers, who select texts for purpose and pleasure. Books and reading are at the heart of our English curriculum. Our literary based curriculum is built upon quality picture books, novels and non-fiction texts, which support children on the journey to become confident readers and writers.
At Biggin Hill Primary Academy, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is the key to unlocking the imagination and essential for academic success.
Our aims for our children in reading are to have:
- Excellent phonic knowledge and skills
- Fluency and accuracy in reading across a wide range of contexts throughout the curriculum
- Knowledge of an extensive and rich vocabulary
- An excellent comprehension of texts
- The motivation to read for both study and pleasure
- An extensive general knowledge through having read a rich and varied range of books.
How You Can Help with Reading at Home
We would like the family / carers at home to help us in our aims by reading books with their child and making comments in their child’s reading record. By the time children leave Biggin Hill we hope our children are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader.
At Biggin Hill Primary Academy we endeavour to create a love of literacy. This is achieved through the study of quality texts which the children analyse, identifying features which they can use in their own writing. Of course the teaching of grammar, punctuation and spelling go hand in hand, so that the children are equipped with the attributes to become skilled writers.
Our aims for our children in writing are to have:
- The ability to write fluently, using interesting detail on a range of topics throughout the curriculum
- A vivid imagination which makes readers engage with and enjoy their writing
- A highly developed vocabulary
- An excellent knowledge of writing techniques to extend detail and description
- Well organised and structured writing which is coherent and includes a variety of sentence structures
- Excellent transcription skills ensuring their writing is spelt and punctuated correctly and presented well
- The ability to re-read, edit and improve their writing so every piece of writing they produce is to the best of their ability and better than the last
- A love of writing and an appreciation of its educational cultural and entertainment values.
Throughout their time at Biggin Hill Primary Academy, children will develop their skills by exploring a whole range of different genres, with a focus on studying a range of models of excellence, using these to guide the drafting and editing process. It is important that we not only develop a real enjoyment of writing in English lessons, but in all subjects across the curriculum. We expect the highest standards of writing every time a child writes in any subject.
From the beginnings of teaching in our EYFS, we endeavor to encourage our children to develop a love of books.
At Biggin Hill Primary Academy, we believe that all children are entitled to a broad and balanced English curriculum, which is delivered in a way that recognises the varied needs of our children and allows each individual to maximise their learning potential; preparing them for the application of English skills across the whole curriculum and life beyond education, equipping them to become useful members of society.
English is an integral part of education and society. A high-quality education in English, teaches children the art of speaking and listening, how to write and communicate ideas coherently for different purposes and how to read fluently with good understanding. Through reading and literature in particular, children have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Being immersed in good quality literature develops pupils’ acquisition of a wide vocabulary and allows children to explore and appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage. As our schools ethnic minority profile is below both local and National percentages, our English curriculum promotes the rich diversity which is found in modern Britain. We carefully choose the literature we study with the children, so that we can plan for purposeful opportunities to discuss important aspects of British values, mental health, well-being and citizenship, thus developing children’s cultural capital. We promote a love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.
Planning for Reading and Writing
The teaching of English at Biggin Hill Primary Academy is carefully designed, planned and implemented to ensure that all pupils are challenged to fulfil their potential. English lessons are rich in resources, vocabulary, questioning and content enabling them to develop mastery of the aims of the National Curriculum.
Planning for successful learning involves:
- Teachers plan English in learning journey units, led by a quality fiction or non-fiction text, or stimulus.
- In Early Years, English is planned around early reading, writing and Phonics-RWI.
- Outcomes are planned with a real purpose in mind.
- Children are actively involved in the integrated skills of oral language, reading and writing and in discussing and comparing a wide variety of texts and forms of English on a daily basis.
- As part of daily planning, learning objectives and success criteria are identified and shared with the children.
- The teaching of Grammar is planned for and taught through writing sessions.
- The Teaching of Spelling follows the HeadStart Spelling Scheme.
- Cursive handwriting goes hand in hand with spellings. It is introduced in Early Years where the children are taught to form letters alongside the phonics being taught. In Key Stage 1 and 2 the children are taught to develop cursive handwriting and are taught the relevant letter joins.
- Daily reading and writing tasks are carefully planned to meet the needs of all the children.
- Opportunities for editing and reviewing written work is planned, children are encouraged to take an increased responsibility for editing their work, with the reader in mind, as they progress through the school.
The Love of English
Promoting daily reading is a priority. Pupils are read to frequently – timetables show regular interactive story sessions. The Book Band system is used to broaden the genre and variety of books which pupils encounter, phonically regular books used in EYFS, KS1 and Y3, reading record books are kept throughout the school tracking the reading development of pupils.
Learning Journeys – A Logical Sequence of Learning
We believe in immersing our children in texts by reading and analysing the texts of a skilled, expert writer. This is important as through this emersion, children become aware of the language skills of a writer and use this as a model for their own writing. Using this model, children develop greater competence in the conventions of spelling, punctuation, sentence structures and text organisation. Knowledge and skills are well sequenced and develop incrementally.
Creativity in English
Creativity and knowledge should work together as creativity involves making connections and using ‘old’ knowledge to create ‘new’. At Biggin Hill Primary Academy, we have designed our curriculum so that the natural links between English and other subjects are deliberate and purposeful in promoting creativity. For example, children in years 5 and 6 could apply their knowledge of events during a significant period in history, with their knowledge of newspaper report writing in English, to write a newspaper report from the viewpoint of a particular person from that time e.g. WW1. They draw upon their ‘old’ knowledge as well as use their imagination to create a unique piece of writing.
Learning and Teaching
The English curriculum provides an inter-disciplinary cross-curricular approach, which makes meaningful connections between subjects. These natural links enable pupils to develop creativity across the curriculum.
Teacher subject knowledge enables all pupils to achieve their potential, there should be strong evidence that pupils’ comprehension, knowledge, vocabulary and ideas are developing as they move towards agreed outcomes.
Teacher training – how to teach English explicitly – is a high priority and is provided internally, by the use of SLEs and CPD from experts in reading and writing.
Pupils need to develop a wide vocabulary and a rich understanding of the meaning of words encountered, this is something which all teachers are mindful – we need to recognise and remediate the vocabulary gap. All classes have ‘What do words mean?’ display / working wall, which is added to regularly. All classes have vocabulary banks which are used across the curriculum. Vocabulary to develop background knowledge is overseen by subject leaders.
Knowledge in English
Knowledge in reading refers to the understanding and application of effective reading strategies. When these reading strategies are secure and reading is fluent and accurate, children are able to interpret and evaluate a range of literature. In writing, knowledge refers to the understanding and application of grammatical, structural and linguistic features. Once this knowledge is secure, children can apply this knowledge to a range of purposes and evaluate written text.
Tracking children’s progress throughout their school life is vital in order to establish their acquisition of knowledge. At Biggin Hill Primary Academy, learning always starts with the children’s prior knowledge and any misconceptions they may have. This can be achieved in several different ways; teachers decide upon the most appropriate, age-related way of obtaining the children’s prior knowledge. Units of work are then personalised to the needs of the groups of learners. Any misconceptions that arise throughout the unit are identified and addressed appropriately. End of topic assessment takes place to assess their attainment. Assessment in English will also gather further information on summative and formative assessments in speaking, reading, writing, grammar, spelling and phonics. This will be recorded on FLiC showing a growing portfolio of skills and knowledge that each child has acquired.
The impact of the English curriculum is measured through lesson observations, subject specific learning walks, teacher and pupil discussions and data analysis. The school leadership team, subject leaders and governors relentlessly drive the English curriculum forward and monitor it vigorously.
Useful Information for Parents