Literacy

English as a curriculum area aims 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 enjoyment “ National Curriculum September 2014

The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.

Teachers of English aim to empower their 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 in the Curriculum

English is both a subject in its own right and also the medium of instruction for other subjects. All teachers across the curriculum use English as a means of developing children’s learning. All teachers, therefore, contribute to, and share responsibility for, the language development of pupils.

English is a core subject of the National Curriculum and includes:

  • the development of competence and enjoyment in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • appreciation and understanding of literature- pose, poetry and plays
  • drama
  • media education
  • understanding of the vocabulary and grammatical features of Standard English
  • handwriting and presentation skills
  • spelling
  • punctuation and grammar
  • appropriate use of IT.

English contributes to the school’s programme of personal and social development by helping to develop pupil’s confidence and self-esteem. Children, who are able to communicate effectively in speech and writing, are likely to develop secure relationships.

Planning and Organisation

English is concerned with the gradual development of language over a period of time e.g. a key stage.

The National Curriculum programme of study is organised into three main areas:

  1. Spoken Language
  2. Reading – word reading

comprehension

  • Writing –  transcription (spelling)
  • handwriting and presentation
  • composition
  • vocabulary, grammar and punctuation

In our school the English Leader, alongside Phase Managers, Phase Leaders and Class Teachers ensures a broad, balanced and coherent English curriculum which is relevant to the needs of our pupils and which takes account of continuity and progression.

Literacy

Literacy unites the important skills of reading and writing, it also involves speaking and listening, which, are an essential part of Literacy. Good oral work enhances pupils’ understanding of language in both oral and written forms and of the way language can be used to communicate. It is also an important part of the process through which pupils read and compose texts.

Literate primary pupils should:

  • read and write with confidence, fluency and understanding
  • be able to access a full range of reading cues ( phonic, graphic, syntactic, contextual) to monitor their reading and correct their own mistakes
  • understand the sound and spelling system and use this to read and spell accurately
  • have fluent and legible handwriting
  • have an interest in words, their meanings and a growing vocabulary
  • know, understand and be able to write in a range of genres in fiction and poetry
  • understand and be familiar with some of the ways in which narratives are structured through basic literacy ideas of setting, character and plot
  • understand, use and be able to write a range of non-fiction texts
  • plan, draft, revise and edit their own writing
  • have suitable technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their reading and writing
  • be interested in books, read with enjoyment and evaluate and justify their preferences
  • through reading and writing, develop their powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness.

Spoken Language

Pupils are taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. They should learn to: justify ideas with reasons, ask questions to check understanding, develop vocabulary and build knowledge, negotiate, evaluate other’s ideas and select the appropriate response for effective communication.

Pupils are taught to give well-structured descriptions and explanations and develop their understanding through speculating, hypothesising and exploring ideas. This will enable them to clarify their thinking as well as organise their ideas for writing.

Speaking and listening are the primary language modes; they are central to the language development of all children, since they are the most common form of expression and the means by which we make sense of experience.

Speaking and listening skills have a particular importance if people are to relate to one another, participate fully in a democratic society and to contribute effectively to public debate and decision making.

Effective ‘talk’ is developed through a balanced language curriculum which carefully integrates the elements of speaking, listening, reading and writing. In turn, speaking and listening aid the successful development of reading and writing.

A considerable amount of learning through ‘talk’ will occur outside the English lesson. All teachers plan opportunities to develop speaking and listening skills, within a structured and supportive framework in other curriculum areas.

Reading

The ultimate aim for reading must be to produce enthusiastic and independent readers. The development of reading as an enjoyable and worthwhile activity is our principle objective.

No single approach holds the key to success in reading; effective teaching will seek to match appropriate methods to pupils’ needs. Pupils will respond to a combination of strategies.

All teachers know that pupils become successful readers by learning to use a range of strategies to get at the meaning of the text.  The range of strategies can be depicted as a series of searchlights, each of which sheds lights on the text. Successful readers use as many of these strategies as possible.

It is vital that pupils are taught to use these word level strategies effectively; they need to be taught to do this. When they begin to read, most pupils tend to see words as images, with a particular shape and pattern. They tend not to understand that words are made up of letters used in particular combinations that correspond with spoken sounds. It is essential that pupils are taught these basic decoding and spelling skills from the Foundation Stage.

When pupils read familiar and predictable texts, they can easily become over-reliant on their knowledge of context and grammar. They may pay too little attention to how words sound and how they are spelt. But if pupils cannot decode individual words through their knowledge of sounds and spellings, they find it difficult to get at the meaning of more complex, less familiar texts. As they learn these basic decoding skills they should also be taught to check their reading for sense by reference to the grammar and meaning of the text. This helps them to identify and correct their reading errors. At Key Stage 1, there is a strong and systematic emphasis on the teaching of phonics and other word level skills.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • discriminate between the separate sounds in words
  • learn the letters and letter combinations most commonly used to spell those sounds
  • read word by sounding out and blending their separate parts
  • write words by combining the spelling patterns of their sounds.

In the early stages, pupils have a carefully balanced programme of guided reading from books of graded difficulty, matched to their independent reading levels. Through shared reading, pupils will also be given a rich experience of more challenging texts. As pupils gain fluency the forms of teaching shift to emphasise advanced reading and comprehension skills.

