The teaching of English is at the heart of our Northburn curriculum where children develop the essential knowledge and skills to succeed and thrive in life.
The skills taught in English ensure that children can access all other areas of the curriculum with growing independence and confidence to equip them for their future. The art of writing starts early through confidence and success in reading and phonics. We continue to select quality texts in English and in other subject areas so that our pupils are exposed to challenging vocabulary and model their writing on high quality texts. Children have a clear purpose for writing which helps each child to produce their best writing.
At Northburn Primary School, we plan from the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS). On entry, judgements are made against the Development Matters bands to identify each child’s starting point and ensure teaching and learning meets the needs of all. A mixture of child-initiated planning and accurate assessment for learning (AFL) ensures an exciting and hands on cross curricular approach which enables children to make good progress.
In EYFS, children are taught English through ‘The Big 5’. Teachers use exciting, high-quality books, poems and songs as a stimulus to teach new vocabulary and build upon emerging literacy skills through focused whole class teaching, group work and individual tasks. The children hear the shared story, poem and song daily and writing is promoted using both the inside and outside learning environments. Pupils also follow a structured phonics programme: Read, Write, Inc. which takes place daily.
In Years 1 and 2, children develop their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills as they work towards the end of Key Stage 1 standards. Pupils continue to build their knowledge of phonics using the Read, Write, Inc. programme to develop their reading skills as well as continuing to build upon their recognition of common exception words. Pupils engage with a wide range of texts, which fosters a love of reading, and they begin to further develop their vocabulary knowledge and comprehension skills.
Daily English lessons build on the children’s previous knowledge. The teaching of writing is robust and shows clear progression for all children. The teacher purposefully selects a text/stimulus exposing the children to a wide range of genres, in order to promote a love of English and high-quality writing from each child.
We have high expectations of our children as writers and all adults model good standards of writing and use of expressive vocabulary. Pupils write for a range of purposes and audiences using increasingly varied grammar. Spelling and handwriting are a daily focus as we aim to embed the basic skills necessary for children to meet the expected standards in English for the end of the key stage. We want our children to develop and sustain a good pace for writing so that in KS2, children can write confidently at length.
At Northburn, we want our children to be confident and enthusiastic writers. They are encouraged to develop resilience throughout the writing process, ensuring that editing and redrafting is an integral part of the learning experience.
We use rich, high-quality texts to support our children’s experience of their spoken language. We feel our children produce their best writing when audience and purpose are at the heart of the process. Within a sequence, we learn the text to embed language and form for the children. They learn about the structure and organisation of a variety of genres. Shared writing provides an opportunity for teachers to demonstrate writing, including the thought processes required. We believe the editing and redrafting process is an important part of the sequence. Teachers explicitly teach genre features as well as word and sentence work within the context of writing. Pupils contribute to class composition by discussing and verbalising thoughts with partners, working in small groups to refine ideas. The success criteria are developed through the teaching sequence as the children explore the effect we want our writing to have on the reader. Constructive feedback is given throughout the process and children reread and edit their writing with support from peers and adults. Cross curricular writing opportunities are planned in every topic to ensure an engaging and purposeful stimulus for children.
Grammar and punctuation knowledge and skills are taught through English lessons. Teachers plan to teach the required skills through the genres of writing that they are teaching, linking it to the genre to make it more connected with the intended writing outcome. Teachers will occasionally focus on particular grammar and punctuation skills as standalone lessons, if it is felt additional lessons are needed to embed and develop understanding or consolidate skills.
The systematic teaching of phonics in EYFS and KS1 using the Read, Write Inc. programme ensures that children are given the strategies they need in order to spell. Children use their phonic knowledge to phonetically attempt unknown words. During phonic sessions, children learn to read and spell common exception words.
In Key Stage 1, spellings are given weekly using the ‘Purple Mash’ programme. This allows children to access the spelling test in a fun and engaging way, either at home or school. Using a digital platform such as Purple Mash ensures children become familiar with alternative methods of learning, developing responsibility for their own learning and becoming more digitally independent.
In Key Stage 2, we investigate spelling patterns and extend word families derived from particular root words. Children are taught to prove or disprove a spelling hypothesis and build their vocabulary at the same time. Children receive words to practise and are challenged to apply this to other words which follow the same rules.
From Reception to Year 6, children are encouraged to use words from word banks in classrooms, on displays and in ‘Blue Books / Planners’ independently in their writing. In Lower Key Stage 2, children are taught to use a dictionary and thesaurus to support the correct spelling of unfamiliar words. Throughout KS2, children are expected to use them independently.
At Northburn we follow the Letterjoin scheme for teaching handwriting and have high expectations of work presented. We use a consistent approach of teaching handwriting throughout the school, using the guidelines and clear terminology to ensure high standards across the school.