At St Agnes Academy we believe that a high-quality English curriculum is essential in enabling our children to participate fully as a member of society. We aim to foster a lifelong love of language by ensuring our curriculum draws on our rich and varied literacy heritage and equips our children with a strong command of of the spoken and written word. We want our children to be able to confidently communicate their ideas and emotions and through listening and reading allow others to communicate with them.
We want our children to be able to read easily, fluently and with understanding and to develop the habit of reading widely and often. We aim to widen their vocabulary and linguistic conventions so that they are able to confidently and clearly express themselves and access the spoken and written language of others'. Through presentations, debate, discussion and other speaking and listening activities we aim to develop our children's articulacy, confidence and communication skills.
Our English curriculum is clearly designed and organised to ensure coherence and progression within and between year groups and key stages so that our children are always prepared for the next step in their learning journey.
In EYFS and Year 1 our children are taught using Read Write inc Get Writing! supplemented by short 15-20 minute lessons based on the Talk for Writing approach covering the year group's spelling, punctuation and grammar objectives. These additional units are based on a 'real' text to ensure our children are exposed to high-quality texts by a variety of authors. Two weeks of every half term is reserved for a full Talk for Writing unit.
Handwriting is taught everyday following our Handwriting Policy where children are first taught to form letters in print before moving on to a continuous cursive script. When our children have progressed to the end of the Read Write inc programme they are taught to write using the Talk for Writing approach.
In KS2 we use the Talk for Writing approach to teach writing. This approach is made of 3 main stages:
1. The Imitation Stage (learning and analysing a model text)
2. The Innovation Stage (Writing a new text based on the model text)
3. The Independent Application Stage (Applying the skills and techniques learnt to produce an independent version)
Before each Talk for Writing unit begins children write a Cold Task which allows the teacher to identify target areas for teaching and ends with a Hot Task to demonstrate progress and to identify further target areas. A narrative Talk for Writing unit lasts for 3 weeks and a non-fiction unit for 2 weeks. Each narrative unit has a focus and these are revisited throughout the school so that children build-up a wide repertoire of writing skills. There are 6 main focuses: Settings, Characterisation and Dialogue, Description, Action, Suspense, and Openings and Endings.
For a full explanation of the Talk for Writing approach and sequence please click on the link below-Talk for Writing Overview.
Grammar and punctuation is taught within the Talk for Writing units to give them context and meaning and objectives for each unit are clearly identified in our Writing Overviews. Spelling is taught using the No Nonsense Spelling programme and is delivered daily in short 5-10 minute sessions. Handwriting is continued to be taught explicitly in Year 3 and as an intervention if necessary in Years 4-6. We believe that children need to have very secure transcription skills in order to allow them to express themselves freely and confidently and to free up their thinking to concentrate on effective composition.
In EYFS and Year 1 our children are taught to read using the Read Write inc phonics programme in daily 1 hour lessons. They are taught to recognise sounds and blend to read words before moving on to books which are matched to their phonic knowledge. Children take home the storybook they've been learning in school to consolidate their learning and a Book Bag Book to provide additional practise. They also take home a 'real' book which they have chosen for themselves to share with the adults at home. Each year group has also mapped out the additional stories they want to share with their class each half term. These are read daily in order to introduce our children to a wide range of literature and authors.
Having completed the Read Write inc phonics programme our children move on to Shared Reading where they focus more on the skills of comprehension as well as continuing to build their fluency. It is our aim that children have completed the Read Write inc programme by the end of Year 1. However, children will continue with the programme in Year 2 and in Year 3 and 4 as an intervention to ensure that the skills of word reading are secure.
In Y2 and KS2 we use the Shared Reading approach to teach our children to read, with greater emphasis on teaching the skills of comprehension. Shared Reading is taught 3 times a week for 40 minutes and follows the sequence outlined below:
1. Vocabulary (learning to read and understand new vocabulary)
2. Fluency (echo reading, partner reading and independent reading)
3. Skills (a focus on either Explanation, Inference, Retrieval, Prediction, Summarising or Sequencing).
Our Shared Reading is organised into 3 week units with a 1 week focus on narrative, non-fiction and poetry. Each class has an anchor text which is used as the daily class reader, with extracts from the linked texts used to practise fluency and comprehension skills.
Accelerated Reader is used to promote independent reading for pleasure. Books are carefully matched to the children's word reading skills so that they are able to understand and enjoy what they read. Children take a quiz when they have finished the book, which allows teachers to monitor success and make adjustments where necessary to ensure children are matched closely to books which they can both read fluently and comprehend.
In addition, opportunities for reading across the curriculum are used so children can practise and apply their reading skills. In Talk for Writing units there is always a Reading as Reader and Reading as Writer phase which gives further fluency practise and opportunities to analyse texts.
Targeted reading interventions such as 1:1 phonics tutoring, Speedy Reading, 1:1 reading practise provide additional support for those children who are working below age-related expectations with the aim of closing the gap. During Shared Reading, guided group work and 1:1 teaching provide opportunities to focus on target areas. Questioning and the use of a wider range of texts provides challenge for our more able.
Opportunities for speaking and listening activities are planned for in our Writing overviews so that they match the text genre e.g. debate during a unit on discussion texts. Other opportunities are planned for across the curriculum in our Medium Term Planning including performance and presentation opportunities in class assemblies and shows.
At St Agnes Academy, we have 3 measures of curriculum impact, all of which are essential in ensuring that our children make excellent progress, are ready for the next phase in their learning journey and are well-rounded, thoughtful and responsible individuals. Our 3 measures are:
- What we learn
- Who we are
- How we behave
Our children will be confident and enthusiastic readers and writers, who are able to communicate their ideas clearly through both spoken and written language. They will use the correct terminology when discussing writer's techniques and be able to draw on those techniques when composing their own texts. Our children will be secure in both word reading and comprehension and in the skills of both transcription and composition. They will have secured the knowledge and skills of each year group so that they are prepared for the next step of their learning journey.
Through a study of high-quality and rich stimuli including poetry, film, music, stories, art and non-fiction texts our children will develop their cultural, emotional, spiritual, social and intellectual understanding. They will be able to see things from differing view points and build tolerance and empathy as well as clarifying their own ideas and opinions.
They will be resilient learners who can evaluate, redraft and improve and accept and act on constructive criticism. They will be able to clearly and confidently articulate their feelings and opinions with respect for others and to use reasoned argument to help deal with conflict.
Through our robust and rich English curriculum our children will be inspired, skilled and confident and will have a lifelong love of the English language.
Below are links to:
Our progression documents for writing by year group
Our whole school progression document for reading
Our Phonics Policy
Our Handwriting Policy
Our Talk for Writing overview
For additional information on reading please visit our pages on Reading in EYFS and KS1 and Reading in KS2
For additional information regarding Talk for Writing please click on the following link.