The role of the adult reader is vital. At different times, the teacher will provide instruction, advice and encouragement, opportunities for practice, modelling and will suggest resources which can improve the reading experience. Parents will also be able to offer support. Reading will develop most effectively where a clear sense of partnership operates between parents and teachers.

Pupils are offered reading experiences which develop them as independent readers of both fact and fiction. These experiences will include planned opportunities for pupils to read to an adult, to themselves, with others, to a variety of audiences and to hear adults and peers read.

Pupils are given access to a wide variety of text including genres of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, pupils’ own writing and a variety of media texts.

Writing

From an early age children are surrounded by print and by people using writing as a means of communication. They therefore arrive in school with varying degrees of understanding about writing and it purposes. We recognise children’s different starting points in our planning and provision of writing opportunities. During the early years of learning it is important to build up the confidence of the emergent writer as they begin to use words in writing.

Writing is closely related to reading – the two activities reinforce each other. Pupils experience a wide range of reading and writing material. Pupils need to understand from an early stage that much of their writing will be read by other people and therefore needs to be accurate, legible and set out in an appropriate way. They see the writing process being modelled by the teacher and they take part regularly in composing, spelling and handwriting activities with the class as a whole and as a member of a smaller group.

As with reading, it is important that pupils learn to write independently from an early stage. During Key Stage 1 the teaching of phonics, spelling and handwriting complements this process and is used systematically to support writing and to build up accuracy and speed. It is essential that pupils are taught correct letter formation from the Foundation Stage and that errors are picked up and corrected early, so that they do not hamper pupils’ progress. Through Key Stage 2, there is a progressive emphasis on the skills of planning, drafting, revising, proof-reading and the presentation of writing. The range of reading and writing increases and, with it, the need for pupils to understand a wider variety of texts and their organisation and purposes.

We are mindful of the complexity of the writing process, which we are hoping to develop in children. We plan a structured programme, which gives opportunities for children to develop:

  • Composing skills (turning ideas into a structured form of writing, drafting)
  • Secretarial skills ( transcribing, punctuating, spelling)
  • Editing skills ( redrafting and proof-reading.)

Children need to be aware of the audience and purpose of their writing. They are presented with opportunities to write for a wide range of audiences, in response to a variety of purposes. By reading and studying a variety of texts, children will become aware of the need to adopt a form of writing and modify the style and language to suit their chosen audience and purpose. They may be asked to write for themselves in such forms as notes, plans, diaries and records; they may write for others in such form as letters, stories, reports and reviews.

Teachers develop pupils’ reading and writing in all subjects to support their acquisition of knowledge. Pupils are taught to read fluently, understand extended prose (both fiction and non-fiction) and be encouraged to read for pleasure. We do everything we can to promote wider reading and set ambitious expectations for reading at home. Pupils need to develop the stamina and skills to write at length, with accurate spelling and punctuation. They are taught the correct use of grammar. They can then build on what they have been taught, to expand the range of their writing and the variety of the grammar they use. The writing they do includes narratives, explanations, descriptions, comparisons, summaries and evaluations.

Since legible handwriting, correct spelling, punctuation and grammar add clarity to writing, we ensure a consistent and structured approach to the teaching of these skills.

Helping your child with spelling

When we write we have to consider a number of aspects.

  • We need to know what the purpose of our writing is and for whom we are writing.
  • We need to think about the content and what form our writing will take, for example, is it a shopping list, a report, a letter to a friend, an email?
  • We then need to think about the structure appropriate to the purpose and form of our writing – the use of sentences, paragraphs and punctuation.
  • We then select the vocabulary that will best convey our meaning.
  • And finally we think about how to spell the words we write.

Spelling is diffcult

Children can find writing a real challenge; they need encouragement, support and praise for their efforts. You can best support them by asking them to write on every possible occasion, praising their efforts and, importantly, by letting them see you writing whenever possible.

  • You can play word games with them (e.g. I spy, Find the word )
  • You can point to interesting or new words as you read to your child (without interrupting the flow of the story)
  • You can compose emails together.

Most of us, even if we consider ourselves to be good spellers, make spelling mistakes at some point. What is important is that we know what to do when we get stuck and we know how to correct our mistakes.

The English language is a rich but complex language but, despite its complexity, 85% of the English spelling system is predictable. Your child will learn the rules and conventions of the system and the spelling strategies needed to become a confident speller.

Spelling strategies to try

Here are some of the strategies that will help your child become a confident and accurate speller:

  • sounding words out – breaking the word down into phonemes (e.g. c-a-t, sh-e-ll)
  • many words cannot be sounded out so other strategies are needed – dividing the word into syllables, say each syllable as they write the word (e.g. re-mem-ber)
  • using the Look, say, cover, write, check strategy: look at the word and say it out aloud, then cover it, write it and check to see if it is correct. If not, highlight or underline the incorrect part and repeat the process
  • using mnemonics as an aid to memorising a tricky word (e.g. peoplepeople eat orange peel like elephants couldO U Lucky Duck)
  • finding words within words (e.g. a rat in separate)
  • making links between the meaning of words and their spelling (e.g. sign, signal, signature) – this strategy is used at a later stage than others
  • working out spelling rules for themselves – a later strategy
  • using a dictionary as soon as they know how to.

Encourage your child to have a go at – spelling words they are unsure of. This will give them the opportunity to try out spelling strategies and to find those that they find useful. You can help them to use the strategies outlined above and praise their efforts.

There are many ways you can help your child at home with their spellings. Please click the link for some ideas – Spelling Activities

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